I’m sorry that I have been such a blog-slacker lately. This semester is in full swing which means my OCD is all kinds of amped up for destruction. I have tons of obsessive thoughts running through my head these days that keep me from accomplishing much. Papers, exams and class discussions provide OCD all of the potential-failure fuel it needs to make my life miserable.
It takes me a really long time to actually start a paper, because I spend a lot of time worrying whether or not I’ll have any smart, much less significant to say. Or if I’ll fail the assignment. Or if I’m really stupid and have just tricked everyone thus far and that when reading this paper, my professor is finally going to figure out what an idiot and what a fraud I am. I spend so much time worrying about needing to write perfectly that I can’t commit any words to paper for days. I am usually unable to write until the deadline gets so close that I don’t have a choice and necessity takes over. OCD continues to scream at me in the background with every word I type, though. Every word must be perfect, must be the right choice.
Then I get to the point in writing when a normal person would print the essay and be done with it. Not me, though. I get to that point and I read it over and over and rearrange and reword and fret and worry some more about how the paper just doesn’t feel quite right it’s missing something and it’s not perfect. And if it isn’t perfect, I’ll fail and my professor will figure out how stupid I am and it’ll be the end of my career.
Exams are stressful for just about everyone. A lot of students get test anxiety. I’m not really afraid of tests the way most people are. I don’t study for them. I don’t obsess about them days before they happen. The anxiety creeps in somewhere in the middle of taking the test. OCD starts to suggest that maybe I accidentally skipped a question or maybe I accidentally circled the wrong answer or maybe I didn’t read the question correctly, so I better go back and check every single question. Luckily with tests, I am usually able to ignore OCD’s suggestion that I check and recheck everything. The urge is there, but I try to get up quickly upon answering the last question so that I have to just turn it in without checking anything. This is one area that, thus far, I have remained stronger than OCD.
Class discussions are problematic because they bring in a social element. I get really anxious in some social situations, especially with strangers. The worries are similar to my paper-related worries about being an idiot and people figuring it out. This is especially frustrating because I’m not a quiet student. I speak up frequently in class discussions. This means more to worry about and over-analyze. Every word that comes out of my mouth is met in my mind by harsh criticism. By mid-semester, class discussions cease to cause me anxiety, because I have gotten comfortable with my professors and classmates. It’s habituation at work. Exposure really does reveal the scary monsters to be harmless.
It really is ridiculous how much time I spend worrying about failure. I always get A’s on papers. I have a 3.5 GPA. I’m a good student. I’m smart and my record shows that. I see the evidence, trust me. But OCD doesn’t care about evidence. OCD makes you doubt yourself and your abilities and everything you know. OCD finds all kinds of ways to make you distrust evidence. The rational part of my brain knows that I’m crazy, but in the moment, the crazy side usually calls the shots anyway.
School is such a paradox for me. It should be something of which I am proud. Sometimes I am proud, but sometimes school pushes me into some serious self-loathing and self-doubt.
What fears, worries and doubts does school bring up for you? What causes you anxiety?