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Concerned

Question:

I am concerned about my mental well being. I lead a stressful life. I’m in nursing school, my boyfriend is 2500 miles away in the military and 6 months of the year he is in Iraq. My father and I have a horrible relationship, and my mother is addicted to prescription medication. Just trying to explain. Anyway, if put in a situation that I don’t like or if I get upset about something I can feel my pulse quicken and I feel like dropping whatever I’m doing and running. Literally that’s my impulse. I constantly feel unfulfilled and overwhelmed to the point where I can’t make decisions or do anything but cry. I feel irritable and angry. Then, when I react to people I love, I feel horrid. If my boyfriend says something or does something simple that makes me angry I feel this way. Most of the time I say and do nothing. I just get very quiet and listen to loud music or drive my car very fast. These aren’t permanent fixes, nor do I think they are very healthy decisions. I need to know if I’m sick mentally or if there is something I should do. Thanks.

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Answer:

Concerned, you truly are under enormous amounts of stress. No, I do not believe that you are mentally ill based on what you have written here. Nevertheless, it is important that you find ways to reduce the stress that you are under because it is harmful and it is affecting you in negative ways.

First, nursing school is very challenging. I know many people who have been through nursing school and all have told me how stressful it was. Just like medical school for doctors, nurses are being prepared to deal with overwhelming situations. In other words, it is not only the book work and studying that is hard, but the pressure of dealing with situations that is most challenging.

I also know many people whose boy or girl friends are in Iraq and Afghanistan and that, by itself, is very difficult. Most people with a loved one fighting in a war zone feel constant anxiety and constant worry that something terrible might happen.

As the old saying goes, "to add insult to injury" your parents are each problematic. Wow, there is not much relief regardless of where you turn.

That is my point to you, that you need to stop thinking of yourself as "mentally ill" and to start thinking of yourself as coping with too much pressure. So, what can you do?

In the area of doing things, it is important that you learn some pressure or stress busting techniques. For example, meditation, yoga and cardio vascular exercise are very important for you. You can go to our self help section here at Mental Help Net and learn some of those or go to the self help section of any bookstore where you will find lots of material on how to reduce stress.

In addition, get plenty of sleep and eat right. Good nutrition is very important and there is reading material on that, too. Refrain from alcohol and drugs which you may feel tempted to use but they will not reduce stress. Give yourself leisure time where you can enjoy music, relax and even have some FUN. You are in serious need of FUN and LAUGHTER.

Lastly, you may consider psychotherapy for yourself, not because you are "sick," but because you need some emotional support to help you get through. By the way, experiencing some anxiety and depression due to the amount of stress you are under also does not make you "sick" but indicates that psychotherapy could be quite helpful.

Best of Luck

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