Dear Barb—The Too Full Plate

Dear Barb:

I am really stressed out and in need of some advice.  I’m a single mom with two boys plus I work full time and take courses at AU.  My mother was just diagnosed with stage four cancer; I am so filled with anxiety that I just don’t know what to do.  I can’t seem to do it all anymore.  Once I get the boys off to school all I want to do is crawl back in bed.  I have a hard time sleeping through the night since mind is constantly racing from one thought to the next.  I’m short tempered with my kids and feel awful about it.  And my boss is not too happy that I have to take time off work to take my mom for her chemo treatments.  Since my dad passed away a few years ago, mom is alone too.  I haven’t had time to start the two courses I’m registered in at AU, so I may end up dropping out.  I can’t even seem to prioritize anything.  Should I withdraw from my courses or take a leave of absence from work? I just don’t know what to do.  My ex takes my kids every other weekend, so I get a bit of a break.  Sorry for my ramblings, but I really just need some direction.  Thanks, Lynn.

Hi Lynn:

Thanks for sharing your story.  I’m so sorry to hear about what you are going through.  From what you are describing it seems you are most likely suffering from either anxiety or depression, or a combination of both.  Once you get in the grips of either of these conditions, they are very difficult to overcome without some intervention.  As things start to build up, you become overwhelmed and often don’t even realize it until you can’t function any longer.  Medication and some type of counseling—either on your own or with a support group—may help you work through this difficult time.  A visit to your family physician is the best place to begin, as they will be able to direct you to the proper facilities or prescribe the necessary medication.  It’s understandable that you can’t prioritize right now, your mind is spinning, and you need to get help to calm this first.  Be aware of some common symptoms of depression and anxiety.  Depression – lack of interest in activities that you previously enjoyed, lack of energy, insomnia, trouble concentrating, increase or decrease in appetite.  Anxiety – excessive worry, difficulty concentrating, sleep disorder, irritability, restlessness.  As you can see they overlap in some areas.  A counsellor would be helpful in diagnosing what treatment is best for you.  Also attached is an online test for depression or anxiety.  Hope this information was helpful.  Best of luck Lynn.

You also may want to try taking a test about online depression or anxiety such as this one:

Email your questions to  Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed.  This column is for entertainment only.  The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.