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I need some help...

School and Bipolar Disorder? How do you do it? Please share your experiences, your victories, and even your disappointmens. We understand how hard it must be from high school to college to grad school. Hope you can share with us and find the support you need.

by reeb » Sun Jul 17, 2016 1:17 am

Exam time can be a very difficult time when you struggle with bipolar. :cry:

The stress of my mock exams has sent me spiralling into a depression, coupled with an increase in panic and anxiety. I have always done well at school, and am currently doing my A Levels. My disorder and medication have affected my memory and ability to retain information, and sometimes I feel like such an idiot.

I have always had low self-esteem when it comes to school, despite achieving good results. So, when it comes to a time of pressure to achieve, I find myself placing massive pressure on myself to achieve high marks, i.e. As and up, and when I do badly in a subject, let's say below a B, I really kick myself and put myself down. It makes me hate myself. :|

I think the reason for this is the fact that I have attended all girls private schools since I was a child, and while I had very little pressure from my parents to achieve highly, being in a competitive environment where one was awarded for academic achievement made me feel compelled to perform to the best of my abilities. I was a high achiever in school, obtaining academic and cultural (I am a musician) honours at my previous school, but I nevertheless continuously felt inadequate, no matter how irrational it was, my anxiety which dominated throughout my childhood and adolescence would make me feel worthless.

Last year, when I was diagnosed with Bipolar Type II and Panic Disorder, I was in my final year of school (called Matric here in South Africa), and due to the obvious extenuating circumstances of being admitted to hospital, being unable to write my preliminary examinations, to then being in a deep depression and only just beginning treatment and hence being unable to write my final examinations as I couldn't stand to imagine not getting the results I wanted (a huge emphasis here is based around how many As you receive in Matric, it is made public by your school, I was a 7 A candidate and if I had written under my circumstances I fear I would have underperformed) I was unable to obtain my matriculation certificate.

I chose to move schools to an all boys private school who offered A Levels (the British school leaving qualification) to both boys and girls, and it is admittedly a lot more challenging than Matric, so my expectations have slightly (but only very, very slightly) lowered, and even so I am putting an immense amount of pressure on myself to achieve. I am needing to do both my AS and A level qualifications, as well as two IGCSE subjects to get matriculation exemption and attend a South African university, so I am pretty much cramming 2 school years into one, which is pretty hectic. My teachers think I can do it, and I think I am too but I need to get over this fear of not doing well so that even if I don't do brilliantly, I can get through and get into university (which shouldn't be a worry as my results should be good enough, but I still have this irrational fear, you know?)

I fit in a lot better at my new school because I have always gotten on better with boys, and there are a surprising amount of people who are "older" doing A Levels (I am 19, a year older than the people who finish school this year) and there are some people who are 20 turning 21, and tons my age and a year older, so I don't feel too old or anything because I thought I might. I also have a lovely boyfriend who goes to my school (he is in Matric and a year younger than me) which has helped me a lot. He deals with my illness so well, treats me with such respect, sensitivity and kindness, and after being in two (yes, TWO) highly emotionally abusive relationships this is really incredible for me. I just don't want to fall to pieces because of school like last year, even though I am fundamentally WAY more stable than I was a year ago.

I also find I contradict myself, because I am SO desperate to do well, but often lack any motivation to work because I get so anxious and so depressed and so overwhelmed that I tell myself subconsciously "you're not god enough, why bother". :(

Does anyone have any advice to share? I am writing mocks at the moment, and write my final examinations in October/November.
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by OceanBlue » Sun Jul 17, 2016 11:36 am

I dropped out of school last year and am returning next month, so my advice would all be theoretical, but I did gain insights on how to do school better in light of my dx. Hopefully someone better suited would also chime in.

Exams can be extremely stressful. I would take healthy amount of breaks as you are doing your work now. I could have sleepless nights of doing work as I would feel brilliant, until I eventually crash & just lay in bed for days/weeks. Or I would first lay in bed for days/weeks, until I need to stay up for days to make up for it, which makes things even worst. So finding a good pace would be important. Oh I would also limit my energy to focus on what is necessary to do at the moment so I'm not all over the place. (Just my opinions of course).

Hope your writings go well!
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by clare_hart » Sun Jul 17, 2016 4:16 pm

Low self-esteem, fear of failure, panic attacks, bloody anticipation, butterflies in the stomach, hyperventilation, chest pain . . .

I could go on. Unfortunately for my first college attempt, not knowing wtf was wrong with me, I would start each session all wired up and ready to go, then I'd crash before the end. Skip exams & projects, withdraw, get failing grades. Dropped out of a great school. Then one year I found out I was BP, not just plain frightened by it all. Back to college and straight A's (highest grade for a class in the US) - well, how do ya like that?! :o

You'll do great! Believe me. You've got what it takes. Go ahead, be depressed, panic, but get your butt to the exams. Let us know, OK? :mrgreen:
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