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Topic: extreme pre-exam stress

16 posts, 0 answered
  1. C74
    C74 avatar
    13 posts
    11 March 2019

    Growing up, I was never one of those diligent kids; you know the type. Those that go around holding massive organised binders with highlighted notes and study timetables... I would show up to class, occasionally listen, and binge study the night before; strangely, I managed to get by until year 11, when my grades began dropping quite extremely.

    This year, I am in year 12, the final grade of school. Afterwards, it's university where my life can truly begin, and I can mostly be independent and free. But before then, there's this hurdle I must cross; the HSC.

    The moment 2019 began, something clicked and I felt this resolve; I must study hard, I must work to get the best results I possibly can. Surely that's great, ambition is key to success and all that, right? Nope.

    I've heard stories of people who've gone overboard, and I've always pushed that aside. People told me that you should always put your health and wellbeing above studying and they're definitely right, as I've learnt much too late. Now I've fallen into a deep dark hole that I can't get out of.

    The start of the year was great; I made sure I slept at 10:30pm, I kept a diary, I made sure most of my homework was done and studied hard over the monthlong summer holidays. Alas, it wasn't enough. <- Result of me being too lax throughout year 11

    Now I'm in the middle of my assessment block, which'll go on until end of next week. We get ranks in these. As a result, I'm finding myself studying until 3-4am, I'm studying on the train, I'm skipping meals to study, I don't take breaks... Incredibly unhealthy. I've been suffering from low blood sugar levels, and now I've fainted twice in public from fatigue, and fell onto hard concrete both times so I've currently sustained injuries on my arms, legs and fingers (making it difficult to write fast). Not long ago, something happened (not going to go into much detail, it's not too relevant) which wasted an hour of my time. I had a completely mental breakdown, and refused to eat dinner, sobbing and panicking in the fear that people may have 'caught up' to me in that one hour. I have a stomach ulcer as a result of skipping meals, and the pain worsens when I'm hungry. Yet despite starving from skipping meals, I felt as if I had to catch up due to that lost hour. Just that one mere hour.

    I have gone from overly lax to excessively stressed. I can't help it, and I don't know what to do. If anyone could leave advice, I would so grateful. I just can't go on like this.

    C74

  2. Summer Rose
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    11 March 2019 in reply to C74

    Hi C74

    I'm no expert, but rather a mum who has supported two teens through VCE. I'm going to tell you what I would tell one of my own kids straigh up: your study habits are not healthy and you must change your behaviour now. You are at risk of burning out, becoming very unhappy and physically and mentally unwell. And it is only March.

    Instead of aiming for quantity of study time aim for quality. Target your effort and don't try to do it all. Simply do your best within reason.

    Get a large calendar for your room and plan your study. Look at your assignments and/or tests and record due dates on the calendar. Consider the weight of each assessment and then work backwards to block off appropriate time for study based on competing priorities. You don't always have to aim for top marks. Sometimes good enough, really is good enough. Be smart about where you give your time.

    Your major study hours should be at the time of day you are most productive. For some people this is early morning, for others evening. As a rule of thumb, aim for an hour before dinner and three hours after dinner.

    Work in 30 minute blocks (short, sharp, focused effort) with your phone off and then take a break. Eat, drink, stretch for your 10 minute break. Then back to the books.

    Every two hours take a half hour break. If you can, get some exercise in here. Try to get to bed by 11 pm.

    Stick to a routine and remind yourself that madly studying for hours on end is not productive. You are actually doing more harm than good. Remind yourself that there is more to life than high marks. There are many ways to get into most uni courses. Instead of trying to keep all doors open, ask yourself if you really need all those doors open.

    If you can't change your thinking on your own then you really need to talk with a professional about this. Your GP or school counsellor would be a good place to start.

    Stop. Breath. Reset. You can get through this.

    Kind thoughts to you

  3. C74
    C74 avatar
    13 posts
    15 March 2019 in reply to Summer Rose

    Hello Summer Rose,

    Thank you for your reply.

    I just wish I could bring myself to organise my time like this. On top of going to school (which is 1 hour away from where I live), I have six tutoring classes per week, all 2 hours each. At LEAST five hours of my time is spent travelling to and from my tutoring, and I'm running out of time to do anything. Nothing's working, I'm working so damn hard and I'm doing worse than I was back when I barely put in any effort, I don't know why. I can't absorb any information, I'm so damn tired.

    Ever since my last post, I've developed a sore throat too. My immune system's gone crazy from lack of sleep and I've been neglecting my health. I've been skipping meals more and more, to the point where my stomach ulcer has worsened. When you have a stomach ulcer, the last thing you want to do is skip meals, since that worsens the pain, but I've been doing just that. I've put in all this dedication to working hard, I want to be a doctor someday, I want my parents to be proud of me.

    They never acknowledge me, they never tell me they're proud. I slave away at my studies, but when I come back from a test not completely satisfied, they tell me off for not working hard. I can't even lie down on my bed for 5 minutes without getting told off. It's not fair, I just want them to be proud of me, I'm putting in all this work and dedication and I'm still failing. It's just so unfair. Some of my friends get by through doing practically nothing, and everything's failing for me.

    Worst thing is, I can't help but punish myself whenever my parents aren't happy with me. I just want them to show that they care about me just an inkling, so I can't help but ignore everything wrong with me (my throat, my stomach ulcer) and worsening it. I just want to see them care about me more than my grades just once. I just want them to stop thinking about my grades, and trust me to do this myself. Please don't say "Your parents will be proud of you and realise they're wrong in the future when you're successful" or "Stop worrying about your parents being proud, do this for yourself" or anything like that. I'm not going to be successful at this rate, my grades are dismal despite working so hard. I am doing everything for myself, but it'd be nice if my parents were proud.

    I can't control the way I think. I'm sorry, I just can't... I just want someone to understand how I'm feeling right now, I just want to be acknowledged :(

    Sorry if I just dampened your day,

    C74

  4. Summer Rose
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    16 March 2019 in reply to C74

    Hi C74

    It was really nice to hear from you again. I want you to know that I hear you and I do understand. I've seen the effects of year 12 pressure first hand. I do get it. I am sitting with you in friendship and support.

    I read your post and I saw a gerbil running on his wheel. Just running and running, until slowing with exhaustion until the inevitable flop.

    You need to get off the wheel, sweet child.

    Your body is talking to you but you're not able to realky listen. You're pushing through, which shows your determination, but I believe this compulsion will eventually bite hard unless you take some action. And I believe you know this too. I am worried about you.

    Would you consider dropping a subject? You don't have to do the full program and this strategy would give you more time and take some pressure off. (My daughter did this to safeguard her mental health and is now studying architecture at uni.) Can you participate in tutoring classes via Skype? Can you attend tutoring fortnightly instead of weekly? Can your parents drive you sometimes, which may be faster than the bus?

    Take yourself off the wheel long enough to think long hard about what is within your power to change that will help you survive this year.

    Your goal of being a doctor is admirable. There are many paths to get there. I know young people who have studied paramedicine, even physiotherapy, and then applied. Others who are in science aiming to transfer. It is not an all all or nothing situation. Life unfolds in mysterious, often unexpected ways.

    Please try to keep the pursuit of marks in perspective. Please listen to your body. Keep talking about how you feel.

    For what it's worth, I am proud of you. You are smart, you are trying and you have the courage to reach out for support. You will get there. My wish for you is that you get there safely.

    Hang in there

  5. C74
    C74 avatar
    13 posts
    29 March 2019 in reply to Summer Rose

    Thank you for being here for me. Unfortunately, something happened and now I'm down in the dumps again :( I'll explain it below...

    For years and years, I had no confidence in myself. I thought no matter how hard i studied, I’d never excel. Recently, this changed and I began studying with all my might. I improved dramatically at my tutor, and my tutors all commented on this and one of them even said that if I continued, a 98 ATAR would be within reach. A 96 is all I need to get into my dream university medicine course to study to become a doctor. A 93.5 is all I need to get into medicine in a respectable university. My parents finally began to believe that I can get into medicine, and pretty much forgot about what used to be my dream to get into engineering (I only told them i wanted to get into engineering because it wasn’t too hard to get into and I pretended I was genuinely interested just because I wanted them to feel like my dreams came true)


    So I threw myself into my studies, i studied during all my breaktimes at school, I started going 16 hours of tutoring per week. That stuff began happening 3 weeks ago. My exams were 2 weeks ago. Obviously, one week of dedication wasn’t enough to compensate for a year of no motivation. I did poorly in one math test, and my mum said I could improve next time, but my dad was mad. And I mean, MAD.

  6. C74
    C74 avatar
    13 posts
    29 March 2019 in reply to Summer Rose
    Today, he told me that he was getting rid of 3 of my tutors (6 hours knocked off my 16 hours) because it was a waste of money since i wasn’t improving. I was visibly upset but he couldn’t stop yelling at me. I was bummed of course. I needed those tutors to help me improve. He told me he didn’t care what ATAR I got anymore, and that he thinks I began studying too late. My mum came in and I asked her if she believed in me, to which she replied yes. So pushed away what my dad said, felt better again, and began studying once more. Just 6 hours less tutoring. I could still make it, I could still get into my dream course.


    But then it went downhill.


    Just then, my dad came over and asked me if I was interested in a nursing course. The same course that my cousin who had absolutely failed the HSC had taken. He said he has no hope in me anymore. He said he didn’t want to spend any more money on any tutoring because there’s no point in spending money on something so hopeless. He told me he was giving up on my future, it was too late to start studying, and that there was no way I could get in. I told him to stop talking, I told him I believed in myself and that I wanted to keep believing in myself. He told me I was wrong to believe in my myself, and at that point I began sobbing uncontrollably. My future is so, so important to me. My school results mean everything to me. How could he say that? I don’t think it’s too late to begin studying, I still have months and months to catch up. My teachers have offered to tutor me in their spare time, I have been working nonstop.


    I feel like I’ve lost everything in just the span of one night. I don’t know what to do anymore, I can’t stop crying because I feel like everything’s over. I’m losing all hope and faith in myself, please… Please help me, I’m so lost…
  7. Summer Rose
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    31 March 2019 in reply to C74

    Hi C74

    I'm so sorry to hear of your father's overreaction to your maths test result. Perhaps your father is dealing with some emotional issues of his own? Don't know. But never-the-less it seems Dad has lost some perspective; one result is not the end of the world. The important thing is that you identify your knowledge gaps and prepare for next time and I think you already know this.

    Please don't let anyone take your dream away from you. It is never wrong to believe in yourself. You must back yourself in life, because as you are learning sometimes life is really tough and you only have yourself. However, I do wish you weren't learning this now in year 12 when you are under such pressure.

    I can assure you that "everything" is not over. Please, dry your tears, practise some deep breathing and be kind to yourself. It's a new day and another chance to try again.

    I would ignore Dad's comments about nursing, particularly as they seemed designed to hurt you and are not rational. Keep focused on your goal. Turn the 6 hour decrease in tutoring time into an advantage. Use your teacher's at school to fill the tutoring gaps, as they have already volunteered to help you, and use the extra time now available to look after yourself. It might be a blessing in disguise. I know I am repeating myself, but it's important that you pace yourself, C74, because you can only push yourself so much until your body and mind will make you stop.

    I really want to encourage you to also try to keep things in perspective. Your ATAR does not define you as a person. There are many pathways into medical school. Your health and wellbeing is much more important than your final high school score will ever be. These are not meaningless words designed to comfort you, these are facts.

    It's likely Dad will calm down with a bit of time and I think you will feel a lot better if you can talk things through with him. Do you want to talk with Dad? Do you think you can talk to Dad without getting upset? Do you think mum can help you with the conversation?

    No pressure to answer but I'm here if you want to talk some more. Kind thoughts to you

  8. quirkywords
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    127 posts
    31 March 2019 in reply to C74

    C74,

    Summer Rose has been very supportive to you and I wont repeat her helpful suggestions.

    was wondering if you have a school counsellor who you can talk to and help you plan your studies.

    I have been a teacher and a student and know the pressure there is in year 12 but also can put it into perspective .

    I hope you can listen to Summer roses's ideas and maybe try her suggestions.

    he trouble is the harder you study and more pressure you feel, it may not help you get the results you want. Most research shows one needs to have a calm approach and a balanced approach to studying that allows time for eating well, exercise and keeping in touch with friends and family.

    If you want keep posting here. I wish you the best.

    I thought most medical degrees now require a first degree in another subject area, so there are options.

    Thanks again for sharing your story which I feel will help others too.

    Quirky

  9. C74
    C74 avatar
    13 posts
    12 April 2019 in reply to Summer Rose

    Hello, it's me again and I officially can't stand life :)

    My reports came back; they weren't good. By that, I mean I got below average for every single subject, besides one in which I got exactly average. My grades were mostly dragged down by last year's results, since the exams I just had did see the tiniest bit of improvement, but my mum is so disappointed in me; she won't even talk to me.

    Not only that, but my friend relations aren't doing so well. I introduced two of my good friends to each other at the start of the year, thinking it would be nice of them to get along. One of those friends used to say pretty mean things about the other behind their back, and the other one wasn't that interested in getting to know the other. I thought they would get along, so I convinced them to give each other a chance, and sure enough, they clicked. Now those exact friends are mad at me because I said I couldn't go to an outing with them, where I had already pre-warned them that I most likely won't be able to come (I wanted use this day as a chance to study at home since I have tutoring everyday of the holidays besides 2 days, and plus my parents did NOT approve of me going, because I have schoolwork to do) so they just went as a pair, which is cool. I was happy for them, but...

    They ignored all my messages asking how the outing was on the group chat, and keep sending pictures telling me they had fun without me, and didn't miss me. They continued conversing with each other as if I don't exist, ignoring me. I told them to at least stop rubbing in the fact that I couldn't come, yet they wouldn't stop. They poured water all over me during school and when I told them to seriously stop, they laughed at me, then proceeded to hardly engage with me in conversation at all. When I first set them up as friends, we'd hang out as a trio. Now it's like I'm being shunned aside (nbd, I have other friends but it's just kind of annoying, y'know?)

    Getting my report back was the last straw.

    I can't go through this HSC year without any support, I can't. I can't think straight anymore, I can't focus on my work. I need encouragement, I need hope. Everyone's giving up on me. I wish I could just close my eyes and have everything around me just disappear into nothingness. I hate that I have to suffer each day over and over again.
    It's like I'm trapped inside a hurricane of disappointment; I can’t get out, and no light can get in.

    I just want someone to tell me everything will be alright.

  10. Summer Rose
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    13 April 2019 in reply to C74

    Hi C74

    I'm still here and I'm not giving up on you.

    You have described your results as "not good" but if I'm understanding you right you are choosing to focus on the signs of improvement. I am also really happy for you to have achieved positive change. Well done.

    I'm sure you understand this (most students do) but I want to remind you that the raw marks matter but at the same time they don't. There is a complicated ranking and scaling system that comes into play to calculate your ATAR.

    If you're planning to study medicine I'm sure you're taking a few sciences and those subjects alone will boost your ATAR. The same is true for a language. Given the tough time you're having, you might also consider a SEAS application to your chosen universities down the track.

    Perhaps it would help to explain this to your parents. You could take mum to talk to someone at the school, if necessary.

    I also want to remind you that there is still time for further improvement. It's not over yet.

    As for your two friends, a very disappointing situation. I would try not to get bogged down in it. Don't give it oxygen. Take the high road and ignore it and see if they come around. Focus on your other friends in the meantime.

    Most of all I want to remind you that you can do this. You are doing it. And every day that passes brings you closer to the completion of your hsc.

    Everybody here on the forum has your back. I care very much and I am always thinking about you and wishing you well.

    Keep hanging in there

  11. C74
    C74 avatar
    13 posts
    19 April 2019 in reply to Summer Rose

    Hello Summer Rose,

    Thank you for your reply. I wish I was writing back to tell you that things are getting better. I wish I was writing to say that everything that was wrong about my life has suddenly made a turn for the better, and that I'm having the time of my life. I'm so sorry for having such a pathetic life.

    Not a single day of my life goes by where I don't cry at least once. I'm just so overwhelmed, I can't think straight anymore. Currently I'm in my school holidays and I've spent every day studying, tutoring, you name it. From the moment I've woken up, until late at night, studying was all you'd see me doing. I just wanted to make my parents proud, but they never even give me a "good job". I can't even please them, I'm not good enough. I'm exhausting myself, I need a break, and no one will allow me to have one. I go on my phone for literally one minute, and my parents yell at me for a whole day. (If they see my phone open for just a second, no matter what I'm doing, they just yell at me, accusing me of spending the whole day on my phone) They abuse me; they hit me to the point where I've gotten panic attacks, yet they'd continue. They refuse to acknowledge that it's abuse, and I'm not even brave enough to tell anyone because I don't want to get them in trouble.

  12. C74
    C74 avatar
    13 posts
    19 April 2019 in reply to C74

    .....ok weirdly enough the 2nd part of that message isn't being posted. I didn't say anything appropriate, so I don't know why. I really don't have time to rewrite it so this is kind of annoying...........

    I guess long story short, I'm fully convinced everyone hates me and I don't know what to do. I'll rewrite it when I have time I guess

  13. Summer Rose
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    20 April 2019 in reply to C74

    Hi C74

    I wrote you a considered response yesterday but it has been held up. I don't know why.

    I still want to communicate the same messages, so I feel at a loss as to how to proceed. I am writing this so that you know I am still here and still supporting you.

    Kind thoughts to you

  14. C74
    C74 avatar
    13 posts
    20 April 2019 in reply to Summer Rose

    Hello Summer Rose,

    You've been my biggest support this year and I really want to thank you.

    Update on my life...

    I just feel as if I'm truly trapped in a maze right now. I'm stuck and I don't know where to go. I'm walking the path my parents are laying out for me, even though it leads to a dead end.

    They're so controlling of my life now; they don't trust me to study hard enough, and it hurts because I know I have been working hard. I've seen a doctor about my chronic headaches, and he seems to believe that it's stress induced. I'm constantly crying every moment I get to myself, and I feel so alone.

    I'm being isolated from everything I once loved; talking to friends, chess, music. My parents monitor all websites I have visited, all my texts from all my apps... they're making sure I don't even click onto any of them. They're threatening to install cameras all over the house to watch me at all times. They confiscate all devices at 10pm because at that point, my mum goes to bed so she won't be able to monitor me anymore (this also affects my schoolwork, as I actually require a laptop to do my work)

    They won't let me do anything except study, study, study. I get scolded for going to the bathroom. I get my pillow and blankets taken from my bed so I'm not permitted to sleep until 10pm, even if my headaches are worsening (Bedtime at 10pm sounds good, but since I get devices taken at 10pm, I have to do all my work that requires a laptop until 10pm, and then leave everything that does not require a laptop until after 10, AKA math, showering, packing my bag... which can take ages). I get woken up at 7-8pm everyday. I thought my previous state was bad for me, and that I was going to get wiped out but now my parents are making it even worse.

    All this exhaustion I'm going through is making my studying really ineffective, and as a result, my improvement is slowing down. My dad made all kinds of threats to me if I don't do well in the HSC. I'm so scared... I can't imagine what'll happen to me if I do badly.

    I've begun travelling to the library to avoid staying at my home all day (my home isn't the best environment, with my parents constantly scolding me) but that takes a whole hour's commute. I'm so lost, I feel like a hopeless case.

    Simply knowing you're somewhere out there, and supporting me is honestly helping me get through this so much. I'm so glad I can open up and have somewhere where I can be vulnerable.

    Hope to talk to you soon

    C74

  15. Summer Rose
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    20 April 2019 in reply to C74

    Hi C74

    I've been thinking about you all day.

    I am really worried about you. I am concerned about your mental health and your safety. You are being put under far too much pressure and I believe you are being abused, both physically and emotionally.

    Nothing is worth the pressure you are being put under. Nothing excuses the abuse and you were so brave to raise the issue.

    I want you to survive this year and reach your goal but I'm now wondering if it would be best to do this living somewhere else. Do you have any other family you could stay with? Perhaps a friend's place?

    I think it's great that you saw the doctor about your headaches. Did you tell the doctor about what's going on at home? If you didn't, how would you feel about making another appointment and telling the doctor about how you are being treated?

    Don't worry about "getting your parents in trouble". Any potential consequences are their responsibility, not yours. At this stage, you have to protect yourself.

    I am here. I care. I believe in you.

    I am sending you a hug and keeping you in my prayers. Please let me know how you are getting on when you have time x

  16. C74
    C74 avatar
    13 posts
    23 April 2019 in reply to Summer Rose

    Hello Summer Rose,

    Thank you so much for your reply.

    Back with another life update:

    I'm just so disgusted with the way my mother handles things. I told her about my dad, about the abusive things he's said and done, and she says I deserve it. It's just so unfair, I've always tried to be the perfect child, eg. I look after my mum when she's sick and she just gets angry at me for getting sick. I buy her birthday presents, even though my parents don't buy me any.

    Now I'm sick to the stomach with what she just did; she was browsing through my phone as she usually does every night, reading all my texts, going on my safari to see what websites I've been on, and she DOBS ON ME TO MY DAD about an ADVERTISEMENT I had accidentally opened earlier today which had something to do with social media. Of course, he came and started threatening me. Why on earth would she dob on me to my abusive dad? Why on earth wouldn't she just talk to me first and ask about the context behind it? I'm ranting to you right now and I'm sorry about that, but I'm just really annoyed... Earlier today, I even gave her my dinner that I had bought, just so she wouldn't have to get up and make anything (she got a stomachache afterwards and started blaming me even though her stomachache was from the spoiled food she ate herself at lunch...).

    I see other kids whose parents keep reminding them that they love them no matter what, and I just can't help but feel so envious. What have I done to deserve this life? I can't even bring myself to be unkind to the people who treat me unkindly... I don't know why, I just can't. No matter how badly anyone treats me, I forgive them way too easily and end up trusting them... that's how I get hurt.

    Anyways, to answer your question about whether I can live elsewhere...I would hate to burden anyone else by living with them, and the rest of my family would either say my dad is right to do what he's doing... I can already tell none of my friends would say yes either. Most of them ignore me even when I'm asking them how to do something during class, even when I had just helped them and the one that would help have parents who'd probably say no.

    I can't talk to my doctor about my home problems also... I've had the same doctor my whole life, and he's good friends with my mum and I. I would hate to ruin that between them... If I take any action against this abuse, my whole family will just hate me for it.

    I can't do it, I'm such a coward, I'm so sorry...

    C74