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The Costa Blanca Effect - Part 4

Hello. Last time we began our look at preparation of an action plan, offered as a potential way of steering yourself through and out of depression caused by The Costa Blanca Effect. You will recall the stated objective of the plan - to enable you to take control of your life and to start to go forward again. The suggested plan had three elements: identifying your issues; saying goodbye to what has been left behind; and planning your own way forward. Today, in the last part of this series of articles, I want to look more at the final part of your plan, taking action and moving forward. I will also look at issues around sharing you plan with those impacted by it. If you want to recap on any of the previous articles, you can find them all on my web site www.onthecouchwithsteve.com

So how is your plan shaping up? By now you will have developed your list of situations in which you feel bad. You will also have the corresponding list, identifying now missing elements, which precluded you feeling like this when in the same situation back "home". You may have also begun the emotional acknowledgment of what has been lost. Remember the health warning last time? I said that acknowledging the feelings associated with loss is the most difficult, but ultimately the most beneficial aspect of the work. It is doing this that allows us to move on. You should go forward at a pace that suits you, allowing yourself enough time for this before moving on to the action stage. Remember too, that if you have become aware of issues that belong to your pre-Spain life, you might want to review your situation with a responsible therapist.

So, with the health warning over, letís move into Part 3 of your action plan. We can now look at the specifics of what has been lost and ask ourselves a simple question. Do we still have a need for whatever we got from what has been lost? The answer will usually be yes, because that is why "the feeling you" has focussed on these issues. If the answer is positive, then we can start to look at how we can find new, different ways of meeting those needs. Now you are going forward, you are thinking ahead, starting to be more active and outward going, making new connections. Perhaps you might find yourself becoming excited a little by the possibilities of life, rather than fearing the future and change.

Be realistic about what changes you can make. Introduce new things gradually, one new thing a day where they are simple, one each week when they are more involved and will take time to deliver. Again, go at a pace that feels right for you. It may take a while to find the right type of stimulation and support. That is O.K. If there are several different ways of meeting your needs, try out a few of those that seem to fit best, and go for the one or ones that FEEL most comfortable. Remember this is an emotional experience as much or perhaps more than an intellectual one.

Try and make sure that whatever action steps you take, at least half of them involve getting out of the house and meeting new people in new places. This will advance your development and greatly reduce feelings of isolation.

Your depression will have been apparent to others, and delivering your action plan will undoubtedly require the involvement and support of people around you. Pick your time, but make sure these people know what you are looking to do and what you are asking of them. Make sure, when you talk things through with other people, that you are clear that these are your issues and you are looking for help. Be positive and be clear that you are talking to them because they are important to you, not because you hold them responsible for how you have been feeling. Itís a trite saying, but make people feel part of the solution, not part of the problem. You will probably be surprised how many of your friends have experienced what you have, and your courage in sharing your feelings may help them to do the same.

I have talked about an individual plan because it is important to get your issues identified. However you might think about preparing another plan in conjunction with your partner or, perhaps, producing a family plan. This can be a good way of communicating and getting back together when the strains of a new life can create feelings of difference and separation. Just make sure that if you work this way, your most important individual needs donít get lost. Do your own plan first. It will ensure you are aware of your own needs, and give you some practice before guiding others through the plan.

Good luck! Let me know how you get on.

Perhaps you havenít been affected by The Costa Blanca Effect but wonder about how you can safeguard and improve your mental health? Next time Iíll look at this issue Ė my thanks to Beverly Stewart at Onda Cero for the suggestion - with an emphasis on healthy relationships. See you then and thanks for taking the time to read the column.