Do I have an actual problem or is it ... - Mental Health Sup...

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Do I have an actual problem or is it in my head?


So I don't really know if this is the right place, or even if there's a 'real' problem or just me overreacting and over thinking all the time, but here we go. I'm in my second year at uni, and probably since about the beginning of term, I've felt quite apprehensive, and this has only got worse as the term has gone on. I thought maybe it was probably linked to the deadlines, as all the essays tended to have to be in in one week, so it would get pretty stressful and I would be working on three hours sleep a day, and things like that, but it's not like I was actively avoiding the work, it was more somehow it all got ahead of me and I couldn't work out when that had happened and what's more, I physically just could not summon the interest to physically do it. Maybe this is just me making excuses for my laziness, but it felt different, you know? Like....I don't know. Like there was a barrier stopping me from doing it, and even when it got to the night before and I had two essays due in the next day, neither of which had been written, I wasn't panicking, I just didn't care. I think I was more worried about the fact that I wasn't panicking than the fact that I had two non-existant essays. I wrote them both in that night and gave them in, and I thought that I'd start to feel better, but I don't know. It just got worse, and it became harder and harder to do my work, until I was in the same position at the end of term with two essays due in and neither of them written.

It's also started to come out in my relations with my housemates. One I started to idolise to the point of ridiculousness, could do no wrong etc, etc, and the other I just disliked virulently for no particular reason. Whatever he said or did would annoy me, and I know it wasn't him per se, but more my perceptions of him, and maybe a ready made decision in my mind that whatever he was going to say, he'd annoy me. Moreover, the housemate whom I idolised was never in; he was literally never there to annoy me, so I'm wondering if it was because he was never in and because I had such rare contact with him that he became a kind of idolised figure. Especially as I felt threatened and almost scared of the one I disliked a lot of the time to the point that I'd feel panicky if I knew that the two I did get on with weren't around. And that's another thing, I idolised one, condemned the other and then stuck to a third like glue. I seemed to spend my entire life in his room, and I'd feel physically lost if he were busy or with his girlfriend or whatever, and that's not healthy either, relying so heavily on someone to feel less down, because he has such energy around him that when I'm with him, it's okay, it's when I'm not that it's problematic.

Then I think I had a bit of a martyr complex going on, so I'd do everyone's washing up, or I took the ground floor room which was the coldest and the smallest because I would have felt bad if anyone else had it, and it's not a bad room, it''s quite nice really, but there's this constant overthinking of every interaction with every housemate.

Or just a complete lack of interest in the subject I'm studying, as I do enjoy the subject, I am interested, and I think I would have got a lot more out of this term if I'd been more on top of my work, but it felt like such a barrier was between me and actually doing anything. And everything else I did outside of my degree was all focused on getting experience. I want to be a teacher, so I help out in a primary school twice a week, I help out at Guides once a week, I became the secretary for Ninjutsu so that I'd have transferrable skills for my CV etc, etc, but none of it particularly interests me and I don't know. Or I deal with all the bills at the house because I set them up and so on, so every month I have to nag everyone to pay me and it's so frustrating and I can't work out half the time if what i'm feeling is completely justified or if a lot of it is getting magnified unnecesarily and I'm overreacting. Then there's the thought that everyone says second year is hard; everyone was struggling, everyone was writing their essays the night before they were due in, so maybe there is nothing wrong with me and it's actually a completely normal thing for me to be feeling like this.

I thought I'd be okay when I came home for the holidays but I've been sleeping until two in the afternoon every day and I have never slept in so late in my life. At first I thought it was just because I was tired from uni and it'd go after a couple of days, but even after being home for over a week, I'm still waking up at that time, and it's not even like I'm going to bed particularly late in comparison - usually by about one in the morning, so that's way over twelve hours sleep I'm getting, although the last couple of days I have been worrying a lot about bills and things so I haven't fallen straight asleep.

Or for example, last week I don't think I left the house at all, and I know I should meet up with friends and catch up, and get out and I'll feel better etc, but it just feels like so much effort, and I'm not particularly interested to be honest.

I also studied depression in my A-level psychology so I know exactly what the symptoms are, and I think that's a problem, because I know what the questionnaires look like, I know what the expected symptoms are, so I feel in a way that makes any of my responses to them harder because I know how to answer it so it looks like I do, but also so it looks like I don't and I don't know.

I think I just need someone to metaphorically slap me and tell me to snap out of it or to validate this? I don't know. But then I just feel really attention-seekingy. I don't know. I'm going to leave this here, it's long enough as it is already and I'm starting to ramble I feel.

5 Replies

Hi there it's all soooooooo complex. By the sound of things you have been doing far to much! Yes I think you are depressed but trying to carry on as normal, this takes great effort. You have lost interest as things are a burden, even things you may have once loved. You are exhausted so people become a struggle and you become overly sensitive. By contrast leaning heavily on one person. Please see your doctor and try and explain, perhaps writing a shorter version of your post to take to her/him. Wishing you well and please have lots of rest and don't feel guilty not catching up friends, perhaps text them and say you intend to see them in the near future. Xx

You might have depression but it sounds fairly mild and I would n't analyse things quite so much. Self analysis is something that seems to grow of its own volition and is seldom healthy. Just concentrate on being you and not how or what you are being. if depressed its not pleasant but its not the end of the world either. many of us have quite serious depression of one variety or another and yet manage to lead "normal" productive lives with some down spells but also long and extended happy spells.

You are still very young in terms of human life span and at an age where life tends to be more complicated , although it usually continues to contain difficult spells.

It seems more likely to me it may just be a case of winter blues or seasonally effective disorder. this will probably increase the amount you sleep. Sure you won't feel good about sleeping 'til 2.00 but don't worry over much about it. Does it really matter at the moment?

I would ,as you've already been advised, see your GP or even better your university doctor and discuss it being totally open and honest about your concerns and symptons. My guess is you'll be told your problems are very typical and not to worry but even if more serious ,as I say, its not the end of the world either.




When we go to Uni and College the homework and heavy classwork can become very invasive and if we get behind it takes an age to catch up, one problem is when we enter end of term we need to complete the tasks that have worried us through the last term time. This can be worse mid terms

That and leaving home, meeting new people, and being away from family and familiar surroundings can b a real problem as well, even more so when we are lonely and not been surrounded by those who love you.

In the past I have mentioned becoming involved with someone this can cause problems, burning candles at both ends, also no relationship runs smooth the worry will or can affect studies

Your problem with with your flatmate is not uncommon when away from home and it is really well marked in someone who is still feeling their way in the world. Believe me when I say nothing will come of this relationship so you need to let go and understand He is most probably trying to keep away from you as He is also going through something similar with His Studies.

All I can suggest here is that you make an appointment with the College Social Team to discuss your worries with course, and keeping up with the homework they are passing down to you. They can not really do much about it, although they can explain some coping techniques when it come to your course and its needs.

If you are at home, you could see the family GP and discuss with him your problems. Personally I would advise against any ADs as they would cause you to lose that edge when it comes to studying. I do not think it is depression as such, although I cannot walk in your footprints.

When it comes to male relationships, I would advise that you forgo those if serious until the end of your Course, I say that knowingly as I went through that same thing when I was at college, when seventeen and trying to split an Affair with study just does not work and only your studies will be affected as the relationship can go sour.

Leave this person alone, the other just accept Him for what He is. The other allow him access and let Him get on with His Studies, He is most probably very concerned and just wants to study, of course you can all be friends, there is nothing wrong with that

If you need further chats we are always around



It all sounds pretty usual to me when you are studying for a degree. I'm on my second.

I do think you need some help managing all the different pressures. Universities usually have counselling services and I think you would benefit from some time spent examining these new experiences. It might give you a place to analyse how you are feeling.

You come across as someone who is analytical (good news when studying) and with a lot of personal insight. I think you need some help to come to alternate explainations for things and some help with planning your time.

I frequently experience apathy and procrastination. Part of overcoming these is reminding yourself about the reasons that you want your degree.

You have a lot going for you. Despite leaving two essays to the last minute you handed them in, that's impressive. You recognise you need help, that's also impressive. You sound like a kind and generous person, that's commendable.

I don't think that university is just about learning about the subject. It is also about learning how to learn, dealing with all the pressures and growing as a person. It's about developing personal coping strategies, the things that work for you. It is about working out your relationships with other people.

I wonder if other people have similar responses to the people you describe. It is not just your response to them but also their response to you.

Hope that helps,


Hmm tricky question. I went through something very similar in my second year (even down to the obsessive friendships) - I'm an artist, and creative degree courses are notorious for depression! It's the fact that your work is also a reflection of your inner self, so there's much more riding on it than in something less personal like maths or history, that in itself can mess with your head, and once you add in the living environment, being in unfamiliar surroundings living closely with a random selection of house-mates, all of you under pressure, it's no surprise that it can be a struggle.

I let it get worse until I got in a real mess, took to drinking, and eventually went to my GP, who diagnosed clinical depression, offered me antidepressants (which I refused) and suggested I went to the college counsellor. He wasn't very good but it did help to talk it through, and the mere fact of knowing that it was a recognised illness made me think 'if it's as simple as that then I can fight it'. Ironically, if it's just in your head then you can also beat it yourself, it could just be something you can work past.

I find it helpful to spot negative thoughts when I'm having them, think 'that thought right there, that's not me' and try to divert away from them. A lot of the time, the fears and worries aren't true or rational when you step back and look at them clearly.

Do go to your GP and see what he says. If he recommends tablets, think about whether you really want to go down that road, as they can lead to their own set of problems, I'd definitely recommend talking to a counsellor though. Also, maybe you don't need to worry over whether or not it is depression, since the ultimate cure is the same either way!

I hope this helps a little, best of luck with your course, you're one of the people who is put here to make the world a better place - the 'martyr complex' thing argues a high degree of empathy, and being a teacher is really something worth picking yourself up for, for the sake of all the people whose lives will one day be touched by your work.

All the best,

Cat :) x

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