Following on from my interview on Monday with an expert on expat depression, I thought I would like to find out more about the reality of how mental health issues can actually affect people living overseas. I am keen to find out more about how it manifests itself, what people have done to help themselves if they feel they may be depressed, what works and what doesn’t.
The more we bring this issue into the open the easier it will be to help each other. I doubt many of us have entirely escaped some form of at least culture shock, if not low mood or even full-on depression while they have been living overseas. Whilst it is easy to see why this might be (isolation, loss of self, huge life changes, possibly loss of career or independent means of making money, distance from your usual support network, loneliness, fear of crime, loss of intellectual stimulation, boredom…the list could go on and on), what doesn’t seem to be talked about openly is what people have done to combat their depression.
People never like to admit to being anything more than “down”, and I think for expats this is compounded by the expectations of others that we are “living the dream”. And for those of us living in the developing world or in places where they are surrounded by people much worse off than they are, this feeling that we “shouldn’t complain” is made worse by guilt. How can we feel so unhappy when there are people who literally have to sleep on the streets because they can’t afford shelter? How about their mental health?
In fact, that guilt is yet another thing that can lead to depression and another thing we have to learn to deal with. It can be very hard in particular for those living in a developing world country for the first time, or who have otherwise lived a sheltered life. But it is important to remember that you need to think about yourself and your own family as well as others. After all, how are you going to save the world if you can’t even get out of bed in the morning?
Anyway, in order to help me understand a bit more about depression and the impact it has on expats I have put together a short survery that I hope as many people as possible will fill in. It is as anonymous as you want it to be. Please share with others and add any experiences you have had, whether they be first hand, second hand or thirty-third hand. I am hoping to write at least one blog post with the information and possibly some articles as well. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below but otherwise, thankyou for your anticipated participation.
Go to the survery HERE