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Hi, I am 17 years old, and I want someone to talk to. I feel in such a state at the moment, and I am really upset about the future. Here's my situation:

In the past couple of months, I have been having heart-related symptoms which I now think are to do with anxiety. I will describe some of them.

- Palpatations: A lot of the time, my heart will beat quickly and hard, for no apparent reason. I sometimes feel it in my chest too.

- Chest pains: I sometimes feel aches and pains in my chest area, which come and go suddenly.

- Missed beats: Recently, I've noticed that my heart sometimes completely misses a beat, before returning with an adrenalin rush, and a faster beat.

- Jumping in my neck: I sometimes feel occasional heartbeats in my neck and upper chest as if there is a large muscle contracting or something.

Naturally I went to the doctor who did an ECG and it turned out normal, but it kept happening, so I went back and he directed me to an online behavioural therapy site, which I am now working through. Whether this will help is still yet to be seen. Life at the moment is very stressful - I'm applying to university here in the UK, and I am also applying to Oxford University, so the pressure and workload is tripled, with interviews and entrance tests all months earlier than normal. And through all this, I still get at least one of those symptoms each day.

I read that telling other people about your problems can help you with stress, so here goes.

I the middle son in my family, with my older brother and younger sister. My brother is the cooler one of us, and although he isn't as academically minded as me, he is doing well and has just started university. We didn't really coexist in the past few years and weren't good friends.

Anyway, my life completely revolves around school, and I don't really have a life beyond it. I go to school in the morning, I go through lessons, and most of the time, I am thinking 'when is my heart next going to flip' or 'what if something serious happens'. Then when I come home, I will sit in front of the TV or computer and then go to bed with the same fears going through my mind. The same at weekends.

I find that I am never happy any more. I can't enjoy anything any more. I have done very well in school, but when I think about my results now, nothing comes to my head except 'so what - at this rate, I will probably have a heart attack by the time I'm 20 anyway' - yes, that's basically my view of the future, which makes me feel so much worse anyway. I have plans for the future, but all this stress and physical symptoms are completely ruining all that.

I feel under-appreciated - my parents at home don't really understand me, and sometimes, I even feel like a bit of a liability with everything that's going on. I don't talk to them, unless it's necessary. I am formal with them, and I don't really feel comfortable around them (apart from my dad, when he comes to visit). Heck, when I had a panic attack, it took me a couple of minutes before I could even pluck up the confidence to say what was happening when I was sat right next to them.

It's similar with friends, and I don't feel comfortable sitting with classmates because I am not a social person at all. Basically, I have worked so hard so that I can fulfill my dreams in life, bit now I am scared that all this stress and physical symptoms are going to run my life from this point on, and I an scared that Im going to end up in the emergency room before I even get a chance to finish my degree. It's terrible, and I just want to talk to someone about it, even though I'm embarrassed about it.

Does anyone have any tips on coping with this kind of thing? Any other people going through this?

Thanks for your time.

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