07 September 2009

Study habits of the PTSD elite

Okay, new semester, much better frame of mind, but still some issues-- aren't there always?

I am actually dealing with school fairly well. I do not have very many PTSD moments, but I do have one now and then. There was the day I was so worried about my next class that I went to the right room-- five hours early. There was the day I couldn't find my garage door opener, and tore my apartment up looking for it, only to find it in the front pocket of my backpack. Where it made perfect sense to be.

I trust myself a lot more now. I have stopped doing a lot of little things that usually involve checking and rechecking-- I get my work done. I do the right things. I trust myself to worry about things that are important. And I let a lot slide. I let some things slide because I know I can trust myself, I know I've done something to make sure that they are taken care of.

But I still have trouble studying at home. I have what I need at home; I have a desk, computer, wifi, supplies, books, etc. Studying at school, in the library, in a coffee house, I can do that all day, but when I get home I want to do anything but study. Not only do I not study, I avoid studying-- which throws up a red flag. Any time someone with PTSD avoids something, especially me, I've learned that the avoidance is for a reason. (The reason is most likely flawed, and furthermore most likely has nothing to do with the assignment in question.)

So why do I avoid homework when I get home, when I have no problem spending all day either in class or in the library working on the same assignments?

Because working on campus is different than working at home.

For all the technological solutions that make it possible to work from anywhere, environment matters. Home is, well, home. It's where I end up at the end of the day, when I'm tired. It is not at all unusual for me to leave the house at 0745 and not return until after 2230, and after a day that long I am whupped. So I am used to home being a place where I tend to want to relax and not think about homework.

The library, cafeteria, and coffee shop are all places that are inhabited by other students, most of whom are there to study. It is easy to study in a room filled with other people who are studying-- you take out books, notebooks, and a highlighter and you fit into your environment. Studying is comfortable, it feels right. You're at school. It's what you do. Conversely, when you get home, you're not at school, and so you do things other than work. (At least, that's how it seems to work for me.)

Adaptability is one of those things that PTSD teaches you, that is actually useful. When presented with an opportunity that triggers you, you react. It's impossible to not react-- you're going to do something-- but it's what you do that makes the difference.

I know I need to be able to study at home sometimes, but the large part of the work I do in school is going to be at school. During the daylight hours when I am either in class or in the library, I will get most of my work done. At work, depending on which job I am working, I will get additional work done. One job, I will have lots of time to do things that require concentration (like math and physics problems). The other, I have less time, and a lot more noise and distraction, but I can read, highlight, review, and reinforce.

At home, if I need to do something at home, it's going to be specific tasks, and realistic goals. I have a lab report due tomorrow, a math assignment and test Friday, physics problems, and reading for a science class to worry about. ACK!!! But that's not realistic to worry about. The most pressing needs are a) the lab report and b) the physics problems, because they are due tomorrow. So I can set a single goal, to get the lab report done tonight. I will worry about it-- I might even stress over it-- but my stress level will be far lower than if I try to get everything done tonight. I'll do what I can. It's okay to do that. I'll be able to work on everything else, tomorrow, at school.

There's hope. I'll be all right.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you'd like your comment to stay private, please let me know in your comment. Anonymous comments are also allowed.