It’s that time of year again: another batch of friends have left Singapore. Before Christmas three of my
wine book club, fully half of it, left to go back to Melbourne. Others left too, at the same time or just after; it’s a great time of year for Australians in particular to go home, the start of the school year. Another family, people I really liked, are leaving at Easter. Maybe there’s even more that I don’t know about yet, because you often don’t get more than a couple of months notice for a work move.
You have to keep on top of people here. If you’re on the sort of casual, I like spending time with you but doesn’t life get crazy schedule that works back home, you might completely miss the news and then poof they’re going. And you have to be happy for them, if you are a good friend, but in your mind you’re clutching at their ankle screeching, “NOOOOOO! How can you LEAVE MEEEEEEEE?”
Amazingly, not many people outside of your immediate family make life decisions based on what you want.
Then you have to start the cycle of making new friends all over again. But what if you meet someone, and they seem great, but then they tell you they’re going midyear? Do you just rub them off the mental blackboard? Oh well, not much point making the effort there. I’ll be honest, I’ve done that before. It’s a good way to protect yourself from the sadness when a friend goes. But it’s also a good way to miss out. Because what if you really get along? Sure, they’ll leave and they could end up anywhere: Italy, Tokyo, Toronto, Ireland, but then you’ll know someone who lives there. It’s really cool knowing people all over the world. And as a fellow expat, who knows what the future holds? You could end up in the same place again.
You have to work at friendships here, really make the effort to keep catching up, which is hard for an introvert like me. But if you don’t, you end up feeling like a Larry No Mates because it’s your birthday and you”d like to go out to dinner but the two people you know are busy. Even an introvert like me hates that.
A couple of months ago, I ended up at the doctor’s because my anxiety and depression flared up way more than normal. I was having Bad Thoughts, really bad, of a kind I haven’t had for many years, and it scared the crap out of me. So I went to the doctor and he prescribed antidepressants and gave me a referral to a psychologist, and I’m working on stuff.
I don’t know what caused it. Is it hormonal? I was diagnosed with PMDD
in the past, but it’s been fine for ages. There is no Why, or maybe there are a thousand mini-Whys. I had a feeling of isolation, of being useless. I remember thinking I would lift right out of this family with no ill effects. I don’t work, I don’t do housework, the only thing I really do is kid homework and bedtimes, and that’s easily replaced. I figured I could disappear and no one would notice. Hell, I didn’t even think it was worth going to the doctor. What’s the point?
I said to Dave. I’m just going to be wasting his time. What will I even say to him?
And again when I got my prescription filled. These are really expensive here. We’ll need to do a cost benefit analysis to see if they’re worth it.
Between sanity and not sanity? he asked. No, between me and not-me. It just seemed like too much effort to go to.
But then someone I knew lost a friend to suicide and I saw how it really affected her. I remembered another friend, whose dad committed suicide when she was little and how it still tore her up, and, I couldn’t do that to B. So I went to the doctor, and I cried, and now I take my antidepressants and monitor my moods and try to do things that give me joy like exercise and hobbies and I’m doing ok now, except that I still don’t know why it happened in the first place.
The moral of the story is: living here is amazing and wonderful, but it can be lonely too. You have to look after yourself, . Those book club ladies, I didn’t see them that much outside of book club but I liked them, and I liked our catchups, and now there’s a gap in my social life. But the other half of the group are still here, and I also really like them. So I’m going to swallow my shyness, and reach out, to all my friends, not just the ones that are here. This is going to be my challenge for this year, to be better at this.