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Old 22.05.2012, 20:33
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

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If you live in Zug, every day is like Sunday (almost). Luckily we are not far from Zurich so my advice to Izabela is to get on the train and get to know some expats in Zurich.

I have lived previously in Geneva and it is so much easier to "integrate" with people there. In the Deutschschweiz, your best bet is to get to know other expats, especially if you are here for a fixed term only.
I've never had a problem here. I'd suggest that rather than generalizing against the German-speaking Swiss, you take a bit of a look inwards. People here are great!
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Old 22.05.2012, 21:47
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

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i get bored all the time.

are you calling me boring???
Do you spend all of your time then Phil counting your dosh?
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Old 22.05.2012, 22:07
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

Is that in 100s, 1000s million or billions (milliards of course)
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Old 23.05.2012, 13:58
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

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I've never had a problem here. I'd suggest that rather than generalizing against the German-speaking Swiss, you take a bit of a look inwards. People here are great!
Some cultures are much easier to integrate into than others. It isn't about having problems.
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Old 23.05.2012, 14:43
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

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Some cultures are much easier to integrate into than others. It isn't about having problems.
Sometimes it's the whole package. At a different time in your life, you might really like it here.

In 1995, I got married and right away we moved from the Northestern US to Southeastern US. I hated it. Everyone told us how lucky were were to move there, and how great it was and I had very high expectations. It never seemed to measure up. Over time, I learned to deal, but I can't say that I ever really liked it.... and when my husband got the offer to move here, I was perhaps more realistic. At any rate, the adjustment to living here has been easier than adjusting to live in another part of my own country. But I think a lot of it, for me, had to do with where I was in my head, and what I was expecting.

I think I was more realistic about moving here than I was in 1995 moving within the US.
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Old 23.05.2012, 15:06
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

Yes, individual circumstances play a big role in deciding whether an individual can fit into a new social environment. The characteristics of the new environment itself are also important. And some are easier to adapt to than others.
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Old 23.05.2012, 15:21
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

Some countries are easier to blend in. That's a fact.

Im really glad we have a sounding board for those who need a bit of tlc and pep talk.

I teach people with all sorts of difficulties. You can imagine how much more I embrace fighters than those who give up.

Up and at it.

The underpriviledged have often mastered the art of survival well. Adaptability and adjustement,you get busy working with what you have got. You dont assign blame or look for outside cause or explanation.

We all here have an enormous potential.
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Old 23.05.2012, 15:44
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

From the article:

«Psychologen meldeten sich bei uns und berichteten uns von den vielen Expat-Frauen, die wegen Depressionen in Behandlung sind»

(My bolding)

Please bear in mind that what the article is talking about is not whiny Ladies Who Lunch, but rather real cases of depression. Which is why I find tone of many posts in this thread rather unsettling.

In other EF threads touching on depression, most posters have shown a great deal more compassion, more understanding of those who are suffering from this serious illness. That the illness happens to hit an expat wife makes it no less real, no less in need of treatment and support - and no less worthy of compassion.

Lectures on pulling up one's bootstraps are perhaps helpful when a newbie is trying to find his/her feet in a new country/culture. But depression - no matter what the cause - is in a whole different category.

(In my almost 15 years here, I've known a good dozen 'expat' divorces and probably as many failed expat assignments due to the family's unhappiness and, tragically, one suicide.)

IMO, dismissing the issue as 'expat blues' does a disservice to those who are suffering, and to those who are trying to help.

Last edited by meloncollie; 30.05.2012 at 09:35.
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Old 23.05.2012, 16:01
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

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Please bear in mind that what the article is talking about is not whiny Ladies Who Lunch, but rather real cases of depression. Which is why I find tone of many posts in this thread rather unsettling.
I didn't read it. This is a forum for people who speak/read English. The OP was a single URL, with no description or discussion, and the URL pointed to an article in a foreign language.

This type of spam is usually deleted, but wasn't in this case.
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Old 23.05.2012, 16:05
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

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From the article:

«Psychologen meldeten sich bei uns und berichteten uns von den vielen Expat-Frauen, die wegen Depressionen in Behandlung sind»

(My bolding)

Please bear in mind that what the article is talking about is not whiny Ladies Who Lunch, but rather real cases of depression. Which is why I find tone of many posts in this thread rather unsettling.

In other EF threads touching on depression, most posters have shown a great deal more compassion, more understanding of those who are suffering from this serious illness. That the illness happens to hit an expat wife makes it no less real, no less in need of treatment and support - and no less worthy of compassion.

Lectures on pulling up one's bootstraps are perhaps helpful when a newbie is trying to find his/her feet in a new country/culture. But depression - no matter what the cause - is in a whole different category.

(In my almost 15 years here, I've known a good dozen 'expat' divorces, probably as many failed expat assignments due to the family's unhappiness and, tragically, one suicide.)

IMO, dismissing the issue as 'expat blues' does a disservice to those who are suffering, and to those who are trying to help.
You raise a really important point. And I probably brushed this off a little too lightly too. In my Southern US experience, I was frequently depressed. There was one point where I went to visit my father and told my husband I wasn't sure I wanted to come back. I did, and then I started on my therapeutic adventure. It's a chicken-egg sort of thing... was I depressed before we moved? I don't know. I think the moving exacerbated any tendencies.

I spent most of last year being treated for cancer. After my diagnosis, I was still less depressed than those first few years in the south. But by then I suppose I'd had a lot of treatment for depression and lots of coping strategies.


If you are depressed - to a clinical point, probably the best thing you can do is seek help. Meloncollie is totally right - telling people to tough it out may not help. Being in a stressful environment exacerbates any underlying issues. Would those same issues arise in another environment? Not necessarily. If you were working at a high powered job and earning as much as your spouse, you may not have had to develop coping strategies - then you get plunked down here with way too much time on your hands, no longer a salary, and no way to cope. The proverbial crap hits the fan and you're in a dark, dark space.
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Old 23.05.2012, 16:19
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

If you can pull yourself out of a funk the opposite is also true. A lot of people have expectation issues and ought to be aware their happiness is not dependent on the permission of another, nor entitlements perceived from a life of privilege.

Depression is ghastly but those who have the means of doing something about improving their circumstances are usually a lot more vocal about their misery than those who have no option but to toil on. This rankles. No whinning.

Rich people - as Expats statistically are - moaning about their despair rarely get the sympathy vote. Nobody disrespects the condition of clinical depression but sincerity / honesty are in short supply.

As Neil Young said: "Rust never sleeps".
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Old 23.05.2012, 16:30
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

Absolutely, both Dot and Meloncollie. I totally understand what you are saying. It is true that 'being thrown' into an uncomfortable and unknown situation, at home or abroad- can truly exacerbate perhaps underlying issues, including depression.

I recently read a very interesting in the BMJ about depression. (British Medical Journal May 5th issue).
It seems that the US and CH are on a worrying trend and on par- with both countries suffering from a 25% rate of diagnosed depression or mental illness - which is of serious concern.

However - the Doctor who wrote the article is concerned and I quote:

'This is so large a figure that there can be only one conclusion: psychiatry is medicalising normality. The definition of 'mental illness (and depression) is one of opinion'....... Thus, millions of normal but innatentive, disruptive, unruly, moody or shy children are labelled for life as mentally ill......
New proposals by the 'Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) will see bereavement reclassified as 'clinical depression' should it last for more than 2 weeks..... (and for children) three 'temper outbursts' a week and being 'irritable and angry' are enough for children to be labelled forever and given medication..... It is yet more industrial mass production psychiatry to serve the drug industry, for which mental ill health is the profit nirvana of lifelong multiple medication. .....
I know that many psychiatrist believe this too, so it is time to take a stand against the mayhem of modern psychiatry'

From the BMJ 'From the frontline', by Doctor Des Spence.

It must be very hard to make the difference and cut the fine line, between true clinical depression - and a depressive state induced by bereavement, as he mentions, or malaise in a new environment, as in the case of maybe 'trailing' expat spouses. The second is causal and understandable - and needs sympathy and solutions which may be not best treated by drugs or psychiatry- the first being a totally different kettle of fish altogether.

It must be true that for those of us not normally affected by depression, it must be a lot easier to determine to have a positive, combative attitude, à la 'pull your socks up', than for those with a tendency to depression.
As always, that fine line is not easy to determine.

Last edited by Odile; 23.05.2012 at 17:05.
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  #73  
Old 23.05.2012, 16:31
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

I sing the "expat blues" every time I go shopping here...

and especially if it's on a Saturday.
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Old 23.05.2012, 17:15
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

25% depression? Good God. I've never been to a country with so many kids on Ritalin.

The world's gone mad, gone mad.
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Old 23.05.2012, 17:17
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

At least one thing in which CH and US are equal
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Old 24.05.2012, 23:25
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

gotta love Switzerland, where the trailing spouse is always a woman.
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Old 24.05.2012, 23:50
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

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Absolutely, both Dot and Meloncollie. I totally understand what you are saying. It is true that 'being thrown' into an uncomfortable and unknown situation, at home or abroad- can truly exacerbate perhaps underlying issues, including depression.

I recently read a very interesting in the BMJ about depression. (British Medical Journal May 5th issue).
It seems that the US and CH are on a worrying trend and on par- with both countries suffering from a 25% rate of diagnosed depression or mental illness - which is of serious concern.

However - the Doctor who wrote the article is concerned and I quote:

'This is so large a figure that there can be only one conclusion: psychiatry is medicalising normality. The definition of 'mental illness (and depression) is one of opinion'....... Thus, millions of normal but innatentive, disruptive, unruly, moody or shy children are labelled for life as mentally ill......
New proposals by the 'Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) will see bereavement reclassified as 'clinical depression' should it last for more than 2 weeks..... (and for children) three 'temper outbursts' a week and being 'irritable and angry' are enough for children to be labelled forever and given medication..... It is yet more industrial mass production psychiatry to serve the drug industry, for which mental ill health is the profit nirvana of lifelong multiple medication. .....
I know that many psychiatrist believe this too, so it is time to take a stand against the mayhem of modern psychiatry'

From the BMJ 'From the frontline', by Doctor Des Spence.

It must be very hard to make the difference and cut the fine line, between true clinical depression - and a depressive state induced by bereavement, as he mentions, or malaise in a new environment, as in the case of maybe 'trailing' expat spouses. The second is causal and understandable - and needs sympathy and solutions which may be not best treated by drugs or psychiatry- the first being a totally different kettle of fish altogether.

It must be true that for those of us not normally affected by depression, it must be a lot easier to determine to have a positive, combative attitude, à la 'pull your socks up', than for those with a tendency to depression.
As always, that fine line is not easy to determine.
I agree with you..not only because of my personal experiences, but since it is always very difficult to determine, either in therapy, or in teaching, or in regular bonding, that fine combo of right amount of stimuli and healthy frustration and support to those who happen to be stuck, and how to deliver it, too. But that's the ever running dilemma of therapists, innit..We won't solve it here, but can offer diversity, different experiences and attitudes. That's all good. People will pick up from our musings whatever they happen to need.

By saying things might get easier once you distance yourself and actually start making steps towards something, we are not being disrespectful, stigmatizing or deliberately banalizing the painful situ of expat partners who feel stuck. All the other feelings that come with it, me thinks, are symptoms of that moment, when one's identity and whatever we identified with before, got shifted.

It's about control. We had it and now we don't, or we feel like we do not at the moment. It's hard to see the how temporary it is. It's also about guilt. Trailing folks have hard time asking for things since they are not the "official" breadwinners. It's hard to see oneself as the important, supporting role without which the breadwinning might not have been possible at all. There are practical little steps, though, how to change all this, in order to legitimize the trailing spouse's needs.

I am not sure how much this has to do with the country we are in, though. All countries provide enough oppressive social malice, expectations, rigidity, etc. when you think about it.
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Old 25.05.2012, 00:04
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

I know many Swiss friends who were trailing wives to their Swiss husbands in the UK and the US - and sadly for most, it was a bit of a disaster. They find it very difficult to understand why I loved living in the UK so much, and why we so enjoyed our extensive holidays in the US.
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Old 25.05.2012, 10:58
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

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Trailing folks have hard time asking for things since they are not the "official" breadwinners.
An excellent description of this feeling by Meloncollie.

I once read that too many changes in quick succession (whether positive or negative!) can trigger off a real depression. Pulling oneself together just isn't an option here. For some people, new things are a challenge and fun. Others hate any sort of change. Some can cope with fresh situations well but it takes time for them to settle. It has little to do with 'will' or 'won't'. To the capable sort who don't have these problems, the others look like 'wimps'. If you are blessed with the 'This is a challenge which I can rise to face' sort of character just thank your lucky stars that you are. You might be able to give others, who need it, a little bit of space and a helping hand from time to time, even if you cannot understand them.

For those who are tottering on the line and need a few ideas to help them to cope, the old Tips for Trailing Spouses Thread has loads of good tips.
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Old 25.05.2012, 13:37
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

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25% depression? Good God. I've never been to a country with so many kids on Ritalin.

The world's gone mad, gone mad.
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