Depressed in Sweden? Join the Club…oh yeah, there isn’t one.

I know I have been away for a looooong time and I have been trying to get back into the writing “mood”, and to start off with such a depressing subject may concern some people. However, in some ways, and as always, I am doing to this to help other people.

I have now been here in Sweden for over 2.5 years. Some of the time has been great, some good, some ok, some dreadful, some just plain painful. The last couple of weeks have fallen into the dreadful and painful category. But I have been here before. A long time ago, in another land, another place in my life. This time it was extra difficult because of being in a foreign country and not really knowing where to go for the help I need to get through this. I am a resourceful person, I have experienced the challenges of depression all my life, so this is not a new subject, but each time it is a surprise that it keeps coming back. No matter how much I try to fix the things that contribute to my major episodes, well, they just keep coming back to challenge me.

The latest major dive occurred last week, the day before midsommar. The day before the most celebrated holiday in Sweden, the day before a long weekend. Thankfully. Basically, my job has been deteriorating for various reasons and I have been actively looking for a new one for almost a year (on and off). Then I found an amazing company, had 2 positive and hopeful interviews, references checked (and of course excellent!), then I was invited back for a last interview to meet with who I guess would have been my future bosses. I did research, I checked them out on LinkedIn, I did some online crash courses in some techniques I know the company uses so that I can be up to speed, I bought new clothes…I went to the interview and I thought it went great. The next day they called to say they didn’t think I would fit in. Crash.

The crash was not just about the comment “you don’t fit in”. A week earlier I had a run-in with a senior manager about something so innocuous (and well intentioned) that he freaked out about and then we had a meeting that was the most humiliating and soul destroying discussion in my entire life, where I was told all the things I am not good at, and will never be good at, all the things I do wrong. He even had the gall to say “but this is not personal”!!!. Yes, mixed in this diatribe, mixed with the attack, there were some nice things said, but the essence of the conversation was so negative and personal and …well I don’t want to talk about it. Suffice it to say that I went away and thought about it a lot. A huge amount of a lot. Soul searching deep a lot. I can take criticism, and I know that there is usually a grain of truth to these events that one must learn from. But I can tell you, as objectively as I can at this point, that this guy was full of shit and was doing what he does to everyone at my company. I did make a small error in judgement, yes. But not enough to be treated like I was. Putting me in my place and micromanaging to a point where he bullied me into a corner where now I won’t bother to do anything worthwhile or creative here. My entire motivation has been wiped out by this abuse of power. I am proud to say that the “meeting” ended with me saying we should shake hands, and in general I think I held my head high, made valid points, and kowtowed in the all the right places. But then at the time I was 90% confident that I had an out. A new job to go to. Hence, when the final comment was made, it unleashed a week of intense thinking, processing, and being strong, and turned it into a crash and burn situation.

So, anyway, that is the back story. It is now a week later and I am, well, not better, but not worse. I am at work and writing this blog. And I am going to give you some information that I have learned. This is just the start.

I went to the doctor yesterday and instead of making me feel better, he actually made me feel worse. He said, well, if you are so unhappy, why don’t you go home? Those were pretty close to the first words out of his mouth. For you expats maybe reading this, you know that that is not a good answer to anything. Of course I want to go home! But it does not solve anything, it just creates more problems. Then this doctor proceeded to tell me there was little he could do for me. I asked about counseling services, whether there was anyone in the system that could speak English (mixed with Swinglish if necessary on my part). He basically said no. And that if I wanted an English speaking counselor I needed to find one myself. Under normal circumstances, I am perfectly fine with researching this sort of information. But in this particular place and time in my depression, it was just plain overwhelming. Not to mention, as this doctor told me, it would be unlikely to be covered by the Swedish health care and thus would be private costs. Great. I am paying taxes, but there is no where for me to turn to in a time of crisis? Basically, this doctor, on the surface, did all the things he needed to do to get rid of me, but from the start he judged me and made several comments that implied that he thought I was trying to milk the system. He does not know me, and I am in a vulnerable state, and he made it worse. Gee thanks.

So what I am giving you today is a couple of the links I found to counseling in English in Stockholm. I have not had the energy to phone them, and quite frankly I know I can’t afford them at the moment (financially). But here is the information. I am not endorsing or recommending any of these places, just providing you with the information I needed yesterday.

  • From this article I found a link to Turning Point (which looks great)
  • Later I found this therapist who I think would be a good match for me…but right now I know I can’t afford anyone.

That is all I have to say today. Good luck to you if you are also feeling lost and something like a hexagon trying to fit into a pin hole.

3 responses to “Depressed in Sweden? Join the Club…oh yeah, there isn’t one.

  1. I realise that I am reading a post from long ago but your experiences of judgement and criticism and depression move me. One of my goals is to rid my language and mind of judgement because it is so damaging and unkind. I feel for you in your times of depression.

  2. I’ve just read this interesting blog. I strongly recommend that, if you can, you try to live in another country because Sweden is one nasty horrible place. I’ve read comments online stating how immigrants are badly treated and not made to feel welcome. I’ve lived here my whole life and been treated badly by I don’t know how many people although I’m 75% Swedish (possibly mixed with some 18th or 17th century German) and 25% Norwegian. Now I suffer from horrible depression that I can’t get rid of for as long as I live here. Sweden is acting like poison, all in all making my life worse and worse. I’m basically forced out of my own country if I’m going to have a life without panic-inducing depression.

    If you want to read more comments about negative experiences in Sweden, I recommend searching for them at thelocal website

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