Week of:
Sep 08, 2017

Stressed out and anxious from schoolwork and everything

Alice,

I think I just had my breaking point. I don't know how much more stress I can take. I tried to check out stress-reduction workshops, but the next one is next semester. I don't really want to see a psychiatrist. I don't know what to do. Basically, I think a lot of my stress is because it is just so difficult for me to focus or concentrate on anything. My thoughts are running everywhere. I try, I really do. I even moved into a single for it. I feel so incompetent. I don't give a damn about making friends. I'm always feeling lonely. And worst of all, there is always something that makes me so worried, panicked, to the point of just wanting to die to relieve me of it. I have chest pains when I sleep sometimes. When I stand up to do something, I always forget what to do... always. This letter that I'm writing has taken me an hour to write because I have to pause so many times to think about my classes. Whenever I do anything away from my desk during my designated "study time," I feel so guilty. Last weekend, I couldn't eat because I didn't want to leave my room to go to the kitchen to eat anything. Yet I am always behind in my schoolwork. Since transferring here this semester, I have never felt confident, relaxed, or satisfied about anything. Everything annoys me. I annoy me. This letter probably sounds really unorganized, but I can't organize my thoughts. I went to see a Broadway play and loved it, but just really hated myself for seeing it when there was so much work I had to do. When I would read my texts, I would try to read faster so I could get all of it done, and a lot of times, just out of nowhere I would get so upset and start crying over my book and myself and my life. I've decided I don't want to live like this anymore. I'm tired of not being able to breathe and get chest pains when I get stressed. Please help me.

— Feelingsuffocatedandconfused

Burnout: What can I do about it?

Dear Alice,

I've never been very good at managing my time, getting homework done, or staying organized. Yet, I learned to work around this and get things done rather successfully. However, recently, I haven't been able to do ANYTHING. I can't get school work done. It's starting to impact my grades. I think this might be a result of a stressful junior year combined with a stressful summer job. I worked 50 hours a week at an understaffed Boys and Girls Club. There might be something about taking care of children — many with serious family/home issues — that really drained me. I only had about a week of summer vacation where I wasn't either working or at home with pneumonia. I went from a rough summer into a difficult senior year. Now, I feel like I need a break to collect myself, but I know I won't get that break until I graduate. What can I do? I don't think I need new organizational strategies, I've picked those up over the years, but then again if I knew what I needed I guess I wouldn't be asking!

Thanks,
Burning out

No time for a social life!

Dear Alice,

I am a 22 year old male grad student, now starting my second semester at in graduate school. I have been doing very well academically, but my studies and my work-study job leave me absolutely no time for a social life! I have not been on a date since I got here; though I meet a lot of interesting people, and am in the habit of collecting their phone numbers. However, I can never seem to find any time to spend with them. Sometimes this really depresses me. I have noticed that I have lately been smoking much more heavily than I used to.

Sincerely,
Always in a rush to get something done

Must. Be. Productive. But I'm so stressed out!

Dear Alice,

I have this problem with my studies. I feel that I need to work 24 hours a day in order just to keep up. I have been getting panic attacks and outbreaks of eczema because I am so stressed out. Can you advise me of any relaxation techniques that will allow me to unwind after a hard day?

Yours,
A tightly wound spring