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11 December 2009

Final exams, studying, and... graduation (really?)

I'm taking a break tonight-- getting laundry together, running the dishwasher, and giving my mind a break. From everything. Classes, personal/social life, and to some extent healing from and dealing with PTSD, although I'm writing about that.

Lately, I have been under a lot of stress. Doing well in my classes has required a serious, hardass approach to studying, time management, and getting things done. This approach is not completely healthy. I've had some moments when I've been angry, impatient, and nonsensical. Anything that might possibly interfere with school is threatening, which means that everything is threatening. There's that hyperawareness stuff again. People around me tend to interpret that as me being an asshole. Sorry. I try, but sometimes I'm that dysfunctional cranky veteran.

There is a certain point where things have to give. Some things have to be put aside to worry about later, and some of the time management has to just slide a little. That class at 0830 becomes the same class, but at 0845. You play the "get to class late" card. Skipping classes is not necessarily a good thing, but sometimes that's a card that can be played as well. I don't recommend skipping classes or being late as a solution to anything-- but it's one of those variables that you can adjust in the name of keeping things from falling apart, IF you are careful not to let it get out of hand.

Some days, and times, you have to admit that you've done all you could do today. It's 2300 and you've had three classes today, worked on homework all day, and worked a shift at work-- during which you did more homework. It's okay to read The Onion for that last hour at work, as long as you are a lucky bastard like me where reading stuff online is allowed.

Some days, you barely hang on. Little things-- you can't find the people in your study group and that triggers you, until you forget that the group is in a lab section because it's that day of the week. Big things-- those voices in your head want to tell you about all the different traumatic experiences you could relive today, all the really dumb things you could do to mess up your life. The problem with those things is that you don't always feel. Fire isn't hot when you can't feel, and so you need to be extra careful to avoid it.

There is, fortunately, an end in sight. Monday and Wednesday of next week I have exams. Both of my exams on Monday allow corrections-- I can take the test, get the test graded, and have an opportunity to redo my mistakes for additional credit (using my books and notes). My exam on Wednesday, in my toughest class, the one I'm most worried about-- that one's now open book, open notes. I can use all of my assignments and tests this semester, plus my textbook, and whatever other notes I bring along, on the exam. This means I have at least a decent chance of getting a good grade, which makes my life a lot less stressful, for now.

Thursday, one day after I take that exam, I walk the stage in a cap and gown.

I'm graduating with an Associate's Degree, and walking into the waiting arms of a four year university, where I'll keep on matriculatin'. The celebration, then, will be a little short-lived. In a month I'll be back in school.

Will graduating magically take away all of the issues that PTSD brings, that far distant and recent traumas bring up, that constantly working on healing causes? No. There is no get out of jail free card in this game. The issues will still be there, new issues will happen along with a change of environment, schedule, classes, classmates, requirements.

But it's still a big deal. It's a sign, a milepost, a green indicator light-- that says, that for all of my issues, bad decisions, difficulties, and problems, I'm still standing up and fighting. It's proof that I didn't give up. It's proof that yes, it is possible. As my Dad always said-- you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it.

Even get through college with PTSD.

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