The Costa Blanca Effect – Part 3
Hello. Last time I further developed the concept of "The Costa Blanca Effect" and began a look at things you could do to help yourself, or the people you care about, who are impacted by it. Today I want to guide you through creation of a personal action plan which I offer as one way of actively managing your way through and out of The Costa Blanca Effect.
The objective is for you to take control of your life, to get things back on an even keel, and to allow you to start to go forward again. In this way perhaps you can make the dream you had when you came here a reality. Perhaps you may discover a new, more fundamental goal to strive for!
The plan has 3 elements: identifying your issues; saying goodbye to what has been left behind; and planning your own way forward. Be aware that creating your plan will take as long as it does - you are not competing with anyone, not even yourself.
To begin you have to do three things - think, feel and write. Begin by creating a list of issues that are impacting you, separating out all the individual elements. One way in might be to note down each time you feel sad or inadequate or lethargic or tearful or snappy, or whatever being down means to you. You might prefer something special to write in, but a few sheets of paper or your PC will do equally well. Whatever you choose, keep your written thoughts in a safe place where you know only you will see it. This way you can write whatever comes up for you, however daft or selfish or trivial you think it might seem to others. You will probably want or need to talk through and involve others in your plan, but this is for later.
You might need a few words to record the issue, you might need a paragraph. Just make sure you have enough down so that you can understand the issue again at a later date. Make sure too that the plan is about your issues, not those belonging to someone else. Soon you will have a list of all the situations and experiences that make you feel bad.
Now we can move to the next step of the plan. What is it about each of these things that is different from at "home"? What has been lost? This could be your language; the support of a friend; local knowledge; the ability to access help; the lack of someone to share things with; a lack of purpose or direction? Just put down what you feel against each issue in your plan. You might find that a particular difference comes up repeatedly.
You now have a list of situations in which you feel bad, and a corresponding list of the missing elements that might have precluded you feeling this way, in the same situation, back "home". Now we get to the difficult but most rewarding part – an emotional acknowledgment of what has been lost. People, places and things that are no longer part of our lives here in Spain in the way they previously were are gone. They are lost. This is difficult, but we have to allow ourselves to feel, to be sad, perhaps even to cry for them. By writing these things down, we can become aware of the elements that have combined to make us a victim of The Costa Blanca Effect and we can attach appropriate, specific feelings to them. In doing this we gradually reduce the amount of energy used up by our depression. Where significant people have been lost in the move to Spain, why not make sure they know how important they were in your life back home?
Feeling the loss is difficult, but it is doing this that allows us to move on. It allows the energy absorbed by the depression to come forward and be available for other things. This is where we get to part 3 of the plan – taking action and moving forward. We will look at this, and sharing your plan with others, next time in the final part of this series of articles.
The Health Warning. Take your time with the plan. This is important for 2 reasons. The more time you spend on the "front end" that is on parts 1 and 2, the better the chance you have of getting to the nub of what is holding you back and of making sound decisions about how to move forward and get your needs met. Furthermore, you may identify difficult issues for you and it is important that you work on them at a pace that is comfortable for you. Give yourself time to get used to your new ideas and feelings before charging off to look for more. It may be that you begin to identify older issues that existed before you began your new life here. If this is so for you, you might want or need help to move things forward and it is here that psychotherapy can help. A responsible therapist will quickly and freely let you know if your issues might warrant or respond to professional help.
The end of the page looms. Let me know how you get on with your action plan. Remember you can write or Email me in absolute confidence on this, or on any other mental health issue at email@example.com See you next time.