Please note: this post was written by a UOIT student who wished to remain anonymous
One thing I seem to deal with on a pretty regular basis nowadays is anxiety. The ways in which it ‘pops’ up have changed in the 2 years I have been at UOIT and it has become more prevalent (I think because of the pressure I put on myself to do well at university which was not as big a problem at my previous post-secondary institutions – boy how I would like go back to that frame of mind!). It got very bad in the winter semester where for the last month and a half of the semester I basically stopped eating and sleeping and even my fluid intake went down. Almost every week there was 36-42 hrs where I was up doing school work, thinking about school work, freaking out about how much school work I had to do, how much school work I was not doing by starting this very second, how much time I was wasting not doing school work but being ‘lazy’ (e.g. watching some TV) and so on and so forth. By the end I felt the stereotypical crazy person you would see on the street in any movie or TV show. Nutty as a squirrel.
I did finally crash. And it wasn’t just a BAM! I hit a brick wall crash, but many major and minor crashes over a little more than a month period. I would get up only to run into another brick wall that would send me reeling. And while recovering from that I would trip over big stone to start falling down a hill and getting hit debris along the way down. After writing all that, I feel that I have made this post more depressing than I meant to. But I wanted to share a glimpse of what it was like in case anyone out there can relate. I only really feel like I started to begin to recover in the last month. That more or less came by finally giving up on the standards I had for myself academically and replaced it with more of “I just want to pass” or “I just want to give this my best effort and see what happens”. It was very hard for me to give that up and truly embrace/believe in doing just what I could and gain from it what I could with no concern for the grade. Once I allowed myself to relax and not beat myself up for taking a break when other were not things got a little easier. I was more receptive to learning in class and suddenly the professor wasn’t speaking Latin anymore, but English! Blessed, understandable English! Taking the pressure off allowed me to actually do what I was in school to do – learn.
I’m not saying any of it was easy or works for everyone – I went to both extremes while trying to find a balance. I cared too much, had too much pressure on myself, expected too much. On the other side, I went to not caring at all about anything – just kind of a slug on a log attitude of letting everything go by without a care of any of it. Now that it’s summer I don’t have to worry about any of it at the moment but I am fearful of what will happen in the fall. Will I start back where I was before the whole mess happened? Will I be refreshed like it never happened? Or will I just pick up where I left off? I don’t know.
It seems like I can’t ever not worry. Now that I am done school for the semester I am worrying about the fall. And even if that goes well, I worry about what happens when I finish, which could be as early as this fall or in the winter. What will I do then? Will there be jobs available, will I get an interview, and if I get an interview will I do well or be an anxious mess? I want to graduate but I am scared to leave what I know to go into such unpredictability. I understand now why so many with disabilities stay in school and deal with the generally laid out expectations of classes. It’s ‘safer’ and familiar and so is easier to deal with then what lies ‘out there’. The unknown is, for me anyway, one of the scariest things to deal with. And yet it is impossible to escape as there is uncertainty in every day. It can get exhausting dealing with it.