As a therapist, facing the challenge of providing therapy to migrants has been one of the most enriching experiences of my career. Personally, my understanding of anxiety was purely theoretical before embarking on my own migration journey.
The magic of traveling lies in immersing oneself in the unknown, in what lies beyond our everyday reality. It's about exploring new experiences, welcoming memories infused with different aromas, flavors, and colors. Traveling allows us to expand both our minds and our spirits, recognizing that our perception of life is just one among many, and that truth is relative to the circumstances surrounding us.
However, when we become part of the unknown, everything changes... everything transforms into a new adventure. Although the idea of novelty may seem exciting at first, the reality of immersing oneself in a completely new world, especially with a rooted past and a history forged in another corner of the world, can be overwhelming.
Many of my patients, and perhaps even myself, venture into the migration experience driven by the spirit of the traveler. That insatiable thirst to explore cultures, to absorb knowledge and wisdom.
Others arrive with a dream in their hearts. With a firm conviction to achieve goals and purposes in unfamiliar lands; a longing to conquer new horizons and materialize a vision.
In my therapeutic work, I have had the privilege of meeting people who migrate as an act of altruism, with the aim of offering a better future to their loved ones.
Regardless of the motive that drives them, I believe that all those who undertake the path of migration share a common experience: the challenge of transforming the initially exciting unknown into a new reality. It's like arriving in a no man's land, where the previously constructed identity fades away, and you face the challenge of reinventing yourself in a new context.
However, as the identity already existed, a disruptive phenomenon occurs, where you must rebuild from scratch to be recognized for who you already are... or who you thought you were, in a world you don't know, and that doesn't play by the same rules you were used to.
The difference in language, in ways of conceiving reality, modes of communication, norms of life are in many cases immensely different, but in order to survive, one must fight. Fight to become who you were or who you want to be in the midst of the unknown.
Undoubtedly, this invites anxiety as a disorder and its symptoms to manifest. Trembling hands, hair loss, dermatitis and eczema, binge eating, etc., are just some of the symptoms I have seen in my patients. The body screams what the mind must silence in order to survive in the new world.
This is not to mention the depression that sometimes overwhelms. The nostalgia of having left behind those we love. Friends and family, or who knows, even grandma's pastries on a Sunday.
To be an immigrant requires courage, or as the Argentinians would say, "hay que tener huevos", because pain and nostalgia exist permanently (sometimes we feel it more, other times less, and sometimes we even forget, but it's a new condition we learn to live with.
Amidst this challenge, there also arises the opportunity to reconstruct our identity. The experience of migration confronts us with the need to choose who we want to be in this new context. We face the task of reconciling our history and roots with the realities of the present, navigating between different cultures, languages, and ways of life.
In this process of identity reconstruction, every choice we make becomes an act of affirming our being. From the food we choose to enjoy to the languages we decide to learn, we are constantly defining and redefining who we are in this changing world. Through this constant search, we find the strength to adapt to new circumstances and embrace the diversity that enriches our lives as immigrants.
Undoubtedly, based on my experience and that of my patients, psychological support is very helpful (in some cases essential), and I certainly recommend it. Through therapy, you can delve deeper into self-awareness, choosing more wisely who you want to become based on your personal experiences and the goals you have in this new chapter of your life.