Diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder in High School (Junior year), help w/letting counselors know..?

Hello, all.

I'm currently a junior in high school and have just been diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder (after a suicide attempt). You could call me a bit of a perfectionist. Thing is, it's already March, more than half way through my most important year of high school. The problems associated with my anxiety disorder have been present and hindering since the beginning of the school year. Handing in assignments late, constantly belittling myself, a distracting obsession with the idea of committing suicide, test anxiety, etc. I know I am more than capable. I am intelligent, and give in quality work. It's just that the anxiety's been getting worse and worse as the days pass. The idea of homework and even going to school are becoming scary in themselves, so much so that I've actually missed three weeks.

I don't know what to do, and whether or not to tell my counselor. I want to know how much of a negative impact will this have on my chances of getting into a prestigious college. Should I tell my counselor about these problems? Would my high school be able to accommodate me and my issues (extend due dates, a little extra time for tests, etc)? Would it portray me as incapable/handicapped?

Also, because of my problems, I have been unable to go out and do community service/take on leadership positions. I feel cornered and hopeless. I am supposed to be receiving my medicine, too. Though, the meds will also give me side effects to deal with that may hinder my performance. I love school and know I am very capable. But it's just this irrational fear of not living up to my standards or the standards of my teacher/being incorrect about things that's holding me back. Any suggestions on how to handle these issues, and how to approach my counselor/teachers about the problems, and how to ask them whether they could make accommodations. Would my mother have to be the instigator? How can I get back on my feet after receiving such poor grades and accomplishments due to this illness? I was thinking summer courses, but..

What advice can any of you spare me?

Thank you all in advance! I'd appreciate any help I could get.

If you are this messed up in high school, it would be a terrible mistake to go off to a prestigious school where you don't know anyone, hundreds of miles away from your family and friends. I think it is a mistake to disclose mental illness unless there is no other way. I'm in my late 40's, and in most cases where I disclosed mental illness, I was sorry that I did it. Some universities discriminate against people with mental illness, even though that's illegal. Look at bazelon.org for more on legal issues revolving around education (it's a legal advocacy group for people with mental illnesses)

Sometimes therapists fail to give self help advice, which I think is a travesty, because a lot of it can help right away. For me, antidepressants greatly increased my anxiety and made my mental illness permanently worse, so I have nothing good to say about those. As for benzos like ativan, they can greatly affect memory, which would affect your studies.

YOur junior year is not the be all and end all of your life. I got bipolar very severely at the end of my senior year, and went on to flunk classes off and on, during severe depressions. I still got my math and geology degrees, but it took longer. I got into a great graduate school, then took prozac (which was a brand new drug then) and flipped out and never recovered. BUT notice that in spite of some failing grades in college. . . .I still got into graduate school at a prestigious university for geophysics. Your junior year in high school is a blip in your life!

Generic Practical Depression tips (PRINT THEM OUT):

The library has self-help books on depression.

Many meds cause or worsen depression, including birth control, blood pressure, pain, acne, antipsychotic, anxiety (benzos) or sleeping medications, alcohol, illicit drugs and MANY others.

Hypothyroidism mimics depression . Too little sleep, or sleep disorders like sleep apnea, or interrupted sleep (crying baby, barking dog) can cause depression.

If depression is worse in winter, use a light box (10,000 Lux (light intensity) at about 20” – about $300 online, you don't need full spectrum, Sunray is a good brand). I have extra windows, painted the walls peach & yellow & have a skylight. There's a link to a cheaper lightbox & more info at psycheducation.org.

Try meditation like progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery. See The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne. Free 15 minute guided imagery at healthjourneys.com and many free meditations at youtube.

Go out with friends, & if you don't have any, join a club e.g. hobby club, bowling league & MAKE yourself go. “Isolating” makes depression worse!

Exercise 1/2 hour a day, & anytime you feel depressed or anxious. LOTS OF RESEARCH SUPPORTS THIS as the most effective depression treatment of all.

Insomnia?: Go to bed & get up the same time each day, even weekends. Don't use your bedroom to watch TV, read or use the computer. Don't do stuff that revs you up before bed, like exercising & using the computer. Light from computer screens & TV wakes you up. Blue light is the worst offender – dim the lights and use an old-fashioned incandescent bulb the last hour. Make the bedroom very dark, even cover up the clock. Mask disturbing sounds with a fan or try soundsleeping.com or youtube, etc. Avoid caffeine after noon.

Use comforting scents. I like vanilla & cloves.

Work on time management if you are overwhelmed. Cut back on other responsibilities so you can spend more time with friends & family. Ask for help with chores.

Spend more time with your pet, if you have one.

DON'T listen to sad music! Listen to upbeat stuff- same with movies & novels.

DISTRACT yourself. Read a novel, watch a comedy, go out with friends, play cards or a video game, whatever keeps your mind busy.

Volunteer. Helping others makes you feel better about yourself & you make a difference, too. If you are religious, your religion may help keep you involved in the community.

Put a half-smile on your face. Changing your expression is proven to help change mood.

Try free computerized cognitive behavioral therapy at moodgym.anu.edu.au. Also, if you have an abuse history, it is likely to be a major cause of your depression.