Volunteering & working abroad – facing anxiety and doubts: Interview

An interview with C, who I connected with on the volunteer and work exchange site, Workaway, over the past several months, as she has undertaken her travels and work roles. I was curious to know what the experience of volunteering or short-term working, for the first time, in a new country, was like and how she met the challenges she faced, including anxiety.

Nov/Dec 2021

i) How have you found the experience of volunteering in a bed and breakfast in Scotland and what are your next plans?

I feel like I managed to unblock something, as if I was stuck in Belgium (my home country) and needed to get away from everything to actually function. Having seen that I indeed am capable of working, of sustaining myself, I feel empowered and strong. I of course have all my vulnerabilities still. But I feel a bit more sure of myself and my resilience. When I realised that, my dreams emerged again: study something at uni or college and build a life for myself.

I know I am not there yet, I still have a lot of work in front of me before I can think about going to university again. But to get to dreams you need to take small concrete steps. So the first step was accepting the job offer to work as a cleaner in a nice b&b. It will be a quite well paid job and I will be able to keep working on myself, while feeling like I am on top of things financially.

Maybe, who knows, I will be accepted into college in September 2022. Or I will choose another path for myself and decide to work and not focus on academics for a while, get an apartment, and work my way away, trying to live my life. And not survive it.

Continue reading “Volunteering & working abroad – facing anxiety and doubts: Interview”

The Challenges of Living Abroad

By Yvonne; https://turbulentmind.home.blog/

I am currently living abroad and have been for nearly three consecutive years. My home country is the United States, and I have only been back for one visit in 2019. I started my journey in South Korea in 2014 and have been back and forth several times since then.

I have struggled with mental health for as long as I can remember. However, I mostly “had it under control” until mid-2019. I now know that I probably didn’t have it under control at all, but 2019 was a bursting point for me. I had neglected my needs for long enough, and it was time to pay.

I remember after having a particularly bad breakdown, a trusted superior of mine asked me if I would be better off back home in the United States. After all, mental health care was more “widely accepted” there and a bit less stigmatized. I truly weighed the pros and cons, and decided, in the end, that I wouldn’t be happy even if I changed my environment. While the environment was a huge stressor in my life, I knew that the stress of uprooting myself again would make things worse.

Continue reading “The Challenges of Living Abroad”

Where to go? The struggle of disassociation and fear.

Fear, hopelessness and sorrow can cause us to try and separate ourselves from society, not just out of self-protection but, also, self-detachment or disassociation. It can be difficult to take any action because we lose touch with our self. Without the guidance of interests, passions and hopes, inertia can result.

I don’t know much about myself at the moment, but, I know that I sometimes am interested in reading and, also, history. I question myself whether these interests are just another means to avoid action and enable disassociation.

Moreover, they’re not consistent guides, as, for example, my choice of reading is irregular and depends a lot on chance. Lately, I have been mostly moved to leave my home for either walks in nature or to attend places of historical memory, especially, museums or cemeteries. In one case, this was triggered by reading a biography of a famous writer. I still don’t have a sense of taking necessary and important actions and have doubts about why I am doing things but, I do feel that these interests are worth holding onto for me.

Continue reading “Where to go? The struggle of disassociation and fear.”

What No One Tells You About Traveling and Depression

By McKenna; https://inspiredaroundtheworld.com/

Depression and I go way back. When I was around 12, I noticed I felt incredibly sad for no reason at all. At least at the time, I thought it was no reason at all; now as an adult, I can see that years of bullying and low self-esteem had taken a toll.

And even before depression, there is another friend I must introduce you to (I need to use up these nine wine glasses) . . . let’s give a warm welcome for social anxiety!

How I look so fondly of those years where I was too scared to pick up the phone, order my own food at a restaurant, raise my hand in class, and stand up for myself! How I cherish those moments of feeling like I’m balancing myself on two moving tectonic plates as I say hello to a stranger!

Continue reading “What No One Tells You About Traveling and Depression”