Can moving abroad kill your inner demons?

Each of us has some personal baggage that we would prefer to get rid of. Whether it’s low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, phobia or something else. Unfortunately, majority of the time we tend to get on with our lives by pushing our problems aside and ignoring the cause. We all probably have tried to get rid of these demons at least once in our lives. And if successful, it’s feasible to massively decrease their impact on us. But the truth is – our inner demons will always be there and it’s impossible to fully eliminate them from our lives. The only solution is to design a coping mechanism that helps us to coexist with our demons. So is relocating one of them?

My story

I’ve always had anxiety. Even as a child I was scared of many things, and hence, most of my childhood memories are somehow related to fear. To give you a few samples:

1. When I was about 6 years old I noticed something strange in our garage – a huge spider about one meter in size! For weeks I was so scared I wouldn’t go inside the garage. I imagined that the spider would get bigger and eat all my family. Then one day my brother was working in the garage so I decided to point out the ENORMOUS spider to him. Turns out it was a clump of wires.

2. One Christmas my family asked our neighbor to dress up as a Santa Claus and come in to give out gifts. This would have been an exciting thing for most children. Not for me! I feared the Santa and remember spending the evening crying.

3. I was scared to go shopping or take public transport on my own. In fact, the first time I took a bus by myself was when I was around 15 years old. Needless to add, I was very panicky the first few (dozen) times.

Of course, these are just some silly stories, and everyone probably has memories like that from childhood. Though, as long as I can remember myself, everything seemed like a danger. And my way too vivid imagination didn’t help things. I imagined terrible things happening to me and my family. And once the fear was established, I kept replaying these scenarios in my head, and thus, it started to feel like a prophecy soon to become reality.

The worst part? I still do that. In London when I was working in a bar I often finished work late and had to walk alone from the metro station to my home. It was a good 20-minute walk and every second of it was filled with anxiety. I imagined somebody killing or abducting me. I even used to put keys in between my fingers so that I at least had some sort of protection. And, I did that for years!

It got to the point I couldn’t cope with the overwhelming feelings and I pushed myself to think of anything but murderers. For some time, it worked but after a while, other episodes took its place – fear of war, fear of diseases the list goes on. I always imagined the worst. Before moving to Switzerland I got massive anxiety from terror attacks. I was on the edge each time I stepped foot outside the house.

Did moving to Switzerland help?

I thought that moving to Switzerland will put an end to my fear of terror attacks, crime, and other dangers. After all, I was relocating to a mountain village in one of the safest countries in the world. I must fear nothing! But how wrong was I! It was just a matter of time before a new fear started.

Ultimately, there are millions of dangers to us all at any given time. And how silly it was of me, to think I could escape my inner demons by running away to a different geographical place! So if anyone is thinking to move somewhere just to escape their own personal issues or just hope things will resolve on its own – think twice! Living in different places may enrich your life, but you will still be you with all the baggage that comes with it.

The good news

Some places might be better suited for your personality than others and can help to minimize your issues. For example, a person with low self-esteem can flourish in a supportive society.

As for myself – I see many opportunities in Switzerland that could help me with my anxiety. Above all, mountains have always calmed me. There is something about their mightiness that gives me peace. Relocating to the Alps has given me a chance to spend every single day admiring the mountains. And, for the most part, my anxiety has now become less prominent. Though external factors can only go so far…A change needs to start in the mind.

To end on a good note – in the next months, I will be designing my own coping schedule. Believe me, one cannot truly live while being afraid. So what about you? What can you do to make life with your inner demons more bearable?