I HAVE TEST ANXIETY AND IT SUCKS

on
2.02.2018

I don't think it's wrong to say I'm smart. I'm not at a genius level of smart, but I think I apply common sense and book smarts in a way that gets me by just fine.

Except when it comes to testing.


The thought of tests make me feel like I'm drowning in a sea of total despair. I keep trying to kick up, and I'm using huge, strong motions of my arms to help me get air, and yet I keep sinking, no matter what I do. 

At an actual test, I feel like I will actually die. My heartbeat races and I sweat, almost profusely. I could be wearing a tank top during winter and yet the room I'm testing in will feel like a stifling chamber of no escape- at least not until I finish the test.

As a result of my test anxiety, I find myself rushing, second-guessing, and generally obsessing over every single thing on a test. I can't breathe normally, and my leg won't stop bouncing. It's an incessant struggle of "do I actually know the material?" or "are they trying to maliciously trick me and test me on things I don't know?", even if I do try to think "it's okay- you do know this."

I don't always believe that.

I had never heard of test anxiety until I was diagnosed with it by my primary doctor when I was younger. I just assumed what I felt was natural- that it was fine to be so freaked out while taking a test I could throw up. This happened a few years after I was diagnosed with depression. A lot of the symptoms I had experienced in regards to testing were ones I dismissed as a strange version of my own personal depression. Truly, I thought that all other high school students were going through exactly what I was, but then I realized my case was different. Some were stressed by the fact that a certain exam or test meant a lot, while others were just panicked by the amount of material to study beforehand.

It was when we all sat down to actually test that I knew it was different. None of them were visibly sweating, none were fidgeting so much that their whole body was moving, and none of them looked like they wanted to physically evaporate and never come back.

So test anxiety was what it was called when I described it to my doctor and to my counselor- both told me with my depression and anxiety, it made sense that test anxiety would also come along with it. Great, I wish I had known these mental issues came in a "buy one get 1402949329 for free" deal.

Sure, I can "just breathe" and take a "little extra time" to prepare and study, but it's one of those things that I can prepare all I want for and "breathe" with all the breath I can fill up my lungs with, but once I'm in a test, I can't stop the sweating, the jitters, the non-stop bouncing, and the paranoid thoughts of being unsure if I actually am prepared for whatever the hell I'm supposed to be prepared for. Apparently, I can even take medicine (which I prefer not to due to the huge slew of additional side effects).

While I'm out of formal education, I still find myself dealing with this. Life literally tests you, whether it's for a new job, or perhaps for a self-studying subject. While I accept that I can't avoid tests, it doesn't make it any easier when it comes to actual testing.

Do you have test anxiety? What do you do to help? When did it manifest for you?