About ten years ago, I arrived as a Nigerian freshie to a Northern English city called Leeds. I lived in this city for about two years before I moved down to Southern England where I have now lived for over 8 years. Although my time in Leeds was relatively short, I still describe it as the longest and saddest period of my life that I never want to experience, ever again.
Whenever I look back at my time there, most of the memories are painfully sad. I experienced long periods of intense sadness (which I am loathe to refer to as depression, because I was never diagnosed) the likes of which I had never experienced before in my 23 years prior. I’m sure a lot of it was due to the fact that I was experiencing big changes in my life at that time. I was a newly-wed living in a new, cold and grey country, completely removed from everything that was familiar to me. Add to that, nine months later, I got pregnant.
There were tears nearly everyday. I was painfully homesick, missing my friends and family back home and because I was struggling to find a job, I began to feel like I had lost my purpose. So, I began to withdraw from people, which made my feelings of isolation worse. And when I did summon the courage to speak to some people back home about my feelings, I was told to be grateful, focus on my new husband and enjoy my life. They just didn’t understand how I could have someone so close to me in terms of proximity and still feel lonely or sad. Leeds, for me, symbolises a time of intense struggle, pain and sadness.
But I want to change that.
Next week, I will be going back to Leeds for the first time since I left it on that cold October evening in 2012. I want to go back to the flats we lived in, walk the same streets again, pray at the same masjid and allow the feelings to wash all over me again so that perhaps I can be free from them. Or maybe I will be reminded of some happy memories that have been buried beneath all the grimness. Who knows?
I know it wasn’t all doom and gloom as I had a lot of exciting and embarrassing firsts in this city and I am keen to relive them and share them with my children now. Leeds will always be a part of my history and I think it’s time for me to experience it all again with fresh eyes, and a wider perspective and maybe I’ll emerge with a clearer and more objective picture. After all, they say hindsight is 2020! (Wink)
I’ll keep you posted!