Living Abroad While Minimalist: Depression
Moving Abroad While Minimalist is a series. I'm starting this series off on a heavy note because it's my reality. I'll have more posts on packing, budgeting, etc., but first, I need to get this off my chest.
After one month of living in Mexico, I found myself slipping into depression. The excitement of making a major life transition can sometimes overshadow the challenges. In the first few weeks, everything is new, but as you start to develop a routine and build your new life, the newness wears off and you start to contemplate if you've made a mistake somewhere along the way. I'm pretty much venting my thoughts below, but I tried to organize them.
Making a house a home.
Hunting for a place to live, finding it after a month, and then making that place a home was overwhelming for me. Not being prepared to spend a lot of money on things to furnish your home and still have your home feel empty. Grappling with whether you are spending too much money, what is a need (when you need everything) and what is a want, how soon do you need everything, and will my budget survive this move. Regretting decisions.
Feeling like I was dependent on others and not having control over my time. Being an introvert amongst extroverted people. Finding your place in already established relationships and feeling like the monkey in the middle. Understanding what the truth is in these already established relationships and then trying to formulate your own independent thoughts and still maintain the relationships.
Already having a tenuous relationship with "the holidays" and then experiencing them in a new country and away from family and friends.
Starting work on my first full day in Mexico, when I said I wasn't going to work for the first few months and learning how to teach in general and English specifically. Also, completing an online TESOL course in the process. Not balancing my interests (Black Minimalists, this blog, self-care) well.
Things you can't control.
The weather in Orizaba leaves a lot to be desired. I mean we've had multiple cold spells and apparently, it hasn't been this cold in years. Can you imagine the temperature dropping from the 80s to the 50s within 24 hours, let alone the fact these houses are made of cement (no insulation) and central heating is non-existent? So, mixed in with my depression is some SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) to boot.
I'm going to be okay though.
After writing all of this out, I totally understand why I'm depressed. Also, experiencing depression when moving abroad is not unusual. I actually read a blog with people talking about how long it took them to adjust to their new countries and the challenges they faced. It helped me understand what I am experiencing is normal.
I've now been here for three months. I'm still going through it, but just admitting what I'm feeling to myself and others has lifted a huge weight. I'm understanding that depression feels differently depending on the day and I'm giving myself permission to feel what I feel and space to work through it in my own way. Journaling, meditating, prioritizing my interests, and just being alone has helped a lot.
Even through my depression, I'm still happy to be here and there are days when I wake up and can't believe how blessed I am to experience this. I do plan on sharing my suggestions on how to survive your first time living abroad, soon, once I make it through to the other side.