It's been three years since I put all my belongings into storage, for what I thought would be a couple months, until I got back on my feet. Those couple months turned into much more than just getting back on my feet. They turned into turning my life completely around. Here I am, three years later, in a place I never expected to be. Healthy, happy, and out on my own.
I recently signed a year long lease for my very own, and EXTREMELY cute, studio apartment. (I consider it a studio and a half because it's got quite a bit of extra space, and technically another room) Getting my own apartment meant finally getting all my stuff out of storage, but it also meant having to arrange someone to accompany me so they could drive the moving truck. It meant going through things I hadn't seen in three years, and it meant figuring out where in the world I was going to fit everything.
Although I was excited to go on the treasure hunt that was my storage units, (yes, unitS...I had 2) I had this nagging fear of all the memories that would come rushing back from that dark time when I had to pack all my stuff into those units. For the most part, I didn't really have any idea what sat in there. I knew I had the basics: my bed, kitchen stuff, some furniture, but other than that, all the ECT treatments I had pretty much wiped out my memory. I worried that once I started unpacking, memories of a very unpleasant time would come rushing back, and sweep me into their flood.
The logistics of the move kicked my anxiety up, which in turn kicked OCD into high gear. As I prepared to make the trip a few states away to get my belongings, I started making lists. Train tickets, maps, notices to vacate, snacks for the road, keys for the units, call this person, get cash out, mail this, check that...Just making one list wasn't helpful, so I made another, and then another, and then another. Then I started referencing lists on other lists, and then my lists started stressing me the hell out. At the same time that I was preparing to head up to the storage units, I was also moving out of my friend's house, which meant packing up my stuff there and bringing it to the apartment. Two days before the big move, and in what I now realize was a state of panic, I decided that instead of just putting my stuff in a suitcase and bringing it to my place, I would unfold, refold, and organize all of my clothes. It probably took three times as long, but given how much I love laundry, it was actually exactly what I needed to calm down and refocus.
Once we got up to the first storage unit and started pulling stuff out and loading it on the truck, I felt overwhelmed, but more by the quantity of stuff I had and hadn't remembered, rather than the emotions I thought would be brought up. My friends were amazing and powered through getting things loaded on the truck while I spent some time deciding what I would give away or toss while we were up there. There was only one moment where I felt the compulsion to organize the boxes into rooms as they were loaded onto the truck, and despite questioning my logic, my friends just let me do it. (For the record, even though everything was marked on the outside of the boxes, I still believe organizing them as they went on the truck was less of an OCD idea, and more just plain brilliant!)
In a matter of two days, my whole life...all of my belongings and necessities...were all gathered in one place, for the first time, in a very long time. And by gathered, I mean stacked in boxes in what I thought was a large studio apartment, but turned out to shrink immensely when filled to the brim. In less than a couple weeks, I powered through every single one of those boxes deciding what to keep, what to give away, and what to throw out. For the most part, I had no huge emotional triggers, even when I found journals from just weeks before I was hospitalized. I read a couple entries, sat shocked for a moment at how depressed I was, and then threw them away. I focused my energy on making my new home beautiful, and relaxing, and well...home. I used the OCD to my advantage and cleaned and organized and got rid of all the things that could possibly remind me of a time when I wasn't who I am now.
In the grand scheme of things, three years is just a blip on the radar screen. But the past three years have not seemed to go by so quickly. Putting my stuff into storage seems like an eternity ago, and looking back it's as if I was a completely different person. Getting my own place and getting all my stuff out of storage is just the physical proof of the emotional work I have done to get my life together. After all this hard work, I plan on keeping it that way!