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Beating stress at college: Wanting to end it all to A*A*A*AAA at A-Level (My Story) watch

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    Latest Update (August 2016)
    I've seen many people feeling quite down about results day on here lately so I thought I'd bump this thread. If your results weren't as you hoped, it really isn't the end of the world although I realise it can feel like that. Just try to stay positive, calm and it will all work out. (As an aside, I've finished my first year at Med School. It's been tough but I'm getting through it )


    Hey everyone.

    I have been browsing threads on here lately and have noticed that many people seem to be feeling down and blue at the moment at school/college. For many people, it's because of the immense workload and the pressure of exams while for others, there can be many other things going on.

    To try to work out what we (as in, TSR) can do to help people affected by these issues, I PM'd some of you who have been experiencing difficulties at school/college to see what you think we can do to help. Pretty much everyone who replied thought that it would be useful to talk and ask questions to people who've had similar experiences. I therefore thought that I'd share my own experiences of what happened with me at college, in the hope that it may help those of you who are feeling overwhelmed by it all to gain a sense of hope that you can do it.

    I will warn you in advance that some of what I say may be a bit triggering to some members on here. I will also leave out some details that I don't particularly want to share, for one reason or another. If any of my friends on here read this, you'll know what I have left out and I'd kindly request you all not to reveal that stuff on here.

    Some background stuff...
    If you've known me on here for a long time, you'll know that I stepped down from moderating on here a few months ago (before rejoining a bit later, of course). The Year 13's from last year who know me will recall that one day, I announced all of a sudden that I was leaving TSR. The reason was because of how much my depression had gone out of control to the point where I felt that even moderating an internet forum began to put me down for various reasons. The very first thing I want to do is thank you all for all the kind messages of support you all gave me. I know it's 'just' an internet forum, but your words of support really meant a lot to me.

    I am now a very different person to who you people may remember me as before I had this massive battle. In hindsight, I am still slightly confused as to how I managed to get through that storm and I very much doubt that I'd have managed it if I didn't have the support of loads of people, including plenty of people on here. I won't name the people on here who helped me because I'm scared that I'll end up missing out someone. This is my story...

    Having to look after my family
    Some months before my GCSEs, my Dad had to move away abroad because of changed in his job. This meant that I had to live without my Dad for months at a time and that was quite a shock at first. I also had to do the tasks that my Dad would usually do at home and help look after my younger siblings. Above everything, I missed him!

    Cancer scare!
    A few weeks before I began college is when things got even worse. My Dad had been ill for some time after my GCSEs but I didn't think too much of it then.

    One day though, I remember my Mum coming into my room while I was browsing TSR (:rolleyes:) and gently telling me that my Dad had been diagnosed with cancer. The doctors didn't think my Dad had too much longer left to live. Naturally, given just how close I am to my dad, this had a HUGE impact on me. Even when I started college I just couldn't get my mind off of him. As a result, I was quite behind my work from the beginning and this just caused things to become worse.

    When I got home, I just wanted to spend as much time as possible talking to Dad on Skype (as I said, he was abroad and that made things much harder!). I never wanted to leave him and there were a range of emotions that I was going through...disbelief, anger, frustration, overwhelming sadness...and thinking that the time I had speaking to him was very much limited.

    Long story short, some time later, somehow, miraculously, we got the news that Dad had fought his cancer. He was going to live for some time longer than we thought!

    But the terror didn't end there. My dad was still having to go in for regular tests and scans to make sure he was still OK. Every time he went into hospital, I just couldn't concentrate in lessons. I kept nervously awaiting a text saying that the cancer was back, that he didn't have too much longer left, that things would become very bad once again... Luckily, nothing bad has ever come up since. He still does occasionally go in for checks though, which can be just as frustrating and hard to deal with.

    Death, Stroke and more deaths...
    Not long after the whole cancer incident, things slowly started becoming a bit worse. I was still quite behind my work because of how much the previous incident had affected me. I never told my teachers why I never handed in my homeworks or did the tasks they set either - I was just too scared to approach them and ask them for help.

    A few months before my AS levels started, I got news that one of my very close family members had passed away in our home country. The feeling of loneliness and isolation after that became much worse. We then had to dash off to our home country to meet up with our relatives and pay our tributes. Not only was this a very confusing time, but it also meant that I had to miss even more college so, in a selfish sense, my work was falling further and further behind... This was also the last time I saw my granddad living independently. I still remember so vividly seeing him wave goodbye to us for the last time before he suffered his horrific stroke.

    We got back to the UK and my AS exams were just weeks away. That's when we got the news that my granddad had suffered his stroke. To this day, he lies pretty much paralysed as a result of it and has a lot of trouble recognising us and can't go about his day to day activities anymore. This had just as much of an impact on me as the cancer scare with my dad did. My granddad was the only person who I could trust with all my heart and then suddenly... (Update 02/05/2015: sadly, my granddad passed away a couple of weeks ago. I'm told he passed away peacefully but I'm still trying to come to terms with things )

    To top it all up...I ended up losing even more relatives and cousins. :sad: I have now lost count of the number I have lost in the past year but it was not a fun time. Naturally, my school work was affected VERY badly. A week before my actual M1 Maths Exam, we had a mock in which I missed a grade C by a couple of marks (my target was an A).

    6 A-Levels?!
    After our AS Levels, we had to make the choice as to which subjects we wanted to drop. I decided to continue with all 6. I'm often asked why I decided to do so despite having enough on my plate.

    The simple answer is: I don't know. Doing more than 3 gives you no advantage when applying to uni. I guess the reason why I wanted to do so many was to give myself something to concentrate on rather than focussing on the bereavements and other stuff, something in which I could sort of "escape" into. Whilst it worked to an extent, it also had huge detrimental effects. With the number of subjects and everything else I was doing, I was always very behind my class work and was very stressed about the sheer volume of work I had...not to mention the number of exams I had!

    In hindsight, this did end up stressing me out a bit more and it may have been better for me to drop a couple, for the sake of my mental health. But I can't really say that I regret it.

    UCAS and Universities
    Year 13 started and things only got worse. More family deaths and I needed to write a Personal Statement and send off my UCAS application (I wanted to apply for Medicine). On top of the 6 A-Levels, all the homework, two entry tests to revise for (I was doing the UKCAT and the BMAT, for those of you who are interested), this just made things much worse.

    Waiting for decisions from universities was hell. It was a massive waiting game, I was just checking my emails every single day but never got any news. Then came my BMAT. A few hours before the BMAT, I got news that my granddad was extremely ill and had just suffered a few fits. Needless to say, my mind was elsewhere while I was doing the BMAT and I bombed one of the sections. I applied for two BMAT uni's so I got rejections pre-interview from them not long after. A few months after after, I got rejections (pre-interview again) from my two other choices.

    I was then so incredibly down as a result. I felt like I'd let everyone down...I thought that given all the rubbish that had been happening in our family, maybe I could just try to bring some happiness into it by getting myself into uni...but no, I felt like a massive failure. I thought I was useless, my self-esteem was at an all time low, the workload was getting worse and worse and...that was when I thought life was just not worth living anymore and where I wanted to end it. My family were pretty much gone, I had lost a chance of getting into Medicine that year...but I hung in there.

    Friends...ha
    If one good thing came out of the whole depression incident, it was that it showed me who my true friends were. When I became down, pretty much everyone just left me for whatever reason. It did hurt a lot, especially when I thought "Well when they were down, I never left them or wouldn't have done so like this"...and that just made things even worse! This was not long before my final exams either. I was lonely, was losing my family slowly, was overloaded with work, was down about my rejections...

    But at the same time, I did have some very good friends who never once left my side no matter what happened. You people know who you are, and I thank you all very, very much still for all of it.

    Attendance
    My attendance also started dropping rapidly (it was just above 50% in the end). My form teacher one day wanted to speak to me about it and I just completely broke down in front of him and told him everything. All of my teachers were very, very supportive after that, so I would urge anyone who is feeling down to speak to their form teacher/head of year/some teacher they trust about it - it really helped.

    Exam time
    Now exams weren't too far away and my mood was at an all time low. I had no offers but I was just so determined to make things right and make myself proud in the exams after how much everything had put me down. While it was good to be determined, it also did put slightly more pressure on me to do well.

    So I just knuckled down, wiped all the tears away and just cracked on. It was not easy at all, given how down I was feeling (I was also having counselling at the time to help with my feelings of wanting to end it all, which helped). But I'd always listen to my favourite music while revising, as I found that to always help me cope with everything. I also tried to imagine myself doing well and making everyone proud - thinking positively, I think, was the most important thing as that gave me the sense of belief that I could do it. I thought of all my family I had lost and thought that they'd have wanted me to stay strong. While it wasn't easy, I somehow just put my head down and worked like I'd never worked before.

    Exams came. After pretty much all of my exams, I thought I'd messed up badly. So I came home very upset most days, thinking how once again I'd messed up. Results Day, as far as I was concerned, could wait for as long as it needed to.

    Results Day 2014
    Then came the big day. I went into school, quickly grabbed my envelope without opening it and dashed out so that I didn't bump into any teachers as I was sure that I'd messed them up. I got in the car and opened them. I skimmed through them slowly so that I didn't miss anything. Then, slowly, my heart rate slowed down and I relaxed...I'd somehow managed A*A*A*AAA. For the first time in a long, long time, I felt very proud of myself. Proud of myself for getting through that horrible storm, for managing to overcome it all and get the results I needed to reapply. And above all, I felt a sense of relief that I would have made all my lost family proud had they still been alive. Despite all the hard stuff that happened at college, all the work, all the stress, I had done it!

    How I'm doing now and advice
    Now I am doing much better than I was a few months ago. I think it's quite scary as to how different my feelings are towards things now than they were a few years ago. I have just submitted my UCAS application once again and am currently doing several placements/voluntary work/jobs to pass time.

    If you're feeling overwhelmed at school/college, the best advice I can give you is to talk to someone about it. Your teachers are there to help you and although it sounds scary talking to them, it can actually really help! Also make sure you have time to relax and do other things instead of just study. You don't need to study 24/7 to achieve good grades - it is just as important for you to do other things, get your mind off of it all and just relax.

    It can be frustrating when you have so much work and you just desperately want that solution now. It is important to - as difficult as it is - hang in there and tell yourself that you can do it. Thinking positively is extremely important - you have to believe in yourself. If you can do that, you will win.

    Updates (latest: 30th January 2015)
    - I am pleased to say that I received an unconditional offer for Biomedical Sciences at Sheffield on the 22nd October. Not a Medicine one but still, it was nice getting some good news from a university for a change.

    - I have received my first invite for a Medicine interview at St George's on the 11th November. It's not an offer but I'm very excited as it's the first time I've got good news for Medicine.

    - I have another interview for Medicine! This time at Plymouth. (14th November 2014)

    - I received an interview invite for Medicine at Imperial! Really happy about this. Last time, I was rejected pre-interview by them. (3rd December 2014)

    - I am going to be a doctor!! I received an offer for Medicine at Plymouth today :party2: (16th December 2014)

    - Received an interview invite from Liverpool! This makes 4/4 interviews which I'm very happy with, considering I got none last year! (12th January 2015)

    - Offer for Medicine at Imperial!! I've really wanted to go to Imperial for a long time now and after getting rejected by them pre-interview last year, I was so upset! However, I'm so grateful now for the offer and will probably firm them. Will also probably withdraw my other options too now, maybe that'll help people who're on the waiting list for those Medical Schools to gain a place. (30th January 2015)


    If you want to share your experiences and how you coped, feel free to do so or just drop me a PM. If you want to share it anonymously, PM it to me and I will post on your behalf for you.

    Other people's experiences
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    (Original post by usycool1)
    ...
    Thanks for sharing your story. You've been through quite a lot it would seem . Certainly more than the average A level student has to undergo.
    Particularly impressive are the grades you achieved! It's rather inspiring to the rest of us that you didn't allow your unfortunate experiences to affect your performance too much. It's sad you didn't get any offers the first time but good luck with your applications this time around and hopefully things perk up for you in your gap year and years to come .
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    This is so inspiring, to go through all that you have, and still make it through. Honestly, I relate to this in more ways than one, and I am so happy for you. Hope you make it to med school! (If that's still what you intend to apply to)
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    Inspirational OP, srs
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    Guess you were Brock
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    That's incredible, how much did you revise per night?!
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    I feel so motivated by your story. I'm glad you shared it. What course are you hoping to do?
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    Thank you so much for sharing! This is really what I needed right now as I'm struggling with my A2 workload
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    Wow. Truly inspirational story. Comparing it to my story it just highlights how different people can experience the same raw emotions for a host of different reasons.

    For those interested I will share my story, but it shall have to wait till I'm on the computer so I can do it properly.

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    thanks for sharing your story (: I'm happy for your achievement and glad that you're sharing this inspirational journey to motivate the rest of us!
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    Well done Usy!

    I'm nowhere near brave enough to post my whole story on here, but I have various health conditions which meant that I was actually told not to go back to school in year 13 as I was likely to end up seriously ill again as I had been the term before. Despite this (and probably not very wisely!) I did, and not only that but I kept on with other school 'commitments' that I was too scared to back out of. There were many times I felt like giving up and many times my parents and doctor told me to stop, but I didn't, and I eventually came out with ABC. I am now taking a gap year (so I am possibly vaguely sensible...) and hope to do a couple of resits to improve my grades and will hopefully be well enough to go to university next year.

    Also a big thank you to my friends, family and the couple of teachers who did have some idea of what was going on (my fault again, I was too scared to tell them and most of my friends didn't really have much of a clue either, completely down to me ), I definitely couldn't have done it without them! If anyone wants to know any more details or is going through similar feel free to PM me, I'll try and help if I can :yep:


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    Amazing, you deserve a lot after what you went through
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    And yet some people have literally no obligation or worries outside of school and can't manage to scrape CCC.

    Props to you. Really respect your work ethic in such a difficult time.
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    I can't put what I want to say into words, so I'll simply say:

    Wow.
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    Thank you all ever so much! The comments and messages really mean a lot.

    I'll get back to you all individually as soon as I can (including PM's...I received loads of those but I don't mind!) to answer all your questions. Thank you all very much!
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    Your story is amazing, congratulations!! This has given me so much motivation and hope that you can improve even with crazy things going on in life.

    Just a wee question, when did you properly start revising when your A2's and for how long each night? I'm just curious
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    (Original post by usycool1)
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    :O

    I'm pretty speechless now. You should be VERY proud of yourself Usy. ^_^ I feel really motivated from this now as well. Also, sorry for your loses.

    I'm sure everyone around is so pleased and I hope you are proud of yourself too. Good luck with your applications! Amaze them! :jumphug:

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    I can't tell you how much I respect you for coping with such incredibly difficult circumstances. Your grades are really just the icing on the cake. The real achievement is that, despite everything conspiring against you, you had the strength to keep going and that's something a lot of people can learn from. I'm sure sharing your story is going to help a lot of people Usy.
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    can I just ask what grades you got for your GCSE's and your AS's, if you don't mind...
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    well done mate, you should be really proud of yourself not only for achieving those grades but also for persevering, staying and being so strong.

    i do hope that you get in you chosen university this time round as i think you would make a great doctor. thanks for sharing
 
 
 
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