Overcoming Anxiety and Moving Far from Home

person's hands on a steering wheel driving on a highway

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Last month, we moved almost 4 hours north of where we’d been living for the past eleven years. It was the best decision we’ve ever made for our family, and we couldn’t be happier. But what most people don’t know, is that we tried to move here many years ago and my severe anxiety disorder put a halt to our plans.

In 2018, we booked a hotel for the weekend, contacted a family member who happens to be a realtor, and had him find us a number of rental properties. We bought our middle daughter a phone so that she could keep in touch with her friends and my oldest daughter’s Girl Scout troop had a going away party for her. We were packed and ready to go look at rentals but the night before I had a horrible panic attack and told my husband that we needed to cancel. Not just the trip, but the entire move. 

The thought of driving almost four hours to look at homes and then the possibility of moving that far away from the place we considered home for so long, terrified me. I hadn’t driven more than an hour in years without panicking. I was sure that I couldn’t do it. I had convinced myself that I couldn’t do it.

Moving isn’t something we considered again until a few months ago when we made the decision to buy a home. We realized that our budget wouldn’t get us the size home we needed for our family of five, so we started looking further north. The more homes we were shown, the more we fell in love. We put offers on at least four homes in a 2-3 month period.

While I was extremely excited about us possibly owning a home, in the back of my mind, I was worried that my anxiety would mess up our plans. Again.

My anxiety disorder had calmed quite a bit since I changed my diet in March. We had been traveling a tiny bit more and I saw no signs of anxiety at all, which is shocking considering we were in the middle of a pandemic. I realized that the thought of moving so far away wasn’t as scary as it once seemed.

We packed for weeks. The more I spoke about the move, the more excited I became. It wasn’t until the day we were supposed to drive up that it hit me. My husband was going to drive the moving truck and I was going to have to drive our car. There was a big moment of doubt – I won’t lie.

It was about an hour before we were supposed to leave. I started doing what I had always done in the past – think about all of the what if’s. What if I felt an anxiety attack coming on? Would I just sit on the side of the road? 

Suddenly the memories of being stranded with my kids an hour from my home came flooding back. But this would be different. This would be much farther and we wouldn’t have a friend close enough to come and rescue us.

But it was too late. The moving truck was 90% packed. We were due to sign the paperwork for our new home the following morning. We already spent so much money on appraisals and inspections. We paid for the hotel and had a place to keep the moving truck that night. I had to do it. I had no choice.

As I drove down our old street for the last time, I took a deep breath. I remember thinking that this was it. This was the moment I had been waiting for, for so many years. I was either going to conquer this immense fear, or I was going to fail miserably trying.

Once we got on the highway, I loosened up a bit. I kept an eye on the time and tried to play games with my daughters to make it pass a bit faster. Name a Disney character that starts with each letter of the alphabet took up at least an hour. We played a few times. Once that was done, my mind started racing.

And then my 16-year-old played a song. My favorite song. I sang as loud as I could. When that song was over, she played another. And another. And another. Before I knew it, we were pulling up to the hotel. 

For years, I tried my best to hide my anxiety from my kids. But the truth is, they’ve known all along, especially my oldest. She is fully aware of when I’m starting to panic. She can read my body language. She can see it in my eyes. And without asking or saying a word, she jumped into action because she knows that distraction is my biggest weapon against anxiety. Or… maybe it was just a huge coincidence (but I’m not sure I believe in those when it comes to anxiety). 

She saved me that day. She gave me the fuel I needed to get through that almost 4-hour drive. And because of the success of that one very long drive, I’ve been driving everywhere in our new city. 

I feel like I have a fresh start. I feel like I can do anything. It’s almost as though when I drove down our old street for the last time, I left the anxiety behind. I look forward to this fresh start. I look forward to challenging myself to drive longer and farther, each time I go out. I look forward to proving that I can do anything.

 If you are struggling with anxiety and you are reading this, please know that nothing is permanent. You won’t always have the fear of driving, crowds, lines, socializing, or leaving your house. I promise. It will get better. If you ever need someone to listen, I’m here for you.

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Moving and anxiety do not pair well. But I did it and drove four hours with two kids in the car, without panicking. Here is my story.
Moving and anxiety do not pair well. But I did it and drove four hours with two kids in the car, without panicking. Here is my story.

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Hello There!

I'm so honored that you've found us! I'm Heather, a Mom of 3 who blogs about parenting, food, occasional travel and how I overcame my daily struggle with anxiety. I miss sleeping and rely on coffee and laughter to get me through the day. I hope you enjoy and visit often!

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  1. This is a wonderful post and appreciate you sharing. I am a military brat so moving around to new places is no biggie to me… I moved out of the house at 18… and have been on my own ever since.

  2. What a change! Great job for tackling the fear of moving and doing it! Change can be really great!

  3. What a huge change – moving is such a hard time, especially with anxiety. I moved countries as a teenager, and I was so anxious about the whole thing. I am wishing you all the adventures in your new home.

  4. I totally understand how you feel as I left my home country and moved to a totally new place when I did not know anyone and that made me feel anxious but like you said, nothing is permanent.

  5. Moving is extremely stressful for anyone, people who suffer with anxiety it can be crippling. Glad it is all working out for you!

  6. Moving is one of those really stressful experiences in life that we all have to get through. I too deal with anxiety and it definitely can be very difficult during times of transition.

  7. It’s great to hear your anxiety has eased with your diet change. Moving isn’t always an easy thing to do but the further you are from main cities the cheaper it is and the more you get for your money.

  8. As someone who has moved into several houses, it’s quite stressful and there are a lot of things you need to take into account. Thanks for sharing your story with us and you did a great job overcoming your anxiety.

  9. It’s amazing how intuitive kids can be but when you love someone you can sense their emotions and feelings. It’s beautiful that your daughter is so in tune with you and knows how to support you. Anxiety is a real issue that so many of us deal with. Thank you for sharing your experiences and opening the conversation.

  10. Moving would definitely be an anxious situation. Glad to hear that things worked out and you are settled in.

  11. I know how hard moving can be. I’ve done it in the past and moved far away from family. I don’t know if I could honesty ever do it again.

  12. Nice to hear that you managed to overcome your anxiety to make the move and that you are happy with it. A few years ago we were having to make a move a few hours away from the area I had always called home and my anxiety made it really difficult but it was the best thing ever for us and I love that we did move.

  13. I have anxiety and grew up in the same house for 18 years, so I get it. It’s hard, but worth it, to leave and move to different places!

  14. Moving is a very stressful experience. It can trigger anxiety in people who don’t normally have anxiety issues. So it is even more of a problem for people with anxiety issues. This article will be beneficial to others who are moving and experience anxiet.

  15. Moving home and bidding adieu to familiar places is always a challenge. You have so much associated with the place that moving is bound to raise anxiety levels.

  16. Overcoming anxiety is possible. Know that anxiety is treatable by taking steps to get better. I loved reading your story how you overcame anxiety

  17. This is an uplifting post. I have been experiencing anxiety since I could not go home for years now. I miss my hometown and my family so much but as you’ve said things get better

  18. Aw! Moving can be such a tough time, especially when you’re leaving all you know. I’m glad that your anxiety is lessening, too!

  19. I can totally relate. It’s true nothing is permanent I have had periods in my life where I have struggled with anxiety but it doesn’t always have to be forever or constant.

  20. Moving is one of the most stressful things to do in general but doing it with anxiety is even worst. I’m glad you were finally able to do it and that it went well

  21. Kids can recognize everything. And having our kids know that we have some areas in which we need extra support is a healthy thing. It allows them to help us and it allows them to see that it is OK to ask for help.

  22. I’m so glad this decision was the right one for your family. Having just completed my 23rd move, I can say that it’s not as easy as some people may think.

  23. Wow, this is a timely post for me. My husband wants to relocate to florida in two years. I’ve lived here my entire life and I am petrified about moving.

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  24. Great to hear you have found a way to move to a place you can call home. New home, with new experiences and memories to make. Happy for you!

  25. Thank you for sharing this. So personal and honest. I kind of feel you on this. I’ve had a lot of anxiety around the idea of a big move we have coming up in the next couple of years- moving to the other side of the world. Whilst I’m excited, I’m also terrified.

  26. I am glad you shared your story. I tend to get anxious as well. I’m a military spouse so we move often, and it’s never easy and yes, I have my share of anxiety attacks.

  27. It’s always a bit scary to move far from home. The hardest part is the lack of support but there are also some perks too.

  28. You are so brave. While I don’t suffer from Anxiety, I have friends that do. It takes all the push that you have to work through it. Even when you know it will never go away. Friends with anxiety are the strongest people I know.