The truth about…
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.