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ANXIETY - looking for advice...
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Flashcard_Queen



Joined: 17 Apr 2012

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 6:04 am    Post subject: ANXIETY - looking for advice... Reply with quote

I have a feeling this is going to turn into a bit of a rant, so please bear with me. I'm going to do my best to give only the information I think is important to help answer my questions and to answer any questions others might have about my situation.

I've read some helpful posts here already; I've found numbers I can call and the names of professionals I could potentially meet with. I apologize if this post seems unnecessary and if the ensuing conversation becomes a bit redundant, but as someone who has limited experience with treatment and prescription medication, I'm confused and would like to hear from people who've been in similar situations.

So, here's a little information about me... I'm 31 years old. I've lived in Korea off and on since the end of 2005; altogether, it's been 3 years. I guess you could say I've always been slightly neurotic, but it only became a real issue in 2008, just before leaving Korea after my second year.

At that time, I started experiencing what, for me, was an abnormal amount of anxiety and nervousness. I ended up staying in my home country (Canada) for two years; I never anticipated it would be that long, but a few things delayed my return to Korea.

During my stay in Canada, my anxiety and nervousness continued to worsen. Basically, then and now, when my anxiety kicks in, I become extremely jittery/shaky (my hands, especially, seem beyond my control), my palms sweat, my heart pounds, and I definitely experience the fight-or-flight sensation I've read so much about.

Although I've never been formally diagnosed, I would characterize my condition as GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). There are definitely specific triggers, related to certain social situations, but sometimes my anxiety appears without cause.

I was already hunting for a job in Korea when I finally decided to talk to my doctor in Canada. Knowing that I'd have to do a medical check here, I didn't want to start taking anything that would show up in the results and put my job in jeopardy. I'd heard about Ativan and while my doctor preferred the idea of me taking a daily medication, she agreed to give me a prescription.

When I finally came back to Korea, near the end of 2010, my anxiety and nervousness noticeably lessened, but it returned not long after, and since then I've been experiencing regular bouts. The prescription my doctor gave me was only 10 tablets, so I used them very sparingly, and they lasted for nearly 8 months. I could've used more, but I took them only when I felt it was way beyond my control.

This past week, it's gotten particularly bad, which is why I'm writing now; in hopes that somebody will be able to give me advice. I've never thought of myself as being depressed, but I'm so frustrated lately as a result of my anxiety, that I've certainly felt a bit sad. More than any other time, it's bad in the morning. By the time I get to work and begin teaching, I usually feel much better, but it's still a problem. I worry about it and live in fear of moments when it might appear, out of nowhere.

Despite what you might be thinking, I genuinely enjoy my life here. I plan to stay through the end of my current contract, which finishes at the end of February 2013, and perhaps beyond, but it's becoming increasingly clear that, in order to do so, I'll need to begin taking something.

As far as lifestyle choices, I'm a relatively healthy person. I have a pretty regulated sleep schedule (on average 7-8 hours/night - usually between 10:30/11:30 and 7/7:30). I exercise, now more than ever, in effort to curb my anxiety. I eat regular (mostly healthy) meals, and my alcohol and caffeine consumption is limited. I also take St. John's Wort sporadically; I've read some conflicting things about it, but it certainly seems to help, if only a little.

I live in Suwon and have been to the international center at Ajou University Hospital before, so I've been thinking about contacting them. I'm also familiar with the international clinic in Itaewon, having been there before for unrelated issues, and have been considering it as an option. I'm also planning to call the 24 hour Medical Referral Service I've read about. But, before doing any of that, I'm hoping people here will be able to help me by telling me stories about their own experiences or the experiences of others they're aware of; places people have gone, doctors they've met with, what they've been prescribed, etc.

If you have any helpful advice or suggestions for me, I'd really appreciate it. I know this is a difficult subject for some people, so feel free to send me a private message.

Thanks!


Last edited by Flashcard_Queen on Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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The Sultan of Seoul



Joined: 17 Apr 2012
Location: right... behind.. YOU

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 6:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can reccomend the councelors at Adaptable Human Sollutions in Seoul. They have a website, so google em. Costly at close to 200k per hour but they are on top of their cbt game.

They also have links with an international clinic in Ansan that has pyschiatrists and are happy to consider you getting meds there in conjunction with your therapy if you need.

Worth a try. GAd can be like having a puppy. Let it get out of control and it pees all over your house (life.) Manage it well, and well, no more pee pee.

Always best to be working in conjuntion with a proffessional. Maybe you go twice a month, hey 400k is worth it if it helps you live well again. If you had cancer or a broken leg, you'd pay to get it fixed, this shouldn't really be any different. Just think logically.

They can teach you lots of breathing, thought and relaxation exercises that really help and also how not to fight it but just kind of ride it out. Anyway, best not to listen to much to me, always best to work in conjunction with a proffessional, like I said.

You get what you pay for in this field. See it as investment?

Good luck.
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Flashcard_Queen



Joined: 17 Apr 2012

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Sultan.

I appreciate your response and your puppy analogy. At my first job here, I watched a coworker unravel over the course of a week. Without going into detail, I'll just say that the situation ended badly. I didn't realize then that she'd had problems in the past.

I still don't know specifically what those problems were, but I remember thinking at the time, 'how did it get to this point?' I was sympathetic, but I couldn't truly understand it. Now, I'm eating my words, or thoughts, I should say. One of my biggest fears is that if I don't do something, if I don't actively seek help, I'll lose control, like she did.

I know what the underlying causes of my anxiety are, but I realize it would be beneficial to talk about them with a professional. I have a solid support system in Korea, but it's difficult to discuss these things with certain people in certain settings.
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pegasus64128



Joined: 20 Aug 2011

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Maybe this can help. It's free.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1hmoo3lnTo
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Died By Bear



Joined: 13 Jul 2010
Location: On the big lake they call Gitche Gumee

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My boss takes Buspirone, and he is as cool as a cucumber.
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Flashcard_Queen



Joined: 17 Apr 2012

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Died By Bear wrote:
My boss takes Buspirone, and he is as cool as a cucumber.


I'm glad to see that name pop up. I've been reading about different medications, and it's supposed to be a good one for GAD.

Thanks for sharing.
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young_clinton



Joined: 09 Sep 2009

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check on your coffee or your Tea drinking. Because in some people caffiene causes very serious anxiety. If nothing else works for you they have anti-anxiety medications like BUSPAR.
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plchron



Joined: 26 Feb 2011
Location: Korea

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

google translate the word psychologist or psychiatrist and search for it on google maps in korean. Walk into the one closest to where you are living and tell them how you feel. Show them what you were prescribed back home. They def. have generic xanax, valium, and klonopins here.
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The Sultan of Seoul



Joined: 17 Apr 2012
Location: right... behind.. YOU

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

plchron wrote:
google translate the word psychologist or psychiatrist and search for it on google maps in korean. Walk into the one closest to where you are living and tell them how you feel. Show them what you were prescribed back home. They def. have generic xanax, valium, and klonopins here.


Learning coping techniques and life management skills still = ftw.

I know it's not a one size fits all condition though, for some it can be crippling and you just need that pill to make that amygdala chill the hell out.

But for 'mild' to 'moderate' - cbt type skills are good, as is having someone in your camp supporting you through it. Very Happy
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slothrop



Joined: 03 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

edit

Last edited by slothrop on Tue May 08, 2012 5:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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pegasus64128



Joined: 20 Aug 2011

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

slothrop wrote:
feel free to disregard, but just in case you're looking for an alternative to medication or therapists...
http://www.amazon.com/Buddhism-Plain-Simple-Steve-Hagen/dp/0767903323/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336017975&sr=1-1#_

also, it might be fun to talk to a buddhist monk in korea. you may never want to shave your head and put on the robes, but you may find that alot of the things you are anxious over are not so important after all, while some of the things you are anxious over are very real and important; perhaps some of your anxiousness is not a mental disorder at all but rather a perfectly sane reaction to insane circumstances, where as other people who are not anxious over these things, may in fact have an issue with their perception of reality.


It doesn't even have to be an alternative. It can be supplemental. Many psychiatrists now advocate the use of zen in therapy. 'Zen and the Psychology of Transformation The Supreme Doctrine' by Herbert Benois, is well worth the read. It's an occidental interpretation of zen so it's heavy reading but I found it fascinating.
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slothrop



Joined: 03 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

edit

Last edited by slothrop on Tue May 08, 2012 5:55 am; edited 1 time in total
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comm



Joined: 22 Jun 2010

PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

slothrop wrote:
also, it might be fun to talk to a buddhist monk in korea. you may never want to shave your head and put on the robes, but you may find that alot of the things you are anxious over are not so important after all


For me and everyone I know who's learned it, meditation can really stabilize your emotions and put your mind back in control. And I'm happy to point out that there's no hokey religious aspect to it whatsoever, just learning about yourself in your own mind.

It's a bit of a trek from Suwon but you should check out the International Zen Center at Hwa Gye Sa temple ( http://www.facebook.com/hwagyesa and http://www.seoulzen.org/ ) Every Sunday they have a beginner's orientation, a 1.5 hour meditation session (breaks allowed, of course) and a Q/A session called a Dharma talk... plus some tea afterward to chat casually with everyone who attended.

I would strongly recommend looking into meditation in some form before taking any consistent medication or paying high fees for counseling.
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Julius



Joined: 27 Jul 2006

PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you considered teaching in a different country? Or at least in a quiet rural setting?

Strikes me that Korea is probably the last place you should be if you suffer from stress or anxiety. This country is probably the most intense esl destination in existence. Sometimes it seems perfectly designed to irritate and twinge western sensibilities.
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overq64



Joined: 08 Mar 2006

PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the OP is right to be wary of consulting a doctor about a mental health issue.

It is very poorly understood in Korea. And - there is no concept of confidentiality. It is possible the doctor may know your boss and pass the details of your consultation to them. Your boss may massively overreact or just hold it in reserve as a lever to hold over you at a later date.

But - if you have serious anxiety attacks you may need help. Medication as a fire extinguisher in case of emergencies but also some professional cbt type counselling could help a lot. I don't beleive in long term medication like prozac but it is effective for some.

I had a nasty spell of something similar before heading out to Korea, but cbt gave me the tools to keep it under control. Korea and EFL are stressful, lonely and fraught with bad hazards like self medicating with alcohol and getting involved in relationships with locals that can often end badly.

I was mainly teaching adults and when I had severe problems sleeping it altered my brain chemistry and I would become irrational and act without thinking things through. I was able to get out of one job where I had done well but was burnt out into a better one with livable hours and that changed the whole dynamic. I've since left Korea for another country which suit me better.

I can't say I haven't had anxiety issues since or that they won't recur in the future, but I feel that I know how to live and balance my life so I can remain stable.

You seem like you have a healthy lifestyle with moderate drinking, low caffeine intake and good exercise/sleep habits. How is your diet? Too much sugar or times in the day when your blood sugar drops suddenly can have a severe impact on the mind.

In your shoes I would find a doctor quite far from your home and attempt to get some more of the medication you have used before. If unable to get it in Korea then travel abroad and get a resupply sufficient for as long as possible.

In the meantime try the cbt/counselling route suggested above. The two approaches give you an immediate safety net so you can continue day-to-day combined with some kind of long term strategy to reduce the attacks.

Naturally you haven't said what it is that is making you anxious but you seem to know at least some of it. Maybe you will have to live with it but you can mitigate and manage it so it doesn't run your life.

PM me if you'd like to say/ask anything you'd rather not put in the message board.
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