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Panic attack on the second day of Tafe

Yesterday I started Tafe, I have been unemployed for almost 2 years and figured it was time to upskill, I ended up enrolling in a computer course as I figured that would give me the best chance of employment and compliment my Business Cert. 3 (I'm admin trained and my last job was working in local government as a customer service officer). 

The first day went well, I mean I was anxious which was to be expected and while I did feel a bit overwhelmed I survived the first day.

Today I struggled and the tears would not stop falling, I see my psych every 3 weeks on a Tuesday and I was due to see her today but we moved it back a week so I could focus on the first week of Tafe. I walked into the class room and the lecturer seemed taken aback by my appearance (tear stained face) and I apologised and explained he would be getting the anxious version of me today. I also gave him a note from my psych explaining that in order to keep my anxiety under control I need to have regular appointments with her (she only works Tuesdays) and would need to be missing some class time (around 1 hour plus my 30 minute study session and 30 minute lunch break every 3 weeks depending on traffic). We were given a 10 minute break which I spent sitting in the sun, trying to get my anxiety under control with the breathing techniques I have been taught and a few other techniques my psych mentioned to me.

I come back into class thinking maybe things are under control then the lecturer starts saying that we can't afford to miss class and if we miss it more than two times we will need a doctors note, plus we need to put in an additional 3 hours work per week. By this point I could feel a panic attack coming on and tried to do breathing techniques and everything I could to avoid it short of running out of the room and causing a scene.

We were let out for lunch and I grabbed my stuff and raced to student services (in the process texting my mum telling her I was having a severe panic attack), well in the midst of a panic attack and said to them (somewhat calmly) 'I'm having a panic attack' they were amazing and helped me calm down and listened to my concerns.

I was also able to contact my mum and explain to her what was happening (yes I'm 23, and still live with my parents) and eventually speak to my psych but only for a few minutes. 

They advised me to go home (thankfully I live 5 minutes drive away from campus) and arranged for a meeting tomorrow with a careers counsellor to discuss my options.

The course I am currently enrolled in is 4 full days 8.00am-3.30/4.00pm including 2 hours a week of additional lab time (which is optional but strongly advised) and only 30 minutes for lunch and no other breaks. Plus additional hours we need to put in after hours. It's so overwhelming, I want to do this course but I don't think it's the right fit for me but then what? 

I haven't had a panic attack this severe in 6 years and any form of panic attack in 5 years.

I feel like a failure for having one and am so annoyed at myself for letting it happen! I have strategies in place, I'm on medication for my anxiety, I see a psych regularly and I was going so well! 

I'm currently at home, trying not to overthink things having since taken the medication for when I do get panic attacks (that makes me feel drowsy and I don't take it if I know I'm going to be driving) feeling a bit more calmer but still annoyed at myself. 

Whatever it takes I know I can make it through!

Re: Panic attack on the second day of Tafe

Hey wow @ErinsAntics that is a full on course load. I know you're feeling down about having all the strategies in place etc and still having the panic attack anyway, but it's not abnormal for people to have these sorts of episodes under stress. People can even have panic attacks who generally are quite good under pressure etc. You mentioned "If I don't do this course - then what?", are there not other options available to you?


Keen to know more about this. The course load most certainly sounds heavy, perhaps either assess whether there's other thing you can cut back on around it (i.e. jobs, extra tasks) or look at similar courses with different study loads?


How are you feeling at the moment? We're all here to listen.



Re: Panic attack on the second day of Tafe

@ErinsAntics I'm sorry to hear about the panic attack but it sounds like you're doing the right things. I'm proud of how you handled yourself despite how you were feeling.
Is there a way you can talk to lecturer about what's going on and get some advice from them. I know when I was at tafe going to my lecturers helped them understand what was going on. Also you could go to disability services and get a LAP (learning access plan) where you can get exemptions and extra help. When I was tafe I had one that helped with extensions, time off, tutoring and stuff.
Trying to make my misery
just a piece of my history
A little less victim a little more victory
-Icon for Hire

Re: Panic attack on the second day of Tafe

Thanks guys Smiley Happy 

I've spoken to student services and tomorrow they will come with me to meet the careers counsellor to discuss what other courses I could do and my other options.

I've always loved admin work and I'm experienced in it, so I figured doing a computer course would build on my skills and maybe lead me to an IT helpdesk job. I enjoy helping people and doing computer work so going into reception/customer service seemed like a natural fit but since my last job (which just wasn't the right fit for me at all) I have struggled to even get interviews. The job market in my state is really bad, though it is on the up but when you can only work part time it makes finding a needle in a haystack easier than finding work.

I do feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place, like if I don't study will I stay unemployed which I don't want but at the same time I don't really know what I could study that will help me get a job with my pre-existing skills.


Whatever it takes I know I can make it through!

Re: Panic attack on the second day of Tafe

Hi @ErinsAntics,
I can tell you are a person with great insight and self-awareness, it's so tough at our age with the job market Smiley Sad
It's definitely important to do what is right for you and what will make you happy. I'm sorry to hear you had a panic attack. Starting a new course is especially nerve-wracking and can be really stressful.
How did the careers counsellor meeting go?
Here for you Heart

Re: Panic attack on the second day of Tafe

The meeting went well, I've decided to go a completely different direction and do a Cert. 4 in Community Development which relates back into the work I do for ReachOut (I'm a YA as well as a Mod). I'm told I could get credit for my ReachOut work too which is a bonus! 

Unfortunately the current campus I'm on doesn't have any places but another campus 20 minutes (drive) away does so I'm expecting a call from the course organiser tomorrow to finalise things. Mind you my current campus has very little parking and unless you arrive before 8.00am you have no chance of getting a spot but the other campus has plenty of parking which makes things less stressful in that area and 20 minutes drive isn't too bad. 

It's also only 2.5 days a week which is much easier on my anxiety! I'm also going to get a support plan in place so hopefully a panic attack won't happen again. 

I feel it's a much better solution and it's something I'm passionate about. 

My next step after I get the call (hopefully) tomorrow morning, is to withdraw from my current course and enrol in this course which I'm hoping will be straight forward Smiley Happy

My anxiety levels have been quite high since getting home, but I'm blaming that on having a full on day and the medication I took for my panic attack starting to wear off. I left home at 8.30am and didn't get home until 3.35pm just catching up with a friend, running some errands, meeting with my bible study leader (who was concerned about me) and having this meeting at Tafe. Planning on having a quiet night tonight and going to bed early. 

Whatever it takes I know I can make it through!

Re: Panic attack on the second day of Tafe

@ErinsAntics This is such a good outcome. Sounds far more manageable and your health is so important! I hope you enjoy an early night. Smiley Very Happy

Re: Panic attack on the second day of Tafe

Hey @ErinsAntics, glad you were able to post here about your experience. It sounds like you're doing all the right things to take care of yourself after the panic attack, which is great to hear.

Also, I'm 23 and still live with my parents too - nothing wrong with that! Smiley Happy

Hope you're feeling okay at the moment. 

// Spiral outward, keep going. //

Re: Panic attack on the second day of Tafe

Hi @ErinsAntics!

I'm so happy for you! This new direction sounds very promising and you sound a lot happier and less stressed about it! It's really good that you recognised what was causing you distress and took action straight away. I really hope this all works out for you, it sounds really suited to you and your interests. 

Please keep us updated Smiley Happy