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    giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged."
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I have been having more and more thoughts about suicide...they (thoughts) just seem to creep up on me...I start thinking about how and when I will do it...I just feel like my life is stuck in this rut and just when i think I've hit the bottom of the pit and can start climbing back up something else happens...I have just been dealing with so much hard stuff...then I feel guilty b/c I know my life is better than a lot of peoples and I get sick of feeling guilty...I don't know it's like a never ending circle...I started my senior year of high school last week and even though it's supposed to be like a great year I am already feeling stressed b/c I'm president of three clubs and a member or two more and then theres work and now I'm a big sister with big brother/big sister's of America and I'm in a band and on a county leadership board and I take piano lessons and try to pull off somewhat of a social life (yeah right). not to mention trying to fill out three college applications before october...anyway suicide just seems like my only escape from my life...thanks for listening to my rambling!!
Kelsey (kels)
 

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Hey Kelsey,

Have you considered reducing your involvement in these activities, which will reduce your stress level considerably? We tend to think that the more we give the more we will be fulfilled and that is true to a certain extent, but when you "pass the line", you end up burning out and not being able to give at all. What do you NEED to do? What do you WANT to do? What can take a rest?

The stage you are at right now is incredibly overwhelming. Please don't feel like you're the only person that feels this way. The last year of high school is tough - you have the pressures of applying for college, doing well academically, having a social life, and perhaps balancing a part time job. Add to that the fact that your friends may go separate ways...to different colleges...who wouldn't feel overwhelmed?

It probably doesn't help for me to tell you that what you're feeling is not uncommon to people your age. You have alot of pressures that only a superhuman could handle without blinking an eye.

Take some time each day to put things in perspective. Set aside an hour of "me time" every day. That's your time to think, read, write, have a pity party....whatever you need to calm down and be able to stay focused.

Consider meeting with your school counsellor. Again, what you're experiencing is not uncommon and they can help you prioritize your life and help you to regain some control when it feels like the world is spinning around you.

And remember - it's short term. You have one year left. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel.

Take care.
 

Daniel

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...I am already feeling stressed b/c I'm president of three clubs and a member or two more and then theres work and now I'm a big sister with big brother/big sister's of America and I'm in a band and on a county leadership board and I take piano lessons and try to pull off somewhat of a social life (yeah right).

Depression, stress, or a worsening of one's existing depression or stress is often a wake up call that changes need to be made. I would agree that you need to quit some of the activities mentioned above. Most people take life too seriously in the first place. Personally, I was glad to quit piano lessons and summer band practice during my high school years.

Also, a high school academic record may be pretty much established by the end of the junior year, and the second term of the senior year may not be factored by many colleges.
 
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I know that reducing the amount of activites I'm involved with would be helpfull, but I know this sounds dumb but if I'm not involved in enough things so that I'm maxed out I feel like I'm being lazy or that I'm being a failure...It doesn't help that my mom has told me that I'm lazy and told me that getting a B is failure to her...my therapist also suggested that I take an hour for me time but where would I find an hour...It's 10:15pm now and I just got home from youth group and band practice and I have to do at least an hours worth of homework...I got home from school and 2:35 but had to leave at 3:00 for an interview that lasted till 4:45...I got home at five fifteen then I ate dinner and left for youth group at 6:15...I also don't know how to say no and I could never tell a group that I couldn't participate anymore....plus even though I don't need to money my mom says that I have to work two nights a week plus saturdays...then on sundays I clean offices....i guess i always think of suicide b/c i see that as my only way out of all my obligations...anyway thanks for the advice
 

Daniel

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I know that reducing the amount of activites I'm involved with would be helpfull, but I know this sounds dumb but if I'm not involved in enough things so that I'm maxed out I feel like I'm being lazy or that I'm being a failure...

After you quit some of the activities, you will still have enough on your plate and may still feel busy. One hour of free time a day isn't much free time for a high school student. Many college students, for example, have at least several hours of free time a day.

As your therapist may have said, if you continue to live at this same level of frenzied activity, you may crash and burn, i.e. have a temporary mental breakdown which may keep you from doing anything after school for a while. (The concept of "crash and burn" or "burning out" reminds me of the more dramatic Japanase term "karoushi," which means sudden death by overworking. A similar concept is "American mania.")

It doesn't help that my mom has told me that I'm lazy and told me that getting a B is failure to her...plus even though I don't need to money my mom says that I have to work two nights a week plus saturdays...then on sundays I clean offices

You may want to have a therapy session that includes your mother. Doing so may be a more direct, effective approach than just getting advice in therapy about dealing with your mother's expectations.
 

comfortzone

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Hi Kels,

You are one busy person! The question I have for you is there anything you are attempting to avoid by keeping so busy? After reading and then re-reading your post I wondered about the possibility of avoidance of some issue. Bring these issues up to your therapist...possible avoidance, responsibility (and responsibility for who or what). Please keep us posted.
Take care,
 

ThatLady

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Kels, hon, you're overloaded. This comes from a Type A personality who is always overloaded, so I know what I'm talking about. You MUST reduce your involvement in all these activities and take some time for yourself. You ARE NOT a failure. You're a good person, working hard to achieve...too hard, it appears.

Get yourself some counselling, and include your mom as comfortzone has suggested. Get out of some of these obligations. Your mother cannot know what's going on inside you, or how her words are affecting you unless you make it clear to her that you're drowning, hon. As your therapist said, you need "me" time. We all do. Thing is, we have to take it for ourselves.
 

Daniel

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In a much earlier thread about a high school student's depression and stress resulting from overachievement, the book The Hurried Child by David Elkind was mentioned:

Today's parents think of their kids as Superkids, so competent and so mature that they need adults very little. Why? Because parents, who are building careers, blending families, or struggling as single parents, have no time for child rearing. Having a competent Superkid relieves these parents of guilt, but it places too much stress on the children themselves.

The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon - Amazon

Another book with similar points is The Myth of Maturity by Terri Apter:

Psychologist Apter (The Confident Child) argues that we've been hanging on to an idea that's all wrong that when children finish high school or college and land a job, they instantly become autonomous, responsible adults. This "myth of maturity," insists Apter, is harming our kids. These "thresholders" (ages 18-24) appear to function as adults (whether in a job or in school), but in reality they are often in turmoil, depressed, and overwhelmed by life. Apter claims that though parents have been taught that they should end support (emotional, financial, and practical) so that their children can be independent and self-reliant, this is the wrong approach. Each chapter addresses a theme (job stress, finances, college, emotions) with stories of thresholders Apter has interviewed followed by her advice to both parents and thresholders on how to deal with the situation. Myth shatters many common notions we've held for several decades, e.g., it links eating disorders to separation anxiety and lays to rest the idea that the 18-24s are confident, happy, and sexually active beings.

The Myth of Maturity: What Teenagers Need from Parents to Become Adults - Amazon
 
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ThatLady:thank you so much for your reply. thank you for your suggestions and reminding me that having an hour of me time does not mean that I am a failure..

Daniel:thank you for your post w/ the links and book suggestions...i'm going to try to read at least one... if I can find time :) thank you also for your earlier post....I appreciate it very much!
 

Daniel

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BTW, there's no need, IMHO, to get a book about this stuff since the web has a lot of info about stressed out, overscheduled students. Also, one can sometimes get enough from a book from just from reading Amazon reviews and excerpts and using Amazon's "search inside" feature.

Anyway, regarding overachievement, one of the best points I have read is that sometimes doing less and having more fun amounts to achieving more in the long run:

Pressure vs. Success

Backing away from over-heated schedules doesn't merely save time, money, and your sanity. They truly are not worth the emotional or physical effort. Remember the parable of the tortoise vs. the hare? I've heard hundreds of bright, charming, "successful" and gifted high school seniors describe being burned out, disenchanted, discouraged, and so cynical about "having to do everything, and do it better and sooner than anyone else, just so I can jam myself down the throat of some college—it just makes me want to hurl." (Jake, age 17)

The Underside of Overachievement - AOL Homework Help
What do these stressed-out students think they're going to get out of this?

Quote from my book from a 10th grader: 'People don't go to school to learn. They go to get good grades, which brings them to college, which brings them the high paying job, which brings them to happiness, so they think.' Students honestly believe that the better the college they go to - the better off they will be in life. This is a misconception that needs to be debunked. We have studies that show that you can go to over 100 different schools -- some folks say over 200 -- and get an excellent education and have very little variation in income 20 years later from graduates of Ivy league universities. I want students and families to believe that college is not a "trophy" and that they need to find the best match between school and student as opposed to go to the place with the most prestigious reputation.

Q and A with Denise Clark Pope
The Myths of High Performance

Hard work is overrated. Superstars know when to stop working at
their job and start playing at it. In my research and work with
clients, I have discovered that too much practice will turn you into
a classic case of the "over-motivated underachiever."

...Look around at the hordes of Ivy League alumni populating middle
management throughout corporate America. Then count the college
dropouts who have invented the world's most creative projects or are
running the most innovative companies.

Overachievement by John Eliot, PhD
 

ThatLady

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You're welcome, hon. I feel your pain, so to speak. ;)

Please keep us posted on how you're getting along.
 
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Wow...will I ever get out of this cycle...this weekend I'm on a youth retreat with my youth group and I was like "finally some time to relax"....wrong....I went up last night and then I got a phone call from my work and they were like "you have to come in and work"...they said that of course I don't have to because I had asked off, but they "highly suggested" that I come in...so today I left from the retreat campsite, went to work, and now I came home to shower, and head back up there....what was I thinking....why can't I say no???....how do I say no to people??
 

comfortzone

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Kels,

I think there are times when we keep ourselves so active or busy so that we can maintain the distractions in our life. These distractions can prevent us from facing issues in our lives that appear overwhelming or scary. But when we load up with a large number of responsibilities we focus our attention on the completion of our "obligations" and sooner or later the issues keep growing until we have to face them. What we are talking about here is a faulty coping strategy, which does not work for prolonged periods of time. I believe people do things for a reason even when they might not even like what they are doing because they are getting some reinforcement for it.

With regards to being unable to say "no" can be related to your perception of what others might think of you if you don't do what they want from you. It is a healthy boundary to say "no." It takes practice and patience with yourself.

I hope you are able to have time for yourself. I would write down the words that best fit your definitions of yourself...and do so with compassion and gentleness...you might find who you are is more than what you had originally believed. It is hard to be all things to all people. I use the analogy of flying in an airplane and the flight attendants tell you that in the case of a drop in cabin pressure and the oxygen mask drops in front of you...to place your mask on first before aiding anyone else...so you don't pass out before getting your own mask on. Life is similar in that we have to be able to take care of ourselves before caring for others. Think about these things and look at what it might be like for you to be less active...how would that change your perception of your definitions. How do you think others would look at you if you were not doing so much.

Best wishes,
 

Daniel

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Quitting work altogether may be an option, too, depending on your preferences regarding which activities to quit.


comfortzone said:
Life is similar in that we have to be able to take care of ourselves before caring for others. Think about these things and look at what it might be like for you to be less active...how would that change your perception of your definitions. How do you think others would look at you if you were not doing so much.
These are great points, esp. during the high school/college years when the need for affirmation or approval from others often causes people to do things that aren't best for them. Oprah, the billionaire saint of daytime TV, refers to the inability to say "No" to others as "the disease to please:"

Oprah: ...Many times, I would get myself into situations as an adult where I didn't want to say "No" because I didn't want to hurt anybody's feelings. I didn't want to say "No" because I didn't want anybody angry with me. I didn't want to say "No" because I didn't want people to think I'm not nice. And that, to me, has been the greatest lesson of my life: to recognize that I am solely responsible for it, and not trying to please other people, and not living my life to please other people, but doing what my heart says all the time. That's the biggest lesson for me.

...Most all the mistakes I've made in my life, I've made because I was trying to please other people.

Interview with Oprah Winfrey - Academy of Achievement
 
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Last night I got to a point where I finally didn't have a choice about changing my stress level. I had a nervous breakdown last night and was taken to the E.R....because of talking w/ me, my mom, and my therapist they decided not to hold me. They did make me make a plan on how to reduce stress in my life. Today I went to work (one of my biggest stressors) and am now changing jobs to a new A LOT less stressful job. Tomorrow I am meeting with my guidance couselor at school to work on my schedule. Although it's hard for me to think about last night because of how horrible the experience was, I think that some good will come out of it. I just hope that I can stay strong and not have another break down. Thanks for listening
 

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It's too bad it took so long to get you to this point, Kels, but this IS a positive step for you.
 

ThatLady

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I'm so sorry you had to suffer, Kels. However, it sound as though you've made a breakthrough and can begin to get your house in order, so to speak. That, despite the difficulty with which it was reached, is a milestone! :)
 

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