Friends, I’ve been reflecting on what a turbulent time the summer of last year was. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that I got really tired of living with an abusive neighbour and packed up a bag one day and left the flat without the intention of coming back. I spent some time staying in temporary accommodation while I made plans to move into privately rented accommodation and start a business.
All of this happened around August / September 2019, and although I have been publishing philosophy and theology posts since then, I’m aware that I haven’t really written a proper update explaining what happened. I’m sorry if any of you have been wondering, or feeling confused — I know many of you care (not that I deserve you to!)
Around September time I was supposed to be moving to Wimbledon, which is located in another borough of South London a short journey from where I had been living in Wandsworth. I had found a room in a flatshare in what felt like a good location. I would have been sharing with an Indian couple and an Italian girl. I was also planning to start up a small business working from home, and I had gone some way along the process of applying for a small business loan in order to do this.
So what happened? Well, I found that I didn’t feel comfortable in that place at all. For starters, the vibes that I got from the flatmates were not good. Also, it was quite a small flat without a communal living room, and having been living in a self-contained one bedroom flat for the last few years I found it very difficult transitioning into a shared flat where there was much less privacy and space.
Another thing that made me unhappy is that Wimbledon is a very expensive area. Although the rent for the room was reasonable, the living costs would have been very high. The only local supermarket was very expensive, and all the public amenities nearby were as well. In general, the whole feel of the area was not what I was expecting, and I found I was feeling unwelcome, lonely, and paranoid — not settling in well at all.
There came a day when, after I got into an argument with the Indian couple about some domestic issue, I felt that things weren’t working out, and that I should probably leave. I was in danger of becoming homeless, and I phoned the mental health crisis line, as well as a family member, to ask for advice. The general consensus was that it would be wise to return to my previous accommodation, even though I had given in my notice. I wrote an email to the landlord of my previous accommodation explaining that I would like to revoke my notice and return to the property.
I wasn’t happy about going back, because I had left that property feeling I was unable to continue putting up with the abusive behaviour of my neighbours. But it felt like the best thing to do in the circumstances. I had cancelled all the services for the flat — gas, electricity, water, TV licence, Internet, etc, and had also made the decision to come off state benefits because I intended to start being self-employed.
After I returned to the Wandsworth flat, which I felt very uneasy about (all things considered), I had to go through an upsetting and stressful process of severing my contract with the landlord from the Wimbledon flat and settling back into the old flat by taking out new contracts with all the aforementioned utility companies, and reapplying for the state benefits that would allow me to pay my rent. A complicating factor is that my bank had mistakenly cancelled my debit card while all this was going on, so I had very limited access to money.
In time, things settled down a little, and I was able to arrange the practicalities of moving back into the old place. I had given a lot of my belongings to a local church, because my room in the Wimbledon flat was relatively small, and I was fully intending never to return to the old place. I had to make several visits to the job centre to provide evidence of what was going on with my finances during this period, and one of their staff was very unkind and unhelpful, which made an already difficult situation a lot harder.
By around the middle of October, I had pretty much sorted out everything important back in the Wandsworth flat. The neighbour who had been causing me all the trouble that had prompted me to wish to move out was still behaving just as before (playing the very loud music, etc), and since I have moved back we have barely spoken, except that I think he knows I reported his behaviour because he has been very cold with me when we’ve crossed paths. He also stamps loudly on the floor outside my flat when he passes by, which I think is another of his cruel intimidation tactics.
Living in this flat would be wonderful if it wasn’t for the troubles I’ve had with both of my neighbours who live in the same building. Honestly, in the grand scheme of things, it could be much worse. But then, things can always be much worse.
There are things about living back in the old place — general atmosphere of the area, cheaper shopping, having my own space, good transport connections — that make this a great place to live in many ways. On a daily basis, when my neighbours act in a way that is thoughtless or antisocial, it frustrates me greatly, and I still often find myself thinking about how much I would love to find a place where I could be friends with my neighbours. Living within the mental health system can be really tough at times, and on a regular basis I have the urge to take steps towards living more independently, entering into employment again, and maybe looking to buy a small flat somewhere (if I were able to find the money for a deposit and get a mortgage).
I must, and do, always count my blessings. I have been able to purchase a few things for the flat to replace some of the items I gave away, and I’m feeling like I’ve settled back in well, although I feel frustration about my neighbours on a daily basis. Both of my neighbours have mental health problems, so I suppose I shouldn’t expect a totally easy ride. And I know there have been times in the past (before I moved here) when I have not been the best neighbour myself due to going through a mental health crisis, so I shouldn’t be too quick to point the finger at others, even though they are difficult all the time, crisis or no crisis.
I hope that this post brings you up to speed with what’s been going on. If you’re the praying type, prayers for clarity and peace concerning living and working would be appreciated! I do a lot of journalling these days and I feel like a bit of a broken record because there have been so many journal entries entreating God to show me a happy and clear way forward!
Thank you for reading, and I should be back on Tuesday with a philosophy / theology post. God bless you all, and have a great week!