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Forums / Welcome and orientation / Just feeling completely lost...

Topic: Just feeling completely lost...

10 posts, 0 answered
  1. Persephone’s whispers
    Persephone’s whispers avatar
    4 posts
    29 June 2021

    Hi, everyone,

    This is my first time posting. I have been thinking about doing it for a few months but keep trying to convince myself I am okay when I'm not.

    I have hit a point in my life where I feel this immense pressure. I started a Masters of Teaching full-time this year and have really struggled with it. I would usually consider myself a strong person, but my mental health has severely deteriorated. I worked really hard this semester despite having two kids, family members with severe mental health issues, and a death in the family last year. I have done quite well in most of my units (a mixture of HDs, Ds, and a credit), except the most recent one, which I failed. It was a major assignment (worth 50%), so now I am unsure whether I will pass the unit overall. This one failure makes me think I have failed the remaining assignment I am yet to get back, and as a consequence, I feel like the last few months have been worthless. I am really doubting continuing with this degree as I just don't know if I can take the mental stress it is causing, or if it's really what I want to do. I also feel pressure from my family to become a teacher and see it through, which adds fuel to this bottomless-seeming depression I currently feel. I thought I was stronger than this, yet it's like my whole world is crumbling down. I have always had an overwhelming fear of failure, so right now, I feel like I have failed, and now it defines me. Thus, I won't ever succeed in life or accomplish my dreams. My primary passion is writing (it has been since I was a kid), but being an author doesn't pay the bills (or at least it's very hard to succeed in it financially). If I could choose right now, I would happily be a writer for the rest of my life, but that just isn't an option right now. It seems dramatic even writing all of this as I am usually a very private person, but this has been building up for a while, and failing this one uni assignment appears to be the straw that broke the camel's back.

    I don't want to feel like this, but it's hard to shake, so I'm just reaching out to see if there is anyone here to chat with or if someone else needs support, too, as I am happy to listen...

  2. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3207 posts
    29 June 2021 in reply to Persephone’s whispers

    Hi Persephone,

    I just saw your post and wish I wasn't having such a busy day today as I would talk longer but I'm just on for a short time but wanted to reply to you - and say welcome, by the way!

    I did two degrees (a BA and D.Phil) as a part time student and it was tough. I had to take a semester off due to illness and that made the degree take even longer to achieve... I had a fried who pulled out of her studies after failing one course, and she was such a gifted, bright, intelligent woman that was a shame and a waste.

    First, you may well pass the other assignment! And even if you don't do so well in this course, or even if you fail, it's not the end of your studies. High passing students are highly regarded by the academic staff and they will not want to lose you.

    It sounds like you have had a lot to deal with the past year and are a bit burnt out? Can you find some ways to soothe or treat yourself, pamper yourself a bit, take some time out? Are there academic counsellors/staff you could talk to?

    If you do want to teach, don't let one course stop you. I'm not sure from what you say if you are happy about being a teacher, but I agree, writing is no way to make a living at least in Australia...

    I'm just wondering if you should wait and see how your other assignment goes.. as a high passing student, nobody is going to worry about maybe one course that you don't pass well in.

    My brother is a very highly placed academic and he has straight HDs except for one Fail by a tutor who didn't like him! He says that F on his record has always annoyed him! He laughs it off now.

    Don't know if I can come back today as I have a dog having surgery at the vet's - but I will come by if I can and others here may be of help to you. Don't give up is what I would advise! Find a way to take some time out for yourself if you can. Good luck!

  3. Sophie_M
    Community Moderator
    • Works for beyondblue moderating these forums
    Sophie_M avatar
    5893 posts
    29 June 2021 in reply to Persephone’s whispers
    Hi Persephone's whispers, 

    Welcome to the forums and thank you for your post today. It must have taken a huge amount of courage to get this all out and we hope you are feeling ok after getting it done. Balancing study and family life is incredibly difficult and adding to that the other stresses you have in your life it is not wonder that you would feel under pressure. We are really sorry to hear that this is happening to you and we hope some of the ideas below can help. We also want to say thank you for posting, someone else who is in a similiar position might see your story and feel like they are less alone in their own struggle. You've done an amazing thing already just by sharing your thoughts.

    We think that it might be time to chat to someone about how you are feeling and we think calling our phoneline is a great place to start. We have put a few options below so you can choose which ever one feels right for you. These lines are great and the people who chat to you can offer practical adivce for when you feel overwhelmed, as well as some ways to plan how to get ongoing support. 

    We also recommend getting in touch with your university to discuss how you are feeling. Study is tough and their will be a student department that can help you manage the workload - especially things as they are right now.

    Beyond Blue - 
    1300 22 4636
    Lifeline 13 11 14

    We also have some great articles for people who are studying and you can find them here

    We want you to know that you are not alone, we are always here if you need us. Please feel free to check back in with this very special community and let us know how you are going. 

    Kind regards, 
    Sophie M
  4. Persephone’s whispers
    Persephone’s whispers avatar
    4 posts
    29 June 2021 in reply to Hanna3

    Hi, Hanna,

    Thank you for your reply. It really means a lot. :-)

    I had already decided to go part-time next semester as yes, I am very burnt out and have ongoing insomnia due to always worrying about how I have gone on my assignments. I have never experienced anxiety like this before, so it has hit me hard, especially since there has been a combination of things that I've had to deal with. Hopefully, I shall find out soon if the HD I got for the other 50% of the unit is enough to get me a passing grade. Then, I suppose I shall reassess things and see if I am still feeling this way...

  5. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3207 posts
    29 June 2021 in reply to Persephone’s whispers

    Hi Persephone,

    Going part time sounds like a good plan! It sounds like you need to ease up on the pressure for a while. I have been learning to play two musical instruments this semester in the town where I live, and it made me so tense I didn't do well with either of them - so I've given up one instrument for now and the relief was amazing! I was always fretting about how much practice I had to do with two instruments at once. You might find that part time gives you the bit of extra space you need.

    Yep my brother is a senior academic and he used to be so cross about that big fat Fail on his otherwise perfect academic record - then he realized it was rather funny really, and it makes a talking point! It certainly didn't affect his academic career in any way - I think whenever people saw it they realised it was a bit odd surrounded by all the HDs etc!

    Do hang around BB if it helps, there are some really nice people here who can give support if you are feeling stressed at all. Uni study is a heap of work and I think it's hard not to get stressed out sometimes... I remember watching one student in the Uni library once go through one Mars bar after another while stressing over an essay question - students really suffer sometimes!!!! Hang in there!

  6. Gabs_
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Gabs_ avatar
    94 posts
    30 June 2021 in reply to Persephone’s whispers

    Hello Persephone’s whispers,

    Reading your story resonated with me... Firstly, I agree with Sophie_M and think you should talk to someone - whether it be one of phonelines or being referred to a psychologist. Having someone who can offer you a different perspective, help you to question and challenge some of those "unhelpful" thoughts, as well as provide you resources and tools would assist.

    I've recently gone through a similar set of circumstances, working full-time, doing my Masters, trying to live up to some image in my head of what I "should" be, or how I "should" be better. And I imagine that you probably have a similar narrative in your head with classic cognitive distortions (all or nothing thinking; catastrophizing; "shoulds"; personalisation). For me, this led to significant burnout in which I was hospitalised and lost cognitive abilities (I couldn't read or write). I'm telling you this, because it was beyond scary, and I wish I had sought help sooner. I allowed the "should" narrative to keep me going long after the fuel tank was empty.

    Additionally, have you thought about reading up on perfectionism? I was only really introduced to the concept when I was in hospital, but I found it was like uncovering a huge part of myself. The perfectionism cycle that keeps fuelling the fear of failure and finding self-worth in achievements is something that I looked at and went "omg - this is me". Similar to you, HD and D's were so important, but I never celebrated them, it was more as an indication that I wasn't a "failure".

    These are some good resources here:

    But, please, talk to someone. I can't stress enough how important it is.

    If you ever want to discuss this a bit more, I'll be here.

  7. Persephone’s whispers
    Persephone’s whispers avatar
    4 posts
    30 June 2021 in reply to Hanna3

    Hi, Hanna,

    Wow. Two musical instruments. That would be a challenge! I have always wanted to learn how to play the cello; however, time is never on my side, so the chances of ever doing it are pretty slim.

    This morning I found out that I passed the unit with a credit average, which is a relief. Going part-time is definitely the right call as even though I have been getting good grades, it hasn't been worth the mental stress. If I am going to be a teacher, I need to enjoy the process, so it is important to ease up on my workload. I forgot to mention this, but I am also working through this degree as I have a small business, so yes, some much-needed pampering will help too. :-)

  8. Pumpkinella
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    Pumpkinella avatar
    98 posts
    30 June 2021 in reply to Persephone’s whispers

    I think its awesome you are prioritising your health. In a competitive world it is so hard to remember what is most important. I'm so glad you are slowing things down with university (sounds like with your level of responsibility this is an absolute requirement rather than a luxury). I don't know of any committed student that didn't suffer during the process of getting their degree. I think it is an indication of the failures of our education system. This is why, far from being a decision that indicates your failure, it is a decision that most people need to make but are too scared of making.

    I also enjoy writing. Journaling has been really helpful because it allows you to write for fun, without pressure, explore some different writing styles and improve my mental health at the same time. Interestingly, the stuff I write in my journals is always of way better quality.

    Questioning your studies is very common. I studied psychology and thought it was all wrong for me like a thousand times. Its because a lot of the fun is replaced by pressure at university. I found a good way of thinking about it: Picture yourself finished and competently working in the role as a teacher and whether that at least brings a smile to your face. I am not of the belief that we are destined to do only one thing in life, we can do a great many things that would give us meaning. However, if you decide to change from teacher to something else - great, moving towards something else is not some failed past decision, its just change. Its all just change.

    Good luck amigo!

  9. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3207 posts
    30 June 2021 in reply to Persephone’s whispers

    Hi Persephone,

    Hooray, a credit is terrific news for you!!!! Go you good thing!

    I just stopped one instrument (harp and acoustic guitar) and the relief was huge - not having to worry about the practice for two instruments at once. So I think the decision to study part time should make a big difference to the stress and pressure you are under. I worked full time during the day and did both my degrees as a night student at Uni, and at times that was four nights/week plus essays on weekends - I couldn't do it now, the pressure was huge!

    When I had to have surgery I spoke to one of my academic advisers about whether I should take the whole semester off. His reply was interesting. I was a high passing student - HDs, Ds - he said a high passing student is always very unhappy to drop down their standards, and to take the time off completely and just take longer to do the course. He said I would not be happy with just Passes. I think he was right - we set a high standard for ourselves and we find it difficult to do less well than that. You sound a bit the same!

    Are you planning on High School teaching or Primary? I think both have challenges. My other brother was a high school teacher but at a selective high school, so he didn't have to worry about class behaviour, as the kids were too keen to do well. He always stayed in the public school system though, because he thought high standard public schooling was so important as a social good.

    I'm so glad you passed OK and can now maybe relax a bit knowing you will be able to study part time and have some relief from all the relentless pressure?

    I don't work any more, the music is for enjoyment - but yes, I set myself too high a goal and have decided I needed a break this next semester! I study at the conservatorium of music in my town. It's fun and challenging! Nothing like starting rather late in life... but it's good to see how many adults are learning music here! It takes some courage to become a beginner again as an adult. I think we are quite brave!

    So glad you got good news!

  10. Persephone’s whispers
    Persephone’s whispers avatar
    4 posts
    1 July 2021 in reply to Gabs_

    Hi, Gabs,

    Sorry I have not replied until now. I had a work deadline. :-/

    I really appreciate your post, and yes, I have read about perfectionism. In fact, one of my lecturers based a tutorial session on it as many students and academics struggle with this. I definitely fall into the perfectionist category, as similar to you, even when I get an HD or D, I am happy for a little while, but then I think about how I could have done even better, or I worry that the assignments I haven't received grades back for yet will only be passes or fails. Often, I fall prey to procrastination, as the fear of failure is so overwhelming. I really need to work on this as it's too negative a mindset to sustain.

    I have had two sessions with a uni counsellor, who was great and offered some good strategies to curb my anxiety; however, overall, I cannot fully relax until I know, for sure, that I haven't failed something. :-(

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