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Hi Steph,

I’m not sure if you can help or not…every few days I get really overwhelmed and I’m not able to cope. Some days I’m fine but then I get days where my mind is just racing, thinking of everything that’s wrong, with me and my life (and the world sometimes too) and I just get really upset and I can’t handle it. My mam just had a baby in February which is stressing me out but I’ll feel mean if I say anything because she’s so tired all the time. I try to talk to my friends about it but they all have older brothers and sisters so they don’t get it. I used to talk to my cousin but her parents separated so she doesn’t live near me anymore. Mam says I really need to focus on school this year because of the junior cert and I’m already crap at maths so now I get really stressed when I think of school…I’m don’t even know what I’m asking you but I just needed to tell someone…thanks.

 

Hello there! Thank you so much for your email. I really felt for you as I was reading it…it sounds like you have a lot going on and I’m not surprised that you’re feeling overwhelmed. I’m really glad you reached out…

So let’s break down what’s going on for you into separate things – this is a good thing to do because sometimes we see everything together in one big mess and that can overwhelm us for sure:

A new family member

This is pretty major. Having a new baby in the house is going to turn everyone’s world upside down! Your mom is probably not getting much sleep, whatever her usual routine was, is gone, which means your usual routine has probably changed a lot too, and this new little person needs a lot of attention. I’m guessing you’re 14 or 15 because you mentioned the junior cert, so you already have a lot on your plate but you know what, I bet your mom is glad to have you there, and your little baby brother or sister is lucky to have you in their life too. It’s ok to feel stressed by this new little family member. It doesn’t make you mean or jealous. It just means that you’re trying to adjust, the same as anyone else would be. Find a moment when the baby is napping and tell your mom how you’re feeling.

Your friends/cousin

It must be really hard to feel like you can’t relate to your friends in this. And to have lost connection with your cousin because she’s moved house too. (and if you were close to her parents, their separation could be something that’s bothering you too). Not having anyone to talk to can leave us feeling isolated and lost. And if we’re not able to talk to anyone about what’s bothering us, where does all that energy go? It stays inside and it builds up and we get stressed.

School

There is a lot of pressure on 3rd year students – some of that pressure comes from themselves, from teachers, from parents, and from the media and wider society. And if you’re struggling with a subject, it can all get a bit too much.

So we’ve broken things down into separate issues, now let’s look at how to handle them. This is advice that I give to all of my clients no matter what they’re going through – it doesn’t make the problems go away but it certainly helps:

A support network is key – your support network has changed because mom is caring for a new baby, your cousin has moved away, and your friends are in a different place to you right now, but who else might be around you that you can rely on if you’re having a bad day? Think outside the box; neighbours, guidance counsellors, sports coaches, people in the local community, maybe an older brother or sister of a friend, an aunt or uncle, a grandparent. There are lots of people out there who can support you, you just need to find them.

And here are some good habits to keep you on track:

  • Journal – get a little notebook and pen for yourself and get writing. One word a day, or 11 pages a day, it doesn’t matter. It’s more about the practice of giving yourself time to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? What’s on your mind? What happened yesterday? What’s going on tomorrow?
  • Mantra – I want you to think of a mantra, it can be a quote, a song title or lyric, a line from a poem or a novel…something that resonates with you that makes you feel better. Find it, write it down, and repeat it to yourself every day, multiple times a day.
  • Self-Care – What do you enjoy? What are/were your hobbies? What do other people say you’re good at? Write them down, and make time for them. It’s so important that we have time to ourselves to do some of the things we love and/or are good at. It’s really good for our self-esteem, self-belief, self-worth, and inner confidence.

Everyone here at The Shona Project is here to support you and we’re so glad you got in touch. Keep us posted on how you’re doing – you’re an inspiration!