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The Mindful Expat

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Mental health awareness

Time for a more serious post.

It’s easy to believe that us wandering Expats are happy, fulfilled and content all the time. After all we signed up for this, right?

We know its not always so, don’t we?

If we are honest with ourselves and each other. Moving to a different country can be really hard.

Life isn’t always grand nor is it as glamorous as our INSTAGRAM accounts often portray……..no.

Sometimes it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Sure you can make a great photo album but have you spoken to anyone today?

Sometimes being an expat is a planet of one. Even in a busy young family. Once the kids are at school and the other half at work….what then?

It just feels too hard to integrate. To find common ground and to search out that life you thought was waiting for you.

In fact rarely do we find our shangri la by moving lock stock and two smoking barrels to an alien country.

Different country, same problems. Eh?

In our endless search for our dream life, we can find ourselves on unsteady feet and on shaky ground, as we try really hard to make it work, to fit in and to feel ‘at home’ again.

It really takes time. The stats say about two years. Thats a long time, isn’t it?

The realities of Expat life can bring real loneliness and depression. It can mean extreme isolation.

Not quite what you were expecting. Is it?

Then comes the disappointment, a feeling of failure and we suddenly find our mental health affected, in ways we can’t understand.

Hope is what keeps us moving forward. That and sheer gumption.

Just keep swimming and often it rights itself and we breathe a sigh of relief.

But what happens when its just too tough? What then?

Do we pack up and move back with our tails between our legs. Feeling the weight of failure or do we stay and fight a little longer for our dream?

Personally, I’ve experienced home sickness like no other during our time in Australia. No matter how hard I tried, the country would always be in the wrong hemisphere.

I thought that was the worst I could ever feel as an Expat. Truly. I was wrong. SAUDI was a whole different ball game. It challenged my mental health daily. It felt like a prison and those walls were closing in.

I am a survivor too.

New experiences can be exhilarating and liberating. Sure. Or they can just be hell. Either way it’s good to be aware of how you are feeling, especially during those first few months.

Look after your mental health.

Talk about it.

Expats are usually very willing to help. They are a friendly bunch who have done the uphill climb to happiness.

But…

It’s really okay to admit it’s a bit much.

Understand it all takes time, time and lots of hope.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your new life be.

It’s going to be an emotional rollercoaster, building this new life. You are going to struggle with the language, the paperwork and everyday life can become really stressful whilst you find your feet.

Just the car breaking down can rock your world!

It’s all new.

Everyday can seem like a bad day. Especially when you have zero friends to lean on.

Thankfully the internet is there to help.

I use Facebook to contact other Expats and Google Translate to bridge the language gap.

You know your host country doesn’t care that you can’t speak the language perfectly, they just care that you try.

You’ll have many non conversations that are just hand signals, gibberish and smiles.

It’s enough for now. Don’t worry.

Once settled, its so easy to stay safe within our community but we are adventurers and we must venture out.

We must reach out to help other new arrivals.

A problem shared is a problem halved.

It so is.

Walk it off. Talk about it and work really hard to find a group to join.

My saviour has always been writing. My dog and music. Cooking and reading. These things help me keep going.

Find your thing.

Breathe deep and enjoy the smallest success.

It will get better. I promise.

Sometimes all we need is a lunch date, a chat in our mother tongue and a glass of wine.

A shared experience.

Be that friend. Offer that glass of wine or cup of coffee.

Be kind to others and to yourself.

Be that mindful Expat.

You never know you may make a friend for life.

D x

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