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Massive anxiety due to extreme work/school related pressure


Thermonuclear Warrior
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So I'm currently undergoing extreme anxiety. I have a lot of money and time invested into something that I'm working on and I am in the position where I may fail and potentially ruin everything I've worked for. I also have mild sleep apnea and my sleep schedule is a total mess. I need advice that isn't along the lines of "Take a xanax" or "Try meditation" or "see a shrink" or "blow your brains out"

I've had suicidal thoughts on a regular basis now and I keep trying to stay positive and counter my negative thoughts, but I'm extremely overwhelmed with what I"m doing right now, and I need to endure it for an additional two weeks. Every single day for the past 2 months has been very difficult and certain days have been torture for me. I'm under a lot of pressure and quite possibly at the brink of failure/explosion. I have a chance to redeem myself, but it's very slim and not guaranteed. If it doesn't work out, I will devastate and disappoint a lot of people. I'm trying my best not to give up and enforce positive thoughts, but it's time I posted about this because I have no one to discuss these issues with.

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This sounds very distressful for you, TW. :(

You mention having negative thoughts. Does this include your self-talk? Are you able to be gentle and kind with yourself?

If it doesn't work out, I will devastate and disappoint a lot of people.

This is a lot of pressure to place on yourself. You can only do your best, right? You can't control how others may respond to the result. (I'm still learning some of this myself as well.)

I'm extremely overwhelmed with what I"m doing right now, and I need to endure it for an additional two weeks.

You have awareness of your feelings here. Can you listen to your needs? Is there any way you can step back and take a breather? Can someone help you with the workload? I understand you don't want to be advised to meditate, but perhaps participating in some relaxing activities that you enjoy might give you some space with this?

What is it, do you think, that you're fearing in this? Your perception of failure? The disappointment of others?

I'm under a lot of pressure and quite possibly at the brink of failure/explosion.

I hear you that you have put in a lot of time, money and effort into this project. Sometimes things don't happen in the ways we hope they will. If this is does end up being the case, I hope you will not judge yourself harshly.

Take care of yourself, TW.

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"Take a xanax" or "Try meditation" or "see a shrink" or "blow your brains out"

Whoa. Yeah, you need different advisors ... ;-)

Some of those things (not the last of course) might work in the long run, but I understand that you're under greater time pressure than that.

The advice that I have heard most often with anxiety is try to identify the individual things that you're afraid of, first. In fact, write them down (it's too easy to start thinking about how to prevent them as soon as they come to you, and then you never get to look at them all in one place.) Then, next to each fear, list what is the worst thing that could happen. Write them down too; things look different in print than they sound in our heads. Next, check those possible outcomes for reasonableness. It's uncommon for people to be "devastated" (or "redeemed") by the outcome of a relatively short-term worldly activity. Though it's not that uncommon to believe they will be ...

When I was suicidal myself, it was because I thought that I had examined every other option and I was sure none of them was possible. I'm still here because I was wrong. In fact, I no longer believe that there exists an unsolvable set of problems, and certainly not that suicide makes anything better.

So how does that apply? Problems seem unsolvable, unsurvivable, because we believe they're unsolvable, not because they are. Quite often, though, the shift doesn't come because the problems, the stuff out there, changes at all. The shift comes because we look at the outcomes in a different way.

So, say that for some reason, your current attempt is unsuccessful. That doesn't mean that you can't try again, or that you can't try something different. It may mean a change of goal ... {My signature line has some value in this context, which is why I use it.} But people have survived bankruptcies, academic failures (it took me a span of twelve years, six of them actively enrolled in classes, to get my four-year bachelor's degree), and professional setbacks. Everyone's life zigzags; my degree is in Biology, my career has been in computers, my dream is to go into social work. There is no all-or-nothing point in life, except maybe the moment of death.

And more important than all of that is that the anxiety itself is working against you. Worrying about what might happen is not making you better prepared to meet the contingencies; it's keeping you awake and on edge and thinking negative thoughts. That's where I distinguish between useful thinking (which helps to plan) and worrying (which just hurts.)

<edit>I thought that I would add that people also survive divorces, which was the dead-end that put my own life into crisis, and which was in fact the best thing that could have happened to me, at least after I had married her in the first place.

In that connection, I would also say that the barrier to change is often the belief that we'll lose our identity if we change. That doesn't happen: we're still ourselves, just different. And given that we often don't change until we're going through hell, usually the change is for the better.</edit>

Edited by malign
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