“You left Dublin? That must have been some change for you?”
“Yeah, it took a while to get used to. I miss footpaths, street lights and living within the delivery zone of takeaways.”
I focus on the practical things because I’m afraid to admit the truth; it didn’t take me long to adapt to living in the country and, apart from friends and family, there is little about the city that feels like home. It stopped feeling like home while I was living there.
I spend my last Saturday living in Dublin wandering around Temple Bar with a friend. Because, hello, walking cliché! Between the food market, The Gutter Bookshop and the Cow’s Lane Designer Market there is enough to occupy us for more than a few sun-soaked hours.
Time spent with friends – check. Really good coffee – check. Books – check. Yet, I’m wishing I was already gone.
I don’t visit often. When I do, it’s almost always a flying visit for a meeting, a protest, or a day-trip for Pride. Having a reason, a purpose, makes the overwhelm less, well, overwhelming.
Dublin is the place I got sick. It’s where I questioned my sexuality. It’s where I fucked up. And then fucked up some more. It’s where I realised you cannot change things after they have happened, you can only control how you respond to those things. Life is not always fixable.
My mental illness isn’t the fault of the city, yet, somehow, I hold it against it. Like it fell short of the ideal we’re taught about home always being a safe space, when “safe space” doesn’t mean without complications. That’s not how any of this works.
It’s also where I fell in love with and married Paul.
Here’s the thing, or more accurately one of the things, about mental illness; it warps your thinking about most things. Difficult to remember when you’re going through it and doing the work of recovering doesn’t end the negative associations you made when your mind was conspiring against you.
Home is more than a house. It’s more than a place. It’s people, yes. But home can’t be other people until you put yourself first. Sometimes mental illness complicates that, even when things are good.