KB Center’s Park Ji-soo’s Diary of Overcoming Panic Disorder
Park Ji-soo (25, KB), the center of the women’s national basketball team, returned with a bright smile. Park Ji-soo entered the final 12 players to compete in the 2023 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Women’s Asia Cup held in Sydney, Australia next month and entered Jincheon Athletes’ Village from the 15th and digested her training. In the 2022-2023 Women’s Professional Basketball (WKBL), attention is focusing on whether Park Ji-soo, who had been out of her power due to her panic disorder, will be able to shake off her sluggishness and regain her dignity as her national treasure center.
If the 2022-2023 season, which ended in March, was the season of Kim Dan-bi (33, Woori Bank), last season belonged to Park Ji-soo. Park Ji-soo’s play, based on her excellent vision as well as her fight under the goal, was beyond WKBL. Park Ji-soo, who led her team to regular league and championship match wins, was voted the Most Valuable Player (MVP). She was expected to show her good performance in the next season, but she unexpectedly hit the wall of panic disorder. She was also left off the FIBA Women’s World Cup roster last year.
Park Ji-soo tried to revive her spring basketball hopes by returning to the game in the middle and latter half of the season, but had the misfortune of ending the season due to a fracture in her middle finger. Her team fell to fifth place and failed to qualify for the playoffs.
She met Park Ji-su, who must have had a difficult time in many ways, at Jeongdong Park in Jung-gu, Seoul on the 8th, before her national team call. There was no shadow of her panic disorder in her bright smile. She asked how she overcame her panic disorder and improved her performance.
Park Ji-soo explained in detail how he felt when panic disorder came in July of last year. As usual, it was when I was training at Taebaek Bunchon, Taereung Training Center in Taebaek, Gangwon-do. Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe well, and when I looked at my smartwatch, my heart rate was so high that I was scared.
“I couldn’t do it, so I went out of the gym and lay down, and my arms and legs went numb and I felt electricity. My whole body froze as if paralyzed, and my fingers couldn’t even bend. I couldn’t keep resting, so I said I would try to exercise again, but as soon as I went in, that feeling came back. After that, I was taken to the 119 ambulance.”
After that, I became afraid to go into crowded places such as restaurants and couldn’t even leave the house. In the early days of treatment for panic disorder, following the doctor’s advice, he took a break from exercise and took a walk while taking a break and fell down on the side of the road.
It was a misfortune that came at the best moment. Park Ji-soo said, “Anyway, my physical condition was as good as my first season as a professional debut, but that made me very upset.” said. He tried to run the reference game somehow, but the doctor stopped him. She had no choice but to give up participating in the Women’s World Cup because the doctor said that her condition could get worse if she was not caught early.
The gaze from the outside, which regarded panic disorder as a disease that only comes to people with weak mental abilities, made it even more difficult for him. Panic disorder is a disease in which symptoms such as hyperventilation occur when the antagonistic action of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves does not work properly. It is a problem caused by a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system and has nothing to do with weakness of will. In order to control the overactivation of the sympathetic nervous system, drug treatment must be performed in parallel, but in doing so, the motor ability decreases.
“I can take a break for things like muscle injuries, but the autonomic nervous system is an organ that continues to work even when I’m not aware of it. It’s not that I told you guys not to work. Because I used drugs to relax my body, it was not easy to exercise, and I couldn’t show my performance as much as before.”
Park Ji-soo went back in his memory to the past. He said, “Looking back, I won the combined championship in April 2022, took a vacation, and on the bus on the way home, I couldn’t breathe while sweating in cold sweat, but that was the first time.” He flopped onto the floor of the bus and jumped out at his first stop. For the first time in his life, he felt the fear of death.
Could it be that the pressure or stress of winning the championship was the cause? Park Ji-soo said, “There is no cause. It’s a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system, and it’s difficult because you don’t know when the symptoms will manifest, and you feel pain every time you exercise.”
Park Ji-soo said that whenever he felt pain, he tried to explain his exact physical condition to KB coach Kim Wan-soo. He said he would play the game because of his greed until the symptoms of panic disorder developed in earnest, but the performance did not come out as expected, and it is a consideration to ensure that the team does not fall into a slump.
It was the unchanging affection of the team members and loving family that raised Park Ji-soo, who was in despair. “It was so hard to sit on the bench,” he said. “I told my teammates that I couldn’t do anything and I was sorry for getting hurt.” But rather, the team members praised and encouraged him for his mental strength. He said, “I thought my mentality was weak, but (Kang) Dew unnie said, ‘You are absolutely not mentally weak. You don’t know you too much’, but then I came to think that I’m not weak.”
Her mother is her strongest support. When Park Ji-soo was dropped from the World Cup list, she overheard her mother’s friend read the article and call her mother on the phone and say, “Isn’t it intentionally excluded from the national team?” He said, “At that time, my mother said, ‘Absolutely not like that. Hang up the phone if you’re going to talk that way,’” she said. Park Ji-soo’s mother followed her daughter and fed her as if she were taking care of her little child, even when her daughter had difficulty eating due to panic disorder and she lost 10kg. Park Ji-soo laughed, saying that he had regained his normal weight and that his muscles were tighter and that he was in a good condition to exercise.
The support of his teammates and family was a great source of strength, but he was the one who saved Park Ji-soo. Park Ji-soo revealed that he visited a volleyball court one day to get the feeling of playing in a gym, where he realized that he really loved basketball. He saw hope at the volleyball court where he sought to avoid people’s eyes.
“I saw a game played by my mother’s friend’s son, and he wanted to play basketball as soon as he watched his friend’s game. All of a sudden, I just want to quickly compete in front of the fans, hear cheers, and hold a ceremony. So I think that experience is more memorable than any words.”안전놀이터
Park Ji-soo is preparing to fly again in the Asia Cup. In his KakaoTalk profile picture, there is a picture of the Olympic rings engraved on his wrist. Playing for the national team always excites him. He won the silver medal by losing to China 65-71 in the women’s basketball final of the 2018 Jakarta Palembang Asian Games. I really want to beat China in this Asia Cup.
I was also looking forward to working with other players. Park Ji-soo said, “With Ahn Hye-ji, she seems to have hardly ever played for the national team except for the youth team.” .
She revealed that her ultimate goal is to improve her performance with the Asia Cup as an opportunity and to challenge the WNBA again in the new season. Park Ji-soo announced last year that he would take a season off from the WNBA with one year remaining in his contract with the Las Vegas Aces.