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Author Topic: How to survive the school year with anxiety?  (Read 110 times)

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Offline emmmmaaaa

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How to survive the school year with anxiety?
« on: September 04, 2014, 05:01:34 PM »
I know this probably appears to be very long, as it is, but it would seriously mean the world to me if someone could read through and respond. :) (By the way, I apologize if I posted this in the wrong category, as I have OCD, hypochondria, and emetephobia, so I figured I might just categorize it all as general anxiety?)

    Today, I had my first day of sophomore year. It really wasn't that bad, aside from the fact that I felt considerably sick all day due to my anxiety. My stomach was pretty upset, which caused me to take pepto bismol (one before I left the house, and one while I was at school). Additionally, the feeling that I need to gag arose a few times, which is a normal symptom that comes along with anxiety for me. I couldn't eat at lunch because I had absolutely no appetite, which was the norm for me last year- I often found it hard to eat due to the discomfort I was feeling in my stomach. Anyways, I'll now attempt to get straight to the point. Last year was really tough for me starting in October (previous to then, I had been extremely happy/optimistic and surprisingly less anxious). I began therapy once again (I had discontinued going in 8th grade as I had felt like I didn't need it anymore), and eventually, in December (over Christmas break), I began on a trial of Zoloft. This is the point in my life that I consider to be a "turning point" for my anxiety- everything in my life seemingly became difficult, and I was no longer the optimistic and hard-working freshman that I was when I started out the year. The Zoloft made me very sick- I had diarrhea, couldn't sleep, felt nauseous for almost the whole day every day for my 4 week trial, and that's when I noticed that what my psychologist diagnosed as depression set in. I quit basketball, my favorite sport which I had played for about 10 years, my grades slipped from high honor roll to high 70's/mid 80's, and I began to miss a lot of school. I don't really know if I have the right to consider this time in my life traumatic, but it sure did have a very negative effect on my quality of life. As I became more and more isolated from my friends, a problem that was caused solely by me- my friends often times attempted to reach out and hang out with me- I began to feel increasingly "crazy". My mind was constantly spinning with what-if's and absolutely terrifying thoughts/scenarios, which led my psychologist to officially diagnose me with (almost purely obsessional) obsessive compulsive disorder, which I had apparently shown signs of from a very young age. I soon found myself so caught up in my fear of *****/hurting myself or others that I found it very difficult to go to school, as cars (which I was afraid of running in front of) were present, and I also found the pressure of being in a classroom tough to deal with, as I was so afraid that I would "go crazy" and hurt someone in the classroom, which would definitely be one of my worst nightmares. The fear of ***** quickly became the only thing that I could think about, and I spent so much time checking and rechecking my brain for any suicidal tendencies (of course, none were apparent, but I somehow found a way to convince myself that I had a major depressive disorder, and that I was suicidal- which wasn't the case, as I never ever wanted to die, and never once did I make a plan to do so. I actually tried to AVOID all things related with death, including knives, pills, cars, trains, and more.) That all started in December and didn't end until the beginning of July. Without the pressure of school, I noticed that my fear of ***** gradually slipped away, and I was back to my happy-go-lucky self again. Looking back now, I seriously can not understand how I thought I was suicidal, as I truly do love life, but somehow when school comes around, that all changes. I often worry profusely about whether or not I will be able to wake up so early five days in a row and be both emotionally and physically healthy for school, and it really stresses me out. Additionally, I spent a lot of time in the nurse's office last year (I normally spend a decent amount of time in the nurse every school year, but last year was definitely the worst) as I was always convinced that I had the stomach flu or was sick, and due to that, I would often experience a whole lot of really uncomfortable psychosomatic symptoms, such as nausea, headaches, fatigue, aching body, diarrhea, hot flashes- you name it. As a result of missing so much school, my normally understanding and loving parents became increasingly angry- each school day often began in a battle (in which I would be crying, explaining that I can't go to school because something bad will happen, such as getting sick, dying, or going crazy. My dad was a lot worse than my mom, and he would scream at me, taking my phone and grounding me, and on my worst days, threatening to call the truancy officer, police, or ambulance to come get me out of the house. I do feel really bad about this, as I know I just added to the immense stress he already has from work. So, as a result of last year, what I'm most anxious about is a reoccurrence of those same events. I'm scared to do schoolwork (as last year I almost felt as if I seriously could not handle any form of work/testing, which was NEVER an issue to me previously) and I constantly worry that I won't be able to do work/will be unable to take tests. Because of my inability to truly work hard last year, I was switched out of my honors classes, (which I want to take, but am scared to) and I'm in collab classes, which are classes for kids with learning disabilities. I'm embarrassed about it, as I'm normally expected to be the bright girl that everyone says I am. I'm also worried about my attendance this year, as I want to try my best to be in every single class every single day for the entirety of the period, which is something I struggled with last year, yet I find myself really worried about my ability to get up and attend school every single day with no issues. I know a common problem/reason for disliking school among people my age is due to a dislike for the people/teachers at the school, but honestly for me, it's neither one, as I really like most of the people I go to school with, and I get along with them well. Also, two of my classes are anxiety causing and uncomfortable for me, as the teachers are strict and have certain rules that don't allow us to keep our backpacks at our desk with us, which is tough for me as I often compulsively drink seltzer water and chew gum to attempt to alleviate my anxiety about nausea/vomiting. So with all of that said, I'm not really sure what to do. Do I go to my guidance counselor, who doesn't think I'm capable of being in honors classes, and try to switch into my normal honors classes (English and Spanish)? Do I also talk to her about the classes that make me uncomfortable? Is my perceived inability to do work caused by the fact that I'm over-thinking it so much?

Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated, and feel free to share any school related stories you may have as well! :)
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OCD // Emetephobia // Hypochondria //

Offline Hopeful77

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Re: How to survive the school year with anxiety?
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2014, 07:10:29 PM »
I wish I had some good advice for you, but I am not sure what your best path forward is.  I know you want to be in the honors classes, but it is possible that the extra pressure would make your anxiety worse.  I don't see how it would hurt to talk to the school counselor about it.  I am not sure if I fully understood your post.  Did you say you are in therapy again?  I think it would definitely be helpful to talk to a therapist to try to help you deal with all you are going through.  I am sorry that things have been so hard for you.  Can you talk to your parents about your anxiety (not in the heat of the moment when everyone is rushing to get to work/school), but when things are more calm?  I know it is hard for people without anxiety to understand how hard it is to deal with, but I am sure that they want the best for you. 

I was always really anxious about school.  It sounds like we worry about different stuff.  I was always scared that I would fail my classes.  In reality I had straight A's, but I was always sure I was just one test away from failing.  In the back of my head I thought if I fail a class I wouldn't get into a good college which means I couldn't get a job, my family and friends would reject me and I would just be a complete failure.  I know this isn't rationale, but who says people with anxiety disorders have rationale fears. I would feel sick every morning before school.  I would often feel better once I got there with my friends, but my stomach would be in knots a lot.  I never wanted the teacher to call on me even if I knew the answer for fear of being wrong.  I'd like to say that it got better, but it was like this all through graduate school.   However, unlike you, I did not seek help when I was in school.  I didn't see a therapist until I was in my 40s.  I hope you can find a way to cure your school anxiety or at least make it better.
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Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

Offline kconnors

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Re: How to survive the school year with anxiety?
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2014, 07:13:49 PM »
Hello,

I think that you have a lot of stuff going on . . . and I think that you need some outside objective guidance to start to work through your issues . . . my first recommendation would be to start with your family doctor. Someone had to prescribe the Zoloft for you . . . so whether it was your family doctor or a psychologist (although I do not think psychologists can write prescriptions but I am not sure), go back to that person . . . write out a timeline for your symptoms because not all meds are good for all people and often they need to be changed . . . my second recommendation, since your symptoms are validated by a medical professional, is to go to a guidance counselor (I am assuming you are in high school and not college) and, depending on where you live and what the protocols of the school system are, you may need your parent(s) to accompany you. In most school boards, the law requires them to make due accommodation for students who have medical issues. So, if that means you need to keep your backpack close by, then so be it . . . . my third recommendation is to seek out a trained professional who works with issues of anxiety, OCD, hypochondria, and emetophobia especially in your age group as you need professional guidance . . . it seems as if quite a bit is centered on performance anxiety and fear of failure with respect to academic work and losing your status as a "bright girl" . . . well, you are a bright girl because you know you have a problem; you are a bright girl because you know you need support and guidance; and you are a bright girl because despite everything you know that there is some type of miscommunication between your brain and your body and I strongly suspect that deep down you recognize that your physical reactions might be learned reactions so you need to unlearn them . . .

It appears that your Mom and Dad may be reacting because they do not understand about anxiety and they appear to think that you may be "acting out" so you don't have to go to school . . . on your part, you want to go to school, etc., and it is good to set goals . . . but set realistic goals . . . .first, make sure that you get up and go to school every day . . . yes, it will be difficult because of all the anxieties about school; second, make sure that you do one thing (take it step by step) to start the change process . . . eat something, anything for lunch and it does not have to be a 3-course meal . . . whatever you can . . . .

You need some outside support . . . you need to bring your parents into the picture and try to explain to them quietly what is going on . . . do you have a trusted adult who might help you to explain to them what is happening and that now is the best time to unravel what is bothering you whether it is performance anxiety, fear of not being the bright girl, whatever? But, you need to take the strength that you have shown to come to this forum and reframe it to help you to move forward . . . .it is not a one time event but a process and there will be speedbumps but, like all of us, you need to take them one day at a time and for others of us one minute at the time . . . check out the meds, they may not be right for you; check out a counsellor to guide you; and check in on yourself and know you are a bright girl who has a health problem and that you need to work to resolve it . . . as always, never fear about the length of the post or where you post it . . . .if you post it in the wrong place, we have great moderators who will move to a place where you will get the most responses . . .please check in with us and know that we will do our best to support you however we can . . .take care, kc
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