The Student Room Group

Final Assignments & Anxiety

Hi,

First of all, I apologise if I've posted this in the wrong place. I'm still new here and don't really know where this would fit, but I really just need to let off some steam about my current situation.

I'm a final year student and like most degrees, one of the final assignments of my course is a dissertation. I study Criminology, so my dissertation is a research project on any topic of choice (As long as it relates to the subject). I chose to do a desk-based narrative literature review on homophobic hate crime and the police response to it.

Originally, I was supposed to hand my dissertation in in May. However, around this time (I'd say at the start of this year) I started to experience a lot of mental issues such as lack of sleep, deteriorated memory, brain fog and more recently frequent bouts of panic. At first, I thought this was because of stress and that I'd manage to work through it, but by the start of May things got so bad that I physically could not do anything. Whenever I tried to work on my project, I found myself in a state of panic, feeling like I couldn't breathe, my heart was racing, I was burning up, sweating, etc. It got to the point where I couldn't even eat without feeling the need to throw up.

I should note that up until this point, I have never seen my GP for mental health issues because I'd never experienced anything as severe as this until then. I ended up calling my parents (I lived in accommodation on my own) who came to take me home the next day. I never told them about my issues because they tend to worry a lot about me already (They didn't want me to go and live on my own and I had to convince them a lot) and I didn't want to worry them even more.

Anyway, I contacted my university and asked them what I could do in relation to deadline extensions, because I knew there was no way I'd be getting the dissertation completed on time and even if I somehow did, I would definitely fail. I was told that my best hope was to contact my GP and obtain a letter with a diagnosis. So, the day after I went home, I was able to book an emergency appointment with my GP who after hearing my symptoms and doing a brief check-up, suggested that I may have anxiety and/or depression. I ended up doing a blood test the same day and was recommended to a mental health specialist nurse. I was also given a letter by my GP containing my diagnosis which I then submitted to the university who approved and gave me an extension up until August.

I thought that this would be beneficial and I'd be able to get the project done and to a reasonable standard. However, I feel like my mental health has gotten even worse now and I just can't get anything done. I've tried to break things down and do a little bit each day but even that sends me into panic mode and I end up pushing everything away. Also, I feel like nothing I've written so far makes any sense, and I feel like the method I've chosen for my project isn't suitable (I'm doing a desk-based narrative literature review and very late into the process I've realised that there isn't much literature for me to actually review) and it's far too late to change it now. I've been in contact with my supervisor regularly but he can only help me so much, everytime I ask for feedback on things I've done, he keeps telling me that it sounds good but the voice in my head keeps telling me that everything I'm doing is wrong and that I'm going to fail.

I have this overwhelming fear of failure. I've never failed an assignment before - I've done fairly well (In my opinion) and tend to score around the 69-75 range on my assignments. I keep telling myself that I'm overthinking and that everything will be ok and that I'll pass but nothing seems to work. I actually went and saw the nurse I was referred to today and she believes that my mental health has worsened a lot since the last time we met (Which was two weeks ago) and so she advised that I try an anti-depressant, which I am due to start tomorrow but I don't know when the effects of this will kick in and worry that it'll be too late before I can finish my dissertation. I really don't want to resit this assignment, I lost interest in my course in my second year and was considering dropping out altogether. I didn't in the end because I thought that I only had one year left and with my grades, I'd be able to achieve a 1st or 2:1. It's hard to believe I went from that mindset to now thinking I'm going to fail or praying that I just pass.

I want to get this done but my head just isn't allowing me and it absolutely sucks. On top of the project, I have another essay due which I also had to defer for the same reasons, and I haven't even started it yet. It's just become too much for me and I just can't see any good outcome to this at all. I honestly have no idea why I'm posting this on here... I guess it's because I don't really have anyone in real life who understands my situation right now. I spoke to a friend of mine today who's on the same course and she told me to not worry and that the dissertation was actually 'really easy' (She got a 1st and she started writing her's exactly a month before the deadline) and although I felt slightly better after hearing that, my fears of failure and panic that I'm doing everything wrong took over again.

I'm sorry for the long post, but if you made it to the end then thank you for hearing me out..
It's clear that you are in a difficult place right now and making any kind of decision is not going to be easy.
Given that you do have till August for the resubs, I'm wondering if you might take a step back to do a proper audit of what work you have already done in order to then create a timetable/strategy for completing the outstanding work.
This would mean reviewing the work done for each chapter of your dissertation and the sections of the essay, and would cover things like have you done the reading, what sections are already drafted etc.
Once you have done that, you will be in a better position to assess if it's realistic to go for submission.
Your fallback position is not submitting but to keep the marks uncapped you will have to resubmit an EC application for each assignment, so compiling the necessay paper trail should be a priority, as well as seeing your GP etc as well.
My feeling is that you shouldn't give up on the resits at this stage but you need to take some time out to get an overview of the situation. Can you find someone to work through this with, who and take notes and help you create an accurate snapshot of the current state of essay and dissertation? Doesn't have to be someone from the uni, just someone you trust.
Original post by cheadle
It's clear that you are in a difficult place right now and making any kind of decision is not going to be easy.
Given that you do have till August for the resubs, I'm wondering if you might take a step back to do a proper audit of what work you have already done in order to then create a timetable/strategy for completing the outstanding work.
This would mean reviewing the work done for each chapter of your dissertation and the sections of the essay, and would cover things like have you done the reading, what sections are already drafted etc.
Once you have done that, you will be in a better position to assess if it's realistic to go for submission.
Your fallback position is not submitting but to keep the marks uncapped you will have to resubmit an EC application for each assignment, so compiling the necessay paper trail should be a priority, as well as seeing your GP etc as well.
My feeling is that you shouldn't give up on the resits at this stage but you need to take some time out to get an overview of the situation. Can you find someone to work through this with, who and take notes and help you create an accurate snapshot of the current state of essay and dissertation? Doesn't have to be someone from the uni, just someone you trust.

Hi,

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and for responding, I really appreciate it. I'm aware that I still have about a month and a half until the deadline but unfortunately my dissertation is very incomplete (I haven't even hit half the word count, I have tried as hard as I could but my head really isn't letting me do anything) and it's so flawed I just can't see how I can fix it within this time frame. Also, my mental health has made it impossible for me to work on either of my assignments without starting to panic. My GP recommended mindfulness techniques and although these work to some extent, my anxiety comes back shortly after. I'm beginning to seriously consider suspending my studies and retaking my final year. I'm not sure how it works at my university so I've arranged for a telephone appointment with the Wellbeing Service to explore my options (This was what was advised on the university website). I'm hoping I could retake the second semester only as I passed the first semester with good marks but I'm not sure if that's possible. I also have to think about Student Finance...
I'm hearing you. It certainly sounds like you have a pretty good understanding of your situation and are realistic about what your options are. If you can get this sorted out soon, then you will be able to park the whole university thing for the time being and concentrate on your mental well-being. I totally get your point about mindfulness - I personally don't think it works for people with moderate to high anxiety, or at least not until some stability has been attained.
If both essay and dissertation belong to semester 2, then that keeps things neatly compartmentalised. You could return next January / February and resume study. Finances aside, the key thing to make sure of is that your marks will be uncapped.
Obviously, take advice within your university and make sure that everything is watertight.
Good luck with that call to well being - hope you get it sorted - and come back here if you want to run anything by us.
Update: After a phone call with the Welfare Service, I was advised against suspending my studies and resuming in the second semester of next year because I've already gotten a good grade on one of my modules for the second semester (76.5) and if I were to resit the semester then I'd have to resit that module too. Instead, I was told that I could apply for further mitigating circumstances and if approved, my university will consider me a non-attending student and I'd be able to hand in my assignments at a later date (December/January was the estimate I was given). The person I talked to was very understanding of my situation and said that he'll talk to my course department and get back to me next week. I'm a little nervous because I've already applied for mitigating circumstances already and had it approved and I don't know if I'd get it approved a second time round... the only evidence I can provide is another letter from my GP which was also what I provided the first time (Although this time I may be able to get a letter from the mental health specialist nurse I was referred to).
Well, that was worth checking out and it clarifies the local rules & regs at your university.
You may be presenting the same MCs but the paperwork will be updated.
An additional letter from your GP and, if possible, one from your mental health nurse, should be enough.
What the paperwork needs to do is capture the ongoing nature of your mental health condition and updated letters will do that.
You can also include appointment letters and, if you are taking any medication, a copy of your prescription.
Hey, I'm currently going through a very similar situation at the moment, but am just trying to apply for that first mitigation. My uni say they can only give me 2 weeks or I defer it until August (5 months later) when I think I'd just really want a mid point in that (like May/June) so I can still graduate this summer. How did your dissertation end up going?

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