- I have been on therapy and medication for years to deal with my anxiety and depression.
- I moved 10 minutes away from Disney World to see if it would help my mental health.
- Having the parks nearby makes me more eager to get out and socialize.
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 truest self.
There was something about being surrounded by people who embraced magic that made me feel safe and at peace. It was at Disney World where I could leave my anxieties at home for a day and just exist as a normal person.
As I got older, my anxiety became a full-blown disorder and was overshadowed by depression, which consumed me. While I had been in therapy and on medication for years, I was still miserable every waking minute of the day and longed for a time when I could take another trip to my happy place.
That’s when I thought about moving to Disney World. It seemed like a crazy idea at first because I’d never lived on my own, but for the sake of my sanity, I was willing to give it a try.
It was the best decision for me
I talked about the idea with my therapist, friends and family and came to the conclusion that I would give it a try to see what would happen. At the end of the day, the worst that could have happened was that I hated it and went home.
But after nearly three months of settling into my new apartment just 10 minutes from Disney World, I can wholeheartedly say that it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made for my mental health.
I don’t say that because it’s all magic and pixie dust, albeit very often. I still have rough days, with depression leaving me stuck in bed as I go days without showers and my apartment falling into total disarray. But when I can muster the energy to get out of bed, having the parks to go to makes me excited to hang out, socialize, and relax, which I’ve found has been very beneficial for my mental health.
On days where I normally sat in my room and slept or worked all day, I find myself in the parks living my life. I have more than one reason and desire to take breaks and have some fun.
There are also some elements of visiting parks that have added healthy habits to my life. When I’m in the parks, I’m out in the sunlight. My therapists have always insisted on the importance of vitamin D, especially for coping with depression, but I’ve never really listened before.
Now that I’m in parks a lot, which are essentially all outdoors, I’ve had more exposure to sunlight and that has had a profound effect on my mood. And walking in the parks has increased my physical activity, which I’m sure has had an effect on both my mental and physical well-being.
It’s easier to socialize in parks than anywhere else
I think the most helpful part was the social aspect of being in the parks. I find it easier to socialize and have a desire to make connections. Since there is this shared love for Disney, this is the ice breaker and makes the rest of the conversation easier.
Even when meeting characters in parks, it gives me an opportunity to converse about an imaginary world, which provides me with an outlet to escape the banal chatter that drains my life in regular conversation.
That said, I’m very fortunate to have been able to move near Disney World. It gave 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 step away from my intrusive thoughts and difficult feelings and just bask in the place where I feel happiest.