I’m an Indian and recently moved to the US .I have been married to this man for almost 4 months. This was an arranged marriage. He is a good man. But I get irritated when he is around. His idiosyncracies infuriate me. He is what I call a real geek. I feel depressed and realize that I left behind a lot of good things for this man. I had a career and financial independence. This one email is really not enough to convey my issues. I’am contemplating Psychiatric help. Should I go for it?? I have become very moody and nasty with people and lose my temper very easily. It scares me too. Please help!!
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Realize how much stress and life change you have just undertaken. You’ve just moved across the world to live in a strange place in an alien culture where the language is somewhat different and the culture is very different. You’ve married a stranger and are adjusting to intimate life with a man who you don’t really know. In order to make this change, you’ve given up on activities which helped provide you with income and a sense of independent accomplishment. Really – this is a massive and tremendous amount of stress and change you’re undergoing right now and you need to appreciate that your reaction to it all is probably quite normal. Stressors of this magnitude would affect anyone, with depression and anxiety being the typical reaction most people would have. If you’re find yourself getting upset and depressed, I’d say you’re right on schedule. So – welcome to America. Now that you’re going to live in America, you should feel free to start acting like an smart American woman would. You’ve recognized that you are under stress and could benefit from help – so go and get some. As to what sort of help you might seek out – I’d say that the direction to go in has to do with whether you think you have a mental illness problem or a mental health problem. Mental illnesses (like major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc.) are true illnesses which require medical treatment. Mental health issues, however, are experienced by non-ill people who are under stress and need aid in learning about themselves, their internal and external environments, their relationships so that they can grow and address their problems. To my eye, you’re dealing with a mental health issue rather than a mental illness one (although you’ll have to judge for yourself). Mental health issues are best dealt with by therapists (psychologists, social workers, licensed counselors, etc.), and not by psychiatrists. Try to locate a therapist who is licensed, who understands your cultural background (who will respect your reasons for entering into an arranged marriage which is definitely not a mainstream practice in America), and who you feel you can trust. Don’t be afraid to shop around for the right therapist and to leave one if you don’t feel trusting towards him or her after a few sessions – it’s very important to get the chemistry right if you are to feel safe enough to grow as a person. Know that you can make a life for yourself here in America. If you worked in India, you should be able to work here in the United States. It may take time, education and planning, but it can be done. You may find that you have various pressures on yourself (such as a pressure to become a mother) – but you should know that many women in the United States balance out the same pressures (to raise a family, to be a wife, to work outside the home) and make it work if not perfectly, than well enough. You can also seek out social opportunities here so that you are not so isolated. There are Indian community organizations in most communities today for one thing, and then there are the vast array of other ways to meet neighbors who share your interests (through social, hobby and volunteer clubs and organizations). There are possibilities here which over time you’ll be able to explore. I confess not knowing much of what to say about your marital situation. I can say that the convention here in the States is to marry for love, and I can also say that the rate of divorce and separation is sadly very high. You may not like things about your husband, but if he is essentially a good man then there is hope that you two can work out your differences in time. Don’t be afraid to suggest that you and he go together for relationship/marital counseling. I don’t know whether such counseling is a part of your culture, but it certainly is a part of American culture – and it can be very helpful. Hopefully you are married to an open-minded man who wants to lead a happy life and who can be open to new ways of doing things even as you both hold on to what is good in your traditional backgrounds.