Anxiety and Depression Support
22,961 members21,126 posts

Problems sparking my anxiety; don't know what to do

Hi, I'm an adult college student in my 40's. I've suffered with anxiety and depression for 20+ years. My sister, who works in psychiatric diagnostics, has mentioned PTSD and ADHD, but I haven't been diagnosed. I take Wellbutrin and Clonidine. The Wellbutrin has helped tremendously and I take the Clonidine as needed even though it's supposed to be every night (it dries my mouth out and makes me feel foggy).

Anyway, I've done well, even went back to college, which was a major step. I have a high GPA through working hard. I'm going to be an elementary school teacher. After this semester, I have a year left.

In the last few months, things started going down hill when my mom was diagnosed and started treatment for breast cancer (luckily it was detected early). My dad also go very ill at that time. He went into congestive heart failure, luckily, it was reversible, but he's had a lot of issues breathing, swelling joints, that the doctors haven't figured out yet and it's been since October 2017. During all the scans, they found a mass on his kidney. He recently had surgery to remove it and part of his kidney. The doc said 90% of the time it's cancer, but again very luckily, it wasn't cancer just a cyst. My mom also fell off a stool and had a very deep wound, down to the fat layer that she had to go to a wound clinic (luckily she's not diabetic). Then, her elbow swelled and a pocket of fluid gathered, so her doctor drained it with a needle. She also found out she had a urinary tract infection (probably from the catheter during surgery to remove the lump). A month later, my mom's arm swelled suddenly and she went to her doctor (she was waiting on her doctor to send her to an orthopedic specialist). She went into sepsis shock very suddenly 2 weeks ago and was admitted into the ICU, hanging on for life. Her blood pressure dropped very low and they said the infection was affecting her kidneys. Her nose turned black. They took her to surgery for her elbow and cut a giant hole in it and cleaned out a bunch of tissue. It has to be packed with guaze-like material and has been left open. It all has been quite shocking and extremely worrisome. I'm not sleeping. I'm very close with my mom. She's been healthy and is only 59. This all is so sudden. She's home now, but has a lot of pain in her arms and needs help caring for herself (she can't lift her arms) and is in a lot of pain (it's very concerning with what I know about sepsis and the high risk of amputations of limbs that can result). She's also getting radiation treatment; it's been a lot...

I apologize this is so long. On top of this, I'm having a problem with a college assignment that ironically comes at a very bad time with what's going on at home. The assignment is to make a video of things and memories from childhood. It's an "I Am From" poem video, if you've seen those, and it will be played in class. With my mom hanging on to life in the ICU, I could not handle making a video about her with photos set to sentimental music. I started having severe panic attacks and sobbed every time I sat down to do it. I started having a feeling like death. I can't explain it, but it's horrifying like empty, black void of being alone and I don't know what to do with myself. All the crying while doing it makes me literally sick. I haven't been able to complete it.

So, I spoke with my professor, who was very nonchalant. Maybe I didn't explain well enough. I told her my mom went into sepsis shock and was hospitalized. She didn't act like she understood what I was saying, like she was in the hospital for stubbing her toe. She just asked if I knew how to make a movie on a computer (which isn't the problem). I told her, I did. That the problem was with my mom being so sick, I can't do it without sobbing. She told me I don't have to use real photos (which makes mine different than everyone else's and it will stand out when played in class) and like that makes my mom being that sick go away I guess. And, it's still about my mom and my childhood with the words and music. So, with my social anxiety really elevated and my heart going a million miles an hour, and my tendency to say stupid things when I'm having a panic attack, I told her there was a high mortality rate with sepsis, to get her to understand how serious it was and how distressing. She told me not to look stuff up online. And, mine will be played last.

I know when the video (when I can bring myself to do it) is played in class, I'll cry in front of my class mates or my video will be different than everyone else's with fake photos. They don't know what's going on, and I don't want to explain why I'm crying or why my video is so different to the whole class. We talk about them after they're played. Either way, it's humiliating! Before all this, I was doing so well, and haven't had a full blown panic attack in awhile and with social anxiety. Although being the oldest student; I don't fit in... I really don't know what to do about this... I'm afraid it will shut me down and make my social anxiety worse, making presentations unbearable. It's sparked like I used to be with it and I'm struggling. I'm having panic attacks during class when I'm called on to do something. I used to not be able to get in front of people without panic!!! I'm not sleeping and having nightmares and flashback like episodes where I think about what I said to the professor and feel like I screwed up when I spoke with her. I have to figure out how to deal with this and not let it drag me down, but I can't seem to get it together.... What would you do? I appreciate you reading all this and the advice!

4 Replies

Your teacher could have been a little more understanding about your pain, im sorry about your parents . I think you should use real pictures show them your mom let them see her strenght, your classmates have parents they will understand when the video get you emotional.

1 like

Thanks, I felt that way too about using real photos, that I have to or it's a disservice to my mom. I don't feel comfortable sharing painful personal problems with 25 people I don't know very well. It would be like if you started a job where you didn't know a lot of people yet and during a meeting with everyone you have to tell them your personal problems because you started crying when they went over your work.

Another thing that has me worried about doing that in class is the professor has said several times that no matter what's going on in your life you have put on a happy face when you walk into a classroom, which I completely understand. I think she thinks this is the same concept when it's not. So, I don't know how she'll judge me if I do get emotional or share personal problems with the whole class. She might consider that inappropriate. At the end of the semester, we get evaluated on our social and emotional dispositions that goes on our permanent record and determines if we can continue with the program. So, not only is it a panic attack concern, I don't know if it will have other consequences.


I am sorry your going through all this with the family and school. I would suggest maybe that you see if you can postpone your presentation due to medical reasons and see if your prof. will be able to cut you a break. You have very good reasons to be concerned and upset, and already having a pre-existing anxiety and social, your worries are compounded. It's a terrible burden on anyone to see family sick, and your in crisis around worrying what will happen to your parents, it's understandable how your having difficulty doing a project about family.


Thanks for the kind words of support and well wishes for my parents! I really appreciate it.

I spoke with my prof (told her my mom went into sepsis shock and it's life-threatening and she's in the hospital and I'm having a difficult time doing the assignment). She didn't understand, and I left feeling minimized. Because she still wants me to do it, I needed to explain my childhood photos are at my mom's and I can't ask her to go through them right now, she said, "You don't have to use real photos. You can use images from the internet" In a countering tone. Like, I was complaining about the cashier being slow at Walmart, and she said, "well you know you can use the self-check out lines." Not once did she say, I'm sorry to hear that or I hope your mom gets to feeling better soon.

I've been angry the last few days after getting over the shock of the conversation and replaying it over in my mind, feeling like it's my fault, my anxiety caused me not to communicate it in a clear way. Maybe if I said it differently, like my mom is hanging onto life in the ICU, her blood pressure dropped so low they were rushing to save her life, the doctor said it damaged her kidneys. The inflection caused blood clots to form and it's causing tissue death (her nose turned black and she has severe pain in both arms and numb hands) so they're giving her blood thinner shots in her stomach to hopefully get oxygen to her limbs in an attempt to save them. And, they had to rush her to surgery and remove a large amount of tissue from her arm that now the giant hole has to be packed with gauze twice a day. She can't pull herself up or hold onto anything and even morphine isn't stopping the pain. Sorry to be so graphic, but is this what I should have said? I didn't feel it's appropriate to be that graphic...

I told her it's life-threatening and we've been really worried; I thought that would be enough for her to understand. But she didn't, so when I got desperate since she didn't understand, I told her sepsis has a high mortality rate (I cringe over saying that, but because I couldn't speak of the specific details about my mom without potentially crying, I told her the broad fact using "high mortality" to let her know how serious). She literally told me not to look sepsis shock up on the internet!!! Well, maybe she should look it up on the internet to understand the reality of the situation! I can't believe anyone would be so cavalier and dismissive without checking into it...

I don't know what to do; the prof. will be evaluating me 3 different times this semester in the field when I'm working with kids, and it worries me now. I don't know if I should try to have a second conversation... It's difficult for me to be assertive, but I worry I didn't communicate it clearly and her misconceptions could affect her subjective evaluations. And, the fact it's still difficult doing the video and I probably will cry when it's shown in class worries me; what should I say to the class if that happens and she's being so cavalier, like I'm having a problem over nothing. What would you do?

Thanks for reading all this....sorry again to write so much, but I don't know how to explain without sharing what happened.


You may also like...