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Teaching Abroad with a history of depression

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by BeccaButtons9, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. BeccaButtons9

    BeccaButtons9 New commenter


    I currently work in the UK and have secured a job in SE Asia in Sept. I have Seasonal affective disorder and am struggling with my school which are under pressure and much less supportive this year (one of the reasons for moving). I'm hoping the sunshine and different pace of life will be good for me and I'll be going with my very supportive partner.
    I am just concerned that I may need to take time off work or even quit my job in the UK. After a lot of thought and struggling for the past 3 years (specifically the last 6 months very badly) I think this is the only way to get myself back. I plan to speak to my GP re. medication change and Union re. work situation but I wondered if anyone on here would know if taking time off would effect the way my new work place think of me. I've chosen Thailand to move to as mental health isn't as taboo there and it is an english school. Or would it be better to simply hand in my resignation so there is nothing "on my record"?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    many teachers have a history of depression, and many teachers with a history of depression choose to teach abroad,

    but, as i said on the other thread, SE Asia is not necessarily a good choice for someone with SAD, over cast skies, rain, healthily thick ozone layer... it is a lot hotter than here, but the quality of light may be poorer, not to mention the heat and haze and air pollution means a lot more time confined to indoors, for teachers and for children. In fact, many days it is impossible to go outside at all, due to pollution
  3. BeccaButtons9

    BeccaButtons9 New commenter

    Having researched heavily where I will be teaching there are obviously monsoon seasons but mostly sunshine (yes very hot but a lot of natural sunlight) and I will not be in a heavy city centre where pollution is obviously much more volatile.

    I'm interested to know whether you have you had experiences of SAD and/or teaching abroad? My main question being about the fact that my time in the UK is difficult and what my options are whilst here.
  4. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Not really sure where its impossible to go outside in Thailand because of the polution.... the incredible heat and humidity yes. I would really like to know where @dunnocks is referring to?
  5. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter


    not sure if this link will work, you may have to copy and paste it. This caused around 100 000 deaths last year. I have friends in the region who had to keep their classes inside with all windows sealed closed and air conditioning on for weeks at a time. If air conditioned transport to and from school was not available, then pupils stayed home and were sealed in at home instead, and communicated with the school via the internet.

    outside of the weeks officially designated "emergency", there were many many other weeks where outside activities were totally banned including breaks and lunchtimes and after school, and school attendance was not compulsory, because of the dangers of breathing in pollution on the route.
  6. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    the pollution isn't originating in cities, at all, make sure you have done your research on the area you will be living in!
  7. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    no, not me personally, just friends. One returned from Thailand this summer because of the effect the pollution was having on her son's asthma, and he didn't go out during daylight hours at all.(aged 4)
  8. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Personally lived close ot those countries listed, travlled through the region extensively, left there a year and a half ago and from my experience its complete rubbish. It might effect the lower countries like Indonesia, and i would like to see @percy topliss responce as he has lived in Thailand for years, and thats the country the OP wants to move to. There geographical area covered in that article is massive, and not everywhere is effect the same across it.
    BeccaButtons9 likes this.
  9. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    totally agree, it is not the same everywhere in the region, and Thialand may be the least affected, but if you left a year and a half ago, you were not there for the emergency situation that arose last year, and the resulting repeated crisises that dragged on for months, and months, and there is every expectation will be repeated this year, as the Indonesian government appears to be totally powerless to prevent it, nothing is being done at all.

    Incidentally, if it makes any difference, it was two sets of studies from Havard and Columbia that gave the 2015 death toll estimate as 100 000. The Indonesian government denies this, although has commissioned no actual research itself.
  10. BeccaButtons9

    BeccaButtons9 New commenter

    Dunnocks, whilst I appreciate the concern and information on the southeast Asian haze I have done research, spoken to family members that live in the area and been a part of expat forums in which none of the aforementioned problems appear to be a problem so please don't assume I have not researched where I have accomplished in getting a job and will be moving to.

    Dumbbells66, thanks for your input and insight.
  11. fsmc

    fsmc Occasional commenter

    I was in Bangkok all last year.

    Never noticed any pollution problems. No more than what you might get in any large city anyway.

    Don't know what dunnocks means about overcast skies either. It's bright and sunny pretty much every day of the year. Yes there's rain, and sometimes heavy rain in the monsoon season - but it normally lasts for a couple of hours at most then the sun comes out again.

    Regarding the depression issue...I've never been diagnosed with it. But living in the UK definitely makes me miserable. Never felt happy in the UK, not while growing up, and not while working (and not now while doing teacher training!). For me at least...I was a lot happier in Thailand. There's a more chilled out way of life, the weather is great, nightlife is awesome, nice beaches. For a guy there's also a much easier dating environment than back home (although I assume given your 'Becca' username you're female).

    Go for it is my advice. I had an awesome time there and would have been on a fraction of the amount of money you'll be on as I wasn't teaching at an international school.
    BeccaButtons9 likes this.
  12. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Good luck, thailand is awesome... bloody hot for 3 months of the year, the other 9 months are just unbareable :D thank god for air con
  13. BeccaButtons9

    BeccaButtons9 New commenter

    Thanks for your positive reply. It's good to get an idea of what it was like for someone that has lived there who has also struggled with the UK! Your feedback about bright and sunny days is what I've heard from everyone who has lived or visited there (and the unbearable heat but I think that's down to how much that bothers you).
    And I'll be going with my fiancé so the dating scene won't be of much interest to me haha
  14. Helen-Back

    Helen-Back Occasional commenter

    I have always suspected I have SAD. My mental state certainly changes through the seasons. I live in Thailand now, and feel it has got much better. It can still kick in when it rains for days, but not nearly as severely as it did living in Canada. Now I'm just sweaty, which I never was in Canada.........not unsurprisingly.
  15. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    good, I'm glad, I hope it all works out for you, I was just surprised that you seemed to think the life restricting pollution in SE Asia is coming from cities.....
  16. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Lived in that region for 3 years. You never get used to the heat, you just get used to being sweaty:p
    grdwdgrrrl and Helen-Back like this.
  17. fsmc

    fsmc Occasional commenter

    Regarding the heat, like anywhere it's at its hottest in the midday.

    Once it's evening (6pm or so) you can walk around outside quite happily.

    It's not as bad as the Gulf. I remember having an overnight stay in Dubai once. Left my hotel for a quick walk. I'd got about 50 metres before the heat completely sapped me of all my energy, and I'm a reasonably fit guy. Even at its hottest, you won't get that in Thailand.

    One thing that I might add, and I don't mean to be insensitive here...but it would be remiss not to point it out. Many expat couples break up soon after arriving in SEA. Thai women will throw themselves at your fiance, so have a good think about how strong your relationship is before making the move together. You might both be fine of course...but it would be fair to say there'll be a lot more opportunity for your fiance to play away from home than there is in the UK. I'm not saying that will happen, but it needs to be considered.
  18. GeordieKC

    GeordieKC Occasional commenter

    To respond to the OP's question, your school is unlikely to think worse of you for taking some time off before starting in Thailand, although I guess for safeguarding you should be asked to account for what you are doing in that time.

    However do consider how much that break would cost you financially - I am guessing it would be a terms salary and holiday pay, with minimal tax deductions (full annual allowance but only a few months salary) and you will probably pay enough National Insurance for the year to count for pension purposes.

    On the other hand, Thai international schools tend to start back in August. With new staff arriving a couple of weeks before school starts. So if you do not take time off it could be a very short summer holiday - that can be used to answer any questions from the new school, "I felt it was important to have a proper holiday before I started".
  19. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    Becca: I have a history of (mild) depression, as had my father, as have my sons. Hot and sunny works well for us.Have you thought of taking your 'time out' in the country of your new post? This would give you an idea of whether or not you would be able to function in that environment. It would also need no explanation as the new school would see it as a positive move to take your holiday there.
    grdwdgrrrl and ejclibrarian like this.
  20. percy topliss

    percy topliss Established commenter

    Hi Becca, I have lived in Bangkok for quite some time and the haze has never made it this far. As others have said it is generally warm and sunny here and, even in the monsoon, you still see the sun. Can I ask you to send a message just to say which school you are going to.
    Some are better than others.


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