Depressed after major life change

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Please read my story and I would be so grateful of some advice and support. I've recently slipped into depression after a major life transition. I hope I don't sound too ungrateful, because my situation may sound absolutely idyllic. I realise that people have far, far worse problems in life. But I still feel depressed.

I had it all - I was in an extremely well paid job at the top of my career, with a short commute and reasonable hours, excellent working conditions, a gorgeous little house in London. But I wasn't happy. I was constantly stressed by office politics that left me drained all the time. And I have always struggled to feel engaged at work. I had no energy left to do the things I really enjoy - photography, the outdoors and travel. It didn't help that the people I worked with weren't sociable, our neighbours downright unfriendly. We had no relatives nearby, and my wife and I have no kids. Almost all my old friends moved away from London long ago, and London demographics have changed so much in the past few years, I feel like a stranger there now despite living there over 20 years.

I am fortunate that, having been in a well paid job, with simple needs and no kids, I had enough money to retire in my late 40's. I also had built up a decent little business selling my photos online, and I could find consultancy work if the wheel came off.

So this year I quit my job with no regrets. We thought we would move out of London to a lovely house somewhere near Henley, work on the photography, and lead the "good life." Bliss!

Then it all went pear shaped. My wife's father died and she decided she wanted her mum to come live with us. My wife was adamant we needed a huge place to accommodate us. That limited our options but I went along with it. We ended up buying an old farmhouse further out in a very rural area. It's not the sort of thing I would have even considered, but again, I went along with it.

The house is certainly "impressive", but it's a complete fixer-upper and as soon as we moved in I regretted it. It needs much, much more work than I anticipated, it's very isolated apart from a few houses nearby, yet the road is much busier than I realised, and every lorry that thunders past just feet from our windows, shatters any illusion I had of an "idyllic" country lifestyle. I miss pavements and street lights, and having coffee shops and restaurants at the end of the road. And I think we actually enjoyed nicer countryside living on the edge of the green belt in London. 

I quickly became utterly depressed. If ever there was proof that money can't buy happiness, then I am it. I struggle to face every day. I am desperately homesick and I've thought of moving back to London, but in truth I can't replace our little house that I loved so much. I renovated it all myself and it really was the perfect house and even the estate agents said so.  I even want to go back to work for sanity's sake. But we're now so far from London it would be a really tough commute. I thought if I regretted leaving work I could do consulting work from home. But that doesn't get me out of the house so I'm not sure it will help.

And my wife and her mum both love it here. The neighbours are very friendly. My wife and her mum aren't bothered by the passing cars so for them it is really peaceful here. For me, it feels like my old life has ended and I am doomed to spending the next twenty years in a house I hate, miles from anywhere that inspires me, and with no job to get away from it all.

I really don't know what to do, how to settle, how to get into a routine. I am not productive and struggling to work on the house because every time we sink money into it, it feels like one more nail in the coffin.  I'm just getting more and more down. Haven't done any photography either. London awash with things to photograph. Now I'm surrounded by fields. I know that both London and Oxford are reachable but I feel so disconnected.

After quitting my job and moving house I don't know who I am anymore, or what I am doing here. I practically had an anxiety attack when I had to answer the "occupation" question on a form. I struggle to get out of bed every morning and waste half the day procrastinating. It's putting a real strain on our marriage too as my wife is left picking up the pieces.

I guess I'm just looking for some advice... please help!


6 likes, 49 replies

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49 Replies

  • Posted

    Have u seen a doctor that's the first move. There is a depression as a illness and depressed caused by our life, u need to make changes to make yourself happy. Also the depression could be making u hate everything rather then the other way round. Iv a lovely happy perfect family life but depression and anxiety hit me hard out of no where ! 
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    • Posted

      Thanks Rachel. I haven't seen a doctor yet. I'm fearful it will make me feel worse (being a typical man!) but I think if it continues I will have to. I'm hoping some new year resolutions will spur me on. In the meantime I'm reaching out to all you kind people because I think I just need a little emotional support and advice - so I am so grateful you took the time to respond.
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    • Posted

      There is a huge difference between been upset and down and real depression which feels like a black hole drowning up like ur living in fog. Either way you should talk to someone and be open with your wife. She loves you and is there to help 
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  • Posted

    It seems you're secretly p*ssed off actually. You didn't get much option of house moving did you? Or how big a house you needed etc. And if you feel like this all the time you will not want to pick up a camera as it's something you enjoy and you don't want to taint it. I'd say you need to think about what you actually want and whats achievable, your unhappiness sounds very environmental based. Maybe stop putting money into the house and book a holiday for you and the missus? See if you feel better away from that area in general. If you are still unhappy elsewhere then you know it's not just the move. Then at least you'll know whether or not what avenue to take?
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  • Posted

    Oh Daniel I am so sorry.  As you are posting on the depression site, I presume you think you have got clinical depression.  Have yoiu been diagnosed by a doctor, and given advice.

    I know major changes like yours can cause depression.  You are certainly struggling.  I have had depression for many, many years.  I battle it daily.  Unlike you I have no money, live on state pension and benefits.  I am a good person who worked until depression made it too difficult to work any longer.  I lost everything to depression, but I picked myself up.

    Every day is a struggle for me.  Can I pay my bills, shall I put the heating on? 

    I would like to give you advice, but something tells me that you feel "depressed" with your circumstances, rather than suffering the illness depression.  I can see how difficult your life is now, and you are finding it hard to settle. 

    My only advice is talk to your wife about how you feel, try and get motivated again, however hard it may seem.  If you feel a doctor can help, then go and see one, and perhaps you feel that anti depressants may help you.  As you say you cannot change your living cuircumstances, than, perhaps, like me, you have to accept them.

    I know it is no consolation to tell you there are many people, me among them, who are a lot worse off than you.  I live alone in a tiny shared ownership bungalow.  Yes it is hard to motivate oneself and get up in the morning. 

    My advice, I am sorry I don't know.  Do you think you have clinical depression because of changed circumstances?  Do you want to discuss with a doctor or counsellor?  You may find counselling helpful, if you can talk to someone about all this.

    Take care, and keep in touch if it would help.


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  • Posted

    Daniel, I was in a similar circumstance. Very similar except that I was a single mom. I bought a house I ended up unhappy in, fearful I couldn't keep up with repairs and mortgage payments. I hated going home.

    My only advice to you is to MAKE A CHANGE now. Do not wait. Can you sell and move back? Maybe live part time in the city and take up photography again? If you're depressed then as you said, your wife will suffer too. It's not worth it to hold on to that lifestyle.

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  • Posted

    Hey Daniel, 

    Sorry to hear that you are struggling. 

    You definitely should go to the Dr. I know it's terrifying and can feel overwhelming but, they are getting paid to listen and help you! 

    Is there any work that you can do in a town/city closer to your home? Maybe not in London but somewhere nearer?

    Any job may help, just some part time work somewhere could make a difference.

    In terms of photography you have a goldmine on your hands! You can challenge yourself now, that is what makes it so enjoyable! I love nature photography but lived in a very ugly city with no green, anywhere - but, I altered my style and found beauty and intrigue in new shooting styles and ended up finding things I wouldn't have anywhere else! 

    It's really sweet that you have done so much to make your family happy, be proud of that - you sound like a very loving husband and a brilliant son-in-law! Don't put your own happiness on the back shelf though, find a compromise somewhere, you deserve to be happy and I am sure you will be again. 


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  • Posted

    Daniel, I am glad I found your post. You are not alone. Iam going through a very similar situation. I moved from an area in Virginia (US) into a more eclectic, urban area be closer to family. To make a change in life that i thought would bring me closer to the artistic and musical passions tha I have. Now I identify with your feelings of losing yourself and not knowing who you are. Like you, I had a good job and more inmportantly an environment and daily routine that inspired me. I had perfected the art of working for a regular corporate job, while still having the feelings of freedom and creativity. I worked form home two days a week and started each day with amazing insporation and ambition for the new day. I would work from home for a few hours until noon perched in a light filled room with a nice view. Then, after nooon, I would bike to various locations nearby to sit and work remotely by the water outside in a park, or in a cofee shop in a relly nice historic area of Virginia. I had eight or ten different locations where I cold park myself and still be connected and working, It was my way of staying connected whiel still finding peace, solace and most importantly -- freedom! I somehow convinced myself that I was isolating too much and that moving to this new areas would open up opportunites to realize my creative potential with my creativity both in work and in my personal life. So I packed up everything and bought a new house. I realize now that the ambition and inspiration that gave me this sense of greater potential for myself was largely a result of the environment, rituals and routine that i had etched out for myself in the suburbs. Now I do not have the sweeping views of the water while I work, I do not have the quiet bike rides in the afternoon while the rest of the world is stuck in a home office at work. I loved it so much and had no idea how good I had it. And through many years of this lifestyle, I was able to advance in my career and acheive a level of happiness I had bever experienced. Beliveing that this happiness was new part of me and would go with me anywhere, I decided to take a step forward, or so I thought, and recreate my life somewhee else. But when I got here, I soon found out that  I no longer knew who I was and had left myself behind.  i thought this act of getting out of my comfort zone was what I wanted to grow and move to a new chapter in life. Now I realize that there is no need to make a big change when the little things in life are good. I have learned not to fool myself into thinking that if things are good anf my life works, that I can make it even better and step up to some new level. Like you Daniel, I want to move back more than anything in the world. Also like you, I can never get back to that same house, with the same views and location I had in the past. I fear that even if I were to find my way back in a few years to a differnt house in the same nieghborhood, that it will not be the same and I will never get back to the person I was and life I had in my 10 years there. My only hope now i that through this painful growing experience that I will somehow escape the isolationist tendancies I had and find a myself more connected to people and the joy of life that is supposed to come from sharing expereinced with others. The only thinh I hold onto is the hope that I will someday look back on that life and realize that I perceived it as perfect, but the life I have now and the person I am is so much happier and fulfilled. Right now though, I can't see it. It is almost like I want to hold onto the past and refuse to experience the benefits of growing through the pain and uncomfortableness of this situatuion. The advice I could give you, that I can't way I am taking myself, is not to rebel against the way you may change through this expereince. The wisdom you will gain and the knowledge you have now to stand up be willing to voice what you want as well as what may be right for others. Refusing to embrace the new environment and make it into something good, although it may seem to pale in comarison to what you had, will only prolong the process of getting back to a state of mind that gives you peace. I am so mad at myself for second guessing my instincts and I am also mad at myself for thinking I needed to be more, do more or grow more. We can take smal steps to change our life, right from where we are. We do not always neeed to make geographic or employment changes to jumpstart the process. For me, I belive that the sweepng life change may have been a but of a copout. Rather than take the more challenging and tedious efforts to make changes in a very comfortable life. I forced a change, ultimately thinking that i would then not have to deal directly with the changes I needed to make in myself. I would just move to a new environment and automatically be changed. Now I sit with the same challenges I had with solicalizing and connecting to people, but in a completely infaniliar environment. I still have to make these changes, but I do not have the sense of self and security to step out and do so that I had built for myself in my old location. The important thing is that, as painful as this has been, I now know, more than ever, and unconditionally what I want from life and no longer second guess my instincts. It may take me a few years to acheive the same level of happiness and ocntentment that my old environment and routine afforded my, but once I do, thee is nothing and no one that can get even close to taking it way from me again.
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    • Posted

      Hello John, so glad I found your post, I was struggeling to put in words how I feel at this moment and your post describes it to the letter. How are you doing and is there light in the tunnel for me?
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    • Posted

      Wow. I found your post to be so similar to my own really made me think, and realize that what I'm feeling is the same...I'm mad at myself,  and I have been  told that depression is anger turned inward... I have no one to blame but myself. I, too.made an extreme life change, and find myself here now wondering who  am I? Why am I here, where do I belong...I can't go back, I made a mess of things there by leaving.,..and the reasons I gave myself for moving here, were not entirely I'm here. Now I have no support system, no sense of self, and am floundering and drifting In a way that is so foreign and uncomfortable for me....

      so im in a daily struggle to fight depression, to find meaning, to establish new routines, develop new support systems, and learn whomis the real me.

      imwish you all the best.  This site has been helpful to me, to realize that I'm not alone, depression is real, and I have gained some insight into my feelings...feelings of longing, to find where I belong. A friend told me yesterday, to try to relax and enjoy this journey instead of worrying about the destination.    All my life I have been one to plan ahead, have a plan , have a goal and to work toward I'm living one day at a time, one hour at a time on some days.   Best wishes tomyou


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    • Posted

      I'm in exactly the same place!!!

      We too made this huge decision to move and now I'm feeling as if my life has "ended" I don't know who I am anymore since moving from our home of 36yrs

      If you get this, can please let me know how is going for you now. Big hugs

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  • Posted

    I am Lise, a 38 years old mom of 2 boys 10 and 13.

    I was single mom for 10 years, raising my boys in NYC.

    I came to the US in 2008,  I moved from France and I thougt long distance moving was not a big deal for me (I rarely missed my country or my familly from France. )

    Back in July of this year I moved to LA to be with my boyfriend.

    He is wonderful and we have an amazing connection together. The only problem is that I hate LA. I miss NYC so dearly, I can’t get over it. I cry constantly, most of the time I feel like a big grey cloud around me. I walk with my head down, I don’t smile. I hide to cry. I want to be alone I don’t want to make new friends.

    I miss my old job, I miss my Ney York friends and I miss the city.

    I never ever felt this way before. I am usually so happy, energetic and positive. I became sad, negative and shut down.

    I am a competitiv bodybuilder and my only escape is training. I have made some plan to compete again in few months, which keep me a bit sane. Other than that, I feel like I am not myself anymore. Even being with the kids is just too much. I used to do so much activities with them. Now nothing ! on week end, I just stay on the couch and wait for the day to be over.

    My boyfriend knows I am unhappy, he is really patient and try to lift me up. But nothing works.

    I wonder if I am going to be normal again and happy, I wonder how long it’s going to take. I wonder if I should move back to NYC.

    I understand totally what you say. I feel the same way. I need advises too.

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    • Posted

      Hi Lise,

      I stumbled across this thread and I have often felt I was somehow deficient because I cannot adjust to living in a different state.

      I sympathize with you because I moved to be with my boyfriend and brought my two teenage children with me.

      Although I did not move across the country like you did, which I can imagine is extremely challenging - NYC and LA could not be more different!- I am only a 7 hour drive from my former home - I have become increasingly depressed and isolated.

      I moved a year and a half ago and was very enthusiastic about the move, but my daughter became depressed and anxious from missing her home.

      I started to feel very similarly after several months and at this point have lost interest in even trying to adjust here. I have fallen into a terrible depression and have seen so many therapists and doctors, but it continues to get worse.

      I tried to embrace this city by all sorts of activities but now I feel like I have given up, because nothing has made me feel less like a stranger, an outsider.

      I can relate to what you wrote about not feeling like yourself, and refraining from activities with your children, I am in very much the same place as you!

      I see that you wrote this 2 months ago and am curious if you did move back to NYC, or if things improved in LA.

      I hope everything did get better for you over the past couple months!

      I'm also curious how your children adjusted...

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    • Posted

      Hi Lise, I know this is a very old thread but I'm wondering if you moved back to NYC or if you didn't if and how you were able to overcome the depression and homesickness. I also moved from NYC. I was 8months pregnant and my boyfriend and I thought raising a baby in Newport RI would be a better idea. I was wrong. There are zero jobs here and it just plain sucks compared to NYC. I almost feel like NYC is a boyfriend I wished I never broke up with. I'm upset everyday because I'm not there. And worst of all is that my bf has made it abundantly clear that he does NOT want to move back....ever. I'm unhappy and I don't know what to do. Any advice? I want to be happy but moving back may tear apart my family...and that obviously won't make me happy either. It's a loose loose

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    • Posted

      Hi,  I too have gone through similar lifestyle changes.  I moved and regret it almost every day.  I moved to be with my husband after both my children graduated & moved away.  I suddenly got anxiety, depression & post traumatic stress.  Two years the move was to be with my husband & have his support.  It made things worse.   Now I'm feeling better & wan to go back but cannot.  What helped me so far was counselling.  Talk to someone , find a family therapist,  counsellor,  everything is temporary.  It is a slow process , but little steps.  Meditation, yoga, helps too.  Talk with your bf, explain how you feel & you need support to get over the depression & you are not alone.   How's your new baby?  Find a moms group or community group .  Or with social media start one!  Churches usually have moms mornings out.  I know it is hard when your not feeling like it, but small things will help.  I still struggle every day, but when I think of where I was and where I am's better.  How long has it been since you moved?  It always takes awhile to get used to any changes, having a baby is a change too, moving is a very stressful one in a persons life too.  I have moved many times and it never bothered me until this last one. Mostly because I wasn't well when I moved, hormones play a huge part in how one feels too.  Much love & understanding ....

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