Being depressed in Saudi is not unusual. Especially for women.
I can't speak for Saudi women, but there are more than a few expat women who sink into really dark places while living in Saudi.
I've had expat women admit they feel useless here.
I've heard them say they feel their homes are closing in on them. Or admitting they feel like smacking their heads on the wall to remind themselves they do exist.
I have some idea how they feel.
Some days I have to make myself pick up the phone and call women I met at a coffee morning but hardly know so I can plan Something to stop that dark sinking feeling from taking hold and turning into a smothering blanket of utter nothingness.
Some days the four walls of my one bedroom apartment threaten to become all I know.
Some days my couch and I rarely part company.
Some days I wish I could teleport to someplace else.
Some place where I'm not hidden away covered in black, never to be seen or heard.
Some place where I can be my independent self not treated like some useless imbecile that can't change a lightbulb.
Some place where I can laugh and sing and run and jump and nobody cares.
Some place normal. Not this archaic limbo-land.
Then my husband walks in the door after a long days work and I pretend I'm fine. Life is great. What did you do? he says.
Nothing in this country for a woman can truly mean nothing.
It is possible to spend days in Saudi doing not a bloody thing.
(Constantly sitting on your arse drinking coffee and eating cake is nothing with coffee and cake).
More than once I have found myself sagged into the couch, my head lolling on the headrest with the four walls closing in, nothingness dragging me down and a sense that helplessness has somehow made itself a home inside of me. It is possible, in such a state, to begin to feel real distaste for this place and its ridiculous modus operandi.
I don't think our expat men really understand the Nothing Concept for women in Saudi nor how it affects us.
Perhaps they believe the locals who describe life here for women as 'living like a princess''.
I call it draining your soul.
It pays, on my nothing days, to start planning something before nothing finds company with Negativity. Nothing was bad. But Negativity - she's a bitch! She's not happy with anything. She picks fault with everything, including the broad looking angrily back at her in the mirror. She's a pain to live with.
Did you go shopping? - Nope. No car. No driver.
Did you go visiting? - Nope. No friends. They all left. We went to their ma'salama parties last week. I don't know anybody.
The house looks nice. You did some house work? - Nope. Maid did that.
Why don't you ask around for some work? - I did. There's no work in my profession for women. It's only for men.
Why don't you get a job at the school? - I don't teach.
Why don't you join a club? - There's no clubs I like. Women aren't allowed to ride bikes, or jog, or play cricket, or softball, or join gun clubs, or archery or race cars or do anything exciting. And I don't play mahjong.
Why don't you get dressed and we'll go out for dinner? Don't need to get dressed, I just have to put on a black thing.
Eventually my Negative Bitch gets sick of snarking at my unresponsive self and starts telling my nearest and dearest in vemon filled jabs and stabs, delivered to make him think my state is all his fault, how she feels. Sometimes using words that used to get my mouth washed out with soap when I was young!
She calls me a few choice names as well - Oh the arguements we have inside my head calling each other Bitch! (Sometimes, I swear living in this country has given me a serious mental condition. I met a lady who is a counsellor and works in schools for kids. I told her she ought to set up shop for the adult expats.)
On the plus side my loud, unhappy and somewhat angry Negative Bitch has hauled my arse from under a settling blanket of depression on more than one occasion in my two and a bit years of living here saying things like, 'FFS, get over yourself', or 'FFS, you're boring, go find something to do', or 'FFS - FFS is her favourite phrase - if you don't like it here, give up and go home you silly cow'. That one usually gets to me - I hate giving up and this country will not beat me! So, though she can be mean, there are times I'm glad I my Negative Bitch. Else I might actually become clinically depressed in Saudi.