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(TW?) Uni is destroying me

I felt I should make another thread, because I'm really struggling at the moment.

A year ago, I intermitted my uni course for a year because I felt it was best for my health. I couldn't physically start typing my assignments due to the fear of I don't even know what. Something I worked so hard on not mattering in the long run of things? Being critiqued? Not getting 100%? I don't know. But it got so bad that along with it I had thoughts of punishing myself with self harm. I never did it, but the thoughts were so scary I knew something had to be done immediately.

I've really felt better for a while, during that year. I haven't had the best year in the world (break-ups, been in hospital two times, pet death...) but in the grand scheme of things I felt like I could cope and that I was doing so much better mental health wise. But now I'm back at uni, and I feel like I'm back at square one.

I just feel completely defeated and hopeless. During assignments, I can barely eat or sleep or do anything to take care of myself. I know all my thoughts are irrational but I can't stop them. I have spoken to the disability resource centre so on every assignment I get I'm having to get extensions, but I feel bad for not being able to complete anything on time, especially with honours coming up.

I recently decided to drop one of my units due to all the stress. I knew I should have taken on only two subjects (three still counts as full-time) but I guess I got overconfident. Dropping this late in the year means I still have to pay for it but my fees are currently covered by HECS-HELP, and I can apply to get it reimbursed. I know it's probably the best for my health but I still feel like I failed due to not being able to complete it.

I was seeing a psychologist, but she is refusing to see me again until I get my medication reevaluated. I can't really make an appointment with my GP that easily (it's usually weeks in advance), and I've told her time and time again that I don't think my meds are the problem (I've changed them about four months ago and I think I've done so much better with them despite the uni trigger). But she pretty much hasn't let up about the meds since I started to see her, and when I did mention my struggles with uni she pretty much just said 'everyone struggles at uni' and left it at that. So, I'm thinking of changing psychologists. I have an appointment with the uni psychologist but that's two weeks away.

I feel so disappointed in myself, and I feel bad for putting all my friends and family through everything I'm feeling. I don't want to burden anyone but I don't know what to do. I'm safe, by the way!


Re: (TW?) Uni is destroying me

Hey @Hozzles

I'm sorry to hear that from what it sounds like, you're going through a really rough time at the moment. From what I read, it sounds like you're struggling with with some of the pressures of uni, especially through assignment season, and how the stressors from this are spilling over in your day to day life. 


The first thing I wanted to say, is that from the sounds of things you're doing everything right. It really seems that, while you might be feeling like you have failed, or that your are feeling defeated or hopeless, you're really on the right track, especially in regards to try to take control of and wrangle a lot of the difficult situations you are currently going through. 

It's really understandable to feel as if you've gone back to square one in regards to uni, as a lot of people feel this after they've returned to study - whether it's due to taking a break due to health, coming back after deferring, or returning to study a new degree after finishing an initial one. It can be difficult to really feel like you're constantly treading water, but I do want to reassure you that it does get easier with time. The most important thing is to remember to be kind to yourself. Not just in taking time and making space for yourself, but also allowing yourself to fail. It's ok to overstep our limits sometimes - if we didn't test our boundaries we wouldn't know where they were. 


I'm also really glad to hear that you're starting to look for a new psychologist. The "therapeutic relationship" is considered one of the most important things between a client and a therapist, and it's almost exclusively about how well you can understand, listen to, and trust each other. Just like many relationships (of any kind!) sometimes it just doesn't work out, and people don't "click", and just like in real life relationships, it can be better sometimes to move on an dtry to find someone else who fits better with you. 

I was wondering if you had any support networks to talk to about some of these things with before you see your new psych? This could be a trusted friend, a family member, or even a mental health service like eheadspace or Kids HelpLine. Often you can organise regular phone "meetings" with a specific counsellor on these services, which can be easier and quicker to access than traditional "real life" therapy. 

Let us know how you're going Smiley Happy Heart


Re: (TW?) Uni is destroying me

Hi @Hozzles!

Going back to uni can be so hard. Smiley Sad It can be a huge shock for your mind and body to go from being on holidays to having a massive workload. I actually got repetitive strain injuries soon after going back to uni one year from the big increase in typing and work required and apparently this isn't uncommon. Thankfully, I got better with physio, but it took a long time and I had to reduce my workload. It just goes to show the toll that studying can take on our bodies. My physio used to tell me to make my health a priority over studying, and I think this is good advice for anyone.

Is there any way for you to work on assignments and settle into uni work gradually? For example, you could set aside a certain amount of time to work on an assignment each day or week. I found that was helpful in lessening my stress and anxiety in comparison to going on study binges, last minute cramming or all nighters.

I agree with @Andrea-RO. Feeling like you're being heard and listened to is so important when you're seeing someone who is providing therapy. I hope that the uni psychologist will end up being more helpful than your current psychologist. Sometimes, it can take a lot of time and trial and error to find the right professional. Are you able to access any other supports while waiting for your appointment?

If I were a friend of yours, I would congratulate you on looking after your health and doing what you feel is best for you. Heart Are your friends and family generally supportive of you?


Re: (TW?) Uni is destroying me

Hey @Hozzles first of all, I want to say well done for recognizing a year ago that something needed to be done and taking appropriate action - many people aren't able to do that. Smiley Happy

Sorry to hear that you've had a rough year - from what you wrote, I get the sense that it would be difficult on its own, even without the added stress of uni, and I think you've been really brave to go back Heart


Assignments can be really anxiety provoking. Sometimes when I'm struggling to complete an assignment, I'll sit with someone (maybe a friend or fellow student doing the same assignment) and the company helps to dispel the anxiety a bit. Maybe that's something you could try?


Please know that you absolutely have NOT failed. You have won - are winning - by recognising when things are tough and doing what you need to in order to look after yourself. I'm proud of you Heart

Wow - I'm so sorry that your psychologist was dismissive about your concerns about uni and seems so focused on medication when it's not what you're seeking from them Smiley Sad

I think changing psychologists sounds like a good idea. Could you see someone else from the same place as your current one, to make the process a bit faster?

Looking forward to hearing from you! Smiley Happy     

// Spiral outward, keep going. //

Re: (TW?) Uni is destroying me

@Hozzles I just wanted to check in with you and see how you're going this week? The others have already expressed everything I wanted to say - you are such a fantastically self-aware person, who is learning to put their needs first. I definitely don't think you're a burden Heart

Keep us updated when you're feeling ready Smiley Happy
No human being, however great or powerful, was ever so free as a fish

Re: (TW?) Uni is destroying me

Awww, you're all so lovely. Thank you all very much for your kind words. Heart

An update on how I'm doing:
Well, today my job search provider asked how uni was and I burst into tears. Smiley Frustrated So, I think that's a good summary of how my mood is. I have an assignment due Friday but I'm not really sure if I'll be able to get it done at this point (Friday is an extension so I won't be able to get more time). Really, all I want to do is sleep all day and it's a struggle to do anything else. My mum was upset today because I pretty much nonstop cried for three hours and I feel so guilty for hurting her and having her see me like this, especially since I've been doing so well recently. I'm trying to stay positive but the moments come fleetingly. 

Probably a weird question, but does anyone know of any good foods to eat when you really don't feel like eating? My anxiety causes nausea which doesn't really help my low appetite at all, but today I brought some berries which I found to be very good to snack on/ get some healthy food into me without making me nauseous. 

In regards to other support, I've been accessing eheadspace and beyond blue chat which has helped a little. I might go to my local headspace centre tomorrow and see if I can talk to anyone there/ make an appointment. I'm actually looking forward to my GP appointment Friday because I feel so incredibly lost. Smiley Mad

@letitgo I think isolation is a big part of it! I live about two hours away from my uni (I travel by commute) so unfortunately I don't really have anyone doing my course to bounce ideas off or anything. I've actually been trying to get my mum to sit with me for a bit, which helps Smiley Tongue.


Re: (TW?) Uni is destroying me

Sorry for the double post, but I'm seriously considering dropping another unit and only doing the one. However, this causes me to have an extra year before I can do honours. I figure it might be beneficial to do one unit a semester until I reach honours, so I can allow time for healing. I really don't know what to do, though. I don't want to add another year to my degree but my depression is getting worse by the day.


Re: (TW?) Uni is destroying me

Hi @Hozzles,


Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're a psychology student, right? If so, I just want you to know that I'm one too and it is a really courageous thing to go back to uni, especially studying something so challenging.


I think you've obviously got a lot of insight into your own mental health and what is good for you. If you think dropping another unit will help you feel a bit better, then I think that might be a good move. It can be difficult dealing with feelings of shame and judgement around achievement. I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to assignments and being judged by others academically (I've kind of dealt with it my whole life but doing psych at uni elevated it a lot). I've got a few coping strategies that help me now and I'm doing a lot better now, but I still definitely have rough patches. 


Ultimately, you need to do what is right for you and your safety. I would say that you possibly do need to listen to your psychologist's advice. I know it is really difficult for you to get in to see your GP, but even maybe making that appointment might make you feel better about a few things. It might be a small but important step in terms of looking after yourself and your welfare. I think most psychologists would probably ask you to check in with your GP regularly about medications anyway, so I'm not sure what changing psychologists would do, but maybe if there are other issues like a lack of connection or therapeutic relationship with your psychologist then it might be time to re-evaluate. It's completely your call, and you need to feel that you have that trust there with your psychologist too. I know you're going to make the right move for you.

“Your now is not your forever."
― John Green, Turtles All the Way Down

Re: (TW?) Uni is destroying me

Hi @Hozzles,


Thank you for checking in and letting us know where you are Heart It sounds like this is a big decision for you and really weighing heavily. You have mentioned that you will be seeing a GP tomorrow, and going to try to access headspace today, have you had a conversation with anyone else about the decision of whether or not to drop another unit?


Wellbeing is so important, and I am hearing that you are really feeling the impact of study stress Heart Is your mum a big support for you? While it might have been hard for her to see you upset, parents often tell us that they want to know what their kids are feeling. Even when it's tough to hear, they want to know what is going on. What are your mum's thoughts on your course load?


No matter what decision you make, trust your gut and trust what your body is telling you. When we are feeling our wellbeing taking a hit, it can be the mind and body's way of bringing our attention to what we need at that moment in time Heart 


We are so grateful you have opened up here! Echoing the beautiful posts of support from the community on this thread, you have done so much learning and growing this year, and taking some big steps towards healing and recovery. While you work through this decision, we will be here for you Heart


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Re: (TW?) Uni is destroying me

Hey @Hozzles, feel free to post as many times in a row as you need - we're all here for you Heart

Hmmm... in regards to foods that you might be able to eat during nausea/anxiety, I find dry toast or dry biscuits to be gentle on my stomach at those times. What do you reckon? Smiley Happy

// Spiral outward, keep going. //