I haven’t written for a few days and I feel completely conscious of that. I run another blog and have been super busy with that one. As well as work, and being a mum, and husband, and caring granddaughter (my beautiful nana has dementia and I try to call her every day at the mo). Anyways, enough excuses and here are some of my thoughts on exams, especially given all the news coverage on SATS at the mo in the UK.
I struggled A LOT with exams at school. Not because I was worried I’d fail but because I was worried I would be sick or someone else might be sick. The whole “not being able to get up and leave” thing really sent me crazy. So much so that when I did my mock GCSEs, I was predicted awful grades and told I’d have to re-sit stuff if I wanted to go on to do my A-Levels. This wasn’t me. I was really academic, studied hard and was usually top of my class. I desperately wanted to do A-Levels and go on to university. And the one thing holding me back, anxiety and emetophobia (vomit phobia). And I blame a boy for this haha! It was Jan 4th, 1995. I was in year 9 and we had a maths lessons. Bam, he threw up all by the side of his chair. WTF. And after that I never went to maths again. And if I did, I sat semi-crying, shaking, panicking and generally did zero maths work. I spent a lot of lessons going through this huge blue book on my own in the library. Anyways so I found lessons incredibly hard and the prospect of exams even harder. Things that helped me?
- Talk to someone ASAP. I spoke to mum. She spoke to the school. They fortunately took my worries seriously.
- Talk to someone you trust. If you don’t feel you can talk to your mum and dad then what about a teacher you trust? I was seeing our school counselor at the time and I think this helped.
- If you start talking early, the school might be able to make provisions for you. Because of my anxiety and the seriousness, I was able to sit my exams in a separate room with just a couple of other kids who also had special requirements.
- You CAN walk out. If it’s getting too much then tell someone. Pop your hand out and pop out. A five minute breather might just help. I wish I’d done this when younger. I didn’t fell I could. I felt I’d be told off.
- Exams aren’t everything. I know they are important and what not but looking back, they weren’t worth the stress and worry they caused me.
And if you are a parent or teacher with a child going through anxiety or vomit phobia then here are some things which I think are important:
– Listen. Quite often I was never really looking for a solution or answer. I just wanted someone to listen.
– Reassurance. Again, I wanted someone to tell me it would be ok and that I’d be ok.
– Patience. It can be difficult to fully empathise with someone when you haven’t been through something yourself. We are all different and we react differently to situations and circumstances. The one thing though that I’d say children with anxiety or phobias require is patience. Often I’d ask the same questions to people. I just wanted the same answer again to feel reassured.
– Take it seriously. I know on the face of it a phobia of being sick sounds ridiculous but to the person worrying, it really isn’t. So many people made comments or jokes which I’m sure they thought were just being light hearted, but I remember them today. And I remember being made to think I was silly and needed to “grow up”. Well I’m grown up now and not a lot has bloody changed!