How to Manage Being Overwhelmed?

Kitty’s overwhelmed with all of the things in life she has to do – hard classes, work, and family issues.


Dawson: Kitty feels overwhelmed. Have you ever felt overwhelmed? Well, that's how Kitty feels right now. Why are you overwhelmed Kitty?

Kitty: I just have so many things to do, and we just started a new semester, and these are my harder classes. Then my sister is bipolar, and she was diagnosed when I was in fifth grade and that's just another thing to sort of fall apart. I didn't know what to do with myself. My parents weren't there, they were never really there to begin with, but with my sister's diagnosis – they're constantly worrying about her. And I don't go to my parents for homework help, they don't really drive me anywhere, because they’re constantly working. There's just so much to do.

Dawson: Do you work?

Kitty: Yeah. I work for my parents on Friday and Saturday.

Dawson: Do you have time for your friends?

Kitty: Sometimes, last semester, I never really had homework because it was my easier classes. So, I would just go to their house after school, but now it’s just a lot harder


Dawson: Something's got to give. The simple thing to do is make a list of all the things you're doing and then prioritize them, which one's most important – first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth - all the way to how many, 10, whatever.

Then under the theory something's got to give, we take the least important off the board and the next least important off the board until you finally get down to where you're only doing what's managing.

Kitty: I always put my schoolwork first.

Dawson: I'm glad, we're not taking away from your schoolwork. I'm just saying that's a project you can do. Go to your school counselor and talk about all that… we can get that straightened out pretty quickly. Your deeper problem is the neglect from your parents and the fact that you're thrown into a situation where you're trying to manage your sister, who has emotional issues.

Kitty: She was diagnosed, and I was in fifth grade. So, I was nine or 10.

Dawson: So somehow you were supposed to manage her at nine or 10, which is totally unacceptable.  And that's why you need to go to a school counselor, a minister, somebody. You're carrying all this inside of you like this big, old, heavyweight on your shoulders. It’s killing you. So, you have all this stuff stored up inside of you, and it just turns into stress. And that's why it's got to be dealt with, brought out in the open or it'll just fester and keep on poisoning you.

Are you overwhelmed with classes, a job, and a social life?  Read 10 Tools to Manage College Stress.

TheHopeLine Team
For over 30 years, TheHopeLine has been helping students and young adults in crisis. Our team is made up of writers and mental health professionals who care deeply about helping others.
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