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HSC stress and anxiety in getting help. Possible TW: self harm

Hi everyone,


I've been feeling very stressed out lately because of the HSC. I still have 3 more HSC exams left, and the exams are all pretty packed since it's all going to be next week and they're all difficult subjects (maths, legal and modern). 


I'm glad that I have finished 3 of my exams (English paper 1, English paper 2 and economics) but I haven't been coping too well. I've been giving attention to my scabs and I think a week before the HSC started I started hurting my arms and legs whenever I get stressed. I've never told anyone that I have a habit of giving attention to my scabs whenever I feel stressed out (which is basically most of the time) and this started in year 8. I have been seeing the school counsellor throughout year 11 and this year and I did see a psychologist at headspace for anxiety. However, I didn't have a great connection with my psych so I never told her about this. I trust the school counsellor but I never told him about my habit of giving attention to my scabs since I don't know what he could help me with and we've mainly just been working through school stress and grief. Since I graduated from school last month, he did tell me the last time I saw him that I could still book in to see him between now and the end of the year if anything is wrong.


I have also been connecting with my regular KHL counsellor for a few months now (I call her usually once a week but if I don't feel like it, I'll end up calling her once a fortnight). She's great and I trust her a lot. I have a great connection with her and I'm grateful for that. I think I'm getting to the point where I'm ready to tell her about this scab issue, but I'm unsure what she'd say or how she could help me. I guess I'm also just unsure if this type of coping is considered as "self-harming"? I don't want to cause any pain to myself, but giving attention to my scabs gives me a relieving feeling and it gives me something to do when I'm stressed.


Also sometimes I feel like I shouldn't call my KHL counsellor or that I should talk to someone when I'm anxious and I have a lot on my mind, which I've learned that is a sign that I SHOULD talk to someone. Sometimes I feel like that because I don't think I deserve nice things and my KHL counsellor is a nice and understanding person.


So, I guess my questions are:

  1. Am I self-harming or just coping in a very bad way?
  2. Is it better to see a professional in-person to work through this issue? Although cost would be an issue for me and I don't really like the idea of going back to headspace since I didn't have a good experience with my psych there.

I am safe and would love some thoughts on what I could do to help myself. Thanks for reading. Smiley Happy


Re: HSC stress and anxiety in getting help. Possible TW: self harm

Hey @justkeepswimming, it's really brave of you to bring this up as it sounds like something you've kept hidden for a while. Technically, I wouldn't call it self harm, it's more of a body focused repetitive behaviour (I think?). I struggle with this too and other stuff especially when stressed without meaning to. Like for example I'll give attention to areas on my face and yeah it's not something I'm proud of heh. There's an app that helps bring mental awareness to it which is the first step to stopping I think. Then youre meant to substitute the behaviour with something else like fidget with something.

It's really cool you brought this up cause I think a lot of people struggle with similar stuff but don't speak up Smiley Happy

Re: HSC stress and anxiety in getting help. Possible TW: self harm

Hi @justkeepswimming, it sounds like things have been really difficult for you while you have been studying. Studying can absolutely raise a lot of feelings of anxiety and stress, especially during the HSC! It looks like you have identified some of the ways that you cope when you are feeling stressed. It is really great that you are being so proactive about seeking support and strategies. Some people may use that as a way to self-harm too but it can also be used as a way to cope with intense feelings. We have some information on self-harm here too, if you'd like to know more. Either way, there are many alternatives that you can try instead. We have a thread on coping and distractions here. To answer your question, I think it would be great for you to talk to any health profesisonal about this, it doesn't necessarily have to be in person. You can still get great benefit out of online services. If you were interested in seeing someone in person, is it possible for you to see a different psychologist at Headspace instead? I know it may feel awkward, however psychologists know how important it is to have someone you can really connect with.


Also, thank you for letting us know that you are safe. Just so you know, I have slightly edited some of the language in your post as it may align with a method of self-harm that could trigger other users. You can find our guidelines here


I have also edited your post @Lost_Space_Explorer5, to keep it in line with the other language in this thread.

Re: HSC stress and anxiety in getting help. Possible TW: self harm

Hi @Lost_Space_Explorer5 


Thanks for your reply! I'm glad that I'm not the only one struggling with this and I hope that you're doing okay too. Yeah it's tricky because I've been using that as a way to cope with stress. I think that I'll try talking to my KHL counsellor about it to see if she could help me. Smiley Happy

Re: HSC stress and anxiety in getting help. Possible TW: self harm

Hi @Taylor-RO 


Thanks for the reply and linking the thread of coping strategies for me. I've had a look at it and there are some strategies that I could definitely use. I think that I'll talk to my KHL counsellor about it to see if she could help me. I'll see how that goes! Smiley Happy

Re: HSC stress and anxiety in getting help. Possible TW: self harm

I am glad to hear that you have found the resources to be helpful @justkeepswimming . I hope that you find that those strategies help you out. It is great that you will be discussing this further with your KHL counsellor, hopefully that will be helpful too Heart

Re: HSC stress and anxiety in getting help. Possible TW: self harm

Crap sorry @Taylor-RO I didn't mean to include stuff that needed to be edited. It's such a tricky thing with distinguishing between SH and like habits associated with body focused repetitive behaviours. Like, for me, if there's no intent to hurt yourself, it's just a habit, but for others it might be a way to SH so I should remember that.

@justkeepswimming I'm glad you're feeling less alone. In the meantime between talking to your counsellor you could look up 'habit reversal training' for the aforementioned behaviour. If that resonates with you, you might be interested in looking up this app I know of that helps with bringing awareness to and noticing patterns in these behaviours. I can't say what it is because I feel it's against the guidelines, but if you look up apps for "(behaviour)" it should come up. It's got a green background and lets you log urges and stuff

Sorry if I broke the guidelines here again please let me know if I did mods!

Re: HSC stress and anxiety in getting help. Possible TW: self harm

@justkeepswimming  Hey lovely! So I did my HSC 5 years ago now (makes me feel so old lol) and I can still remember how stressful it can be. I just want you to know that, while I may seem really important, over time your HSC mark becomes less and less important. It may seem like it but the HSC won't define you... I didn't do all that well and still go into the university I wanted though other avenues. It is just a few more days you can get though it ❤

Re: HSC stress and anxiety in getting help. Possible TW: self harm

Hey @justkeepswimming I know its been a couple of days since you made the post but just wanted to see if anything has happened since. I for one know that if one psych doesn't help than there is always another way out. psych don't get annoyed or anything if you choose to see someone else they are taught to remember that the relationship has to work in order to continue. Also there are plenty of place online where you can talk to people privately and they wont judge you. If you do feel comfortable with your high school counsellor than you can talk to them again they wont judge you everyone has a past. to answer your questions I would say talk to someone you trust it doesn't have to be a psych it can be anyone who you think that can help you. hope to hear from you soon.