Feeling Overwhelmed

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’m a 23 year old college student. I’m taking classes, working, volunteering and am part of a research team in hopes of getting into grad school next fall. I was diagnoses with severe clinical depression and anxiety two years ago. I’ve been going to counseling since that time. I took antidepressants for a year and a half but then went off with my doctor’s supervision. Now I feel like life is spiraling out of control and can’t seem to get my head above water. No matter how hard I try, things always seem to get worse. I can’t handle it anymore.

I used to cut and bite myself. Now it seems that’s all i can think about. I’ve been suicidal in the past and now wonder if things wouldn’t be better if i were just dead. The only thing that keeps from doing anything is the fact that I don’t want to hurt my family and friends.

What can I do? I know there’s no easy solution to these problems, but how can I keep it together enough so that I can keep going to class and working? How can I pull myself out of this mess enough to really talk to my counselor? Because right now everything seems so bleak, I don’t know if it’s worth it anymore.

A. Feeling overwhelmed is a sign that you are doing too much. You can’t ignore your mental health. If you had a severe pain in your leg that made it nearly impossible to walk, it would be foolish to ignore it. Why? Because it’s a sign that something is very wrong and ignoring it prolongs suffering and the condition may worsen. Ignoring your mental health can have a similar negative effect. Depression and anxiety are problems that need to be dealt with. The fact that you are considering suicide is indicative of how severe the depression and anxiety have become.

You need a plan of action. The first thing you should do is speak to your counselor. She or he needs to be made aware of the seriousness of your symptoms.

Secondly, you should speak specifically to the doctor who had previously prescribed you antidepressants. It seems as though your problems have intensified after discontinuing the medication. You and your physician should explore whether or not to resume the antidepressant medication.

Lastly, I would recommend working with your counselor about reorganizing your schedule to make it less overwhelming. It may be time to take a break. This may include working fewer hours, decreasing the amount of time you volunteer or taking fewer classes. There is no shame in taking a break and it seems as though now would be the right time. It is important to know your limits. This does not mean that you have to quit college or working with the research team but it may be wise to temporarily scale back your activities while you seek treatment. I understand that you may not want to do this but the reality is it will be difficult to move forward when your day-to-day struggles feel so immensely difficult.

To answer your specific question, “is it worth it?” Your life is “worth it.” The fact that you are asking such a question underscores the importance of getting help. It’s imperative that you do not remain socially isolated and to ask for help immediately. Getting help is the best way to deal with this problem.

If you feel that you might harm yourself then you should call 911 or go directly to an emergency room. You can also click the find help tab at the top of this page to help locate a doctor or therapist in your community (if you choose not to continue with your current treatment providers). I wish you well and I hope you are able to get the help that you need. Please take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Oct 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Feeling Overwhelmed. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/10/23/feeling-overwhelmed/