Just a week ago I was in Norway putting the finishing touches on packing to return to the US. We were told by our lawyer that immigration officials had determined I needed to leave the country. In a chaotic upheaval of our quiet lives, I found some comfort in the prospect of having things to do again. This has been fueling my drive since being home.
Change Happens, Embrace It
In Norway, I was not allowed to legally work for pay or go to school. Most people there my age can speak Norwegian; but I still felt a language a culture barrier. This dissuaded me from engaging in a lot of social activities that would have been beneficial to me. I was tied down by my doubts, fears, worries, and legal situation. My husband, in-laws, and our friends have been incredibly supportive and comforting during this tough period in my life.
I’m disappointed in myself. I know I let my anxiety and depression take hold of me for close to a year. Some homesickness latched on in there, too. I know I could have done a lot more in my “gap year” there. I was finally starting to apply myself in the month leading up to the officials’ decision and felt my old self coming back.
I’m also proud of myself. Knowing that I would be returning to the US quickly gave me a big kick that I really needed. Within days I had opportunities lined up. Sitting here in the US now, I’m already seeing things come to fruition from less than two weeks work.
During this hectic time, I have had little brain power to allow for obsessive thoughts and accompanying compulsions. I know this will not last, but I will accept this bit of relief.
Stave Off Anxiety by Staying Busy
This does not work for everyone, but those that this applies too should run with the chance.
I understand how hard it can be to get out bed when you have depression. How the idea of talking to someone when you have social anxiety can drive you to lock yourself away at home.
I was used to being constantly busy in the US with work, school, and social interaction. In Norway, work and school were out of the question for me. This fact made my mental health worse, which lead to more social isolation because I was very depressed and anxious. It was not a good situation to be in for my mental health.
Being a US citizen, I can work and go to school again here. Those are my goals among other things that I have in the works. That freedom is liberating for me. I feel like a part of my old self that has been missing for a long time is back now. On top of it all, I Have my blood relatives and old close friends here to support me.
Working towards personal goals does help your mental health; even if you don’t notice. Small steps can be hard to acknowledge. Sometimes you only realize how far you have come when you are at the end goal.
Trying to develop aspects of my life from a place where I “paused” their progression sounds exciting to me. And I know that accomplishing some goals here will pave the way to me returning to Norway with better prospects. I am excited for some new events in my life and scared about others.
However, dealing with real fears instead of made-up ones is a nice change of pace.