Homesickness = becoming bipolar?

99 posts in this topic

I know my topic title is a bit strange, but after moving to Germany a little over a year ago, I'm starting to feel bipolar. My mood swings are out of control. One day I'm so happy and I love living in Essen with all its quirkiness...the next I'm bawling my eyes out because someone honked at me and gave the typical wave-hand-in-front-of-face, AKA: you are so stupid signal..(a quite regular occurrence that shouldn't phase me anymore). Here's my story: I'm 27 and moved here last July to be with my boyfriend, who is in the process of becoming a teacher in his referendariat. We have a FANTASTIC love story. I will share if someone asks me, but right now I have to get to my point before you all get bored. I've been struggling quite a bit over the last few months. I'm finding it hard to cope with the idea of living here forever, and always being far away from my family and friends. As time goes on, I'm becoming demotivated and depressed, which is now affecting my relationship. I have never been this way previously in my life, and am becoming concerned on whether or not I can stick it out here. I want more than anything to be comfortable in this life and feel at home...any advice on what I can do to turn this around? Can someone answer who has been here more than 2 years, and say that is gets easier? Thank you for any advice or help!

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Are you sharing your feelings with your boyfriend? Is he German? If so, it´s his terrain, his language, his circle of friends and if he cares about you, he should be helping you.

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Are you familiar with the four stages of culture shock? It sounds as though you may be in the negotiation phase. It can take years to move from this phase into the adjustment phase. Have you been home to visit at all in the past year? Do you speak German? Had you ever been here before?

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Sorry to sound rude but to be honest it doesn't get better. If you can't see yourself living in Germany in the long run now then there's probably a reason why you feel like that.

 

The best thing you can do is try to intergrate and learn the language... but at the end of the day if you are starting to become more depressed than happy, I would seriously rethink about staying. Living abroad might seem like fun and excitement at first but that all wears off as reality sets it and yes reality now means you are far away from your family. It could also mean that you are now more reliant on your partner, not having that same support system you would have had at home. That's why cross-cultural relationships/ marriage is certainly not for the faint hearted. You will have to come to terms with the reallity and if you then still can't see yourself livning here in the long run with your partner I would seriously suggest you get out before you end up regretting your decision for the rest of your life. This is also not going to be good for your relationship in the long run. So advice...try and make yourself at home, if you still feel like it's not for you, listen to your heart and follow your heart.

 

It's not easy but I wish you good luck in whatever decision you make.

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Recent thread by someone who's been here a year:

http://www.toytowngermany.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=270249

Whether or not it gets better depends on many things...

Practically speaking you may need to do a mini-course on German road signs. Trying searching the forum.

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I think the advice on learning the stages of culture shock is wise advice, it helps realise it isn't just personal madness and yes it does/ doesn't get easier. I find some feelings just don't go away.Compared to 2007 my real crisis year where it became too much, I feel I'm dealing with it better. It's stupid but forming a band called The Fur Queues (the fuck yous) a phrase I found my self using when I get the hand in face gesture or other typical German irritations helps massively. Just little celebrations of my own feelings of weirdness, union jack socks etc all helped to make light of some of the things that made me feel I was going mad.

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This waving the hand in the face gesture, is it that the person waves their hand in front of their own face as if to say, "Hello?!?! Are you in there?"

 

I might have received this once navigating through an U Bahn station in Frankfurt. Some young chap basically cut right in front of my path and I gave him a little well-deserved trip. A few seconds later he whistled at me from the safety of the escalator and made some wild gestures. I flipped him off in return.

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being far away from my family and friends.

 

It is worth building up a set of friends that are nearby. If you are not building up a life around your current location, you will surely suffer.

Visiting old friends and family from time to time should then be a treat.

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I had severe culture shock my first year living here. After a year, with suicidal thoughts I started seeing a therapist and put back on anti depressants. If you are starting to suffer from depression or another disorder. Getting some professional help or maybe pills should help you beable to cope better. Only after I had my depression settled was I actually able to start learning the language properly and start seeing Germany for how it is, rather than feeling like I was trapped here in the dark.

 

Even seeing a councellor and doing some talking should help. There should be plenty of doctors that speak enough english to help you. Your local hausarzt should beable to get a list for you

 

Àine

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Sorry to hear about your situation Jaybug, I have to say, after nearly 8 years of living in Germany, I have realised that are basically two ways of coping with life in this country - 1: learn the language and embrace the culture, 2: pretend you are still living back home and surround yourself as much as possible with things from home, music, food, people, whatever.

 

There are problems with both those methods, because unless you are a resilient person with boundless levels of positivity, you will find the Germans and their 'ways' pretty tough nuts to crack, learning the language will make things hugely easier for you in your life here, but you will also have to accept that you can't change the people or the environment around you, you will need to adapt. Whether that means substituting your favourite brand of peanut butter from back home with one of the ones from a German supermarket, to accepting Germans staring at you in the street. Just accept that Germany is not like the US, and you will be on your first step to coping with life here.

As for the second solution - it seems there are plenty of Anglophone types in NRW, and for some reason especially in Essen, there's a fantastic cinema there that occasionally shows films in English.

Just get out there and explore the area, you will find things to do, people to meet etc..

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Jaybug85, I know I haven't been here for more than two years but I understand how you feel. You need to make your life busy with things you enjoy and give you purpose again (hobbies, voluntary work, friends, activities in your local area), find friends and work on your German skills. You really need to re-examine your life. I left so many things slip when I came to Germany and used my homesickness as a bit of an excuse some of the time. In Britain I played tennis, went to the gym, had an active social life and regularly did things in my local area e.g. visits to museums, galleries, restaurants, cinema, country walks. Most of these things stopped when I moved here. One day I suddenly realised this was probably more of a cause of my unhappiness than the fact I was now in Germany, so I did a brainstorm and came up with an 'action plan' of what I was going to do right now in order to bring more enjoyment/meaning back into my life. So I got a new, better paid (finances was one of my big issues - first move away from parents' home) and more challenging job that's relevant to my future career with lots of really friendly colleagues my age / with similar interests, which will also help solve the social problem. I got into contact with some of my boyfriend's German acquaintances/friends that I had got on with especially well and arranged to meet up, and I sought out some English-speaking girls who are staying here for at least a year or two and started meeting up with them regularly. Then I joined the gym and started visiting museums and so on again. And I can only reiterate the German skills part - finally gaining a good level of fluency made me a lot more confident to get out there, whether socialising or calling customer services.

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sounds like you need a trip home - immediately - to dispell the myths about how good it is there.

 

Then, if you want to stay, you need to carve a niche for yourself. You need to find your own friends, your own work, your own bank account, transport etc. Join clubs, learn the language, watch their tv, read their newspapers, get out and about, spend up big on your significant other's credit card, take a holiday to a warmer, sunnier country...dont stay at home moping, just get out there!

 

Language is a must, but language schools can be a bit confronting if you dont want to identify as a refugee from a war torn country.

 

Germans take a bit of time to get to know, so you must get them drunk, then they tend to open up a bit.

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there's always a residual hell involved, thats what you have to cover up psychologically ,and thats the source of the bipolar feeling,Germany is a scary place for sensitive people, have a good friday

 

Haha oh my word..I had to laugh out loud when I saw your post. A residual hell..hm thanks I'll keep that in mind. I suppose this place does suck for sensitive people :-)

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Are you familiar with the four stages of culture shock? It sounds as though you may be in the negotiation phase. It can take years to move from this phase into the adjustment phase. Have you been home to visit at all in the past year? Do you speak German? Had you ever been here before?

 

I wasn't previously aware of the four stages of culture shock. Thanks for sharing that link, I hope I won't be stuck in the negotiation phase for years...

I've actually been back to the states twice already, once for a wedding and then for my grandpa's funeral. Both were short trips. I do speak German, not fluently by any means but I'm getting there. I've been in a course since I've been here. Before permanently moving, I visited twice both times for about 2 weeks.

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I am not sure what integration is. I lived in Italy for 13 years, spoke Italian fluently and had loads of Italian friends. And yet, I was always different and treated differently by Italians. E.g. the topics of conversation were often things Italians would not often talk about among themselves. I found that being different was part of the fun. Going back to England was the difficult part. Point is that now I am Germany, I don't even try to integrate, I am learning German but am not terribly fond of Germans and try to ignore some of their more outrageously rude behaviour. I do try to focus on what I like, eg the bike tracks, the weather, the outdoor life and my family. My writing life is an all-consuminmg one that doesn't lend itself to meeting many people. When I am writing I could be in Mongolia. What I am trying to say is: find something you like dping and do it and don't be too sensitive about people with no manners. They are the ones who have a problem - not you. I wouldn't be too sensitive about "fitting in" either. Yes, you do have to adapt a bit but you can't ever be a German. You will always be somehow different, and different is dangerous in this place.

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To think that I was not really affected by culture shock in Nigeria.

 

But here my family experience it to a level that we would never expect! and my Husband is German, but was in Lagos during his teenager years and in UK during his University years, he even had a hard time fitting in, his accent is not German enough, he sound like someone who speak very good German but he is not that German, as some German would say!

 

Anyway we are still deciding if we want to stay, we were thinking Singapore would be okay, or Malaysia.

 

As they say being different here is dangerous even in Hamburg, not sure about Berlin, but sure want to find out. :o

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