A few days ago, I was faced with a situation I hoped I would never have to be in.
During my three years at university, I have had access to the student accessibility services. This service has allowed me take my tests in a quiet room, with extra time and a computer if needed.
This has been a true life saver for me on many occasions. I have had dyslexia for as long as I can remember, which was unfortunately made worse after my concussions. A couple years ago I was also diagnosed with severe test anxiety. And yes, it sounds silly. But, going into an exam I often feel shaky, out of breath and sweaty. I have been lucky to barely experience any of those feelings in the last couple years by writing my tests in a separate room.
However, on Friday, when I walked into the exam centre to write my first exam, I was informed that I was not on the list.
It was a nightmare.
I felt absolutely deflated.
Either there had been a mistake in the system, or somehow I had completely forgotten to book my final exams.
With only 5 minutes until my exam started, I had to attempt to process that I wouldn’t be writing my exam with my accommodations, and that I needed to run across campus to make it to where the rest of the class was writing.
I made it over to where the exam was taking place, my face covered in tears, and took my seat. I spent the first half an hour of the test trying to stop crying and taking deep breaths, while getting weird stares and glances from other students.
Finally, once I had calmed down I was able to finish the test. Although, I did not do as well as I hoped, I did overcome the anxiety to some degree. No matter how many times I have been told that I have anxiety, and no matter how many times I have felt anxious before a test, I never understood how all-consuming it can be.
Some people deal with anxiety, like I experienced on Friday, on a daily basis. I truly hope that the stigma surrounding anxiety of all kinds will continue to be broken down the more we talk about it. Knowing what it can feel like at the worst moments and talking about these moments, is the only way we can break down those barriers.