Friday, September 2, 2022

Visa Worries, An Expat Therapist Shares Personal Coping Tips

Passport and stamp image

So about our Talent Visa woes: there’s no change yet, but there have been some questions. Next week we lose our permission to work after 25+ years here in Malaysia, unless someone at immigration wields a stamp. The questions have been mostly, “Why aren’t you going nuts?!”

I’d love to say it’s because I’m the greatest mental health therapist in the entire world, and my calm is entirely due to my using my knowledge about depression, anxiety etc to flow through this. Yeah, I should lie like a rug and say Hire Me! 😊

Truth is, the job does help but it’s also partly experience and personality.

The experience says that this is a tough time, but there have been worse times. Nobody is dead. Nobody is bankrupt. Nobody is at death’s door. So the reality is that there is inconvenience and annoyance, but no tragedy. I find that a massive comfort.

Next, from my work: when you’re in a tight spot, look to your rock. Your rock is whatever it is that gives you safety. This can be religion, a place, money etc etc.

For me it’s money in the bank. I believe that money makes you free. My personal minimum target is if you can do nothing in terms of revenue making for a year and still be okay, that makes you pretty much bullet-proof. I’ve got that, so I’m blessed.

Next, it’s working out what absolutely needs to be done. For me that’s Tom who needs another operation at the end of the year, and moving the cats abroad. Everything else is nice but not necessary. I can abandon my books, my things, everything. It’s just stuff. Only Tom and the cats matter. I can arrange their needs, no matter what.  That is a comfort.

As for the rock, a safety margin of cash, I’ve even got a plan for that. If it all goes pear-shaped in 8 days, I get on a bus, move to a nearby country, set up temporarily and keep working while I arrange for the next big move. Inconvenient, but with my work being entirely portable, it really isn’t a big deal.  

What cements is all is choosing to be happy every day. I know what gives me the feels: petting Target, playing with Tic Tac and Inkie, making very nice dinners and sharing them with Tom while watching old films.

So every single day I set aside time to pet and play then I cook and we watch black and white films. Those moments of happiness are mine. They can’t ever be taken away. They’re locked in my mind and they run through the fabric of my life.   

And finally, I think personality has a lot to do with calm. It’s tough times but I’m the type who breathes through and keeps moving forward. It’s useful for me and my job, but I get it can be super annoying.

With all the drama, I’ve had several mates this week exclaim, “How can you sit there and be so calm!!!!!!!!!!” and advising, “Call immigration! Call the Talent people again!! Write in the newspaper!!! Do something!!!!!!!!!”

I really appreciate that love. It’s heaven to know so many people care. But when you’re anxious, action appears to be useful. Reality is that everything that can be done, has been done. And now we just have to wait and see. 

Update 14 November 2022: we got it!  Five years. But we think the writing is on the wall for foreigners in Malaysia, so we plan to move to the UK in 2023. As I work online, it will be business as usual :-)

Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay