• Quote of the Day
    "Don't let what you can't do interfere with what you can do."
    John Wooden, posted by David Baxter

Diana

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I honestly didn't know where I should post this. I've never been diagnosed with depression, but last night I had this total emotional breakdown. I felt so terrible - like it actually was hurting me, and I couldn't stop crying. I'm wondering if it was almost a good thing though - a breakthrough to help me think about what's been going on with me and what I need to do to get out of it.
Basically, this is what has been happening more and more. I've been feeling like I just don't want to care about anything. I'm sick of trying. I don't want to clean my apartment. I don't want to stay home and see the mess and have nothing else to stimulate me so that I have to think. I just want to go out every night. Going out every night leads to drinking every night (and truly it's been almost every night), which leads to unhealthy eating habits, which leads to feeling great about barely eating all day, which leads to not exercising, which leads to just going out and drinking again.
There are so many things going on inside me too. I just feel like I'm losing so many of the nice thoughts and emotions that I used to have. For example, people on this forum talk about how their pets are so soothing to them. I used to be completely in love with my cats when I was growing up. Well, I've tried to have pets in the last few years, but even though I want so much to care about them I just don't like I used to. I have two ferrets now, and I'm afraid one is sick and we feed them and give them vitamines and everything, but I just don't make playing with them or even touching them everyday a priority. Don't worry - we don't leave them in the cage all day - they have their own area to run around in.
Another thing is that I've suddenly decided in the past little while that I don't want to have children because I never want to be responsible and I just want to be able to go out and have fun whenever I want. I know that I'm partly BSing myself. I don't think I can have children (physically) and I think I'm just trying to convince myself and others that I don't want them so that I won't feel bad about it. Man, I'm 29 now, and I think I was more mature when I was 23.
Last night I did a lot of thinking. I tried to explain to my boyfriend that I didn't know what was wrong with me. He asked me how I felt. I told him I felt "empty". I asked him if he knew what that meant and he said the word in Korean that means "without". But, I really felt empty. So much that it hurt. I cried so much in bed, but then suddenly I picked myself up. I prepared some food for the next day so I could eat breakfast and decided that I needed to do something to get myself out of the bad patterns. I feel slightly better today. I'm going to exercise tonight (and hopefully this week) and hopefully just lay low for awhile. Read, study my Korean, etc. I don't know if anyone has experienced something similar, but I just really needed to vent about this.
If you've actually read all of this, THANKS!!
 

David Baxter

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I would say that what you describe could very well be depression, Diana.

It occurs to me that it might be related to or exacerbated by either (1) increased drinking (remember - alcohol is a depressant, and it leaches B12 and other nutrients out of the body which in turn has an effect on mood), or (2) the fact that you believe you probably can't have children and at 29 are trying to accept this. The "9s" tend to be milestones in themselves for many people because it's the last year of a decade.

You also spoke recently of going to Australia and that might be another factor - feeling that a chapter in your life is closing soon and feeling sad either about that or about lost opportunities, not having achieved goals, etc.

These aren't conclusions, by any means - just suggestions for further reflection.
 

ThatLady

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Diana, hon, you have so many stressful things in your life. When we go along, day to day, we tend to forget some of the pressures we're faced with. It seems like things are supposed to be this way and we just have to live with it. With that kind of thinking comes disenchantment and innui, exactly as you describe. Going out drinking just makes it worse, as alcohol is a depressant.

Let's break things down for a minute and look at them objectively. You're living in a country not your own. No matter how much you love your boyfriend, and no matter how much good you may be doing, that's not an easy thing to do. It's stressful, even at its best times. I know. I've done it. Heck, I grew up abroad. How to deal with this? Well, is there an American community where you live? Are you active in that community? If not, are there other Americans (or British, or Australians...English-speaking people) with whom you might get together and start such a community? Being around those with similar backgrounds can really help when you're living in a country in which the customs are much different than those of your birth country.

Another stress is the knowledge (or assumed knowledge) that you can't have children. That might be something that needs to be addressed by a medical professional in order to get a definitive answer. If you can't have children, there are many children who would love to have you. There's always a positive way to see things, if you look for one.

There's nothing wrong with a good cry now and then, either. Sometimes, we need to cry things out in order to see things more clearly. The fact that you got up, prepared food, and reinstituted your exercise regime shows it did, in fact, help you to refocus. The trick now is to keep that focus. "Laying low" will help some, but the greatest help can come from find for yourself a community of like-thinking individuals with whom to share the things that make you who you are...thereby, different than the majority of the Korean community around you.

This board can help, to a degree. It gives you somewhere to come where there are others of similar background. Yet, I think you'd benefit hugely from more personal contact with others in the expatriate community living in Korea.

Just some thoughts from an ex-expat. :)
 
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I read it, Diana. I feel for you. Sounds like there is a lot going on.

It does sound like it could be depression.

I wonder if you could go for a medical checkup or something?
 

Holly

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Hi Diana,
Your in my thoughts, you have several things that are bothering you, it would be good to maybe see the doctor. I just wanted to wish you all the best, take care Holly :)
 

Daniel

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I used to be completely in love with my cats when I was growing up. Well, I've tried to have pets in the last few years, but even though I want so much to care about them I just don't like I used to.

That's typical with pets. Also, I'm sure the joy factor is usually greater in childhood and adolescence for various reasons, and pets that are less social than dogs, e.g. cats, may bore owners more easily. Personally, it is more fun being with my dog than my cat, esp. since my cat doesn't want to play as much. I did, however, get a new appreciation for my cat just by observing him after reading a book on cat behaviour by Desmond Morris.

Regarding the ferret that you say may be sick, I would call a vet's office if I noticed any symptoms or, at the very least, would search a ferret forum on the Internet.
 

Diana

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Thank you everyone for your replies.
Well, a long time ago - maybe 8 or 9 years ago, when I was trying to recover for anorexia, I went to the phychiatric clinic at my university. They had me complete a few questionaires. After that, they had some sort of chart of my answers and said that it sounds like "I have been depressed". They didn't diagnose me with depression, and it probably wasn't the right time to do so (only having seen answered questionaires), but it lead me to believe that perhaps I have a tendency towards getting depressed. I don't know. I don't see myself as a depressed person. Maybe I have too much of an exaggerated image in my mind - of someone who sits in the dark all day and doesn't get out of bed. Although this unfortunately happens to some people, I'm sure there are different levels of depression.
Thanks for your suggestions ThatLady. It's strange, but I felt that by now I had no problems being without foreign people all the time. When I first came to Korea I was surrounded by them. I still have friends from Western countries, but many of them have come and gone. The couple of people who I do know now live in Seoul (I'm outside of Seoul), so I only see them every so often. I didn't think it was a problem for me anymore. I have fun with Korean people. But, you might be right in that I should make more of an effort to see people with the same background as me more often.
The funny thing is that it was my choice to live out here. The job is so much better and the air is cleaner. It's not like I was following my boyfriend or anything.
Hmmm...About the having children thing...I still have a lot of reflection to do on that. I really don't feel like I want children right now, but maybe the fact that my brother just had a baby is getting to me deep down inside. Although my parents love us both and say how proud they are of both of us, I've always compared myself to him and how he always seems to do the more ideal things as far as my parents are concerned. Not that my parents say that but... He's got his career in place, started a family, lives close to my parents. Of course, he's a few years older than I am.
Anyway, I exercised yesterday, ate 3 meals, didn't have a drop of alcohol. I think I'm going to start keeping a journal of my feelings soon to figure out what's "going on in there". Thank you everybody. I just have some more thinking to do.
 

just mary

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Hi Diana,

How long have you been feeling this way? I'm assuming awhile based on the fact that you've chosen to write about it. But if you could let us know for sure, it would help.

Although my parents love us both and say how proud they are of both of us, I've always compared myself to him and how he always seems to do the more ideal things as far as my parents are concerned. Not that my parents say that but... He's got his career in place, started a family, lives close to my parents. Of course, he's a few years older than I am.

That sounds so familiar. I have two older brothers who have both reproduced successfully. I feel guilty a lot of the time but I've been trying to think differently lately. I've been telling myself that maybe all my parents want for me is to be happy and safe. I'm not really sure since I'm not a parent but maybe that's all they really care about. If I don't have kids they'll be okay with it. They have there own lives. Do we have children to fulfill our own dreams or for them to live their own? Okay, I'll quit now, I'm getting all weird.

Take care Diana. I think ThatLady had some really good suggestions. You also sound a lot like some of the case studies from the book I mentioned in an earlier post "Eating, Drinking and Overthinking". This book would not provide a solution but might give you a starting point.

Take care,
 

Diana

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Thanks Janet. Yes, I actually checked the Amazon website, but they didn't have a location or site for Korea. That's ok, I'm sure I can find some way to get my hands on it.

You're right. I have been feeling this way for a while, but it comes and goes in spurts. It's not the first time I've broken down and cried, but the other times weren't so intense.

As for my parents - I know that all they want is for me to be happy. But, I feel like I make them worry about me much more than they have to about my brother. I guess the older sibling thing comes into play too - even when you're grown up you still get those strange feelings of being not as good as your older sibling.

The night I got so upset was Sunday, which is the night that my parents call every week. I was crying so much that I couldn't answer the phone when they called. I can't STAND to have them worry about me so much, especially when they know how far away they are. My boyfriend kept suggesting that I talk to them and tell them how I feel and what they think. But, I just refused to do that. You see, my brother's the opposite. He probably would have called them and told them. But I just don't want to make my parents worry that much. I hate when they think anything is wrong in my life. So, what happens is I keep it from them until I can't take it anymore and just explode it all on them.

Hmmm...Maybe I have a hard time expressing myself productively. Like I said - much to think about. Everything should be OK, but I'll keep you posted.
 

ThatLady

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Diana, as a parent I can assure you that parents want nothing more from their children than that those children have happy, healthy lives. Parents don't require that their offspring have offspring just so the parent can strut around boasting about being a grandparent. Being a grandparent is wonderful, but it isn't near as wonderful as knowing your own child is enjoying his/her life to the fullest. It doesn't matter to a loving parent if their adult child is digging ditches or developing quantum theory. Being happy is the greatest gift any child can give a parent.

Having lived abroad, and being an adventurous soul I, too, adored the opportunity to come to know the local culture, the local people, and feel a part of the local community. However, that doesn't negate the need to mingle with those who think, feel, and believe as I do. The culture of each people is deeply ingrained and needs recognition and feeding, just as does the curiosity about, and willingness to accept, other cultures and peoples. I really believe that if you can find like minds...people from similar cultures to your own birth culture...it will make a difference in the way you're feeling. It's a natural human need.
 

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