The Expat Blues – Part 1
New adventures await when you sign up to move overseas, but sometimes once reality sets in, the new adventure no longer seems so exciting. Expats all over the world go through the period of transition upon arrival and settling in to your new life and roles, but sometimes it is hard to move past those “blues” and avoid full on depression. Once the newness wears off and you realize life isn’t always cocktail parties, grand vacations, and fun, an expat’s mental health can take a hit.
Expats decide to move overseas for a variety of reasons, some of which include exposing our families to new cultures, escaping our current boring life, a desire to travel and see the world, and yet some have no choice due to the company’s demand. Upon learning of a move, each expat begins to form his/her own ideals about what this adventure will look like and more often that not, things don’t always go as planned.
Expat life is oftentimes difficult, especially in the beginning when you’re trying to get your feet settled. Several reasons lend itself to unhappy feelings right from the start.
1. Things are changing.
A lot of things are changing at once. Life comes at you hard when you move abroad and have to start over in every aspect of life. Even the simplest of decisions that you never gave a thought to in your previous life require a lot of energy.
2. Your life is not what it used to be.
Things end and others begin. Sometimes the things we hated about our “old” life now take on an ideal view in our minds once we have to say goodbye and that makes it difficult to welcome new things.
3. You feel like you lost your support systems.
Skype and Facebook help you stay in touch but much of your former friends’ lives keeping going without you and that doesn’t always feel good. Family and friends are in another country and a time zone away making it hard to connect. Also, most of your support system does not fully understand what you’re going through anyway.
4. There is a learning curve, and often it’s big.
Learning to do a new job or run a household in a new country surrounded by unique circumstances is difficult. It takes time and patience to figure out everything in this new culture.
5. Moving abroad creates stress for everyone in the family, especially the relationship with your partner.
When your support systems are taken away and you are forced to rely on each other, especially during the initial stages of the move, it’s completely normal to have low moods and irritability.
So, what do you do? Next article we will talk about how to get through this transition and the warning signs you need help.
Author: Melissa Doyle, FNP-BC, MSN, RN