I became a SAHM in 2011 after moving to South Africa where laws prevented me from working. I did however immerse myself in charity and volunteer work, not behind the scenes but fully hands on. Working formed an important part of my identity and without a career I felt lost.
On moving to Dubai, I was determined to find a job and I took the first one offered, teaching in FS1. I hadn't taught in this age group or environment, this didn't work out for me you can read more about why I gave up working here.
So now I'm a SAH through choice. In South Africa my visa read 'Home Executive' In Dubai, due to where we live I'm affectinately known as a 'Jumeriah Jane' however expat coffee mornings are not my style.
Despite living as expats, we've never employed cleaners or maids to help around the home, many people say we're not supporting the local economy, but for me I don't want a stranger in the house, the worry of employment visas, contracts, etc.
After a full on year of 12+ hours a day working and the recent spate of visitors, I'm glad for the time off. Lots of things have been put on hold that really need doing, such as the garden, housework and tax returns, the house and new flat in the UK that we need to sort things out with such as renewing insurances and the youngest child leaving boarding school and applying for apprenticeships as well as helping him find somewhere to live.
We have a trip to Egypt booked for the end of the month to give me something to look forward to and then there are the trips to the UK and South Africa to book.
But I still have to manage the in-between. I don't find it easy to pace myself and am often accused of making myself ill by not resting, something I did last week, trying to get everything sorted asap.
I know what triggered depression in the past, losing my identity, self worth and value as a person, so I know what to avoid and how to avoid it. This time my new identity is my choice, so I am responsible for myself this time, as in there is no one to try to lay the blame on.
Reading through my blog, I've identified that 2013 and the lowest point for me, the posts are a mixture of reflection and the current situation at the time. It was the year we had Tenants from hell and I spent months away from my family and I felt a self imposed guilt of being away for so long, it was the year the youngest child was heading to the UK for boarding school, child 4 of 5 was finishing school and moving back to the UK sooner rather than later, we had lots of visitors, visas were due for renewal and Peter was travelling more.
June 2011 With love and support from my husband
February 2012 When Suzanne says 'fuck it'
January 2013 Losing my identity caused my depression
February 2013 If depression had physical signs and I looked ill
February 2013 Do expats ever settle?
March 2013 Managing my depression
August 2013 Constant changes make life difficult, long spells in the UK, a child leaving home and after the visitors.
June 2015 the importance of having a routine
So now I know what caused the depression, the triggers, now I know how to stay on top of it, to acknowledge it and say 'it's ok to feel sad' to talk about it before, to ask for help and not feel I have to justify it in anyway, I thought I'd share my thoughts on my blog, so I can revisit and remind myself just how far I have come and that, just like a physical illness, it's ok just to have bad days.
I've created myself a time table/things to do on a daily basis and then weekly goals on top:
Wash up and tidy around the house, sort out the days dinner, make a pack lunch to stop me picking on food all day.
By 9am get dressed, including hair and make up.
Go out, even if it's just for a coffee or a food shop. Walk the dog, cycle, go to the beach, blog at the coffee shop, anything just to get me out the house and do this first thing or I'll not leave.
Sundays and Thursday are for housework, food shop, washing, ironing and tidying only. Getting ready for the weekend so when it comes Peter and I can do what we want rather than spending, like we have the past year, doing housework, washing and ironing, then too tired to do anything.
Tuesday are desert days, take Bob for a long walk, pack the camping stove, a book, deck chair and picnic and just chill out. Nearly everyone I've met in Dubai has been through #BobTheDog.
There are projects and crafts I want to do. Finish writing my book, sew dog beds for charity, find a use for the rest of the odds and ends lying around the house. Sort the physical photo's into albums. Work more in the garden, sit more in the garden and enjoy the efforts of my hard work.
I will allow myself down days, pj days and days of eating junk food, that's how we spent the weekend, for the first time in a year, just chilling out and switching off.
And finally, routine. I have to accept it changes, not on a daily basis but when we have an influx of visitors, when I travel to the UK. We've bought a flat near my parents so we have somewhere to stay when we travel, a base, so we're not living out of a suitcase, somewhere we can invite people to come and visit us. Expensive, but so simple. It will make going home now a lot more pleasurable, knowing we can switch off and relax and actually start taking proper holidays rather than seeing it as a chore because we have no down time.