Home stories Italy Gave Me PTSD

Italy Gave Me PTSD

written by M.E. Evans December 19, 2016

Italy gave me PTSD, guys.
Just kidding. It just might have made some serious anxiety I already had worse.

As you know, I’ve been struggling with what can best be described as a total mental breakdown that came out of absolutely nowhere. Or so I thought. Turns out, I’ve had symptoms that Indicated I haven’t been totally normal for a while but I didn’t pay much attention to it. Depression (not the usual sadness that people usually associate with it but a loss of interest in things I normally love and lack of motivation, feeling out of it, lack of concentration), debilitating anxiety (irritability, feeling like things are surreal, panic attacks, dark creepy thoughts that are super disturbing, insomnia, and all of that fun stuff). It all hit me full force about a month ago and so for the month of November until now I’ve been doing whatever I can to stabilize myself. I’ve been crying in the bathroom at work, rocking myself to sleep, and clinging desperately to Francesco, like a child who has had a nightmare. It’s been the opposite of a good time.  In fact, it takes all of my energy and efforts all day, every day to feel okay. Which is annoying because I’ve got shit I want to do. I’ve got goals, dammit.

I’m seeing a therapist twice per week, an acupuncturist, and a psychiatrist. I’m doing meditation, running, taking supplements and taking something to help me sleep. My “official” diagnosis is PTSD because my childhood was like, way stable. If you’ve read my other blog you know that by “way stable,” I mean, “not at all stable and weird as fuck.” Plus, my brother’s sudden death in 2008. When I told my mom about the diagnosis she was like, “Oh, a lot of people have that.” And I was like, “Yeah, those people are combat veterans.”

My therapist said that it’s “amazing,” that I’ve been able to keep myself stable my entire life and that it’s incredible that I’m a functioning adult. Nobody has ever called me functional before so I’m feeling pretty good about all of these compliments.

So, back to Italy. Italy didn’t actually GIVE me the PTSD but the stress, isolation, and overall self-esteem hit from the last few years and my in-laws, seemed to have made it much, much worse. Apparently, prolonged stress does some crazy stuff to your brain and adrenal glands. And moving back home, the reverse culture shock plus trauma seems to have really driven the crazy home.

Why am I writing about this? Here’s why: Because people never talk about mental health, and they should. “Normal” people have problems, and sometimes life is really hard and your brain can be an asshole and it doesn’t mean you’re broken. We all have bad months or bad years and sometimes we need help to get through it. I’m struggling.  If you are too, you’re not alone.

About Italy and moving abroad: If you struggle with unresolved trauma, depression, anxiety, (the symptoms of these are much different than what I thought. I thought that anxiety means feeling anxious and depression means feeling sad. Nope. Tons more symptoms and I had no idea) or a number of the disorders somewhere in this sphere, living abroad is still possible but you might want to mitigate the stress as efficiently as you can and make sure you have a strong support system to help you through the many transitions and added stresses.

There are therapists that specialize in expat problems. There are therapists that will talk with you on the phone, Skype, or via text. The moment you begin feeling overwhelmed, stressed, depressed, or not at all like yourself, get help. I didn’t and I regret it now. Getting help when you’re stressed or lonely or feeling down is important because it can A) bring up previous issues and make them worse, B) Cause new ones. I’ve been reading a lot about loneliness and guess what? It actually changes the gray matter in your brain. So literally, feeling alone can alter your brain. It’s fixable, but it’s not fun.

I would say that my situation in Italy was unique because I had a unwelcoming and cray-cray family situation, but I get sooooo many emails from people in the same situation every single day that I know that my situation in Italy was unique but also kind of common. There are a lot of you out there struggling right now.

What I’m NOT saying here is that you shouldn’t live abroad because it’s hard or you shouldn’t live abroad if your childhood sucked. Mine was basically like Stranger Things if Wynona Ryder wore camel-toe pants and married the plant monster. I’m also not saying that living abroad is hard for everyone. Every situation is different and sometimes getting away and moving to another country can be healing. My first two years in Italy were like a wonderland la-la fest and the best time of my life. The subsequent three years were filled with stress, anxiety, and feeling more alone than I ever have in my life. What I’m saying is this: Prepare for the struggle and get help when you need it. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to need it. And honestly, getting help really helps.

And, if you’re experiencing anxiety or depression, don’t wait. Get help from an expert. Also, try these things. They’ve been working for me:

Guided meditation for anxiety (you can find a great audio on iTunes by Bellaruth Knapperstack)

Exercise (running has been a game changer for me) but my doctor says I can only do it a few times per week as to conserve my cortisol.

SLEEP (if you’re experiencing insomnia, find something to knock you out. Be it melatonin or an OTC sleep aid. DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL WITH THEM and also I’m not a doctor so talk with yours before listening to me).

Talk with a therapist asap

See a psychiatrist who can make sure your body is in top shape. Mine ran a million tests and turns out a bunch of my vitamins are low. She said this stresses the body so I’m on so many supplements right now. Like, so many. Like and elderly woman amount.

Acupuncture. My lady is German and adorable and so good I don’t even notice that I’m being turned into a pin cushion.

Lavender essential oils on everything. I put it on my pillows, on my person, in the shower, in my smelly maker (the thing that puffs out water and scents…what’s it called?)

Supplements. Again, I have a holistic psychiatrist so she’s super big on supplements and health before medication. But, if medication is necessary, don’t be scared. It can be life-saving.

Support system: Lean on friends or join a group of people you can talk with and be around who are uplifting and positive. Don’t be afraid to tell people how you’re feeling. If someone isn’t supportive, fuck them. Tell them they’re an asshole and move on to someone who will be there for you the way you deserve.

If someone you care about is showing symptoms of anxiety or depression, encourage them to get help and try to support them in the best way you can. Don’t be a judgy fuckstick. Read about it before you get up on a high horse and decide it’s not a real problem.

Have any of you experienced culture shock, reverse culture shock, anxiety or depression when abroad? Or in life? How did you manage or cope? What’s your experience been like? Share your experiencing below and help others who are struggling now.

Tanti Baci to the moon and back.

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41 comments

Rachel December 19, 2016 at 7:51 am

Nodding and saying “hell yeah, sister” to a lot of this. Moved around a LOT all of my life since very early childhood. Now I’m a mom, wife and business owner, and we relocated from San Francisco to Iowa almost 6 years ago to be closer to my husband’s family. Talk about culture shock. I had a couple of major panic attacks when first driving by myself here–thoughts like “Holy Shit I could end up in Kansas or something” (on the highway with nothing but miles and miles of fields). Coping skills:
– talking to my besties on the coast on regular basis (or at least talking to them in my head)
– finding a good local therapist (she’s also “not from around these parts”)
– writing, writing, writing
– doing all kinds of family stuff and weekend trips
– supplements! Holy Basil, fish oil, vitamin D, lavender pills (not advice or guidance–talk to a doctor!)
– meditation and yoga at home
xo
Rachel

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M.E. Evans December 19, 2016 at 7:54 am

My doctor has me on fish oil, vitamin D, B vitamins and iron. So far, they are definitely helping. SAN Fran to Iowa is like moving to another country.

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Marie Therese December 19, 2016 at 8:05 am

I’m really sorry you’ve been going through a hard time. It sounds like you’re in good hands, so hopefully, you’ll be feeling stronger soon <3
Moving to Italy has not been easy for me and this post has kind of served as a "check engine light" for me. Because deep down, I know I'm not quite myself anymore, but I've gotten used to ignoring it. Thanks for sharing your experiences and helping me remember to look after myself, too.

Get better soon, M! xx, Marie

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Marina December 19, 2016 at 8:08 am

Oh honey, sending you much love and strength. Sounds like to have some great people helping you get back to full mental and physical strength again. Love your writing and brutal honesty, keep on keeping on eh. There are many of us out here who are listening. You are a star.

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Danielle December 19, 2016 at 8:20 am

Thank you for sharing your struggle. You’re an amazing lady. I hope you know that you have a whole virtual support-and-love network out there! Keep on keeping on girl. We’ll be here.

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dmoats098 December 19, 2016 at 8:49 am

Italy helped me with PTSD. I grew up in Naples and the people there don’t know the meaning of shyness or fear. They have this unstoppably open way of being (for better and worse) and they shy away from nothing. As anxious people, we tend to avoid everything but thanks to the heart and head-strong people of Naples, I learned to be brave and face myself and my fears. Grazie Napoli!

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druobrien65 December 19, 2016 at 9:22 am

How awesome that you can be so open and honest. Thank you for sharing. I went through a long period of depression and like you, I agree that the most important thing to do is talk to someone. It’s a dark devil that can consume you whole. So proud for you that you are addressing hard issues from your past. Hang in there…

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Gina Burdett December 19, 2016 at 9:29 am

Hi M.E.Evans Just feeling compelled to write you. First off, Bravo for taking the steps necessary to help mend your body and mind. It is extremely difficult dealing with mental health issues- let alone voicing these problems out loud. I was wondering why I had not seen one of your articulate and entertaining articles as of late. Now I know why. I want to thank you for being so open and honest with your experiences- it is both extremely refreshing and reassuring to know that at the end of the day we all have feelings and experiences that we struggle with. I have been reading your blog for a little while now (two years??)and have been living vicariously through you. I have been to Italy and of course, fell wildly in love with it! I am also half Italian – my father was born in Casalvieri. I have been dreaming of living in Italy for so long now but am realizing that it may not be for me. I do not speak Italian (thanks Pop) and I also suffer from depression and have for years. After reading your last article I am more uncertain than ever of realizing my dream. I look forward to hearing about your everyday experiences as it allows me to see my dream of living in Italy through a more realistic standpoint. I also understand, all too well, how harshly Italians can criticize those who aren’t “full blood” Italian. My brother and I grew up being ostracized at family get togethers as our mother is American PLUS we don’t speak Italian-which was a decision my dad made so that he could speak to my mother without us understanding what they were saying. So living amongst people who I don’t think will be so welcoming to outsiders is a big deterrent as well. Also, no idea how anyone affords to live there at all! The cost of everyday items is crazy expensive and I am not sure I could find work there – esp not doing what I do here in the States (MRI tech) so that would def be an issue. Anyways, I hope you have a wonderful season and that you feel better soon! Love from your friends here in the States and in Canada (I work in the States but live in Canada) Sincerely Gina Burdett

Sent from my iPhone

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Wynne December 19, 2016 at 9:51 am

Oh, love – I’m sorry you’re experiencing this, but SO happy that the supplements, running and therapy are helping! I’ve been to therapists, and at the very least, having someone with whom you can brain-dump is incredibly helpful.

It makes sense, given your path, that PTSD is in the mix. My BF experienced that briefly after his 1st marriage, and talking with a counselor was quite helpful to him.

I hope you continue down the road to good mental/physical health – and thanks for sharing. Nice to know you’re not alone!

xo

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Andrea December 19, 2016 at 12:15 pm

This. So much this. Thank you for your bravery and honesty. It’s so stigmatized in our society, and given that anxiety and depression isolate people to begin with, having more people voicing their experience is needed. I just wanted to let you know, I’m with you. Last year I was super isolated in Pisa with my husband, and mixed with prior medical trauma, I started having panic attacks three times a day. I desperately wanted to have counseling, but between money and language, I couldn’t swing it. An Italian doctor put me on an SSRI, which was so scary, but has been a god-send. There’s so much stigma against it though, especially from my very homeopathic parents in law. I hope you continue to find solid ground. Give yourself lots of love and compassion. Healing is one step closer to achieving your goals, try not to beat yourself up about lack of progress (I say this to myself as much as I do to you). As for my own journey, I’m still struggling with my anxiety disorder, but moving to Florence has been a step in the right direction. XX, love to you.

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Sarianna December 19, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Thanks for writing this and being so open about this, I’ve been more or less in the same boat for the past 5-6 years on and off and this text made me feel less alone. I am actually back to my “home” country now since almost 2 years after spending multiple years abroad, however I feel like the bomb that pretty clearly started ticking during my first years in a foreign country only really exploded after my return and now I’ve been actively reconstructing the ruins of my mental wellbeing for about a year. Therapy was definitely the right decision that I should have made a long time ago. Regular exercise, daily routines, eating healthy and sleeping enough also help. Seeing my friends and family as regularly as possible makes me feel better too, but only when I feel like it genuinely. Forcing myself to see anyone when I can’t even face going to the grocery store only creates more problems and makes all relationships feel like a chore which depresses me even more. I have been prone to depression and anxiety issues since I can remember, however moving abroad and everything that followed triggered a lot of other issues and strengthened the old ones which was the opposite of what I had expected from my perfect escape.

I think there are a lot of anxiety-triggering aspects to moving abroad that people fail to recognize and that are or at least should be important factors to discuss and consider also beforehand even though it’s of course kind of a bummer to concentrate on the negatives when your dream is around the corner. Your point on unresolved mental health issues possibly becoming worse because of the tumultuous circumstances and constant stress that often are your life in a foreign place is so on point. I have sometimes felt like the asshole when people have asked me about moving abroad and I’ve told them about the rougher parts. People really don’t wanna hear that. I remember not leaving my apartment for weeks at some point because it just felt like too much. I wouldn’t take anything back and I feel like especially the first 2-3 years of my life alone abroad were the most formative and happiest years of my life so far, however at the same time they and especially the years that followed were also the roughest and most lonely I’ve experienced. Now after returning there’s also the additional reverse culture shock that still lingers after years and makes me feel disconnected to everything and everyone sometimes.

One thing that for sure makes all of this easier in addition to everything mentioned before is my Sicilian partner-in-crime. I see him struggling with similar issues here in the cold North now though. It’s all hard to experience but also hard to watch someone you love experience. Anyway, I guess maybe a long-term relationship with someone who has more or less been through the same crap helps too.

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Manja Mexi Movie December 19, 2016 at 2:22 pm

I’ve been living in Italy for almost four years. First two were a fairy-tale. Then I realised that I live with a man who has depression, OCD and possibly quite a few more acronyms. He is stubbornly done with psycho-analysis, doesn’t take any medicine and has a pronounced up-and-down cycle that I can already predict by the moon. It is getting harder. When he is down, he is very angry with the world, rejects any intimacy and activity, and needs some time go go back to normal. I’m not sure how to go about it.

I find it great that you write about it because it helps many people and possibly you as well.

I’m curious about your other blog, but possibly I can find a link somewhere in your About me, haven’t checked yet.

All well.

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Lisa Cristo April 19, 2017 at 11:18 am

Wow, I’m no doctor. However, what I say here shouldn’t be taken as health advise. I have a brother who is bipolar, and he has violent moods as you described. I don’t talk with him anymore because he is unpredictable and beat me up because I looked like my Mother who he despised until her death.

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Suzie December 19, 2016 at 3:31 pm

Thank you for sharing, I wish you all the best, you deserve peace and kindness. Please let us know how you are going if you can.

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Laurie December 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Hugs. Thanks for sharing.

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Monika December 19, 2016 at 7:53 pm

Hi M.E.,
Thank you so much for this post. I’ve found a lot of comfort in reading your blog since I’ve recently discovered it. This particular topic has brought lot of insight into my own situation as well. I, too, have experienced trauma and loss, and your writing has helped validate my feelings reflecting back on those years. It’s such a complex and personal experience, yet I feel less alone than I ever have, by reading all the different comments, and well written pieces.
I moved to the northeast of Italy to be with my husband and thought having the stability of his family and friends would be a good thing. Everything from an outside perspective was ideal: I made friends (some local, some expat), I learned the language, I found work I enjoyed, I was exercising and eating well and not drinking much. We went on vacation, we explored new places, we got along with his family. I was more healthy and balanced than I had ever been in my adult life. Yet, a lot of things bothered me, especially with the way my husband’s friends and family behaved towards each other, and towards me. I felt that my expat friends were all depressed or grappling with their own complicated and busy lives. The work culture and rampant unemployment was demoralizing. Bureaucracy and racism caused me to burst into tears in public, regularly. I felt isolated, completely out of character, out of control and experienced symptoms of neurosis and paranoia.
Ultimately, we decided to move back to the US, and I felt like I had come up from being held under water for too long. Especially living in NYC, I feel so much more independent and free. I can be myself, be surrounded by a million different kinds of people, and no one is staring or judging or gives two shits. I have so much confidence in who I am, I’m not afraid to challenge anyone or anything in my work life, or in public (though I can also account the culture in nyc to help me build a thicker skin, too.) It’s not perfect, and we miss Italy all the time. The first year really sucked, because we both felt so, so alone, and my husband was especially home sick, which I felt terrible about. Now, we actually have more Italian [and other expat] friends than American, and he has adjusted quite well. We miss his family and community terribly, and wonder if we can raise a family here in the way we could in Italy, but for now, we’re doing really well. My husband is especially surprised and happy about the overall work culture and opportunity to grow here. We’ve been very lucky.

It is such a blessing and a curse to be torn between two places. Thank you again for what you do.

Sending my best,
M

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Amanda January 22, 2017 at 8:05 am

Dear M, have enjoyed your posts for years, I can relate to so many of them. I lost myself in Italy, although I have the happiest of personalities sometimes this place makes me want to throw up. I’m contemplating leaving my part-owned house here near Milan, cant sell it. so moving and renting as soon as I can disentangle myself from this crap. you really are in the best place you can be. Because you’ve done this lifestyle a d have the scars to prove it. My advice to anyone( I’m resisting giving it to those who don’t listen anyway) Marry in your own culture. If you do want to travel and live abroad do it in an English country in which you can practice your work. otherwise you’re on a hiding to hell. 15 years in Italy and counting!

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Anne Mueller June 21, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Thanks, Monika. We are getting ready to repatriate to the U.S. To try to convince myself it would be a good thing, I looked up repatriating and could only come up with how awful repatriating is. I was happy to read your positive comments. Although there will be a lot that I will miss, there is a certain level of confidence that I am looking forward to. Thanks for sharing.

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Janice December 19, 2016 at 9:11 pm

Did anyone say its called an atomizer? Idnt read all the comments…its great you are on a good path now, happy to hear it. Miss your humor. I have the opposite experience living in Italy…I am retired, live by myself yet I never feel alone. I guess I am lucky. I treasure my new Italian friends and still keep in touch with friends from the states, but have no inclination to go back except to visit. Continued success, glad you found solutions. Most people are low on vitamin D and its so important. But friendships are golden 😉😍

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Megan December 20, 2016 at 3:26 am

My mother died when I was a child, then later when my father remarried and we moved to another city, the change was too much and I ended up with anxiety and depression.
Psychologists, psychiatrists, medication to initially deal with it. But after time when I was doing better I chose to be without medication and to find natural coping mechanisms instead.

The basics made a massive difference for me:
Eating healthily, lots of vegetables and fruit, cutting out sugar and processed food. Point being to get as many vitamins and minerals as possible. Plus to keep blood sugar stable, helps improve mood.
Lots of water, we need a huge amount.
Plenty of exercise, running, cycling, swimming. Plus being outside is generally good for mood.
Plenty of sleep, difficult to feel good when you’re irritable.
Time with friends and family, pets.
Being productive. Getting even the smallest thing done can boost motivation and self-control, making it easier to then take steps to achieve your goals.

I’ve been working and traveling for the last few years but met a guy in Italy, I will be moving to Pisa as of March to study there. It’s a change that I’m happy to have chosen but harbour no misconceptions about it being easy. Will definitely need a lot of the above to help with the settling in process.

Glad to hear that you’re taking steps to manage and hope that it only gets better from here.

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sculptor2015 December 20, 2016 at 3:36 am

Dear M.E.,
I think that you are marvelous! You are dealing with a lot with a sense of humor, courage, and generosity. I loved the retort to your mom. About twenty years after I was over it, I told someone in front of my mother about my desire to kill myself every single day during high school. She butted in and said, “Oh, you are such a drama queen.” (Back then, I told myself that the morning that I woke up feeling as bad as when I feel asleep every night, I would do it. But for a minute or so each morning, I felt nothing. When you are seriously depressed, as perhaps you know, feeling nothing is exhilarating, an amazing step up!).

Naturally, even decades later, my mother did not want to feel guilty or responsible for my emotions, and of course, anyone outside of my head saw me as a highly functioning and successful working, performing student. She had her own struggles that seriously, were way heavier than mine. But I still told her that day that she can tell me a lot of things, including what to do at times. But no one, NO ONE can tell me how I am or was feeling at any given time. I have the right to express my own emotions on my own terms and do not appreciate being called a liar.

I am surprised by the amount of criticism that Italians can dish out, and the blunt way in which they deliver it, not to mention the TIMING. They have not apparently heard the expression, “One finger may point to me, but your other fingers point to yourself.” ‘La bella figura’ indeed!

It sounds as if what you are doing is nurturing yourself— your whole self, allowing yourself to grieve, and to heal. And again, it is VERY generous of you to be open about this and lovingly give others a path to follow that may help them as well, especially during the winter holidays when people tend to stay in and isolated and dark. I wish you continued healing and to keep and share your sense of humor and love, as well as feeling it back.
Thank you for all of your writings.
Kelly

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mary diorio December 21, 2016 at 5:54 am

After writing so much, the text disappeared… I’ll take that as a sign.

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Michael Sokol December 21, 2016 at 8:56 pm

Greetings from Montana, sounds like you are doing all that can be done, one other thing to consider is a light box, might help you adjust sleep cycles. They sell them at Costco. Some people get depressed in winter because of lack of sunlight in the morning. Its called S.A.D. Best wishes for the new year. Cheers, Michael

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Denise December 22, 2016 at 12:49 am

I’ve been living in Italy for 5 years come January. Wow, I actually made 5 years!(Previously, I had thought I would surely annihilate everyone and everything after the harrowing first 2 years here.) Thanks to a strong immersion in chocolate, cartoons, and cappuccinos, I made it this far. Even though the spaghetti heads tried their damndest, they couldn’t take me out.

Sure, there were moments when I went completely bonkers and lost my sheet on the #27 tram in Milan. Let’s not mention all the tirades I threw at my partner for the mere fact that he’s Italian and his country is FUBAR, disregard me cursing out the capo at the Questura for thinking he knew Italian law better than I did, we’ll ignore my general tendency to give the finger to all the tractor trailer drivers tail gating me in white thick fog, and my general disdain for the lack of proximity nationwide, or the way they clmock and criticize the US government while their own is run by incompetent, philandering sleazepots. But other than that, I’d say it was a pretty successful 5 years.

Between the culture shock, learning the language, which surely was devised by drunks (neuter. Really?), raising an Itanglish speaking toddler now headstrong kid, dealing with my spaghetti head partner and his crackhead family, and the general madness known as “Italy”, I feel for you and for all expats braving this country. Ironically, the Italians mock the French and yet, my experience living in France was more positive than my experience here. There, stick that in their cannoli and smoke it.

I hope being back in the US is healing for you. Do what you need to do to be balanced. Happy holidays!

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This is a great post on Expat life and mental health… plust this is an amazing blog! Italy Gave Me PTSD — Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy. | Chronicles of Serbia December 25, 2016 at 8:55 pm

[…] via Italy Gave Me PTSD — Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy. […]

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JAD December 26, 2016 at 11:42 pm

Thank you for your genuine post. Am going through something now, this helps. Keep up the hard self-checks. Much love to you.

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Francis December 27, 2016 at 9:51 am

A long walk always helps me in these difficult situations

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raluca1 December 29, 2016 at 11:56 pm

I’m so sorry you’re going through that 🙁 I have no real advice, except screw Italy and go back home 🙂

I understand what you’re feeling, I’m a Canadian expat in Romania married to a Romanian guy and yesterday, I had a mini breakdown after my inlaws excluded me from all the Christmas and New Year’s preparations. The loneliness really struck me and I told my husband I’m going back to Canada with or without him, as I can’t stand it here anymore (I told him before we got married that I want to go back, he agreed to come but he keeps changing his mind).

Your article came in hand at such an emotional time, so thanks again!

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Helen January 2, 2017 at 2:59 am

Great that you have written about this – focus on mental health issues needs to be part of our everyday life. Wishing you all the best and a speedy recovery.

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panthergirl January 8, 2017 at 5:18 am

I can related to so much of what you’re experiencing with depression, anxiety, PTSD… but for me, moving to the Netherlands basically cured me. In the US I was a complete mess. Couldn’t function due to extreme social anxiety, IBS, all kinds of stuff. Had a therapist, acupuncturist, tons of meds…struggled for years. Then my company decided to give me this position in Rotterdam which was temporary at first, but is now permanent. I lost 40 pounds in a year, I have friends, I go out, I actually eat (which is weird considering the weight loss), I date, I travel a LOT. Not sure what the difference is for us? Maybe I’m still in the honeymoon period here? (it’s been 18 months). Living in the Netherlands is quite different from living in Italy, so maybe that’s part of it?

I’m an Italian American (literally, just got my Italian citizenship) but in all honesty, as much as I love visiting Italy I could never live there. And the stereotype of the ‘warm Italians’ is not always true. If you’re not family, they can be very chilly and closed people.(except guys trying to get laid, then they are REALLY warm. haha). Here in Holland, everyone is your friend. The warmth is genuine and I have never felt so welcomed anywhere in my life.

I feel for you so much because only people who have been there really and truly know what you’re feeling. Sounds like you’re doing all the right things to help yourself. Have you also tried doing the Five Tibetan Rituals? Google it. It’s my new exercise addiction and only takes about 15 minutes a day.

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Amanda January 22, 2017 at 7:57 am

Yup it’s not Italy it’s Holland! go figure, completely different planet. You have a decent job something that’s nigh impossible in Italy , even for many Italians.

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panthergirl January 23, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Yes I’m aware, and feel very lucky. Even once I’m ready to retire I won’t go to Italy.

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Dmitri January 9, 2017 at 4:53 am

Thanks for sharing!
Life abroad could be very stressful and anxiety levels just go through the roof.
I’ve been very lucky to have a great support system, my in-laws are just great and we have great friends here in Italy. I wish you fast recovery!
Don’t ignore your problems!
Ask for help!
Cheers.

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Anna January 25, 2017 at 9:51 am

I am so sorry to hear about your struggles. Being away from home or having a major culture change can for sure be stressful! I hope staying in Italy can help you find some peace. If I may ask What is it like staying in Italy?

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Madame Manumus February 7, 2017 at 10:58 am

It’s my first time on your blog. I have lived in France one year now and I was googling about expat grief which led me to your other post and then here. I relate to all the struggles and I am battling with anxiety and intense stress also over here. I had been afraid to read other expat blogs until now since I thought everybody else must be just so happy and everything goes great. Because even after one year I feel so incredibly lonely (even with people). And I’m like a little girl how I rely on my husband.

I wish all the best to you and lots of strength to feel better and keep on fighting! Take care of yourself 🙂

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Linda March 23, 2017 at 3:25 am

It’s quite interesting to discover that the brave, enterprising, independent, invincible iron-made Americans, could have a psychological breakdown, even in one of the most beautiful, relaxing and romantic places on Earth. The lack of mental resilience and/or open-mindedness could be very detrimental.

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M.E. Evans March 23, 2017 at 6:33 am

Ah, yes. You’re right. The beauty of Italy alone should magically sustain anyone regardless of tragedy or situation. I mean, who cares that my younger brother died right before I moved abroad. Look at those vineyards! The rolling hills alone should have made me block that out altogether. It must be super easy for you to sit behind your computer and accuse others of a lack of open-mindedness, while you’re being narrow-minded and ridiculous in your assumptions about my situation.

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Suzie March 23, 2017 at 6:34 pm

Try and forget the words of a troll with nothing better to do and even less to say xo

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Kora April 1, 2017 at 8:41 am

Agree with the other commenter. Loser troll trying to get a rise.
Your very inspiring with this post. And very brave writing it. Kudos and I hope you feel better soon.

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Janis Soucie Ministires April 6, 2017 at 1:00 pm

I’ve moved from Northern New York, to Southern Vermont, to the Bangor, ME area. Moving away from my hometown in NY helped me to heal somewhat from my childhood trauma. But living in Maine has really made me feel more alone, isolated and just like a whole other life. I’ve been sad, had panic attacks, yucky thoughts and spent time in a mental hospital. Everything just seemed like a dream. I couldn’t believe that life could be so good compared to how my childhood was. It just didn’t feel real. I had a hard time accepting it and after six years of being here, I am finally and slowly, letting myself feel at home.

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Anne Mueller June 21, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Thank you. I just read two of your Blog posts and find them very interesting and a relief to read . You have some really good ideas. Taking it day to day is helping me at this moment. I look forward to reading more. Hopefully things have become easier for you at this point. Thank you for sharing and helping others!

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