I need to get documentation for issues that have been significantly impacting my studies. I would like that documentation to reflect an appropriate diagnosis and helpful help. What's the best way of accomplishing these two goals?
I'm a mature student with past issues with anxiety that have resurfaced. For one course, I turned a paper in a week late, which brought down the final grade down to a level that will assuredly put the kybosh on my long-term plans. (Did not disclose previously diagnosed anxiety to this professor, hoping I could rise to the occasion. That and, honestly, she seemed like a tough one and I just didn’t feel comfortable.)
Work for another course remains outstanding, after extensions. I obviously did disclose to this (amazingly supportive) professor, but have not communicated with her over the past month (idiot, fool, it's true), because I have been waiting until I produced some damn thing I could show her to demonstrate that I have not been abusing her patience. That is not happening, because I’ve gone right off the wagon / rails / road / whatever travel metaphor is appropriate and am in full-on ostrich mode. (When I am not in ostrich mode, I am in panic or anxiety mode.)
I saw my GP for help in the spring. She cracked open the DSM, found a diagnosis and offered the top-line recommended script inside of five minutes. I did not agree with this diagnosis, and quite frankly, I do not want to go through the trial and error of SSRIs again. (Or if I did think about it, I would want past symptoms and experiences to be taken into account when choosing the meds, not just whatever the algorithm spits out. I tried to broach this; she shrugged and said, “well you’ve got x, and drug y is for x”.)
In the end, for the purposes of the form, she was amenable to putting it all down to GAD (which came from a past provider and was in my files). She didn’t insist I take the prescription (but strongly recommended I should) and facilitated a treatment plan, which was 5 sessions with an NP that veered to general life issues and blarghy conversation, and away from the issues at hand.
These are: perfectionism; anxiety and panic that is pretty much solely focused on writing; and issues with organization and focus that, on the face of it, to me, look a bit like ADHD. I kick butt at taking tests or exams under timed conditions (including ones that involve writing). I struggle to the point of incapacitation with prioritizing and synthesizing research, and with organizing my writing. I would like to reiterate that I only experience panic symptoms when it comes to writing (which is why I felt my GP’s diagnosis of “panic disorder” was inappropriate).
Those five sessions with the NP are what was available from our system; further help would be limited to group CBT sessions oriented around general help for anxiety and depression. I do not feel those would necessarily help with my particular issues.
As far as the courses go -- I did get extensions for the one course, based upon documentation arising from the above, but I haven’t registered with the disabilities office. To do that, I would need to provide a diagnosis and evidence of a treatment plan. I would like a valid diagnosis and a treatment plan that will work. I get that I have to tick the boxes, but I also need real help. Finding appropriate help on the timelines required to support my studies is going to be a bear, I am pretty sure.
How should I be approaching this? Should I be looking for a new GP? Asking for a referral (she doesn’t much like doing this either)? Try my chances with a walk-in doctor? I have some money but not enough for a full neuropsychological assessment. As mentioned, I’m cagey about meds and would only go with this if I felt they were chosen with care, and there were at least ‘good’ communication with the provider. My batting average with providers is so far 2/8 -- the good ones (different time/place) were great; the others not so much. Honestly, I’m a little cagey about this too.
My self-esteem is good (I like who I am and can talk to people etc.); I don’t feel hopeless (except I’m terrified I’m ruining my life); I have friends (although I haven’t seen most of them in four months because I’ve put myself on lockdown to wrestle with these damn papers). I have particular issues that largely manifest in the context of my studies.
Advice from mental health care providers, students who have been through something like this, or academics or university staff is very much welcome. I would be grateful if people who do not have first-hand experience in these capacities, or whose comments would amount to “suck it up, stop fooling around and get a job”, perhaps refrain from sharing thoughts this time. I want to do what I can to salvage this degree, at least.