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revising for gcses whilst having mental issues

i have adhd and so i suffer from depression often. i go to a grammar school so the standards are pretty high, and nobody knows about what i go through since i have to keep up this "smart girl" persona as that's how everyone sees me for some reason; but my mocks last december went SO BADLY and it completely shattered my confidence. i already find it hard enough to concentrate and retain large amounts of information as it is. it's even worse when i have to deal with mood swings, executive dysfunction, and all the other mental downsides that come with being me in general. i've never really been able to find good revision techniques because nobody ever factors into my situation- it's all very surface level stuff that never works. and ive tried EVERYTHING- like every revision technique that probably exists. but i just wanted to know if any of you guys have some tips on how you revised during a depressive episode, or how you take care of yourself and just make sure that you feel confident in what you're revising for exams.
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by Anonymous
i have adhd and so i suffer from depression often. i go to a grammar school so the standards are pretty high, and nobody knows about what i go through since i have to keep up this "smart girl" persona as that's how everyone sees me for some reason; but my mocks last december went SO BADLY and it completely shattered my confidence. i already find it hard enough to concentrate and retain large amounts of information as it is. it's even worse when i have to deal with mood swings, executive dysfunction, and all the other mental downsides that come with being me in general. i've never really been able to find good revision techniques because nobody ever factors into my situation- it's all very surface level stuff that never works. and ive tried EVERYTHING- like every revision technique that probably exists. but i just wanted to know if any of you guys have some tips on how you revised during a depressive episode, or how you take care of yourself and just make sure that you feel confident in what you're revising for exams.

Hi there :hugs:

Thanks for sharing how you are feeling, I have a few questions if I may:
1) What would you describe as doing "SO BADLY"? Are you talking grade 1 and 2s? Or did you get a U?
2) Do you have plans for the future? 6th form? Uni? Career? What are you thinking?
3) Compared to the rest of your subjects, tell me more about your English and Maths
Reply 2
well my predicted grades were all 8s and 9s, and i dropped most of them to 6s and 5s, a couple 7s and i even got a 4 in history which actually killed me 💀. i am just not used to doing this badly, and it's hard not to compare myself to literally everyone else who are getting such high grades constantly. i dont know why i put so much effort in but it never shows in my results- it just makes me feel really bad about myself. to a lot of people it might not seem that bad, but with my family dynamic and the pressure that they used to put on my growing up, im not used to "doing badly". like, when i was in year 9- a predicted 7 was BAD. not to mention a 6. now my parents are a bit more lenient, but it's been imbedded in my mind that i have to excel at everything otherwise im a failure. it's a bit ironic because given how my mind works, it seems impossible to be able to excel at everything.

i want to go to sixth form, and then university. the a levels im gonna do hopefully are biology, psychology, and art- since i wanna study neuroscience and psychology (luckily i don't need chemistry since its one course, and in the list of required subjects you need at least two and both bio and psychology are there) at kcl (i really hope).

my english grades are at an 8 at the moment, but i keep stressing that it was go down when i do my actual exams. my time management isn't the best, and it takes me a while to form sentences and be able to think and write to a hig standard in such constricted time conditions (i dont get extra time). my maths is either at a 6 or a 7 right now- i think it's a 6 but i can't remember off the top of my head. i'm really worried that i'll do way worse than i think- since every time i think ive done okay in maths i always end up doing way worse.
Original post by Anonymous
well my predicted grades were all 8s and 9s, and i dropped most of them to 6s and 5s, a couple 7s and i even got a 4 in history which actually killed me 💀. i am just not used to doing this badly, and it's hard not to compare myself to literally everyone else who are getting such high grades constantly. i dont know why i put so much effort in but it never shows in my results- it just makes me feel really bad about myself. to a lot of people it might not seem that bad, but with my family dynamic and the pressure that they used to put on my growing up, im not used to "doing badly". like, when i was in year 9- a predicted 7 was BAD. not to mention a 6. now my parents are a bit more lenient, but it's been imbedded in my mind that i have to excel at everything otherwise im a failure. it's a bit ironic because given how my mind works, it seems impossible to be able to excel at everything.

i want to go to sixth form, and then university. the a levels im gonna do hopefully are biology, psychology, and art- since i wanna study neuroscience and psychology (luckily i don't need chemistry since its one course, and in the list of required subjects you need at least two and both bio and psychology are there) at kcl (i really hope).

my english grades are at an 8 at the moment, but i keep stressing that it was go down when i do my actual exams. my time management isn't the best, and it takes me a while to form sentences and be able to think and write to a hig standard in such constricted time conditions (i dont get extra time). my maths is either at a 6 or a 7 right now- i think it's a 6 but i can't remember off the top of my head. i'm really worried that i'll do way worse than i think- since every time i think ive done okay in maths i always end up doing way worse.

Okay thanks for the extra information. There's a few points that I'm going to make now which might be uncomfortable to read but it is coming from someone who has helped a lot of people with uni and college choices and who knows that health is actually more important than all of this crap.

- You can get a 4 in history, that's fine. Bio, Psych and Art won't need a high grade in GCSE History and unless you wish to attend Oxford no university for psychology will give a damn about your GCSE History grade. So that's one we can put aside for now.

- You are not doing badly. You are not mentally well right now, which means it's:
> an achievement that you are still going to school
> an achievement that you are making it into those mock exam rooms
> an achievement that you are not getting 0
I teach people who would dream of getting a 6 or a 7. The pupils around you in that grammar school may not realise their own privilege - socially or academically.

- Neuro/Psych uni courses will need a pass at English and Maths GCSE. That will be the end to their GCSE requirements. The sixth form will need a decent grade in GCSE Art and Science for you to take art and bio respectively. So you need to prioritise the following:
1. Your own wellbeing
2. Maths GCSE
3. Science GCSEs
4. Art GCSE
5. English GCSE
The reason they are in that order is your amazingly high English grades currently compared to Maths.
The predictions are there to help you prioritise, not to make you panic that that is what you are going to get.

- Any other GCSE subject e.g. French, History, etc. will not influence your future if you continue towards the aspirations you gave me earlier.

More importantly than any of the above. If you make yourself so unwell that you can't take the exams, none of that matters. Spend time outside, open your windows, be at peace with nature, limit your fizzy drinks, SLEEP and SLEEP ROUTINELY - follow strict bed times and waking up times. Protect yourself.
Reply 4
thank you so much for this- it's given me a better outlook on how to go about the exams. having it all broken down does make me feel less overwhelmed about it all so i appreciate it : )
Original post by Anonymous
i have adhd and so i suffer from depression often. i go to a grammar school so the standards are pretty high, and nobody knows about what i go through since i have to keep up this "smart girl" persona as that's how everyone sees me for some reason; but my mocks last december went SO BADLY and it completely shattered my confidence. i already find it hard enough to concentrate and retain large amounts of information as it is. it's even worse when i have to deal with mood swings, executive dysfunction, and all the other mental downsides that come with being me in general. i've never really been able to find good revision techniques because nobody ever factors into my situation- it's all very surface level stuff that never works. and ive tried EVERYTHING- like every revision technique that probably exists. but i just wanted to know if any of you guys have some tips on how you revised during a depressive episode, or how you take care of yourself and just make sure that you feel confident in what you're revising for exams.

heyyy im in the same sort of situation as you, i struggle with depression and anxiety (not diagnosed but ppl closest to me identify my behaviour as that and i identify w a lot of those symptoms and all that lovely stuff) anyway, personally ive been doing seneca but not looking at the information that they give and skipping that and only doing the questions from memory which ive found is good for covering a decent amount of content relatively quickly and it helps the information come back since i dissociate a lot and forget a bunch of stuff lmaooo. i also like to do flashcards on quizlet (usually go onto their gcse section), i take a language so i watch the content id normally watch on youtube but in french (actually really useful bc i learnt a word from doing that which i used in my speaking exam) but id say what helps for me to focus (i dont have adhd btw so mightnt be helpful for u) is to have something to listen to in the background like a youtube video, music, or asmr rooms. hope this helps!! xx
Reply 6
Original post by poloslaiskan
heyyy im in the same sort of situation as you, i struggle with depression and anxiety (not diagnosed but ppl closest to me identify my behaviour as that and i identify w a lot of those symptoms and all that lovely stuff) anyway, personally ive been doing seneca but not looking at the information that they give and skipping that and only doing the questions from memory which ive found is good for covering a decent amount of content relatively quickly and it helps the information come back since i dissociate a lot and forget a bunch of stuff lmaooo. i also like to do flashcards on quizlet (usually go onto their gcse section), i take a language so i watch the content id normally watch on youtube but in french (actually really useful bc i learnt a word from doing that which i used in my speaking exam) but id say what helps for me to focus (i dont have adhd btw so mightnt be helpful for u) is to have something to listen to in the background like a youtube video, music, or asmr rooms. hope this helps!! xx

thank you!! it does help. i always have music on, or something in the background because i would not be able to focus without it 😭, but i have seneca i just don't use it that much. i might start using it more though, because it seems to be working for you and i think it's a pretty good way or going through topics a bit more swiftly before doing practise questions and stuff.

thank u for the advice, and i hope you take care of yourself- dont forget to sleep and drink water!! <3
Original post by Anonymous
thank you!! it does help. i always have music on, or something in the background because i would not be able to focus without it 😭, but i have seneca i just don't use it that much. i might start using it more though, because it seems to be working for you and i think it's a pretty good way or going through topics a bit more swiftly before doing practise questions and stuff.
thank u for the advice, and i hope you take care of yourself- dont forget to sleep and drink water!! <3

thank youu!! and ofc ofcc, i hope you look after yourself too!! <33
Original post by Anonymous
i have adhd and so i suffer from depression often. i go to a grammar school so the standards are pretty high, and nobody knows about what i go through since i have to keep up this "smart girl" persona as that's how everyone sees me for some reason; but my mocks last december went SO BADLY and it completely shattered my confidence. i already find it hard enough to concentrate and retain large amounts of information as it is. it's even worse when i have to deal with mood swings, executive dysfunction, and all the other mental downsides that come with being me in general. i've never really been able to find good revision techniques because nobody ever factors into my situation- it's all very surface level stuff that never works. and ive tried EVERYTHING- like every revision technique that probably exists. but i just wanted to know if any of you guys have some tips on how you revised during a depressive episode, or how you take care of yourself and just make sure that you feel confident in what you're revising for exams.

Plenty of great advice on the thread already.

There is a lot of support out there such as:

-The Samaritans, you can call 116 123, which is available 24 hours a day

-Mind, 0300 123 3393

-Saneline, 0300 304 7000, from 4.30pm-10.30pm

-The mix, 0800 808 4994, 11am-11pm

-SHOUT, text 852258, 24 hour text service

-Crises, 741741, text service

-Papyrus, 0800 068 4141, if you have thoughts of suicide or in emotional distress

-Rethink mental health, 0300 5000 927

-No Panic, 0800 138 8889

-Relate, they have a chat advisor

-Mental Health 24/7: 0800 008 6516

-hubofhope website, useful contact information for your local area

You can self refer yourself to talking therapies on the NHS website.

There is the mind forum

Also Facebook groups

You can join support groups

You can contact a crises team if things get very bad

Plenty of resources online, information regarding well being.
Original post by Anonymous
i have adhd and so i suffer from depression often. i go to a grammar school so the standards are pretty high, and nobody knows about what i go through since i have to keep up this "smart girl" persona as that's how everyone sees me for some reason; but my mocks last december went SO BADLY and it completely shattered my confidence. i already find it hard enough to concentrate and retain large amounts of information as it is. it's even worse when i have to deal with mood swings, executive dysfunction, and all the other mental downsides that come with being me in general. i've never really been able to find good revision techniques because nobody ever factors into my situation- it's all very surface level stuff that never works. and ive tried EVERYTHING- like every revision technique that probably exists. but i just wanted to know if any of you guys have some tips on how you revised during a depressive episode, or how you take care of yourself and just make sure that you feel confident in what you're revising for exams.

Hey Dont you worry. I am diagnosed with ADHD and I myself suffer from sever depression as well as anhedonia(Wich is the loss of feeling pleasure in everyhthing) I think most o f this mental health things started out with immense pressure from my parents for me to do well in school as well as bullying and a failed relationship I became very depressed and emotionally detached. Today I am in year 11 studying for my GCSE and I feel nothing no emotions no pleasure sadness, just emptiness. Sometimes the only thing you can do to take care of yourself so you don't end up like me is to be alone. When you are alone you realize a lot of things at first its sad and you feel lonely but later it gets peaceful as you don't have to deal with people anymore. I am not a confident, I a lways expect the worse but just trying to hang there for my little brother. I currently predicted 9's in almost all subjects , IGCSE CIE, maths, geography and IGCSE EDEXCEL physics etc, I am not a genius just a 'normal' boy. FOCUS on understanding study only 30 minutes a day of pure focus, I prefer deep hyperfocus reading and just quick notes on peice of paper this helped me, then focus on yourself. You will be okay don't worry everything will work out for you you are not a failure you just somone who is struggling you'll be fine.
Original post by Anonymous
i have adhd and so i suffer from depression often. i go to a grammar school so the standards are pretty high, and nobody knows about what i go through since i have to keep up this "smart girl" persona as that's how everyone sees me for some reason; but my mocks last december went SO BADLY and it completely shattered my confidence. i already find it hard enough to concentrate and retain large amounts of information as it is. it's even worse when i have to deal with mood swings, executive dysfunction, and all the other mental downsides that come with being me in general. i've never really been able to find good revision techniques because nobody ever factors into my situation- it's all very surface level stuff that never works. and ive tried EVERYTHING- like every revision technique that probably exists. but i just wanted to know if any of you guys have some tips on how you revised during a depressive episode, or how you take care of yourself and just make sure that you feel confident in what you're revising for exams.

Hi, sorry in advance for the long response, the important parts are in bold.

I went through something similar to you however it was during A levels, I suffered with depression for basically the whole of secondary school, however it became severe and I also developed anxiety at the beginning of sixth form.
Whilst I was revising for A levels what I found helped me to take care of myself were the following.

Starting revision for the day:
I always found beginning revision for the day a struggle and found one thing helpful to deal with this: Going from inactivity to doing revision can seem really difficult so doing another short activity before revising kind of eased me into it: usually I did a 5/10 minute work out or a breathing or mindfulness excercise, but go with whatever works for you.

During revision:
Make sure you take breaks when revising, again there is no one size fits all. I found that if I am feeling quite focused then working in 50 minute chunks with a 10 minute break helped, otherwise if I was feeling more distracted then shorter bursts of working time helped: 20-30 minutes with 5 minute breaks.

Another thing that helped me to manage my time was having one task dedicated to a certain amount of time so for example if I wanted to revise Spanish speaking and wanted to go through the content for one unit I would set a goal of doing that in 20 minutes and set a timer that I can see while I am working, if needed I would add an extra 5 minutes or so. This helps with perfectionism and time blindness especially.

Having realistic expectations of yourself and how much revision to do in a day is really important too, generally it is not a good idea to try and revise for say 9 hours every day, what a reasonable amount of time looks like depends on your schedule and what you want to do but I would definitely say that what helped me was having a time that at every day I would make sure I stopped by (with about 20 minutes leeway).

Revision techniques:
One revision technique that is pretty low effort but really helpful is blurting. So you set a timer for however long, say 5 minutes, choose a topic and write down as much as you can related to it, you can add some analysis/ explanation or even links between certain topics to make it more effective. It doesn’t need to be tidy and you can check your notes after your done for things you missed out and focus your attention on those.

Planning exam questions is really great too, or even planning and writing an intro and first paragraph. Doing that might be helpful if you are not feeling focused enough to write a full response. Or if you want to cover a wider range of questions in less time.

After revision:
Another thing that I found helpful was at the beginning of each week I would plan for each day a relaxing/fun activity to do after finishing my revision for the day such as baking, going out to watch the sunset or anything that you enjoy. Some days I wouldn’t plan anything in advance and would just decide once I finished revising for that day. I always found making time for myself and relaxing really difficult, so when I began to do this I saw a massive difference in my overall mood, motivation and productivity. This is linked to a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy principle called ACE (Achieve, Connect, Enjoy). Acheive meaning school/work etc., Connect: social life and Enjoy: time spent alone, hobbies. Having elements of all 3 in your life is beneficial for wellbeing.

As said before by someone generally looking after your physical wellbeing is important too: sleeping enough, eating three regular meals a day. Though remember that getting yourself to do this may be hard just try your best with it, anything that you can do is enough.

All of the advice I have given may be helpful to you but if you find they are not then you can change things so that they are useful to you or just not use them all together.

Finally I just want to say that going through exams/ school in general whilst dealing with mental health issues is not an easy experience at all. It might feel like your doing badly and its normal to feel that way when you feel like you could be doing better if circumstances were different. Just remember that celebrating the “small” successes is so important, the fact that you are writing something in exams at all is an achievement you should be proud of. Of course I do not know your situation in terms of what help you may be recieving eg. therapy, but if you have not yet considered it, it could be really beneficial to your future wellbeing. If you want more advice in terms of where to get help then I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

You are amazing, and you can do this!
Original post by Anonymous
Hi, sorry in advance for the long response, the important parts are in bold.
I went through something similar to you however it was during A levels, I suffered with depression for basically the whole of secondary school, however it became severe and I also developed anxiety at the beginning of sixth form.
Whilst I was revising for A levels what I found helped me to take care of myself were the following.
Starting revision for the day:
I always found beginning revision for the day a struggle and found one thing helpful to deal with this: Going from inactivity to doing revision can seem really difficult so doing another short activity before revising kind of eased me into it: usually I did a 5/10 minute work out or a breathing or mindfulness excercise, but go with whatever works for you.
During revision:
Make sure you take breaks when revising, again there is no one size fits all. I found that if I am feeling quite focused then working in 50 minute chunks with a 10 minute break helped, otherwise if I was feeling more distracted then shorter bursts of working time helped: 20-30 minutes with 5 minute breaks.
Another thing that helped me to manage my time was having one task dedicated to a certain amount of time so for example if I wanted to revise Spanish speaking and wanted to go through the content for one unit I would set a goal of doing that in 20 minutes and set a timer that I can see while I am working, if needed I would add an extra 5 minutes or so. This helps with perfectionism and time blindness especially.
Having realistic expectations of yourself and how much revision to do in a day is really important too, generally it is not a good idea to try and revise for say 9 hours every day, what a reasonable amount of time looks like depends on your schedule and what you want to do but I would definitely say that what helped me was having a time that at every day I would make sure I stopped by (with about 20 minutes leeway).
Revision techniques:
One revision technique that is pretty low effort but really helpful is blurting. So you set a timer for however long, say 5 minutes, choose a topic and write down as much as you can related to it, you can add some analysis/ explanation or even links between certain topics to make it more effective. It doesn’t need to be tidy and you can check your notes after your done for things you missed out and focus your attention on those.
Planning exam questions is really great too, or even planning and writing an intro and first paragraph. Doing that might be helpful if you are not feeling focused enough to write a full response. Or if you want to cover a wider range of questions in less time.
After revision:
Another thing that I found helpful was at the beginning of each week I would plan for each day a relaxing/fun activity to do after finishing my revision for the day such as baking, going out to watch the sunset or anything that you enjoy. Some days I wouldn’t plan anything in advance and would just decide once I finished revising for that day. I always found making time for myself and relaxing really difficult, so when I began to do this I saw a massive difference in my overall mood, motivation and productivity. This is linked to a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy principle called ACE (Achieve, Connect, Enjoy). Acheive meaning school/work etc., Connect: social life and Enjoy: time spent alone, hobbies. Having elements of all 3 in your life is beneficial for wellbeing.
As said before by someone generally looking after your physical wellbeing is important too: sleeping enough, eating three regular meals a day. Though remember that getting yourself to do this may be hard just try your best with it, anything that you can do is enough.
All of the advice I have given may be helpful to you but if you find they are not then you can change things so that they are useful to you or just not use them all together.
Finally I just want to say that going through exams/ school in general whilst dealing with mental health issues is not an easy experience at all. It might feel like your doing badly and its normal to feel that way when you feel like you could be doing better if circumstances were different. Just remember that celebrating the “small” successes is so important, the fact that you are writing something in exams at all is an achievement you should be proud of. Of course I do not know your situation in terms of what help you may be recieving eg. therapy, but if you have not yet considered it, it could be really beneficial to your future wellbeing. If you want more advice in terms of where to get help then I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
You are amazing, and you can do this!

thank you so much for this!! it really helps- yeah i do have a therapist actually (but nowadays she's been more unhelpful than helpful)- a lot of the things you mentioned i actually am actively trying to do which is good. i'm currently doing gcses right now, and i haven't really been beating myself up as much. i've been feeling pretty peaceful- and short term revision helps a lot more than trying to revise a week in advance because i'm just not able to plan ahead like that 😭. a couple days i was feeling worse than usual, but i was still able to get some revision in so i didn't feel so much like i wasted the whole day. and the planning essay thing is so real- like, i can never be bothered to write it out in full, but planning it really helps me with running through things in my head and understanding exactly what i'm trying to say. so far all my exams have gone strangely really well despite all the stuff i go through- so i'm just hoping i can keep it up for the rest of exam season.

thank u for the advice, i really appreciate it 🫶

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