Hello everyone, my name is Ruth and I'm the moderator for this site. When I first left the USA, I felt like I was all alone. I wasn't, of course, and I made friends but it sometimes took me a long time to feel like I had my footing. I felt guilty at times for wanting to get out of a place after trying so hard to get there in the first place. In some cases, I tried to make friends but the other English speakers lived hours away from me so it made it hard to stay in touch. I moved abroad to start over and intended from the beginning to make it a long-term thing. This made it hard to connect sometimes because a lot of the other expats acted like they were on a permanent vacation and weren't worried about working or staying legal in a country. After all, they were just passing through. I struggled to find others who were living and working "normal" lives overseas. It was from this point of departure that I created this website.
In retrospect, I think a lot of what I was really dealing with was depression. The more I learn about depression, the more I understand my life and some of the decisions I've made. I thought I could beat it with a healthy dose of curiosity and beautiful landscapes, opportunity for travel, and delicious foods. Overall, I think I did better than I would have otherwise but there were times when I felt awful. Whenever someone acted like I had no reason to be depressed because I lived in such a beautiful place, I felt guilty and ashamed for feeling depressed. It wasn't until I learned more about depression that I realized what was going on.
Dealing with mental health issues when you live in a foreign country can be difficult for many reasons. First, you might struggle to find someone you feel comfortable with who speaks your language fluently enough to understand the nuances of what you're saying. Second, you might struggle to find someone who understands your culture enough to relate to some of the challenges you might be facing while you're trying to adapt. Third, you might not understand why you're feeling this way when after all, you have so much around you that others only dream of seeing. Sometimes, the small pressures build and it begins to feel like death by a thousand tiny cuts to the point where you feel like screaming when you call the bank or realize you can't cancel your train pass for another 9 months (those are real situations that have made me scream out loud).
The point of this forum is to build a community where we can share experiences. Not every experience overseas is a magical one to write a movie about. In order to become a place where people go dump their problems and feel worse, I want to build a community of strength, where we can share resources so that together we can learn to grow in healthy ways. My goal is to help others learn to live their best lives no matter where they are located.