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Relocation Depression - I feel lost


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Hi there

For the past decade, I used to live in the city of my dreams on a different continent and I loved every moment of it. Due to grad school ending, difficulties with staying there as well as missing my family at home, I decided, somewhat involuntary, to move back to my hometown in Europe. 

My anxiety started already in the beginning of 2018 when I was not sure if I would be able to stay in the country or not. So this type of uncertainty messed with my head since then and left me exhausted and somewhat relieved to leave in the end because I didn't want to fight anymore to make it work and moved back. I actually never wanted to return to my small city hometown, where I never really felt home also due to the lack of excitement, narrow-minded people, limited options, and the feeling of being trapped. 

But now I am back in my hometown for 7 months and did not expect the emotional impact that it would have on me, which I would describe as relocation depression. I never wanted to return and I felt extremely misplaced, mostly for the first 2 months. I felt almost paralyzed and in shock, not understanding what was happening to me as I kept waiting to return to the city in my old life. I had to realize that this life that I had simply did not exist anymore, which still feels numbing to me. Additionally, the loss that I felt of 'losing' close friends, not going to school anymore and not having any perspective for my future just threw me in a deep hole. On top of that I had to move back to my parent's house, had no job, no money, and literally just owned four suitcases with the last remaining possessions that I owned.


I was not able to constantly look for a job because I simply couldn't and when I did, I got rejected immediately due to the lack of experience in my desired field. I got into a loop of feeling unworthy, my self-esteem drastically decreased, and I dramatized visions of a doomed future. Additionally, I had to deal with the loss of 2 very close friendships since I moved back here and still hoped to rekindle them, but they didn't work out. It broke my heart to experience that and I had much less support from longtime friends who know me the best. Yet, I have to say, the only really great thing that I experienced since I am here is forming new friendships. I joined some clubs and created a good social circle for myself, which makes me happy. But I have to keep moving forward with building my life because I literally started at zero again. It is also tough to avoid comparing myself to people my age, who are actually well established in life. My self-esteem suffered a lot recently.

I have a hard time to fight right now to create my new life as I still feel lost and somewhat paralyzed. Even though I have my daily tasks with a small part-time job, exercising, looking for jobs, and practicing self-development, I am currently still in the exact same situation and do not seem to be able to get out of it and cry about my old life because it is hard for me to accept being in this new location. I can't let go of my old life yet because as soon as I fully adapt here and have a job, this is it and the last straw and memories of my old life are going to vanish or at least that's how it feels like. So my heart is keeping me back and still holds on to certain things. I became unmotivated, I am constantly tired, and I feel overwhelmed immediately. I underestimated this entire situation, I thought it would be much easier. I just don't know what to do anymore to get out of it and I keep asking myself how long this will last? Are there any others who are going through something similar or what were your experiences with relocation depression, any good advice? I just don't know what to do. 

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Good morning, and welcome to the forum! I'm sorry you haven't gotten any replies yet. Sometimes it takes a bit for people to mobilize. I think you'll find it quite supportive here, once we can jump-start the car for you. 🙂

I can absolutely relate to what you're experiencing - the unwanted move, disconnection from old friends, trouble finding direction, and doing all of it with depression/anxiety. I've moved unwillingly twice in my life, and both times, I felt angry and resentful. In my case, it was because of a relationship (loosely defined) problem, not a visa issue, however. I'm still struggling with the most recent move, although, overall, I'm well into the grief period and handling it better a year later. Losing your friends- I know how much that hurts. I've lost one close friend irreparably (an in zero trust, not that I'll never see her again,) but I'm discovering that, given enough time, the other one can be a more distant, infrequently seen friend who at least tries to understand and sounds like a cheerleader. Maybe give them a little bit of time, try to connect with them every few months so they don't feel pressured. I don't like burning bridges, so I've learned how to swallow pain and pride, although it hurts!

You'll find your groove again. Once you find your new favorite places, meet a couple of people, settle into work- you'll feel at home again. I at least don't feel like an alien any longer. This spot on the porch feels like it's mine. The breeze, the birds singing- mine. My half-hearted routine- mine. I'm still struggling with depression, but I do feel more rooted than I did a year ago.

You'll get there! Can you start small? If you drink coffee, do you have a favorite cafe? If not, I'm sure there's one out there. 🙂 



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