Depressed Expat

Being an Expat in Italy is not always easy. As my sister can tell you, tearful Skype calls are not the glamorous side of my life. As I’ve said before, I will write many different things on my blog, the good, the bad, and the realistic. Italy is beautiful, and I know in some ways I am quite fortunate to live in such a beautiful country with the mountains, the sea and the culture. But I am still 100% Canadian and the adjustment to living here has taken its toll on me.

As many of my readers know, there have been many peaks and valley’s in this journey called life no matter where you live. My choice to be an Expat came with the knowledge that it would be an exciting life but also a more difficult and challenging one.

Since my return to Italy September 12th, I have admittedly fallen into a depression. I was barely used to being without my husband again and Stelle died September 20th. I’ve often tried to post happy, light writings on my blog to help myself get out of this slump but this time it has taken over my life. I tried little projects like painting my room yellow and I have a new kitty coming next week and I have been busy “nesting” like an expectant mother.

But I have fallen into a depression that I just can’t seem to shake. Is it hereditary? Environmental? Cultural? Hormonal? Who the heck knows? Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. I’ve had some recent knocks lately and learned the hard way that although I have many male Canadian friends it is and will always will be impossible to have an Italian male friend here. I recently got burned by some rumours and I was hurt by the betrayal. The experience has left me cold and untrusting and paranoid. Not a good combination for someone who is already feeling a bit down in the dumps.

I feel naked and vulnerable. Desperate to have some friends I suppose I made some bad choices in the beginning. Anyways, now Mama has got me appointments with psychologists and psychiatrists. I know suicide is a serious issue and I am certainly not making light of it here. I am sad and lonely, but am not suicidal. I am just a bit unsettled as to how best to balance my life and my last few experiments have back fired on me. I have read many expat websites and sadly have read some stories of suicide where the person’s teenage child was just not coping with the cultural changes.

I guess what I am trying to say here is that my blog is my way of reaching out and being heard and that I appreciate all my readers immensely. The life of an Expat may sound glamorous and exciting to those who have never lived abroad and sometimes it is. But if it wasn’t for the love and support of my family and friends I would never survive out here.

This depression will pass, I still have more options and I plan to try them all before I pack up and go back to Canada. Mama may think the white coats are coming to get me soon but I plan to fight them every step of the way.  It’s not that I don’t love Canada, I just love my husband more : )


About lmarmstrong66

I'm a blogger, painter, writer, singer. For the love of all things in nature and creativity.
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15 Responses to Depressed Expat

  1. sabina says:

    Cara Leah, stai su, ti prego…(I like to write these words in Italian for you!)
    I know sometimes life is hard, but try to take the best and leave the worst.
    And, about being an expat, I meant to tell you if you and Elora are interested in a visit to a museum here in Genova. The Museum is Galata Museo del Mare, they have an exposition about italian Immigration in the USA, at the beginning of the century. As it is an interactive museum, you are embarked on ship, and you do the travel and in the end you arrive at Ellis Island. Do you think you would like to see it? Let me know dear 🙂

    • Dear sweet Sabina,

      The Museo del Mare sounds like a wonderful idea!
      I can’t imagine how people coped all those years ago without the technology we are so fortunate to have now like Skype and blogging. Let’s plan to meet up soon, hugs, Leah.

      • sabina says:

        Sì, sì 🙂 And you know what? Before being embarked on the ship, you have to do a “test” as they did in the past…to see of you have the proper characteristics to be accepted in the USA…Paura!!!
        Sentiamoci presto, cara!

  2. Imani says:


    I’m sorry you are feeling blue right now. If it makes you feel just a tad better, I really enjoy reading your blog, especially the mama stories.

    Remember that you are not a prisoner. You can leave anytime you want if things don’t work out for you in Italy. Your husband will surely come to wherever you live and mama will just have to deal with it.

    So try those other options you have in mind. If you are still unhappy, leave because life is too short for that. It is not a defeat; it is a life experience.

    Best regards,

  3. Enrico says:

    Well i went trough the stages twice. I was 22 and ALONE as you can be when i moved to Canada. Then, last year, i came back to Italy and i discovered that i was more canadian than i though. Depression, see my friend and family coming to visit and then live, missing my dear canadian friends, it is a BIG roller coaster! i understand you completely… how am i doing it? well i try to stay focus, reminding to myself the reasons of my choices and what i have accomplished. I am also sure you are NOT alone, male or female you must have some great friend that share your pain (Elora maybe?).
    Last but not least, your husband!!! i am sure he can help you, he loves you so much and he completely understand your feelings (he is away too) and no matter where he is, the first thing in his heart is you and your well being!
    At the end, we never met in person but me, my wife and my son are going trick or treating no metter what next weekend to feel more “canadian”. You have our number and one of us will surely try our best to make you fell less lonely!
    Take care!

    • Enrico says:

      i should try to read my post before submitting it… well as english teacher don’t be to hard on my spelling here and there… LOL!!!

    • Ah, yes, Elora has been my “pietra”. I am lucky to have her as a dear friend.
      Interesting what you said about how my husband is “away too”, and I know he worries about me, I guess I worry less for him being lonely or depressed on the ship because he is more used to it than me (20 years), but your words from a male perspective made me realize that in fact he is also “without me” and he does often say he would rather be where I am than where he is.
      Thanks for redeeming my faith in the “Italian male” although you are half Canadian haha…
      We’re doing a “ghost tour” Oct 31st if you’re around : )
      Happy Halloween!

      • Enrico says:

        More than a “italian male” point of view, i wanted to show you that all around you have people that know excactly how you feel. Plus they are ready to help you. You are not alone!

  4. Elisa says:

    Hey Leah,

    I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch lately, but I’ve been meaning to call you for ages.

    I’m so sorry you’re in a bad place at the moment, I don’t know you that well but you’ve always stuck me as a strong woman, so I hope you’ll be able to pull through.

    I’m sending you loads of good vibes and, if you feel like getting together for an aperitif or going to the movies (English films have started again, btw), just send me a text.

    Forza e coraggio!


  5. major2007 says:

    I hope you will feel better soon. You aren’t pregnant by any chance are you? I have heard of this happening when a woman is really depressed and down or really tired, they turn out to be with child and know if you were, you would make a great mom. Major is well and hope things get better. I am sure Edardo gets lonely and depressed at times too from being so far away from you too.

  6. chrissandra says:

    Thank you SO much for sharing and being so open. I think of you often and wish I could be there to keep you company!
    Thanks for giving so much to me! xx
    I’m finishing up a weekend with my sister in Vancouver … I know I haven’t been so good with skype, but will try you later when i get home 😉

  7. major2007 says:

    Just wanted you to know I am praying for you to find peace and being able to leave the depression behind, write if you need to talk.

  8. Kay says:

    It’s worse in the winter, but it passes. I find seasonal changes affect me here, where I don’t think they did in my own country.

    Music and treat days are my solution, the “treat” being doing nothing that I should, staying in bed if I want, and reading a book in English for pleasure. The most I ever allowed myself was two consecutive days, as after that it became too hard to go out the door.

    It helps to have a huge pot of soup there too, the smell of nurturing “on tap” as it were, and I always avoid wine, tempting as it might be, as alcohol is a depressant.

    Love, it’s a pain at times!

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