I thought that once I got past the six-month hurdle, my expat days would be bright and sunny, says one of Expatica’s bloggers, who finds that the Expat Blues can sneak up on you when you least expect them.
I thought that once I got past the six-month hurdle, my expat days would be bright and sunny. I’m learning however, that the Expat Blues can sneak up on you when you least expect them.
Understanding the Expat Blues
On the surface, I’m the picture of the well adjusted expat – I’m settled in my home, I can find my way around Brussels and travel easily to neighbouring cities (more or less), I’m getting more comfortable with the languages I face everyday, and I’ve found ways of maintaining my career while playing the role of the trailing spouse. I even tend to be the person in my group of friends who’s always pointing out the positive aspects of living in Belgium. I couldn’t possibly be unhappy here… or so I thought.
I try hard to be positive to my fellow expats, to friends and family, and especially in my blogs. The truth is, I was so busy convincing everyone, including myself, how wonderful expat life is, that I started avoiding all of the things about it that make me unhappy.
Besides, I have great friends, an amazing family and a wonderfully supportive husband. I’m living the life I always wanted to live. I felt I didn’t have a right to be depressed about anything.
But as things contained under pressure have a tendency to do when you shake them up a little, I exploded. Suddenly all of the negative feelings that I had bottled up spewed out and now I’m trying to clean up the mess.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t changed my mind about expat life, or even Belgium itself. I still love it here. But I’m learning that it’s ok to have down days too.
How to beat the Expat Blues
I’m not sure exactly what triggered the Expat Blues – maybe it’s the weather (I always have been a bit prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder); maybe it’s that birthday with a big fat zero on the end of it that’s arriving in a few weeks; or maybe it’s just an ordinary old case of the blahs. Whatever the case, now that I recognise the problem, I can try to cope with it, instead of bottling it up or blocking it out.
So to cope, I’m trying to take my own advice by doing all of the things I have told my expat pals to do when Belgium is getting the best of them: I’m setting myself some work related goals and a schedule, even though I work from home; I’m trying to soak up what little daylight is available and eat healthier; and I’m trying to inspire myself creatively by surrounding myself with beautiful things.
Most of all, I’m reminding myself that it’s ok to reach out to people for help when I’m feeling down. So I’d love to hear any advice from my fellow expats who have overcome the Expat Blues.
© Alison Cornford-Matheson