Friday 18 January 2019

What I'm really thinking: 'I worry all the time'

Study stress can make it harder to fit into peer groups
Study stress can make it harder to fit into peer groups

Some of my friends think I'm weird. They'd never say it to my face but I see the looks they give each other when I say some stuff. The look says, "There she goes again - little Miss OCD always has to be perfect."

I don't think that's fair; I don't want to be perfect. I just want things to be right.

My therapist says there's no such thing as perfection anyway. But you'd have to agree, there's no point in doing something wrong, when there's a right way to do it?

I don't have OCD, either. It bugs me when they say that. I looked it up on the internet and I don't have any of those compulsion things, you know, where you have to close the door so many times, or in a certain way. Sure, I like my room tidy, and there are certain places for certain things, but I'm not some freak. I just like a bit of order.

I have my Leaving Cert next year and I want to do well. I think everyone should want to do well. I've had a study plan in place since September, because it's a two-year course and I don't want to fall behind. But when I was coming up to the Christmas exams, I did freak out a little.

The trouble was that I had my plan, but then I'd sometimes not stick to it. Just the usual: I'd be putting stuff off, even though I know I should be doing it. The more I put it off, the harder it was to get down and do it. Then I'd be stressing over not doing stuff and I might distract myself with my phone, and then I'd lose more time.

So, when I do eventually get back to whatever I should be studying, I'm behind and I don't know how I can catch up. Then I started to think that if I'm behind now, in fifth year, what'll it be like next year? I can't afford to fall behind.

That happens a lot. The thoughts just pile in on top of each other. Like, I'd be thinking about something, maybe to do with my friends, and then I'd worry that they don't like me, or that I keep saying the wrong thing (I do think I do that), or that they are laughing about me behind my back, or that they are all closer to each other than to me...

I want to have good friends. I know I should spend more time with them, and listen better.

My therapist says that I put pressure on myself by using "should" but the pressure is there anyway. I mean - that's the whole point. I should do these things because they are the right thing to do. I just want things to be right. I can't stand getting anything wrong.

I remember my teacher in third class. She was scary. You definitely didn't want to get anything wrong in her class. I worked so hard to make sure I always knew my spellings. One day, I got a spelling wrong and she lifted up my copy and showed it to the whole class. "Nice to know we're human, after all," she said, smiling in a way that wasn't happy. I was mortified. I never felt humiliation like it.

I worried a lot more after that. That's why I ended up with my first therapist. I've had several over the years. I have an anxiety disorder, apparently. I wouldn't bother being worried if I didn't care.

I envy some of my friends - they just don't care about homework, or results, or their make-up, or their clothes. I worry about it all.

Not because I'm weird. Just because I want things to be right.

As imagined by David Coleman

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