Coming to terms with mental health issues


#1

So I had my first panic/anxiety attack yesterday. And another one today.

I think they’ve been several years in the coming, I’ve dealt with depression and self-esteem issues and dark thoughts for over a decade now but I’ve always been able to deal with it and cope. But it’s come to a head now and the straw has finally broken the camel’s back.

It’s an accounting module in my masters’ that is said straw. I have lived a life of pretty much zero regrets, which at 26 is pretty impressive. I can happily look back and say I regret none of the major decisions I made in my life, except for this one. Rather than do a module I’d be good at like Business Ethics or E-Commerce or Marketing, I decided to challenge myself and prove that I could be good at maths despite a notoriously poor mathematical background. Big mistake. I failed the exam the first time round (badly) and now I’ve got the re-sit on Friday and it ain’t going down differently. No matter how much I revise, or sit down with the lecturer, or read about it, I just don’t get it. I can’t get my head around it. And now over 10 years of depression, self-loathing, insecurities, uncertainty, suicidal thoughts and all that good stuff are flooding in and completely drowning me. It’s like the module textbook has become the physical manifestation of all that bad shit. I haven’t been able to function properly the last few days and I just know there’s no way I can do this re-sit on Friday.

I should like to emphasise that the module has merely been the catalyst. I think the root cause was years of malicious bullying when I was younger which then manifested into a host of issues as I grew older which slowly grew worse and ate away at me from the inside.

I’ve spoken to my parents and I’m going to fly out and stay with them for a while and see a psychologist; I’ve e-mailed the postgraduate tutor and told them the issue and hopefully we can work out something with extenuating circumstances. It’s a bummer because I’ll have to re-sit the exam in January which means instead of graduating in February I’ll have to wait until July. And even then, I’ll still have to deal with it in January. I just feel so lost.

How do I tell my girlfriend?

We’ve been together for almost a year, and we both love each other. We’ve been doing the long distance thing for a few months since she’s back in the US working over the summer etc. so she’s not been here to see it all. I owe it to her to tell her the truth and I won’t lie to her but I don’t want to scare her or worry her or make her think less of me. I’ve always been so scared of the stigmas of mental health myself, and always just told myself to suck it up because I didn’t want to appear weak or pathetic, and the last thing I want is for my girlfriend to look at me like I’m a lesser man. I’m already not particularly big or strong, the one thing I prided myself on was my resilience and strong mentality #irony

I’ve been feeling pretty awful so I just wanted to vent and maybe see what you guys had to say. I’ve been on the forum for over 7 years now and this is one of the few places where I feel like I can speak candidly about stuff like this.

Thanks.


#2

If I recall right, you moved to UK university last year. Too late to change from accounting?


#3

I’ll only speak to the second part. Which is, be honest.

It’s not weak to be honest about your feelings, and what you’re going through. Quite the contrary. It took me until I was 40 to realise this. Holding it in just makes matters worse.

Because if it’s any consolation, I’ve been in your shoes. I’ve been in A&E having charcoal pumped into me because I took an overdose. I’ve stared that demon right in the eyes.

Doctor Jules recommends a good diet, rigorous daily exercise and a good sleep routine :slight_smile:

Oh, and completely cut out caffeine. That gem makes a LOT of difference.


#4

It’s definitely true that this is a good place to come and let it all out because I think we all know no matter what we have each others backs round here.

Not sure how useful my advice will be here but it seems to me that you’ve already taken some positive steps. If I’m reading correctly you’re not going to resit the exam which is probably the right way to go. You are already talking about the delay in graduating so on some level you’ve accepted it. If it was me I definitely wouldnt bother with it. You’ve nothing to gain apart from possibly feeling shit again.

Take the time, recover and approach it with a fresh take on things in a few months.

As for your girlfriend I think you’ll probably know how to best tell her. Or when rather because you know you’ve got to. This is a big deal and the more people you have on your side the better and from what youve said I think you could be confident that she will be.

Hope the next few days nd weeks are better for you man.


#5

@Cristo, def wanna write you more in depth but I’m sitting on a bus with thr wife on our way back to the hotel. I have battled anxiety and depression for more than ten years, although mostly as a teen. And I’m happy to share any tips or advice, even though everyone’s recovery and coping is different.

The forum, as crazy as it can be, is absolutely a safe place to share stuff like that. Even typing it out takes a lot. Just continue to hang in there and feel free too PM me if you have more specific concerns.


#6

I think we could all do with giving Cristo a big man hug.

Stay strong my friend, get all the help and support you need.


#7

You’re correct, but it was an MSc in Business Management. Out of the 9 modules I take, one of them is Strategic Management Accounting. Even though all of my other marks have been really good, this one module will keep me from graduating.

I’m hoping that once this is all over I might be able to convince the university to let me drop the SMA module, and pick another one which I can them complete on a part-time basis from January - April next year.

As for everyone else, I really appreciate the love and support. It means a lot and definitely helps :slight_smile:


#8

I honestly don’t know what to say @Cristo but from knowing you from here for a few years you seem like a nice cool guy so I hope you get through all of it one day :slight_smile:


#9

I’ve experienced some pretty bad bullying in my childhood, and know others who had it a lot worse. It’s no longer an issue for me, and I seldom think on it anymore, and I think I was able to properly let go of it with the realisation that they were just insecure kids, the same as me. I know it sounds pretty lame but a good technique is to image one of the bullies and just inwardly smile. Kind of send out your love and forgiveness to that person; this kind of thing can be really helpful actually, even if it sounds stupid.

For depression I would definitely recommend meditation, even just 2-5 minutes a day is enough. Definitely don’t need to be religious or anything, it’s just a great way to let it all be for a few minutes, cos in the end its the thinking patterns that you need to change, without wanting to sound condescending or anything. Break the habit of feeling dark.

Also on the study / exam issue. Don’t - if you can - let it consume you. I’m 10 yrs your senior and I’m now retaking GCSE maths. You can always go back to your studies later if needs be. It’s only exams!


#10

I hope you feel better soon Cristo. Forum is a better place when you are here!


#11

Amen. I’m retaking my Maths at 40 :slight_smile: Life’s too short to be stressing out about grades.


#12

Sorry to hear about this Cristo.

Mental health issues are serious and affect such a large proportion of the population. I know this is easy to say, but there is no shame in feeling anxiety or depression. The most important thing to to face the issues head on and get the help and treatment that you need, including using your own support system of friends/family and professionals. It sounds like you’re doing all those things and handling this remarkably well. It sounds like your girlfriend might play an important role in that process as well. While I know its hard to open up about these things at times, if you guys have a strong relationship then she is going to want to help you and it will be a positive to let her know. Good luck!


#13

Ok, so I’m going to try and make sense. This is something I’ve struggled with all my life. Obviously everyone is different and your mileage may vary… but here we go.

First and foremost, you don’t get over it. There is no magic pill or workout or trick that will make it go away. Setting the expectation that it’s something you can “cure” is dangerous and it sets you up for failure and deeper depression. That isn’t to say try nothing. You may find something that makes it better, or helps you cope, but expecting it to go away is bad juju. I’m 43 years old and I’ve tried it all. Yes working out helps, regular sleep helps, but it doesn’t cure you.

Second. You have to learn to be ok with who you are. There’s nothing “wrong” with you. You’re different and things affect you differently. Everyone has their demons. Everyone has their struggles. You are not alone. Most people are much more understanding than you think. Although, there are assholes in the world, be ready to deal with them too. There is zero shame in finding professional help. Anyone who says otherwise is a moron and their opinion should be discounted immediately. Having said that, it may take a few tries to find a therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist who is effective for you. Don’t be afraid to shop around and kick the tires. Take the time to find someone you’re comfortable with and gel with. It’s worth the time.

Third, and this is the most important part, surround yourself with loving, caring, supportive people. And don’t take it personally if your GF hears about this and says “fuck this, I’m out”. It’s not about you, it’s her decision. On the other side of that coin, don’t blame her either. She has her own struggles and sometimes too much is too much. Honestly, if I can find a partner who accepts me for who I am then you can too.You’re waaaay better looking than I am.

Lastly, there are going to be days where you just have to fake a smile and get through it. It sucks. MAN does it suck. Some days I want to tell everyone to take a long walk off a short pier and leave me alone. But I can’t, so I fake it. If nothing else you can look back at the end of the day and say “It sucked, but I did it. Go me!”.

Good luck, brother. Sending love and good vibes your way.


#14

Cristo based on personal experience and stories from friends/acquaintances universities are pretty understanding when it comes to mitigating circumstances. I’d be very surprised if this wasn’t the case in your case as you’re clearly having a fucking tough time of it at the moment. If you’re doing well in all your other modules it will be plain as day to them that you are a capable and hard working student, and they’ll try to accommodate for you. It’s absolutely in the university’s interests for you to graduate, and graduate well at that. I think you should feel positive on this front with regards to it ending well.

At uni I was in a similar situation regarding going into exams absolutely knowing I would fail, albeit in my case it was because I did absolutely no work and not because I’d really challenged myself by picking a difficult module. I went to the exam, opened the paper and couldn’t even begin to tackle any of the essay questions, and could choose the three questions I liked best from nine haha. I sat there for ten minutes and realised that I simply couldn’t sit there for another 2 hours and 50 minutes. After another five minutes I walked to the front of the hall of four hundred people to collect my bag and jacket before leaving. It was humiliating and still a bad memory. Next time in that situation I didn’t go and that was much better than going and trying to go through with something you were guaranteed to fail.

With regards to your girlfriend, just tell her what’s going on. When I got kicked out of uni back in 2011 and my depression really went into overdrive I tried to hide it from my family. I knew they’d find out eventually but instead I lied for months.

If she’s a good girlfriend, which I’m sure she is, she’ll understand and support you. Don’t worry about her thinking of you as being weak or less of a man or however you put it, attitudes towards mental health and men showing vulnerabilities have changed. Youre here talking to a bunch of blokes who support the same football team as you, and we’re all sharing our own experiences and trying to offer help and support. Times have changed and she won’t think of you any differently.

It also won’t be a burden on her. I know how big a deal this is to you, but it won’t be as big a deal to her. My girlfriend has a health condition that impacts on her day to day life and on her mental health/hapiness. She often apologises because she feels like a burden and a drain on me, but it isn’t like that at all. My sole concern is for her happiness and well-being, trying to help her because I don’t see her issues as being as insurmountable from the outside looking in, understandably she has to live with it so she often sees it as being an unwinnable fight. She thinks I must see her as being weak because of how she so often struggles, but I actually think she’s incredibly strong for coping with her health condition as brilliantly as she does.

As I said I’ve had some similar issues to yours at university when I first went, and just this summer I finally completed a degree course and am about to start a post grad, so we’re at similar points in our lives and I can relate to what you’re experiencing. So I’m always happy to talk about that kind of stuff mate.

So yeah, talk to your girlfriend, it’s the best thing to do. See your psychologist/get some help, be on the ball about trying to resolve the situation with the uni. Don’t go to the exam and cause yourself more distress and maybe even an attack if you are certain you’ll fail. Just do your best to forget about the dreaded fucking bastard module. Do things you enjoy, spend time with people you care about and whose company you enjoy, work out, try a new hobby. Do some positive things that will make you feel good.


#15

Letting it all out is always the first major milestone.

That phrase is often misused in a patronising tone in modern everyday discourse, so it’s understandable to be somewhat deterred when someone genuinely recommends it, but it’s a healthy process regardless of the intense emotion it can bring upon you when doing so.

Always consider the long term perspective when experiencing a harmful, demoralising or aggravating temporary feeling. Remind yourself it’s chemical reactions going berserk within your biomechanical system. It’s not a representation of you. It’s not indicative of how meaningful things actually are. It’s an illness.

You’ve done well to take the time out and maturely consider your situation. Speak to University. Speak to your girlfriend. Do not panic in either situation. You have to be humble, brave and forthcoming with what is going on. Only then can you see what lies ahead. Your partner is there for you and you for them. You have to share your deeper insights with each other if you’re going to be right together. She’s human too, she may even have her own deep seated issues she’s yet to figure out herself. Feeling frightened by the consequences is normal and fine, but in this scenario it’s not fair for you or her to just hide it. Come clean and you’ll feel clean. She will certainly respect it regardless of however she reacts to it. She would surely prefer it too.

All roads lead to getting past this dangerous scenario onto your actual internally free self. All emotions good and bad are temporary. Once you’re out, you’re free until your next hardship. Through perseverance, patience and calm thought you will always without question weave your way on from these situations.

Honestly I think you’ll be absolutely fine in time mate both practically and inside. Don’t let chemical reactions make you think today’s the day to pull the plug on it all. That is pain, but never an indication of what you really should be doing.

Calm and pleasant routines, combined with euphoric activity will regenerate your life force. You’ll probably discover amazing things about yourself and can change your life. That life force sentence sounds kinda RPG’ish not gonna lie but you get what I mean innit.


#16

I say you talk to them now.
If it were a matter of needing a break & trying again, then i would have recommended time off; but since you are quite sure about dropping the module & picking another, you should talk to the counsellor & arrange an alternative.

It can be an alternative module now or in Jan-April but something would be concluded quickly & it won’t linger in your mind.

Unless i read wrong & that’ what you are gonna do.

Basically This -


#17

btw When did you & eczter started dating?


#18

Just read all the latest replies and wanted to say thank you so much.

It’s pretty great how you’re all so happy to talk about these things and help me out and I really appreciate it. You guys are awesome :slight_smile: Sometimes it’s a bit easier than sitting down and talking to close ones IRL, which I suspect will have to be one of the biggest hurdles I’ll need to overcome (I’ve always just dealt with this stuff myself). I think it will probably come as a huge surprise to a lot of people because I’m a really outgoing, optimistic, happy-go-lucky guy (except when it comes to Arsenal lol).

It’s interesting to think that such a large number of people deal with this and whether it’s just an inherent facet of human sentience. My mother and grandfather both struggled with depression as well. Lots of friends have dealt with issues like this too. I wonder what it is that causes it.


#19

That, and mental health has been stigmatised for a long time. So people are afraid to even talk about it.

Most people suffer in silence.


#20

I think there has been an entire conversation in the time I took to write this :expressionless: