How to Cope With Depression after a Big Move

How to Cope With Depression after a Big Move

© kevron2001 / 123RF

The featured photo beautifully depicts how people feel when living with depression in Paris. Let me explain why…

I came to Paris almost a year ago with high hopes and happy expectations.  After all, it’s the most beautiful city in the world! I was so lucky to have the chance to live here. Or so I thought. Before long I was feeling low, stressed, and unhappy.

To make matters worse, nobody could understand my problem, because I was in Paris. I should be loving every day! I felt guilty for not enjoying this opportunity when so many others would have.

woman in Paris
© Ekaterina Pokrovsky/123RF


I felt like a failure because I was not living up to the expectations of those around me. I felt like the woman in the box – it didn’t fit me.

I took feeling unhappy even harder than most, as being a psychotherapist, I thought I had to be ‘perfect’ myself. After a while, I began to understand the subtle reasons for my reaction. My first step was understanding that I too am HUMAN and needed to “go as slow as the slowest part of me felt comfortable with” and honor what I was feeling. In allowing myself to experience all that I was, my journey of discovering depression on a soul level began.

What causes depression after immigration?

To overcome depression, we first need to understand the factors that cause it.


How does society create value? 

There is this belief that you have to enjoy Paris because it has so much to offer. However, if you feel the opposite of this, you may experience guilt and confusion. You can put pressure on yourself to fit in as each country has its own unconscious norms and expectations. If you don’t follow these, you don’t fit in and you feel uncomfortable. As a result, you believe that you have to change who you are to fit into what you believe is valuable to your new chosen society.

Each day you wake up in a new country, the entire outside world you experience reflects your differences, like you don’t belong. Most of us don’t like this feeling and we start to change who we are to fit in. But changing who we are makes us give up the truth that makes our hearts sing.

We let go of what is important to us so that we don’t feel uncomfortable any more – so that we fit in the box. This box wasn’t made for us, and eventually the walls of the box start closing in.

Expat Depression
© Stokkete /

What does it mean to feel complete?

This is a difficult, complex, yet extremely important question. Regardless of where you live or what you do, what does it mean to you to feel complete and whole within yourself? I encourage you to accept the part of you that feels human, including the depressed and unhappy part.

To me, feeling complete is a process. It is about taking one small step every day towards people, places and things that make you feel happy. It is about creating a space that you love around you where you feel safe to express who you are.

Can I relax into this way of life? Is it good enough for me?

I believe that depression is caused by putting pressure on yourself to be someone you are not. De-PRESS-ion! Either you or society starts to PRESS down on you and eventually you begin to squash out all of the unique beauty and light within.

Expat Depression

What can I do to cope with depression?

Firstly, acknowledge what does work for you in THIS MOMENT (not tomorrow or yesterday, but this EXACT MOMENT).

Anger and resentment of the past and the fear of the future can’t share the same space when you access the truth of who you are in the present moment.

Secondly, adjust according to how you feel each day by honoring rather than pushingTry not to push against the walls of the box, rather create a new flow that aligns with the natural flow of your heart. Find out what the living part of you is actually about. The part of you that beats to the natural rhythm of your own heartbeat, not the heartbeat of society.

Expat depression
© YanLev/

What makes your heart sing?

Thirdly, bring in the element of inspiration and creative spark rather than the discipline of all the things you have to do and achieve. You don’t have to take the pressure off to succeed, but it’s about being far less critical with yourself. Doing it in a gentler, less complicated way. Allow the sense of wholeness to carry you. You are learning and going as slow as the slowest part of you feels comfortable with and that’s okay.

 “I’m surrendering into the new parts of me that are coming alive and I honor all those that I bring with me from my past”.

Connect with Connie!

Would you like advice on how to put the above steps into practice in your everyday life? Connect with me here.

Or leave a comment in the box below. Merci!

Born in Zimbabwe and educated at South Africa’s University of Cape Town, psychotherapist Connie-Lee taught psychology for a decade in the UK before coming to Paris to found Meraki Therapy. Meraki is Greek and means doing something from the Soul, a central concept to her method. Connie is passionate about bringing holistic psychotherapy to the awareness of modern society because it gives people tools to create the life they love. Nominated by Expatriates Magazine for Best in Paris in Complementary Therapy, and currently writing her first book, Connie combines practicing holistic psychotherapy, leading certified Heal Your Life® workshops and public speaking.


  1. This article is a brilliant way to lead you to adapt yourself more easily to the big changes! I find myself in this article because I am on my way to have these great changes into my life and I will follow Connie’s advice and steps! She is so authetic and self confident, professional and a good person. This article impacts my life in a pozitive way and I am not afraid anymore for tbe great changes that I will encounter in the near future!
    Thank you Connie!

  2. Brilliant! I so connect to this. If you take Connie’s advice and ‘go as slow as the slowest part of you is comfortable with’, and once you decide to honor this, your beingness changes and you find energy and passion once again to face the moments of each new day… embrace life and love..

    • Thank you for your beautiful words 🙂 Maybe you can share how you honoured your ‘beingness’. I’m sure the readers would love to find out how you stepped into a space where you ’embraced life and love’. I’m so glad you are honouring yourself. Much love, Connie xxx


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