I moved next to Disney World to improve my mental health. I spend more time outside and socialize more than before.
- I've been in therapy and on medication for years to deal with my anxiety and depression.
- I moved 10 minutes away from Disney World to see whether it would help my mental health.
Ever since I was a little girl, I've dreamed of living in Disney World — not in a "I want to be a princess" kind of way but because it was a place where I always felt free to be my most authentic self.
There was something about being surrounded by people who embraced the magic that made me feel safe and at peace. It was at Disney World where I could leave my anxieties at home for the day and just exist as a normal person.
As I grew up, my anxiety turned into a full-blown disorder and was shadowed by depression, which consumed me. While I'd been in therapy and on medication for years, I was still miserable in every waking minute of the day and would long for a time when I could take another trip to my happy place.
That's when I considered moving to Disney World. At first, it sounded like a wild idea because I'd never lived alone, but for the sake of my mental health, I was willing to try it.
It's been the best decision for me
I talked through the idea with my therapist, friends, and family, and I came to the conclusion that I'd try it to see what happened. At the end of the day, the worst thing that could happen was that I hated it and moved back home.
But after nearly three months of being settled into my new apartment only 10 minutes from Disney World, I can wholeheartedly say it's one of the best decisions I've made for my mental health.
I'm not saying that because it's all magic and pixie dust — though it is a lot of the time. I still have rough days, with depression leaving me stuck in bed as I go days without showers and my apartment falls into utter disarray. But when I can gather the energy to get out of bed, having the parks to go to makes me keen on going outside, socializing, and relaxing, which I've found has been very beneficial for my mental health.
On days when I would normally sit in my room and either sleep or work all day, I find myself at the parks living my life. I have more of a reason and a desire to take breaks and have some fun.
There are even some elements of visiting the parks that have added healthy habits to my life. When I'm at the parks, I'm outside in the sunlight. My therapists have always harped on the importance of vitamin D, especially for coping with depression, but I never really listened before.
Now that I'm at the parks a lot, which are essentially all outdoors, I've had increased exposure to sunlight, and that has had a profound influence on my mood. And walking around the parks has increased my physical activity, which I'm sure has had an effect on both my mental and my physical well-being.
It's easier to socialize at the parks than anywhere else
I think the most helpful part has been the social aspect of being at the parks. I find it easier to socialize, and I have the desire to make connections. Since there's this shared love for Disney, that's the icebreaker, and it makes the rest of the conversation easier.
Even when I meet characters at the parks, it gives me the opportunity to have conversations about an imaginary world, which provides me with an outlet to escape the mundane small talk that drains the life out of me in regular conversations.
With all this said, I'm very lucky to have been able to make the move near Disney World. It's given me a new outlook on life and a reason to wake up in the morning.
While the depression and anxiety don't go away, I have a place I can visit to let go of my problems, even if it's only temporary. I can take a step away from my intrusive thoughts and difficult feelings and simply bask in the place where I feel happiest.
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