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Anxiety, responsibilities and excuses?

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So I'm a college student with severe anxiety disorder undergoing a pretty difficult time this semester. I knew from past experiences that for me, I need plenty of sleep and some chill time to prevent me from relapse, and I thought I was balancing it pretty well. I have disability accommodations with flexible homework deadlines and was relying heavily on that to go by.


However, increasingly, I feel like all these things I thought I did just to make sure I stay mentally sane seem like an excuse to avoid responsibilities. Yes homework is stressful and my grades are just passable; I'm enrolled in a very competitive program at a top 20 university in the U.S., and there are multiple deadlines for every course every week. Yet I feel like I exploited the advantages given to me. I feel like I could probably finish more work on time, get better grades if I study more, but I'm just using my anxiety to falsely justify my needs, and using the accommodations as a safety net for my procrastination and irresponsibility.


Also sometimes I feel like I exaggerate my conditions just to get people's attention and kindness, but I feel like I'm somewhat guilt tripping them and making them feel bad. And sometimes I wish I'm in a worse mental state so I can avoid all these responsibilities piling up on me because I can attribute my inability to my anxiety but not myself.  And now these things are stressing me out and causing me anxiety :/


How do you know if you're crossing the line between maintaining your mental health and taking advantages of the kindness and forgiveness of others?  Is it common for someone recovering to wish/show like they don't want to get better? Anyone comments appreciated.


*sorry for my English it's not my first language 

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Your English is perfect, nothing to apologize for.


I see that you list having PTSD in addition to anxiety and depression.  Trauma can prompt some pretty serious guilt issues.  If you have a tdoc (there's probably one available for free at your school), it might be worth mentioning to that person what you're feeling.  They may have some additional insights beyond what you can get here.  In addition, if you're having too much breakthrough anxiety, your pdoc should probably know in case the meds aren't doing what they should for you.


I will say that trauma or not, guilt goes hand in hand with anxiety.  If you're anxious about other things in the world, it's understandable that you'd also be anxious about what people think of you or your own true intentions or behavior, and worrying that it isn't good enough.


I have sometimes found it helpful to get a reality check from people I believe will be honest with me by straight up asking them if they feel put-upon or like I ask for too much.  Usually they'll say no and give examples from their own lives of times they needed someone to have patience with them.  Sometimes, they'll point out that I probably could do more, and that gives me motivation to push through the anxiety and do it.


Going to a top-20 university is difficult for lots of people who don't struggle with anxiety and for whom English is not a second language.  You're doing something very difficult that a lot of people can't do, just by being there.  So do give yourself some credit!  Plus, you're doing what you know to be helpful to your mental health based on your past experience.  That is very wise and proactive.  I wasn't nearly that aware of self care when I was in college, and had some extremely painful experiences because of it.


Still, if you want to accomplish more, it can help to set small, achievable, incremental goals, reward yourself if you succeed, promise not to punish yourself if you don't, write things down to make them more concrete - these are just some ideas, ones I've used when I felt like I wasn't doing things I really ought because of anxiety.  You may have learned some other strategies that help.


Just do know that those accommodations that you have are in place because they are reasonable.  It's okay to use them!  They aren't designed to make you lazy, they're designed to make things more fair for you. 


I hope things go well for you this semester. 

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Thank you revolution! Your post makes me feel so much better already. I agree with everything you say and I will keep it in mind. It's easy to lose track of things and keep everything in perspective when things become chaotic so thank you so much for the positive reinforcement!! 


I guess things are getting better a little by little.I talked to a friend last night who had similar issues and felt better after that.  And I'm trying to work on good working habits as you mentioned making to do lists. Just started going to academic counselling for that, so hopefully it will improve in the long run. Talked to my tdoc today and I find what she said comforting. Because of some childhood/teenage drama I didn't really had a teenage - all I did was just surviving, and there were no other options. And now I'm slightly better I'm terrified at the things that I can do and the responsibilities that are perhaps normal to an average young adult since I didn't get a transition period in high school. Perhaps that is what you called as a breakthrough anxiety? Can't actually find much literature on google.


I actually just talked to the disability resources director yesterday and asked whether I can get more flexible accommodations (since homework in general is stressing me out but the material itself is not hard) and it seems unlike although he said he will try his best. He saw that I was constantly anxious and actually suggested me to look into transferring to another school that has a course structure more suitable to my needs :/ while it is definitely an option, I'm still a bit bummed :( still hanging in there though. 


Thanks! Wish the best to you too

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I had testing accommodations so I had longer time and I took tests at disability services in a private space without distractions. I didn't get accommodations until part way through college and the difference in my grades is dramatic. I worked just as hard, but I was much more successful with some help. It's the same for you. 


The best I can say is to remember that you were given these accommodations for a reason and it is not somehow cheating to use them (is it cheating to wear glasses so I can see the board?). Also, there are limits on the flexibility you're given - that's one way to think about what you can probably do. Almost certainly you can do your work within those lines. I say almost because we all get overwhelmed with schoolwork sometimes! The goal is to be not overwhelmed all of the time, or, given your school likely has very high standards/expectations, shoot for not substantially more overwhelmed than your classmates. :)





Edited to un-ramble.

Edited by Geek
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  • 3 weeks later...

I know this an older post but I just wanted to reply; being a student myself and receiving support, I can understand your feelings. I often also feel the same way. Just want to reassure you that you have ever right to access these supports.

There are people in the world who unfortunately play these systems but you are not one of them. The guilt is horrible, please try to remind yourself that you deserve this. You should be proud of yourself for doing as much as you are. While we are feeling guilty for not doing the same as our peers, there are people who are much better off, doing nothing. Also, I find most people are quite impressed with me studying even part time with support because a lot of people with mental illness don't do these kinds of things. That's no judgement on them, but a reminder that you are doing really well with what you have.

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