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How to cope with Anxiety?

Community Member

Hi, I'm Dan and I'm 16 years old.

For as long as I can remember, my mum has been horrible towards me. She doesn't like me, she picks on me, she yells at me for literally no reason and blames me for everything. Basically, I cannot say anything around her (good or bad) without getting a negative reaction. I think she has depression and she sometimes admits it to try and get sympathy but when we encourage her to get help she says she's fine. My younger brother has autism and it has always been hard living with that. Up until about 7 or 8 weeks ago I had been fine. I had thought about seeing a counsellor but decided against it because I was coping well. Doing fairly well in school and in sport, and enjoying life. However I got sick and had to have an extended period of time off school. We were finally able to find part of the problem, but we think another part of my sickness was me having anxiety. I have always been kind of a perfectionist, and have worked hard at school. Its in my personality to worry a lot and be constantly thinking and I have tended to get nervous often in the past but have been able to keep myself calm. I think any anxiety I have, got a lot worse during the 6 or so weeks I was away from school as I had to stay home, with my awful mother, abusing me all the time. Sometimes I randomly get nasty headaches and even become dizzy. These can last anywhere between 60 seconds to all day. I get extremely sore stomachs, sometimes my whole abdomen area and again, that can be very up and down and come when I'm least expecting it. Also, over the last 3 days, I've felt at times my chest tightening up, my heart beating harder (I could really feel it pumping in my chest) and having a feeling in my throat as if I have to vomit. Sometimes I can be sitting there and not feel stressed out, not feel nervous or anxious about anything, yet I will still experience these pains. I'm not sure if any of them have been panic or anxiety attacks, its not as if I have fainted or anything like that. I am struggling to get back to school, I have been for 2 periods at a time for 3 days last week but even that is hard. Apart from my mum, and my brother and the problems I have to deal with there, school is always stressful as I'm in year 11 and I have missed a lot of school so catching up is going to be very hard. I am booked in to see a counsellor this Friday and have also told my year coordinator at school that I need to see the school counsellor, and I believe that I will be able to. Is there anything I can do in the meantime to help? I am considering using these "rescue pastills" that my younger sister uses as she gets nervous about catching the bus. For anyone that may not know, they are similar to a lolly and you chew them. Apparently they calm you down and have worked in my sister's opinion, but I wouldn't want to become dependent on them. Does anyone have any advice on this or other things to take or treatments to have to help? Any help is much appreciated and I thank you so much if you have read all of this!

19 Replies 19

Community Member

Hey Dan,

Thank you for sharing your story with us... You are an amazing young man who has enormous courage to seek help and advice not only for yourself but also for your family.  There is a whole lot going on with you right now and I know it must be very difficult to get your head around... YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Mum loves you... I know that may seem hard to believe at times, but she does despite her perceived negativity towards you.  Sometimes we lash out at the ones closest to us not to hurt them necessarily but simply because they are physically present.  I think it is great that you have suggested to Mum that she seeks a professional to explore whether there is depression, anxiety or some other mental health issue that may explain her behaviour.  Dan, you need to pursue this further... Are there other family members or friends of your Mum that could influence her to seek professional help?

It is never easy when you are forced to take an extended period of time off school...You sound like you enjoy school and have worked hard - YOU SHOULD BE PROUD OF YOUR EFFORTS & ACHIEVEMENTS!  I am a perfectionist myself so I fully understand what that's like but given your circumstances, don't be too hard on yourself!  I know that Yr 11 is an important year but remember that getting better is just as important.  Everyone experiences anxiety in some form throughout life... the symptoms you have described are not out of the ordinary for someone who is under stress or experiencing anxiety... The school counsellor may be able to provide you with some advice on different techniques that you can use just to relax particularly when you feel these symptoms coming on.  He/she will also be a great support for you as you return to school.  Remember to just be as open & honest with the counsellor regarding what you're thinking and feeling because they're there to support you and help get you back on deck & feel in control again.  Friends at school, trusted teacher/s or coaches can also be part of your support network...don't be afraid to let them in because they too care about you.


Cheers BB13

Community Member

anxiety is in your mind. Rescue pastells are a form of homeopathy, and much like a placebo they will work if you believe they work.

I strongly suggest going to the cinema ASAP. There is a film by M. Night Shyamalan and Will Smith called After Earth. The central concept of the film is about controlling anxieties. In the film there is a beautiful quote:

"Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present, and may not ever, exist. That is near insanity, Kitai. Now do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real; But fear is a choice."

From the way you describe her, your mother represents a clear and present danger. Fear of a threat is not anxiety, it is danger, and abuse. Talk to your school counsellor, and record the conversation. Tell them everything and show them your post above, at the very least!! If they do nothing, take the recording to the police or child protective services. Ask your counsellor to help you with this. If they refuse they are in breach of several laws.

We are here to help you. If you run into ANY problem, come to us or call any of the numbers below:

New South Wales

Department of Family & Community Services

Tel. 132 111


Department of Human Services

Tel. 131 278 (after hours emergency)


Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services

Tel. (07) 3235 9999 or 1800 177 135 (after hours and weekends)

Western Australia

Department for Child Protection

Tel. 1800 622 258
a/h: (08) 9223 1111 or 1800 199 008

South Australia

Department for Education and Child Development

Tel. 131 478 


Department of Health and Human Services

Tel. 1300 737 639

Australian Capital Territory

Community Services Directorate 

Tel. 1300 556 729

Northern Territory 

Office of Children and Families

Tel. 1800 700 250

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

Police: 131 444

In a life threatening emergency, call 000. Do NOT hesitate!!!

Community Member

Thanks both of you for reading and your responses! I will definitely try to act upon the suggestions you've given and keep everything you've said in mind. Thanks!

Community Member

Dear Dan,

Did anyone at school ever suggest splitting yr 12 over 2 years ?   My depressed son did this and the stress reduced considerably.   The only drawback being that friends move on (job / college / State member of Parliament / etc) and you don't get much social unless it's on the internet.   But it's a way to cope better.

Legally, you have up to 5 years to complete HSC.

You're doing well to cope with mum and an autistic brother whilst going through the HSC.   This is probably  a more valuable experience in life that any exam can offer.  Your skills for tolerance are pretty amazing for one so young. Add girls, sex interest, peer pressure and all your physical discomfort in the equation and I'm slightly amazed at the leisured pace of your post.   

Today's Wed so you might read this update by Thur - a day before the School Counsellor session on Fri.  Do yourself a big favour and write down a couple of important things you want to discuss and take that to the school counsellor.  That way if you get anxious talking about your anxiety you will have something to fall back on (apart from all the contact details that helpful Facetious has given you).

Being a perfectionist is great for creating art and music and spending 10,000 hrs, like Edison did, working on Electricity and where to put all those packed sandwiches his wife did for him with cheese and tuna in them.   Your anxiety might give you a pain in the stomach but unless you find a way to capitalise on these feelings and strive for the best result for yourself you will find it hard to be truly successful and therefore, in true Aussie mocking, be a brilliant pain in the neck.

You are your choices [Satre].   There's another 70 years to embrace.

Adios, David.

Thanks for that David! I didn't actually know you had 5 years to do the HSC and I will definitely keep in mind the possibility of splitting it if the need arises. I've still got next term before my HSC officially starts. And I'll keep the rest of your advice in mind too, you're very helpful, thanks!

Dear Dan,

That 2 year split had a particular name and I tried asking my son to check it out but he is depressed at the moment and not 100%.   Look, even if you split 4 main subjects into 2 a year it's gonna give you some brain space.  Your Year Co-ordinator only has to fill in a form and explain it to your parents.   If you get into trouble try and make a comprehensive decision.  If you don't get into trouble then try dating Mary Anne instead of Sabrina.   Have a laugh my man.  Be crazy.

Let's go into the future and place you as 25 yrs old, married to Taylor Swift and you've just won a contract to handle the Branson Mars Day Trip programme.  Do you really think your HSC mark will matter at that stage ?   That anyone will say "mmm, Dan,  I see you only got 92.5% on the ATAR instead of the required 92.8%".  Off with your head.   Cos, the long term perspective on life will greatly reduce you anxiety.  Even if being married to Taylor Swift won't.

Adios, David.

PS   You should be fine as you have the balls to communicate.  Try not to get caught up in the importance of HSC.    You want to do well but you want to enjoy your life too.   Tell your parent the BB advice is to let yourself get drunk at least ONCE before the big exam.   This was my college professors advice when I was studying music at London University back in 81-84.    Enter the dinosaur..........the point is you need some balance.  All work and no play means Jack is a Tax Accountant.  You are very, very young.  Don't lose that energy on worry.

Community Member

Hi Dan

you described what sound like panic/anxiety attacks to me and the stomach upsets can definitely be related to anxiety as well. I struggled for many years with stomach upsets and it was not until I got help for my anxiety that they settled down too. It is great that you are so proactive about seeing the school counsellor and another counsellor too, this will help you a lot. 

Good luck and do let us know how you get on 🙂

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

dear Facetious, great post with all this information.

I wonder whether all of this could be put under 'get support', well done for all of your trouble. Geoff.

Community Member

G'day Geoff,

Once again I am pleasantly surprised by how caring, encouraging, and appreciative some certain individuals can be in a place like this. I am extremely unfamiliar with being the recipient of such attention, and I'm feeling guilty for accepting it. I worry that I don't deserve such praise. The people in my life all have such high standards, and frequently tell me I'm letting them down, hurting them, disappointing them. 

I'm not worthy.

I hate writing stuff like this, because I know it's not true. The perspective is completely irrational, purely emotional. The two sides are in conflict, and are generating tension between wanting to express how badly people have hurt me, but not wanting to hurt them in the process.

I don't know how ....