When I moved to Florida I was ready to switch to English as my primarily used language. I’ve been bilingual since I was about 10 years old so I thought the transition would be a piece of cake – wrong. We’ve now been living here for almost 6 months (yikes!) and my logic tells me it should be easier yet I’m left feeling drained and confused.
First off I define being bilingual as someone who is able to think in both languages separately and together. I personally feel like I have 3 swimming lanes in my head: Spanish, English and Spanglish. I switch back and forth but mainly stay in the Spanish lane. This is just how my mind works and I welcome other perspectives as to what people consider as bilingual.
Now, let me break my day down and hopefully by the end of this post I’ll find out maybe I’m not alone on this.
Work Hours – As of my move work hours mean I’m speaking english. To give you perspective, I’ve been a designer for almost 6 years now and although I did work in an American company back home, where I used english whenever presenting my work to the US office, this is the first time that I’m translating design/work terms to english and add to that having conversations in english as well during all work hours.
Homebound – I usually switch to spanish on my way home while I call my mother.
PM Gym time – (SPOILER: This is where I start feeling drained.) The gym is very diverse so you get multiple languages being spoken at the same time, but I still catch myself answering to people in spanish when I know they don’t speak it because my mind is mentally drained. It’s not out of disrespect – it’s just more instinctual.
Home – When I get home I just want my mind to rest. Speaking spanish gives my mind ease because it requires no prior thinking or construction of sentences. So when I want to say whatever is on my mind and not have to make sure it makes sense it’s only natural that my born language comes into play.
When I sat down to find the route of why I was mentally drained it hadn’t dawned on me that finding the problem was easy however, finding the solutions was not. This post would be nothing if I didn’t provide some tips, for those who are having this issue, of what’s helped me wind down a bit (keyword a bit). I’ve only recently discovered the route so I’m just scratching the surface on how to resolve the issue, but these are some things that have helped me:
Music – I’ve found that sitting down and just listening to music helps me recharge. I literally put on my headphones close my eyes and let my playlist flow. Most of the times when I come out of this state I feel recharged and ready to go.
Meditate – My form of meditation uses my first method as well. I roll out my mat put on some music and do what my body tells me too. This has been the only form of meditation that works for me. I’m in tune with my body as I surrender to it’s needs which clears out my mind until it’s time to come back to reality. I feel that once I finish a lot of the thoughts that are scattered are now more centered and so are my language lanes.
Talk It Out – Sometimes sitting with other people who are bilingual helps me get perspective in how they cope and what they do when they feel overwhelmed. It’s also nice to not feel alone with this issue.
Never in my life did I think I’d have to deal with this issue which is why I want to make it public. These are the issues we encounter on a day-to-day basic yet we usually stay quiet about them. Why? Maybe we don’t want to sound like we’re whining. We don’t want to be judged. Or maybe we just think we’re being stupid about the whole issue. But when it comes to mental health we need to stay on top of little issues like these before they turn into something bigger. Little issues like this have led me personally into panic attacks because my mind isn’t resting as it should. So take the time to help your mind rest and recharge. Hopefully these steps help some of you out there!