I try to keep my writing on the upbeat and light side. However, this month a case of the “Expat Blues” hit me pretty hard. I’ve heard of this experience, but more often hits people who abruptly move to a whole different climate, culture, etc. I’ve been coming here since 2007 on a regular basis and lived here full time for almost 2 years. I live in paradise. I love Rocky Point. I love Mexico. I have very little stress in my life anymore, and there’s not much that a margarita on the beach can’t fix.
When I researched the term “expat blues”, it’s a very common experience. It hits people for different reasons at different times in their life abroad. I want to be sure to state the blues are different from depression. Depression is a serious medical condition that requires treatment with a doctor or psychologist or psychiatrist. The blues are a temporary condition. However, left unchecked, the blues can turn into depression.
One of the reasons we chose to move to Puerto Peñasco was its proximity to the US. It’s not like we really moved “abroad” or to a remote area 20 hours from anything familiar. Language is not a huge barrier as many locals speak English, and there is a large expat community. We have friends and colleagues and a pretty great local support system in place.
After researching this phenomenon, multiple/varying factors are usually at play. It hit me that I am very dependent on my Spanish speaking friends for many everyday tasks. My Spanish is passable in casual situations, but things like banking, paying bills, and even certain shopping situations, I need help. I have always prided myself on being fiercely independent and taking care of myself. Without consciously realizing it, being so dependent on the time and kindness of others, often do basic things, was a major self-confidence hit.
I’ve been remodeling one of our rental condos and it’s been really fun and challenging. It’s my first big project on my own since our move. At the very end of the renovation, the oven didn’t fit, (which I had carefully measured multiple times) and the plug was wrong for the outlet, and I had a renter coming in less than a week. I had a total meltdown, I cried most of the day, over an oven, which in the scheme of things is not really the biggest deal. Then I found other little things that were sending me into crying spells, often so ridiculous, I was laughing at my uncontrollable crying. I had to sit back and to examine what was making feel so down. In addition to needing help with translation on this project, I had also been shopping in what seems like every store in Peñasco to find a piece for this, or a part for that. It’s definitely not like going to Home Depot in the states where the stores are well stocked. I’m trying to calculate prices and exchange rates on every purchase. Add to that there were days I felt like I was just literally sitting around waiting (for a part, an appliance, my contractors to show up). I was going crazy with frustration and boredom some days. In the end, as it usually does, everything worked out. The renovation was completed, it looks amazing, and it was done with one day to spare for my first rental.
Holiday issues are also a common triggering factor for many expats. And the holidays are rapidly approaching. I assumed (yeah, I know) that my Arizona family would want to do holidays down here, on the beach, in paradise. We had been talking about this for a few years leading up to our move. However, to our disappointment, most of our US family wants to do holidays the same way they have always done them; and I’m ready for new traditions in my new home. Holidays are often stressful under the best conditions, but when there is family contention, it is no bueno.
So, what does one do to alleviate these blues? There are lots of great articles online about this issue, depending on what is causing your blues. The best advice I found for me, is to let myself have fun and remember the reasons we moved here and be a tourist for a while. Believe it or not, I still have a bucket list of things I haven’t done in Rocky point: A sunset cruise, a whale watching cruise, the oyster farms, and a Pinacate tour. So, in the coming months I should have lots more to write about; and, I’m buckling down on my Spanish lessons.
Que tengas un buen dia!