When you scroll through your Facebook news feed, you’ll often come across articles that attempt to explain what life is like for people with anxiety and depression. Some of these pieces are very relevant to many people even if they don’t resonate with all. However, the authors typically focus on the struggles of getting through the daily grind: work stress, financial problems, interpersonal issues. What few writers touch upon is handling the symptoms of these invisible diseases when you’re outside the familiar.
On the other side of the world without mental health services.
I live approximately 9,000 miles away from my family, friends, home and perhaps most significantly – my dog. Moving to Thailand to teach English was a choice I made despite the lifelong depression and anxiety diagnoses I’ve accepted and embraced.
There was a point when my doctor and my family weren’t sure that this temporary relocation was a reasonable and safe decision for me, given my mental #Health history. At times, I was unsure as well.
There have been a handful of very difficult days since I moved here. It can be stressful to live in the Land of Smiles when all you feel like doing is crying. It’s depressing to fall asleep in a big, empty (uncomfortable) bed when you’ve had a mutt sleeping on your feet for nine years. It’s challenging to go through those emotional days without access to your favorite comfort foods.
Handling the bad mental health days.
So how can you deal with depression and anxiety when you’re in a new place full of fresh faces and culture shock? I've never formally studied psychiatry, although I think I’ve had enough appointments throughout my life to merit an honorary degree, but a few other brand new teachers in Thailand have words of wisdom for you..
Advice from Americans living abroad.
“I first noticed being depressed on the second day in my new town when I felt ignored by the English teachers who were already living here. That was something I didn't prepare myself for. I was mentally prepared for culture shock, getting sick, and a million other things but feeling left out is what did me in,” Roxanne Sepehri, a 28-year-old San Diego native told Blasting News.
"I've had to take it day by day since then. The two things that have helped me get through the tough times are choosing not to worry about people who don't want to be my friend and reaching out to the people who do care."
Lonely in a new community.
Twenty-five year old Ian Rosen can relate to the decision to tackle depression symptoms as they come.
"When you’re abroad, and you only have yourself to rely on, another level of difficulty is added," he wrote to Blasting News. "I usually deal with [the lonely feelings] by telling myself that they are just [part of] a temporary emotional state that will soon pass.
I know they’ll come back eventually, but each time, I am stronger than the last."
For me, it's important to remember how far I've come in the past six years. There was a time when I didn't think moving abroad would ever be a possibility for me. Sometimes I'm thriving, sometimes barely surviving, here in Thailand. However, every single day I'm surpassing the expectations I once had for myself. #Travel