Life and Lemons

Life and Lemons

Ok before I start this post I’ll give you a warning. I’m writing about anxiety, panic attacks and feeling hideous thoughts. If you’re in any way feeling like shit today, this isn’t the post for you. Also, I swear alot.


If you have read any of my previous blog posts you’ll know that I gave up my job and life in the UK to move to Singapore all thanks to my husbands job (this has all been explained in raw honesty in blog post “Independent Dependent” if you need a quick delve into the emotional shit storm I dealt with last year). But that was supposed to be last years problem. I promised myself and everyone else that this year I’d be a positive Patricia and stop whinging about how shit my life is actually not in the grand scheme of things. So what went wrong when I was doing so well?

I have a limit. A shit limit. Life happens regardless of your mental state and emotional capacity basically. And, call me generation snowflake or whatever the Daily Mail’s latest dig is, I’ve reached that limit.

Everything started to unravel at speed yesterday. Up until yesterday evening I was holding things together with mental sticky tape. As in, it won’t last forever but it will do the job for now very well. And then I got a phone call from the Student Loans Company in which I was questioned (again) on my current employment status, or lack thereof. Like, SLC, I have no issue with you checking up to see if there have been any changes to my employment status, except that I’ve explained to you several times now that I’m not fucking allowed to work!!! Well anyway, when SLC man questioned me as to whether I was “actively seeking employment” I cried. I cried out of sheer exasperation, I cried out of humiliation that I was explaining everything AGAIN, I cried out of frustration that I’m not working, I cried out of guilt that I’m not working and making payments. I just fucking cried like a baby. A big crying baby with a degree that’s no use because I can’t even work anyway. I was doing ok until I tried to justify my life. Having to tell a complete stranger over the phone that I’d applied for several jobs and even gone through the stress of a job interview but to have not got further than that because I’m just not that employable here due to my Visa status tipped me over the edge. It just brought all those shitty emotions and feelings of worthlessness from last year right into this year. And then this morning to top it all off I received a letter from SLC as well. It was a final payment summons threatening debt collectors if I didn’t pay off my arrears. Arrears which I have accrued because I’m not working and they have not yet accepted the fact that I’m not working. It was the most OTT letter (and the only one I’ve received) that left me a sobbing, shaking mess. Is this what happens when women take a career break to raise babies? Beyonce never fucking sang about this part.

Because that’s the crux of the argument. I have taken a career break, however long lasting, to raise a family. Is that so unusual? It’s pretty traditional and I can’t believe for a moment that I’m some abnormal being who has made the decision to do this…am I? I mean yeah, my decision was definitely questionable to an extent in terms of giving up a successful career and the financial security and societal acceptance that comes with that. But like, this is 2017 and feminism is meant to be about allowing women to make their life decisions for themselves, right?! And so here I am, having made a massive fucking life decision, and then of all people to give me shit it’s the fucking SLC? Really??? This move hasn’t come without criticism or questions from all sorts of people who’s opinions have and haven’t mattered. And that’s how I’ve been made to feel. I feel like I’m being judged, like I’ve presented them with my “evidence” and it’s now up to someone to decide my fate. They’ve even said they’ll contact me “with a decision”. A decision on what? Whether I can pay contributions from my non-existent salary from my non-existent job out of my non-existent bank account. Ummm ok, sure.

As this all sank in I had a full blown panic attack this afternoon. Crying, sweating, unable to breathe panic attack. My whole body had succumbed to the pit of despair my mind was already in. I felt like I was dying. I was drowning and suffocating at the same time. And all I could think  about was how I’ve failed at life. My mind was racing with thoughts about how the debt collectors would go knocking at my parents address. The shame of it all. All because I tried to do right by my husband and children. £16k. How the fuck do I pay them the money? Where will it come from? I don’t have it. Will I be arrested when I try to re-enter the UK? Will my children be taken from me?

Sat here now I recognise that during those minutes there was no rational thought processes taking place. That wasn’t me. It was like a crazed beast had taken over me, feeding off the emotions I’d been doing my utmost to replace with positivity.

I still feel anxious about it all, but I feel determined too. I won’t be bullied. Not as a person, a woman, a housewife. If anything it has made me all the more certain that I will earn again, I will pay off my student debt and I won’t be made to feel like a financial burden on anyone. So sorry, Student Loans Company, that I’m just a housewife and mother right now. Really I am sorry. But life happens, you know, and sometimes you have to make a decision for the greater good of those around you even if that means dipping out of the job world temporarily. I’m sorry that this means during this period of my life you will carry on adding interest to my account at a rate I cannot possibly hope to match. This isn’t forever, it’s just for a while, so bear with me please.

And also, don’t ever fucking talk to me like you have done over the past two days ever again. Or any other parent who has made the very personal decision to take some time out for their families. We’re dealing with shitteous situations already, clearly by our actions, so be fucking reasonable. That’s all.

I feel better now.



  1. Avril
    February 1, 2017 / 1:38 pm

    Oh collection agencies SUCK. They seem to have virtually no understanding whatsoever (try being told you need to explain EXACTLY how you got pregnant and don’t know how to contact the father – apparently I’m human, alcohol happens, oops – isn’t enough detail. And they need this detail now. Bugger your PND) I feel for you. Loan companies suck more than most. Anxiety is he’ll. Big hugs and all I can spare of my mental glue stick.

    • The Expat Mama
      February 3, 2017 / 4:29 am

      Thank you! The hoops you have to jump through are shocking, I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with all that and PND at the same time. That’s a total bastard. Hope your glue is holding up, and sending big hugs right back at you xx

  2. February 2, 2017 / 7:35 am

    Love your blog and your honesty. This is going to sound patronising but I don’t mean it to… enjoy your kids while they are young and the fact you are there for them. Sod SLC. Yes, working makes us feel valued and caring for young children can be mind numbingly boring at times but being there 100% for your kids at this young age will pay off big time in the future. You already have a fab website. You will doubtless find work or another fulfilling occupation as time goes by. I live in Africa and I get super frustrated about my permanent visitor status vis-a-vis working. I totally canned my career at 27 and doing anything here has required bucket loads of determination and ingenuity – but nonetheless, I just about managed to stay sane and 3 kids survived too. I’m sure that being relatively new in town makes it worse but it does get better and you’ll never regret this adventure, nor the valuable ‘quality’ time spent as a family. Okay, lecture over. Feel like a bit of a mother hen….sorry!

    • The Expat Mama
      February 3, 2017 / 4:26 am

      Ahhh thank you so much for your lovely words! Not patronising at all, or certainly not taken that way. I know on the one hand I’m very lucky to be able to spend this time with them, and they’re better for it I can see that already, but at the same time I do find myself craving the working world now and again. The SLC just rubbed it in this week when I was already on the verge of a wobbler! Super bad timing, and the complete lack of sensitivities as to why someone is no longer working (on their part certainly) is astounding. Thank goodness I gave up my job for a positive reason. I can’t imagine how awful it must be for someone to continuously have to explain personal circumstances to strangers if the situation is not so easy. Anyway, I canned it all in at 28, so I’m following in your footsteps! You give me hope, thank you xx