I’ll start by saying this: I still haven’t moved out. I don’t have my own place and I still live at home with my parents. However, they are always travelling so much that I do get to spend days, weeks actually, alone very often.
Many people find having the entire house to themselves fun and relaxing and I have to admit that I have a great time as well, now that I got used to it. Yet, the first few times, when I was younger, were absolutely terrifying for me. I live in the countryside, and, despite having neighbors, I always felt so alone and… unsafe. It was bearable during the day, but my anxiety always kicked in at sunset and I could never get a good sleep at night because I was always too scared of every little noise, despite being perfectly aware that it could simply be my cat walking around, or that I could be making everything up in my head. I was always imagining some criminal sneaking in from the back door and stabbing me in my sleep or god knows what other crazy things. I hated being alone so much that I would always count down to the day my parents would be coming back, and it would made me question if there would ever be a day where I’d feel confident enough to move out and live alone.
Luckily, that day has come. No, I am not going anywhere yet, but I now feel totally okay being on my own. This year, with my parents being away for very long periods of time, I really learnt how to take care of myself and I don’t feel scared anymore. Therefore, today I have decided to list down some tips that might be useful to all those people like me, struggling with anxiety (or other mental disorders, of course) and who are living alone for the first time, or thinking about moving out and feeling scared to make this big move.
1. Make checklists of the things you need to remember to do before going to bed. My anxiety makes me panic about having forgotten to lock the garage door the moment I get to bed, so I always make sure to double check every single door and window just to find some peace of mind. There’s nothing more annoying than waking up in the middle of the night thinking… wait… did I leave the one window open…?
2. Keep a list of contacts you can give a call to in case something happens. I live far away from my relatives, so I wrote down the phone numbers of a few trusted people near me. This is especially comforting if you have thoughts like “oh my God what if I feel sick and I am alone”. This happened to me one year when my parents where in Taiwan and none of my neighbors were home: I got sick (probably the flu) and I freaked out because I kept thinking “what if I die and no one finds me for weeks”. It makes me laugh now, but it was horrible back then :’)
3. I am always worried of locking myself out, so sometimes I feel better asking a trusted person to keep my spare key. You know, just in case I make a mess while my parents are somewhere on the other side of the world and I would have to wait outside for… days.
4. Plan activities to keep yourself busy. Evenings are usually the time when I start to feel an uncomfortable sense of anxiety building up in my stomach, so I like to think in advance of ways I can fill these hours to distract myself. My favourite activities include cooking fancy meals (I usually get super experimental when I am alone and then get sad that no one is there to try my new recipes), baking cakes and, how original!, watching movies or documentaries. This will sound obvious but… it’s better to avoid scary stuff and horror movies.
5. If you are actually moving out and getting your own apartment or house, make sure to pick a building and a neighborhood where you feel safe. As much as I would love to live in a very remote place with no one around, I think I would probably get really scared and paranoid. Being in a calm residential area with good neighbors is usually pretty comforting.
6. Finally, I know this will make me sound like your mom, but don’t let anyone in unless you personally know and trust them.
It usually gets easier after some time and with a little bit of practice and patience living alone becomes an amazing experience. Personally, I feel like I learn so much every time I am alone and need to work things out on my own and it always boasts my confidence in my abilities so much 🙂