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  #101  
Old 29.05.2012, 14:16
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

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But, keep in mind Odile, you didn't get dragged to the UK by a male spouse with a job offer and, AND, you spoke the language to a certain degree AND, the UK was much less insular as Switzerland is even now. I lived in the UK in the 80s and remember absolutely hating the plumbing, the lack of proper heat and would have given my left boob for a decent cuppa at any point but...I loved living there. It's not the things you miss that break the deal, it's the little things that compound a misery already present which is why whining about the little things are often cathartic for the miserable since nobody wants to hear the fully story.

I'm not suggesting you didn't make a very admirable job of being a strong woman, but it does make a significant difference when you move somewhere of your own choice, work, find someone, marry, etc...vs. finding yourself in a 3rd culture that you didn't quite want to be in, but thought you'd wing it anyway only to find you're miserable. And, having lived in at least 3 countries where I didn't know the language, one of which being well outside the standard family of languages the EU languages enjoy (and, yes, every expat community has their gloomy sorts), I have to say that Switzerland presented the most challenging environment I've ever encountered both as an expat and as a visitor. Having 5yo children shun my child multiple times on the playground because she didn't speak german/swiss german...well, that was just the icing on the cake.

If nothing else, my outrage and ultimatum has led to my OH's company being Much MUCH more cautious with transfers to Zurich. I can be happy about that.

I had to laugh the other day when, as I was chatting with another mom while we were watching our kids swim, that I found that she had spent a year in Switzerland in college and...well, yes, she enjoyed it but was thrilled to leave at the end of the year (about 20 years ago). We shared some common complaints and giggles. It was a bit interesting that so little has changed over the years...

You presume a lot don't you? LOL. When I first went to UK, for 6 months on a 6 months contract, I spoke no English at all, although I knew a bit about literature and a bit of grammar - then I had to return to CH- as in those days it was impossible to extend the contract (pre-Shengen).

When I returned - I was definitely a trailing spouse. When I agreed to go back to UK the next year- never knew that in the meantime I would be crippled by a car accident. That I would be unable to work, unable even to get in and out of the house, unable to get onto public transport, and of course unable to work, etc, etc. Without a phone, TV, internet, Skype, or any means of contact with the outside world. That I'd be stuck in a filthy cold, damp flat on by own for days and nights at at time on my own, with an OH working 130 hrs per week. Then we moved North and had 2 children one after the other, as soon as I'd recovered and learnt to walk again. Stoke-on-Trent was not the easiest place for me to adapt to- and have my first child (by emergency ceasarian, home after 3 days on my own). With a move to Leics just weeks before second baby arrived- without any help or support. Never had a lesson in English - just got on with it.

I had to decide - sink or swim. Or go back home to my (wonderful and loving parents). Swimming was defo the best option- so I swam - fast.
I was depressed at times, but I realised the depression was due to circumstances, not true depression- and the best was to get on with it- no psychiatrist or drug would have helped, really. BEst for me, but also for my OH and my kids (we were married 41 years ago today - in a local Swiss hospital, as after 6 months in hospital, 4 1/2 in traction, I fell and re-broke my leg the day before the wedding, about 1 hours after future OH's arrival at our house. A very strange wedding it was).

Very important for true depression to be differentiated from circumstantial depression imho- and not medicalise the second- much better in the long term.

PT - you often talk about womens' rights - so I am surprised that you would let anybody 'drag you kicking and screaming' over here. Surely this would have been discussed and a joint decision made?

Last edited by Odile; 29.05.2012 at 15:53.
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  #102  
Old 29.05.2012, 15:13
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

Congratulations on your 41st anniversary Odile!
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  #103  
Old 29.05.2012, 15:25
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

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That was certainly not the reason my husband applied for his job here in Switzerland. It was as other posters have said, for the lifestyle, to get away from the stress of his previous work and the daily three hour return commute.
Since I gave up work to be here with him, we are comparatively worse off financially, but wealthy in many other ways.
And for us it was even non of these reasons. For my husband, he HAD to come to Switzerland eventually in his career. He will have to go back again, again for his career. Of course, he could has stayed where he was but it wasn't going to fit with his ambitions.

So not the money, not the life style, just job related.
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  #104  
Old 29.05.2012, 16:17
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

This forum post is now so long that it is showing up on Google when you search "Trailing Spouse".

This is just my two cents as a long-time survivor here (by my definition, anyway). Normally I put my rants/ventings/praisings/tips, etc. on my blog, but it seems like there are some REALLY unhappy "trailers" on this thread, so I'll chime in.

Number One Thing That Will Get You Out of Your Funk: Go to school and learn the language. That's probably the last thing you want to hear, but it's true, so suck it up and get on with it. And DON'T get a private tutor or go to a school where you are the only one in the class. Find a school in the nearest big city with 5 or 6 people in the class, pay the money and do it.

Not only does going to school give you some reason to get out of bed and take a shower in the morning, you will meet people from everywhere and you can all commiserate together each time a new verb tense is introduced.

I cannot explain to you what a difference in your life it will make when you bump into your neighbor and you can say something beyond "hello". You know that gut-tightening, armpit-sweat-inducing feeling you get when somebody tries to speak to you or you realize that you HAVE to speak to somebody? Well, it just goes away. You actually feel EMPOWERED by your new mastery of verbs. Ridiculous, I know, but true.

I have been here long enough that when I meet my husband's (international company) colleague's spouses who have just moved here, I can tell immediately if they are going to cut it or not. I can tell who is just faking it and along for the ride and who is committed to actually making it for the long haul.

You can call it clinical depression if you want, or non-adaptation, or trailing spouse malaise, or whatever. Here's a crucial test: if you are still calling your old country "home" after 24 months, and Switzerland, "where we live at the moment", you are not going to make it. Of course, if you are here for only a short period of time, this does not apply.

I have been expounding on this for over 3 years on my blog, http://trailingwife.blogspot.com/ (Yes, I'm "that woman"!) I did it and you can, too, whether you are a trailing wife or a trailing husband or just a miserable ex-pat.

Last edited by TheSpouse; 29.05.2012 at 16:36. Reason: typo
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  #105  
Old 29.05.2012, 16:30
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

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www.trailingwife.blogpost.com. (Yes, I'm "that woman"!)
Link doesn't work...
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  #106  
Old 29.05.2012, 16:37
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

Fixed. Sorry.
http://trailingwife.blogspot.com/
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  #107  
Old 29.05.2012, 16:39
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

It does for me - looking forward to reading it. Great post

Got to backtrack to this post -as I find myself on the naughty step. Santé and I'll join you. Today we celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary, and this thread makes me remember those days, when it was less than easy at times. Cheers - onwards and forwards. Bonne change to all

PS - had a good laugh reading it so far. Aggh, my favourite mountains, Les Dents du Midi, from the top of Chatel, Or Champery? looks like the piste at Chalet Neuf!

Last edited by Odile; 29.05.2012 at 17:25.
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  #108  
Old 29.05.2012, 16:40
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

Ha! My 700th post. Calls for a glass of rosé!
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  #109  
Old 29.05.2012, 17:02
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

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It does for me - looking forward to reading it. Great post

Got to backtrack to this post -as I find myself on the naughty step. Santé and I'll join you. Today we celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary, and this thread makes me remember those days, when it was less than easy at times. Cheers - onwards and forwards. Bonne change to all

PS - had a good laugh reading it so far. Aggh, my favourite mountains, Les Dents du Midi, from the top of Chatel, Or Champery?
Probably Châtel, where we bought the little mountain cabin. I don't know which picture, exactly, you are referring to, though. I have skied and hiked over the mountain from Champery, so it could be a shot from there. If there's snow, though, it's probably up at the top of Super-Châtel where it joins with Morgins, CH.
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  #110  
Old 29.05.2012, 17:06
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

P.S. Congratulations on 41 years of wedded bliss! Quite an accomplishment. I am only 26 myself, (26 years of marriage, considerably more so chronologically), so I bow to you.
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  #111  
Old 29.05.2012, 17:13
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While I agree with a lot of what you're saying, Odile, "circumstantial depression" left untreated can become clinically significant. I'm not saying that everyone needs meds and therapy, but medicalization is not always a bad thing. When we first moved to Chapel Hill, there were a lot of trailing spouses who weren't very happy. Some of them went on to have serious issues because they couldn't "snap out of it". I was one of them. And it worked for me.

What I'm saying is that if feelings of depression persist, if one self medicates to extremes, etc., then I don't think sympathy is going to help. And anyway, what's the big deal if you need some help? Sometimes I think trailing spouses beat themselves over the head because they aren't gleefully adjusted. And instead, maybe they need help. Networking, sympathy, therapy, meds...runs the gamut.

But anyway, the first time I was a trailing spouse, I was a reluctant trailing spouse. When we moved to Switzerland, I was a pushing, bag packing trailing spouse. Guess it was expectations. Also, idon't think we are typical expats. My husband's employer is Swiss (technically kt. Zürich, I think) and our move is more or less permanent.

And btw, we're married 17 years today. So it's a good day for weddings! Happy anniversary to you too Odile ;-)
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  #112  
Old 29.05.2012, 22:53
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

Totally agree Edot. Nothing wrong with asking for help, nothing wrong with drug treatment either. But with a current level of 25% officially diagnosed clinical depression in both US and CH- you've got to ask yourself it there isn't over diagnosis and over medicalisation in many cases of 'reactive' depression.

The official US psychiatry board states that bereavement lasting more than 3 weeks demands a diagnosis of depression. Or a child with 3 anger outbrusts a week is 'officially' diagnosed as having psychiatric disorder worthy of treatment with ritalin and label for life Sometimes it would be better to look for alternative solutions, counselling, time, support- rather than a prescription.
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Old 29.05.2012, 23:38
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Totally agree Edot. Nothing wrong with asking for help, nothing wrong with drug treatment either. But with a current level of 25% officially diagnosed clinical depression in both US and CH- you've got to ask yourself it there isn't over diagnosis and over medicalisation in many cases of 'reactive' depression.

The official US psychiatry board states that bereavement lasting more than 3 weeks demands a diagnosis of depression. Or a child with 3 anger outbrusts a week is 'officially' diagnosed as having psychiatric disorder worthy of treatment with ritalin and label for life Sometimes it would be better to look for alternative solutions, counselling, time, support- rather than a prescription.
I think 20-25% actually is reasonable. Not everyone needs medication, but 1 in 4 to 1 in 5 individuals experience significant anxiety or depression issues at some point in their lives. Many people get better over time, but often not fast enough for family, employers. If they seek help at all, it is for a quick fix because our culture has no tolerance for difficulty in coping. No one feels they have the time to work through these issues. And in terms of over medicalization, antidepressants are far too commonly handed out by primary care physicians who prescribe them rather than therapy or counseling - at least in the US, insurance if you have it, pays for meds.

I don't think Ritalin is as pertinent to depressed trailing spouses.
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  #114  
Old 30.05.2012, 06:31
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Re: are you singing the expat blues?

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I don't think Ritalin is as pertinent to depressed trailing spouses.
No, Ritalin would just seem to be over-prescribed for children who have a tendancy to be too lively and not just sit like zombies all day (but that's off-topic).

I would say that booze in many cases would be more pertinent to some of the trailing spouses
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