Change is inevitable in life, but perhaps one of the changes that can cause the greatest stress and anxiety is moving and, most especially, emigrating to another country, whether it be for business or life circumstances.
According to one text on Mental Health (The Expanding Family Life Cycle), “Even when freely chosen…the separation from loved ones, the intangible emotional vacuum left in the space where ‘home’ used to be; loss of community…immigrants are rendered isolated and susceptible to both individual and family distress.” (Falicov, C., 2016, p.223).
The immense change of home, cultural differences, and separation from family, friends and community can lead to feelings of homesickness, isolation and cause anxiety and depression. One group that is most susceptible to this are the wives, husbands, domestic partners, and family members of workers that are sent to work abroad. In many countries these partners are unable to secure work permits and thus work outside the home, further leading to loneliness and isolation.
In 2018 the American Chamber of Commerce estimates that as many as 155,000 people are directly employed by over 700 US firms in Ireland, with the vast majority situated in Dublin. The relationship between the U.S. and Ireland is strong and the U.S. accounts for 67% of all foreign direct investments. Both countries are English-speaking, Ireland is seen as a gateway to Europe, as well as offering tax incentives which make it a lucrative place for American companies to do business.
The typical employment contract is between one and three years, and in order to attract highly skilled upper management and consultants to relocate, these American companies offer highly competitive relocation packages to cover moving costs, housing, transportation, and education. However, these packages in many instances do not address the needs of the partners/spouses/families in transitioning, most especially with emotional support they may require while adjusting to their new home in a new country. This support is generally provided through groups or private counselling with mental health practitioners skilled in this particular area.
This same Mental Health text states “Migration is a massive individual and family transition in time and space. It begins before the act of relocation and goes on for a long time…the transition is replete with loss and disarray.” (Falicov, C., 2016, p.223)
In this area I have personal experience of migration, moving to Dublin from Los Angeles in 2001, back to New York in 2017, and then returning to Dublin in 2019. I understand first- hand the isolation and loneliness of moving and living abroad. Although Ireland shares the same language, it is a very different place than Los Angeles or New York, with many subtle and not so subtle cultural differences that left me at times feeling more of an outsider. While some are social and the language differences can be amusing (and the Irish are some of the most tolerant people I have met), it is also potentially embarrassing especially when occurring in public.
In 2006 I qualified as a licensed, registered Homeopath in Dublin, and as my clinic was located near the American Embassy, I treated many ex-pats struggling with feelings of loneliness, isolation and homesickness. If left without emotional support, these could lead to deeper feelings of depression as well as physical symptoms from sleep disturbances to hormonal imbalances from irregular cycles, PMT, and an aggravation of menopausal symptoms. In the consultation there is often a collective relief that the patient had met and could talk with someone ‘who understands.’ From the viewpoint of holistic health, emotional and physical states are often connected. Homeopathic remedies can often provide safe, natural and effective treatments to help address the physical symptoms as well as day to day support emotionally.
If you are an ex-pat and would like support with the transition to life in Ireland or have experienced physical symptoms as a result, feel free to ring me at 086 359 4557 for a confidential appointment. I’m available on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays, and my Clinic is located at 15 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4. Further information is available throughout this website.
I have also started a completely separate therapeutic group counselling service for ex-pat Americans adjusting to life in Ireland. For more information, please visit http://adaptireland.com.