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The truth about…

July 28, 2010

The truth about things here is that while most of the time things have been going pretty well, for the past week or so I have been down. Really down.

Of course, this was going to happen. We have been told it was going to happen, it happened during training, and it has happened to me before (falling into depression). As far as it happening here, it is all part of the adjustment, the “culture shock” or whatever you want to call it. Everyone goes through it, they say. Of course, some of us go through it more publicly than others, but as an honest and direct person, I was never one to lie to people and pretend things are okay when they are not.

So here I am, have been depressed this past week. Actually it is starting to improve, which is why I am able to write about it. I was so hoping that “my experience” would be different than others’ and that I would not encounter the challenges. So far, in many ways, things have been great. In others, though…

So why did I think I would escape it here? Why did I think that depression would not follow me? I mean, after all, I am prone to it in the US. I went through it when I lived in Denmark. Why did I think Ukraine would be different? Is it because I am older now and better able to self-reflect? I was thinking about that the other day while I was walking home from the store – whether, as some people believe, we can change who we are when we make a “fresh start” or whether our natures are fairly consistent and no matter where we go, we will always be the same person.

I am finding the latter. I have tried to be someone I am not – the smiling American that people expect me to be. People here have the stereotype that Americans are always smiling and happy. Well…that is just not me. So I am who I am. Love me or hate me, and there are people who fall into both categories, I am and will always be that honest, direct person. I don’t always share my opinion, or everything I am thinking but I will never be a person who plays games or tries to manipulate others. At least I have that much going for me.

A number of circumstances have contributed to my current state, none of which can alone be “blamed” for how I feel. Again, it is the culmination of a bunch of things and all of a sudden, wham! And I am down. What I find interesting is that the first thing people ask me is if I am going to go on medication. I would rather not. I was on medication for years and during the most difficult two and a half years of my life, I was not on it and survived, so I would rather move forward and ride it out without meds. Meds are not a cure all…and I hate the thought of being on them again. They really are not that helpful to someone like me (I quickly build up a tolerance for them).

So what AM I going to do? Well, from experience, I know that I always get through it. Somehow. This time I have been fortunate enough that there are people reaching out to me (Ukrainians). They realize that although I am an American an independent, even I have my limits, and even I don’t like to be alone all the time, with nothing to do (research and language learning only goes so far). So this week I was invited out for a walk and now to spend a week with one of my university colleagues and his family at his parents’ house. So I am taking advantage of every invitation that comes my way, especially from Ukrainians – after all, they are the reason I am here.

Believe it or not, through this I still have hope that things will improve. Somehow, they always do.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Renate Strina permalink
    July 28, 2010 11:09 am

    Karin, your most recent blog reminds me of the time I was in Innsbruck, Austria; mind you I moved there for a professional opportunity, whereas you are in the Ukraine with the Peace Core, but as far as going through a “Culture Shock” is concerned, I can fully sympathize with you and have been there – I have crossed the ocean three times: #1) when I came to the U.S. as a university student #2) returning to Europe for the professional opportunity mentioned above #3) returning to the U.S. after having been back in Europe for 2 yrs + 2 months. All 3 times, I went through a culture shock and all 3 times were different. The most difficult adjustment happened when returning to Europe – I’m originally from Aachen, Germany, but went to Innsbruck, Austria, where German is spoken, but with a different accent. To make a long story short – don’t be hard on yourself – I commend you for being so honest to this group here – it takes courage to admit one’s state of mind/being – realization is the first step to improvement. I remember it helped me a great deal to be able to communicate my experience of “culture shock” in a group email (family, extended family, and friends) and without them, I don’t think I would have managed, so continue to write what you are going through, whether on this secured blog or in a journal – writing is therapeutic – I know it was me. Getting responses to your posts, of course is important as well, so I hope I won’t be the only one commenting on your most recent entry. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us; I would hope that our comments bring you comfort and strength to know – yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel – and YES, I can do this – and YES, we will be better people for it! You know that I’m a Christian, so allow me to write this: God bless! Your friend, Renate P.S.: I remember watching the Finale soccer World Cup game with you in 2006, and thought about you watching it this year!!!

  2. Kathy Zack permalink
    July 28, 2010 6:21 pm

    It is awesome that you are doing what you. I am sorry that you are in a tough spot now, but hoping that you will be feeling good again soon. K

  3. Gail & Sadie permalink
    August 7, 2010 6:57 pm

    Hey, sorry I haven’t commented on the post sooner – we been so busy and I’ve also been busy at work – I was sorry to read that you’d been feeling so down. I hope you can work through it soon. Sadie wants me to tell you hi and she misses you. Lily has actually been nice lately and now comes to both of us and snuggles. She must have been going through her terrible teens while you were here. Olya arrives back here tomorrow. I can hardly believe that she will be back so soon we’ve been working toward this for so long. Take care!

    Love, Gail & Sadie

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