I have been wanting to get back to writing for a while now, but I simply did not have the energy and power to put my thoughts into words. Moving back to England has not been a smooth ride for me. When I was still in Beijing in March, I thought, “If I can just make it to England, I’ll be fine.”Nothing was less than truthful about this.
My last few months in Beijing were riddled with anxiety about the move. I was pumped full of medication to keep things under control. We decided to move back as my husband had a great promotion in the books and, overall, on paper, it seemed like a wise thing to do. Free and better schooling for the child and forest to run in for the dog, what could go possibly go wrong? Well, it turned out my mental state was not in any shape or form ready to repatriate to a “normal” society.
I am not sure how it all kicked off, but I was trying to get myself in better shape mentally by running around outside, listening to uplifting podcasts, and journaling. I was trying to be fine; I was less than fine. I was put on a different medication by the mental health team from the NHS. They even visited me every day to make sure I was doing well. They informed me that the three months of clonazepam given to me by my doctor in China was highly addictive and I had formed a dependency on it. Nobody should ever be given a three-month-worth of supply of this drug; in case of a very high emergency, the NHS will issue maybe three days’ worth.
Things were spiraling out of control and on many occasions, my husband had to rush back from work to take care of our daughter and me. We decided it would be better that my mother-in-law would come and try to manage everything. The new medication made me highly energetic; I was constantly on the go painting cupboards, running outside, cleaning the house, and many other house chores. The drug was supposed to settle me down, but my brain was on fire. My mother-in-law stayed for two weeks and then took our daughter to Italy. Later in the summer, they went to Holland. I had three weeks to myself to try to get my act together.
Though I was under medication, my mind would not leave me alone. My soul felt black. I have had many bouts of depression in the past, but this time was, by far, the worst. I was lost and had forgotten how to be alive. I had lost the will to live.
Never in the past had I felt the urge to take my own life as I was never sure if the suffering would actually stop. This time was different: I could not exist anymore; I wanted to be dead. Nothing could be worse than the darkness invading my brain and body. It felt like I was eaten alive by a monster hiding inside my body.
I truly believed that the world would be better without me, or my family would be much happier without me. I tried to take my own life; I overdosed myself on all the medication I had at home. I wanted to stop existing because the darkness would not let go and had taken over my body and soul. The only way I could make it stop was by ending my own life.
To be clear, at no point did I think about my family or friends while I did this, I just needed it to stop. The pain, the crying, the constant feeling that I was eaten alive by a black monster inside my body—I needed the screaming in the shower to stop. I needed my tiredness with life to stop. I needed my pain to go away. Well, I’m writing this months later, so I am very much alive. I was put on another medication to calm me down and assist my sleep. But I was in so much pain I could not stop screaming when I was alone; I was consumed alive by my own mental monster.
I am not sure how I got through the months following my attempt, but it helped that my daughter came home and my brother stayed with me. I decided that enough was enough and slowly weaned off all the medication they had given me. They did not work anymore, so there was really no sense taking them. I stopped listening to music, I stopped reading, I stopped walking with my dog, I stopped running, I stopped doing anything. The only thing I could do was maybe shower and pick up my daughter from school.
There are six hours in a day that kids go to school and that’s how long it would take me to get myself ready to go pick her up. I would take her to the playground after and would sit on a bench and watch her play. I started talking with a coach online that my father recommended to me. My husband took me to another doctor for a more holistic approach to healing my mind. To be fair, all was lost anyway so I had nothing to lose going to see people that have an alternative approach to healing.
Am I happy that my attempt failed? For the longest time, I could not give a shit about my life. I went through the motions. Pick up my child, sit on a bench in the park till it was time for dinner. But I met a friend on that bench—another mother in Fleet with whom I became friends.
It helped that I had to pretend to be a normal mother so I could become friends with her. But it looks like nobody is really normal, and it helps to bond over these things as well. It was my saving grace that I had to pick up my child and then go sit on a bench and talk about normal life things during this summer. Shower, pick up child, sit on a bench, repeat. We were and still are, on some days, the only two moms left in the park blabbering on anything. Friendships are not about quantity but quality.
We will never know how all of this came about. Was it leaving Beijing? Was it moving back to the UK? I reckon a time bomb in me imploded no matter where I was in the world. It would have happened, anyway.
I miss my life in China every day. I was not done with Beijing and Beijing was not done with me. Secretly, I am stinking jealous of my friends having a fabulous time in China, without me. How dare they? I listen to music again. This time, without crying. I can look at pictures from China without breaking down. I desperately miss the hassle of living in a weird country. I yearn for the easy and fast friendships you can make as an expat. I desire to hear the unintelligible chatter around me again. I do now, and god, people only moan in the UK! I want to use Didi and Taobao again. I want to feel the energy that Beijing has, because there, anything is possible. I even long to smell Beijing’s pollution! I strongly believe rain is worse than bad air, because Fleet is soaked all the time.
I am getting better and I do believe I might not be depressed anymore. I beyond cured yet, but I’m back on track and healing. The UK is not my place but we might as well stay here for a bit, but no longer than our contract requires us too!
I might as well keep on living till I am alive again.