Spending summer away from Doha and slipping back into life in Ireland offers a perspective which is impossible to achieve without having the experience of living life in two very different countries.
Every summer when I come back to Ireland I notice various changes, a nudge here, a dart there, many only obvious when being compared to a screenshot of the year before but totally unnoticeable if you are part of Irish society every day. Saying that, there is one big shift midst within Irish society, particularly among women, that is impossible not to notice, it’s not a nudge or a dart it’s a massive leap, it’s the amount of women in Ireland today taking prescribed anti-depressants.
Somehow over the past few years, a packet of Xanax has become one of the most common must have’s for women to carry around in their Michael Kors handbag.
It seems like every second woman is being prescribed anti-depressants by their GP’s and all for the same reason, ‘can’t cope’. That is the symptom. The problems vary from family issues, money concerns, health worries, anxiety over social events and meeting people, work, kids, no kids, the list is both endless and irrelevant. Because all these are surely just life and all of these, be they good or bad are the things that add up to form the dynamic to life. The more people in Ireland that are medicating to ‘take the edge off’ the more I’m beginning to wonder are we turning into a nation of non-coper’s? Are we only able to manage a ‘soft’ life and has ‘the edge’ of real life become too much? Has all our mindfulness, meditation, yoga turned on us and instead of bolstering us for real life has it turned us into quivering shells of our potential selves? Or without all these therapies, which are often supported by medication would we shrivel up and lock ourselves away altogether? The jury is out.
On one hand I think about the generations of women that have gone before us and commend them on their coping mechanism of ‘just getting on with it’. But on the other hand, women today, have more societal pressures. Women in times gone by might have had simpler worries, like mouths to feed and handwashing whereas woman today in Ireland have a whole host of other pressures. They still have mouths to feed, laundry and homemaking to contend with, but they now also have careers and the search for eternal contentment to contend with too. A fresh perspective highlights to me the amount of stress and strain that Irish women are coming under and putting themselves under. It’s not enough anymore to feed, clothe and educate kids, they must strive to feed the kids only organic, aim to purchase designer clothes and ensure that their children are enrolled in the best schools and included in every after school activity from gymnastics to fencing. All this along with a hefty mortgage, career struggles, aging parents and constant pressure to maintain a certain standing in society would surely see anyone driven to uppers.
It’s here that Irish women could learn a lot from expat women, whom in my personal experience are not even half as likely to be depended on anti-depressants as women living in Ireland. Why? Because firstly GP’s in the Middle East don’t seem dole out the old Xanax at the first sight of strain and secondly Irish women living outside of Ireland don’t take half as much on.
While women in Ireland are milling away in fifth gear for a minimum of fifty weeks of the year, their Irish counterparts abroad are cruising along in third enjoying the ride without the burden of self-imposed society pressures or worst stress factor……family. Nor is there pressure on what car you drive, street you live on or the extra stone you can’t (be bothered) to shift because guess what, half the popular in Qatar are Indian and Bangladeshi’s and couldn’t care less!
So a note to all those out there struggling with anxiety, depression and any other newly named mental stress syndromes. Ditch the Xanax, dodge the Prozac and avoid the anxiety altogether and emigrate!