After The Fall

It wasn’t really a fall, it was more of a complete transformation of a mild mannered *cough, cough* Aussie chick into a fully functioning, homicidal maniac but I must say I felt better getting it off my chest and I want to give all you guys a shout out as well.  So many of you wrote to me and told me your horror stories living here in Türkiye (and elsewhere) making mine seem perhaps a tad absurd but also giving me the strength to face a new day.

depression 1

I haven’t always been honest about how I was feeling mostly because I didn’t want to sound like I was complaining.  For many of us there is a romanticism to living in Türkiye.  I get that.  So many people say how lucky we are and how they would love to do it too.  Sure, we are very lucky – we chose this life but it isn’t always easy.

When I self-analyse my meltdown (thank you Google) I think it mostly stems from a depression that snuck up on me, so quietly that I didn’t even realise it until it swallowed me whole.  I had an inkling back in January that there was something askew while I was having a long weekend in London.  I caught up with my bestie who lives there and spent much of the day in tears.

Up front I don’t consider myself someone who gets depressed easily.  I am pretty chill and I think most people who know me would agree however since my knee operation and its very, VERY slow recovery I found myself becoming increasing depressed which has been magnified by the fact that I am living in a country that doesn’t really take its mental health all that seriously (as it fecking should)!

Putting aside Türkiye’nin domestic and regional tensions an expat here is also contending with bureaucratic bungles, visa issues, cultural differences, language barriers – ugh the list goes on – but all of this has the potential to send even the sanest among us kicking and screaming to the looney bin.  The simplest of tasks become untenable and, as an expat, it’s hard to make people understand that you feel lost and need help.

For me personally I find that, despite being surrounded by family ALL THE TIME, I still feel isolated and unsupported and very much alone.  I would lock myself in my bedroom and cry and cry.  I really started to resent the family, not just The Turk and Daughter, but the extended re-mix of family that lives within spitting distance.  I missed my privacy.  I can’t walk around naked (I would never walk around naked but now I don’t even have that option).  Cooking a meal requires every pot and pan in the house and for feck’s sake why do they all have to YELL????  ALL THE TIME???  It rattles me.  A family dinner is exhausting and takes me days to recover.  A bayram is my personal hell with family coming in from other cities to add to the chaos.  I’m getting the sweats just thinking about it.

The Turk isn’t really as supportive or sympathetic as he should be.  I think growing up in the Village he has seen it all and his mindset is to ignore the problem and it will go away.  Daughter is a hormonal teenager off doing her own thing and I often go days getting little more than a grunt from her as she passes me in the hallway.  So it’s just me.  Alone.  And being alone can be scary.

But what I DO know about me is this I am, in fact, one badass bitch!  I am fecking sensational!  I am Sensational Janey (such moniker given to me by an equally sensational Turk) and I am part of a group of Sensational Bad-Ass Bitches who navigate life here in Mersin.

Now I’m taking it one day at a time.  I find something positive and I run with it.  I went to the pazar in Menderes this week (it is seriously the best pazar in Mersin).  I spent much more than I had anticipated (tomatoes were surprisingly expensive with 4kg setting me back 18TL) followed by a delicious yogurt tantuni with one of the Bad-Ass Bitches that live here.  I am really pushing myself to walk again to build strength back in my legs and to improve my health generally and finally, I am back to writing, which I have always found to be very cathartic.

Oh and I have wine.  A LOT of wine!

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16 thoughts on “After The Fall

  1. Thank you for being so honest, Janey, and for saying what many of us feel sometimes. There seems such pressure to make out that life here is perfect all the time – I despair of certain Facebook groups where every mere suggestion that there’s a problem or you miss something from your homeland is met by a barrage of ‘Well if that’s how you feel, why are you living here? Go home!’ comments.
    I have never had rose-tinted glasses about living here and I never pretend everything is ideal. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be here, even if I hit meltdown occasionally.
    I do wonder sometimes if those who shout loudest about how they love EVERYTHING in Turkey and miss NOTHING are trying to convince themselves rather than the rest of us.
    I wish you strength and happiness, and please remember that you’re not alone. You’ve got a whole army of virtual friends here willing to lend their virtual shoulders.

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  2. Hi Janey obviously we don,t live in Turkey but we have had some work done in our apartment in Marmaris over the winter and you have my sympathy regarding the standard of work.
    My wife returned a few weeksc ago to find all her brooms missing and the rubbish bin from the kitchen seems to have been abducted .
    A bag of clothes left on the balcony now I did not expect a 100% job having seen the standards but it,s sad when out shopping the goods are or seem to be built to a very high standard bathroom furniture is very stylish kitchen furniture is excellent being nieve we should have let the shop fit things for us they seem to work to a better standard.
    So to your latest blog I often ask our friends who live in Turkey if they see themselves staying into old age to me the country is stunning but even sommelier friends who have lived there for many years still seem to me to be outsiders

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    • I think we will always be outsiders never really accepted as one of them but that’s kind of okay … and don’t get me started again on the standard of workmanship. I might need to be restrained!! Again!!!

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  3. Janey, I don’t think it’s the big things, the major crises, the really important things that reduce us to gibbering maniacs, it’s the constant drip, drip drip of cultural irritations that just get too much. Your internet crisis? Yep, been there, got the T shirt. Reduced me to hysterics and tears – a friend of 25 years thought someone had died, I was in such a state. Living alone has reduced my stress considerably, until I have to get a workman in, then it’s off the scale! I love my life, I’m happy, but even so, sometimes??.?? I want to buy a gun. Good job I haven’t got one! A neighbour had a new dog. It barks all night. When I complained, she shrugged her shoulders and said “It’s a dog, they bark.” I’ve taken to soaking it with the garden hose at 2:30am, that quiets it down 😐

    Hang on in there, we’re rooting for you! xxxxx

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  4. I seem to have missed some vital posts Janey. It sounds like you are turning a corner. As for depression, been there, done that, so can sympathise and relate to a degree as everyone’s circumstances are different. Have been thinking of you lately anyway, so hope some good vibes reach you in support. Take care.

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  5. I’ve been working on a theory that Turkish culture doesn’t have a place of respect for the individual it is not ” you ” with your personal needs likes and dislikes they have a care for it’s you as a relative expected to conform to their idea of your role whether you want to or not or even can. Very disturbing at times and few understand the need for you to be alone they act so collectively.
    Can drive one insane but I have found the more you do what you need to do when you need to and the less you try to be what ‘they ‘ want within reason the better it is. One’s idiosyncrasies get accepted in the end.
    I personally have to avoid beurocracy as much as possible as I can get very rude very quickly with their nonsenses “it’s them not you “!

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  6. I second what theparsleys have said. A lot of people on FB groups take any criticism about your own life in Turkey as a criticism of their life. I don’t think it’s possible for everything to always be perfect when you live in a country you weren’t born in (or even in the place you were born). That certainly hasn’t been my experience living in Turkey, as any of the readers of my memoir will know. It can be hard, difficult and incredibly stressful at times, but it almost feels like you shouldn’t complain because you chose to live here. It’s really brave of you to share your true feelings Jane, and I hope it’s made you feel a bit better.

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  7. We are stronger for living here – We get over massive hurdles and laugh about them (after the tears), and even write about them. It is ten months tonight since my husband died and every day in the street someone asks if I am ok and offers help if I ever need it. Just that considerate smile and quiet inquiry goes a long way to calming anxieties. I wasn’t born here but I really feel as if I belong.

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  8. I feel like there is depression and then there is expat depression. It takes things to a whole new level. We’ve moved country twice now and even years into an assignment, I’ve found it hits me like a ton of bricks. Your honesty is refreshing and knowing that we are not alone in our episodes is something that will help others, whether you do it intentionally or not. Living outside your comfort zone, even if it’s years later, is no joke and sometimes we just reach our breaking point! Wishing you some peace of mind, sunshine (I live in the Netherlands now where the sun doesn’t shine enough so that is certainly a cause for a lot of depression here) and for some much needed laughter to come your way!

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    • Yes you need your Vitamin D fix dont you? I could never live in Northern Europe, never enough sunshine and really sunshine makes everything just that little bit easier to handle … until it gets fireants on crack hot!!

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  9. Writing is the BEST therapy!

    The one thing about in-laws is that no matter how close you become, no matter how good the friendship with an in-law, in the end blood almost always trumps marriage . I certainly learned that the hard way.

    Good luck and hope that the future becomes a better place to live for you.

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  10. Oh god, you poor thing. You’ve had a lot going on and are a long long way from your mates and family. And this country is enough to drive anyone to distraction, without all the stuff you’ve got going on on the sidelines.

    And no job is ever completed without making at least two new jobs for someone else, as well as a pile of shite to clean up (sounds like your workman might have left you an actual one of those – ugh – and have you noticed that however strong, masculine and rufty tufty they are, they can’t manage to push down that little ‘flush’ button on top of the loo?)

    We too are absolutely dreading the arrival of Seker Bayram. We had new neighbours last year, who have most of Adana staying in their house from June to September, so that is the end of any privacy or peace, and any garden tool (even clothes pegs) that is not nailed down will vanish. I expect if you go over to Adana in the summer, you will notice that the shops have closed down and that the restaurants are empty, and that is because all of its citizens are living in the house next door to us here in Gokseki!

    Kas has now become so popular with the dwellers of the big northern cities that last year, the shelves in our shops were empty, we had cars and tents parked/erected on our traffic roundabouts and grass verges, the petrol station ran completely dry and the ATMs ran out of money. Our town was literally gridlocked and the main D400 Fethiye to Antalya road actually became a car park for several hours – people just abandoned their cars and went off for a walk. We are seriously considering going over to one of the Greek island this year for the duration. The worst bit is that the belediye doesn’t seem to think any of this is a problem and is making no plans for this year – in fact to help matters they have dug up our main street to lay new storm drains and water pipes just as the season is starting.

    I have found myself reaching a point where none of this is quaint any more – to use your term, it is just downright feckin insane and makes me want to lie on the floor in the middle of the main street and have the biggest tantrum ever witnessed this side of the Dardanelles. And I increasingly get the horrible feeling we are going backwards, not forwards.

    I am glad to hear you are turning a corner – the irritations are real and affect us even when we are on top of things, so don’t be despondent if you still find yourself getting hot under the collar even as your health improves. And keep up with the walking – it’s great for letting off steam as well as the exercise, and of course it’s even better if you are walking somewhere pretty, preferably with another female so that you can offload on each other.

    And, as the wife of someone who has suffered with sometimes severe depression his entire life, do not ever be afraid to get advice from someone who knows their depression stuff and do take drugs if they help. The way my husband looks at it is that his serotonin issues are no different to a diabetic’s insulin issues. It is just a different hormone. Nobody expects a diabetic to make a spontaneous miracle recovery without intervention, so why do we expect depression to just disappear?

    I hope the improvement continues. Keep selling those passion fruit and spend the proceeds on chocolate and red wine. That is bound to help (I’m sure I read somewhere that this was the official advice given in The Lancet recently…)

    And I hope your asparagus hunt is successful!

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