Anxiety returning due to stress of college

Posted , 6 users are following.

Hi all,

I have had a history of anxiety and depression, my last bout lasting about 7 months and it was a tough road. Through counselling and CBT, I started to feel positive and pro active again and felt a pep in my step.

I started college last week, as a mature student of 30 and the reading lists and assignments were given out. The course im studying has very few contact hours, but it requires a lot of preperation and home studying.

Perhaps i underestimated this as it caused me into a state of shock and fear. But instead of dealing with the stress, i let it overwhelm me and i walked about the college campus in a kind of in a state of depersonalisation. I then saw a student who i used to teach years ago and the initial shock of her seeing me back in college as a fresher, made me feel so humiliated and feeble. I honestly was in a panic about even talking to her as in my head i was a different person when i taught her to what she might see me as now. I know she is not in the same course as me, but our paths may cross and this petrifies me. Is this surreal or strange to anyone else or is this a problem with my own ego or confidence?

Anyways since that shock of workload, it has created a self doubt about if i can personally start this course. I can't believe that after just a couple of days i have already had a panic attack (my last one being over 3 months ago and anxiety had completely left too in this time).

Are panic attacks going to be a constant in my life if i continue college? I was fine in the months before starting and now having them triggered makes me want to quit. Even thinking ahead of the workload makes me dizzy and wanting to give up.

I know if i quit i'll regret it and i'll let a lot of people down, who will be disappointed with me (the worst feeling in the world for me).

I just can't seem to get my head right to deal with stress. I have worked with counsellors and extensive CBT, but when some new challenge comes to face me, i allow it to consume me. I really hate this feeling and have been in a constant state of panic since these incidents yesterday. I don't know what to do as i feel so removed from the idea of college (something i was excited to start and begin the challenge of).

Any help or words of advice would be hugely appreciative. I just feel so stuck at the moment in this mindset and its really hard to get out of. I haven't slept much and i feel like i'm slipping back into my state of constant anxiety, which i worked so hard to get out of.



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7 Replies

  • Posted

    Surely there is a Counsellor at the college to whom you can speak?

    Or perhaps a senior tutor who you respect?

    Your other option is to see a doctor, which you may have to do anyway, even if you talk it through with the Counsellor.

    Let us know how you get on, please. We would like to help you. More people will post messages soon.

    Love Tess xx

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    • Posted

      Hi Tess,

      Thanks so much for your response. It was very kind hearted and appreciated smile

      I had a really rough day and i'm just allowing that for myself. Not every day is going to be easy and i know this.

      I am lucky that i have a sister who has done the course (some years ago) and is a very understanding person. She talked me down from my bad stage and made me realise what is causing my anxiety.

      I still feel on edge and tentative, but i'm trying to get back to the small steps and take each one as they come.

      ?Thanks for your support, i'll be sure to keep in touch smile

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  • Posted


    First of all we are in life to learn, we have doubts we all need to address and clarify.

    When it comes to this lady being in your class when you were teaching this can mean nothing as you may be coming from a higher level as far as your ducation is concerned. Even when the possibility that She has overtaken you in course content She has most probably spent longer studying in a continuose way and have overtaken you because you have been working at that time.So understandably the situation you both find yourself in can be very different.

    When I was at Collage in the sixties I was taking a complex course of Science, Tecnology and Physics, I was also taking electronics that included Radio and Radio for our Merchant Navy.

    The couse was terribly intense and most of the classes covered some very complex subjects. I did not have the level of basic education and I, like you was worried and concerned at my level of course understanding. I have my first nervous breakdown and had to pass over the course and go back to a telecommunications engineer, I was in the wrong job fro the beginning as my understanding of Science was still well behind others in that field.

    To shorten my situation I worked in that position for thirty years and was retired on health grounds.

    What I am trying to say is, if you are unhappy now and you are looking at the course as onerouse you need to ask yourself some important questions on your future needs and position, there is no easy way out of this and you need to make the right decision to give you satisfaction in your future activities.

    Be brave and consider the right choice and not what others may advise, only you can do that.

    Remember medications for AD can effect your concentration and memory. They will most probably effect your learning in a complex field

    We are always around to chat, good luck


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    • Posted

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks so much for your insight. It is great to hear from someone with years of experience.

      I think i am unhappy as i had a negative reaction to feeling overwhelmed. I need to allow myself to feel overwhelmed without reacting i think.

      This is something that i want to do and i want to achieve. Or at least give it my best shot.

      The way i feel is going to bring bigger hurdles for me, i realise that. But i will keep trying my best to get to a place of comfort and also to visualise how enjoyable the course might also be!

      But if at some point, the stress and feelings are too much, then at least i can look back and say that i did my best at trying it out. Thats what i am trying to focus on now.

      The fight or flight of anxiety, does send me into overdrive. The de-realisation and de-personalisation is a tough thing to endure, but i know that i can actively try to make the changes myself, or at least ask others to guide and help me.

      Thanks again for your response. I hope you have a great week Bob smile

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  • Posted

    I had this in 93 starting uni. I quit after a month cos of the overwhelming feelings of both trying to make friends and pressure of doing seminars . I couldn't handle the anxiety of this prospect.

    Dunno just didn't feel right.

    I understand about the former student but you are allowed to go back to college to study and u can tell her how this will help u to the next step.

    Take it day at a time.

    I wish I had stuck at the course and tackled it. It was a test for me and I ran the other way.

    You can do it.

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    • Posted

      Hi Phil,

      You understand it, thats so assuring. All i want to do is run the other way, which is so frustrating as i was being so positive about it all and had started off really great.

      I guess with the anxiety, it creates a feeling of a strange world. Like the world has shifted a little and now its a totally different place, making the prospect of college now this ultimately scary place.

      But what you have said has given me motivation to battle it. I completed a year of an access course (through worse anxiety), and whilst it was really tough and debilitating at times, i was glad i finished it.

      I just keep hoping for a quick fix, but you're right, one day at a time and go from there. I have one orientation today and after that, it might not seem so scary again. Fingers crossed.

      Thank you.


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  • Posted

    Did you finish the semester? How did it go? Did you end up enrolling in any classes this semester? Very little is overwhelming if you take it one day at a time. If you have set backs, don't let them stop you. Wait, breathe and try again. Find your passions and pursue them. I love reading. I like teaching. I struggle with anxiety. But, my passion for literature helps me forget about my fears and creates a connection between me and my students. I paint poorly but painting brings me joy and helps me relax.

    Today I am a 57 year old high school teacher. Anxiety has been part of my life since high school but the most difficult years were my 20's; Panic attacks.

    In my 30's I connected with an excellent young adults group at a local church where I was comfortable being myself. It supplied me with safe social interaction. I retuned to college in my late 20's and got my certification to teach English. Meeting one good friend really helped. Gave me someone to talk to about the classes and eat with.

    I also needed to set clearer boundaries for myself and to be kinder to myself. Fight for myself. Like myself. Imperfections and all. I found that most people appreciate my honesty; if you tell people you get anxious, they are okay with that. Most people worry about a million things.

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