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The Emotional Toll of Immigration Purgatory

Updated: Jul 10

Imagine leaving everything you know behind to start a new life in a foreign land, only to be met with uncertainty, isolation, and a constant struggle for stability.

This is the reality for many immigrants, particularly those on temporary resident status, as they navigate the complexities of immigration policies and strive for permanent residency in Canada. The emotional and psychological toll of this journey is profound, yet often overlooked.

I remember back in 2016, when my PR (Permanent Residency) application was being processed, my Godbrother, around February-March, asked me, "Are you coming to Jamaica for Christmas?" and I remember the anxiety building up in my body... and I responded very sternly,

"Listen, don’t ask me about the future, okay? All I know is, this is where I am right now. In December, I don’t know where I will be. There is a PR application in process and it’s like a brick wall in front of my face. I can’t see past it... don’t ask me about Christmas... ask me about now; you know you can ask me about tomorrow."

By that time, I was in a limbo status, in what was called implied status, where I had a permanent residency application in, my work permit had expired, and I had an application to extend my work permit in. Until a decision was made on my work permit or the permanent residency application, I was in limbo—a heavenly hell, waiting to hear the decision that would chart the course for the rest of my life (or so it felt)… (immigration purgatory).

This state of being, where one's future is suspended by bureaucratic processes, is what I refer to as "Post-Immigration Stress Disorder"—a serious yet unrecognized condition that many immigrants endure silently. Some, however, do so less silently, as evidenced by the recent protests with shouts of 'We want justice; extend our work permits!'

Immigrants often experience symptoms similar to those of "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder"(PTSD)—anxiety, depression, and a pervasive sense of uncertainty.

The unpredictability of our immigration paths often leaves us feeling powerless.

What can we do? We can focus on what is within our control.

From my own experiences with trauma, both related to immigration and otherwise, I've found solace and strength in simple acts such as coloring. In my latest book, I explore how art therapy, combined with journaling and reflections on animal wisdom, can offer us tools to manage our emotions and challenges. By drawing inspiration from the courage of a lion, the strength of a bear, or the playfulness of a dolphin, we can find moments of peace and empowerment.

Given the ongoing changes and upheavals in the immigration landscape, the importance of self-care cannot be overstated.

As a token of support to those navigating the challenges of Immigration Purgatory, I am offering my e-book for free today and tomorrow, June 11th and 12th on Amazon.

This book is a helpful, stress-relieving companion for those navigating similar paths. It’s subtitled "Unveil Your Inner Strength, Find Peace Through Animal Wisdom, and Experience True Transformation Through Creativity, Reflection, and Affirmations."

I invite you to explore these strategies, which I hope will support and resonate with many of you as we all strive to find our footing in Canada.

Look out for my upcoming masterclass where I will help you gain deeper insight into the government's immigration strategies and how you can align yourself with them to improve your chances of success on your journey toward residency.

Hug an immigrant today,

Kristina McPherson

P.S. Be kind to one another.

P.P.S More on PISD to come and how to cope.

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