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My face and exams

EDIT: This post may be triggering for anyone with an impulse control disorder

I have posted about my essay related stress and now it’s the turn of exam related stress! So the other week I had my two end of year exams and they were my first experience of university level examinations. The idea of a three hour exam wasn’t too daunting after going through A Levels, and I’d stood around for that long doing nothing at work, so that wasn’t much of a worry compared to previous years. Writing three essays in three hours was daunting, but even more so was writing three essays in two hours! But that’s not the point of this post, and I’ll recap exams when I do my course review blogs (hopefully very soon!)

What I wanted to talk about was my face. Because during revision and exams I was repeatedly touching my face, and sometimes my hair. I should say this was NOT anything like Dermotillomania or Trichotillomania – not self harming, and no actively destroying my face and hair. However, I would rub my face with my other hand or twiddle my hair whilst writing and thinking. In one exam I was repeatedly moving my hair from one side of my head to the other, so by the time I came out of the exam I had an extreme side parting.

But back to my face. I tried really hard not to pick at any spots, although I think I failed at that. I did increasingly rub my face with my hands and I now have quite dry skin because I have irritated it and removed some of the dead top skin. So since then I have recognised that I need to moisturise, because my skin needs to recover from all the friction I’ve subjected it to!

Anyway, this was a blog post on my weird face touching in exam stress. That is all.

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Searched: crying from scoliosis

I was checking my stats yesterday and one search term jumped out at me: ‘crying from scoliosis’. Variations on this term have come up before and I did a previous blog post on this topic here: https://afterscoliosis.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/searched-i-cry-every-night-from-scoliosis/. There’s no point in reiterating what I wrote almost a year ago but I really hate to think of people crying over scoliosis alone, and if this is you searching this then I am absolutely, completely happy for you to contact me via my about page – what you write comes directly to me and will not be published. This goes for anyone reading my blog – and you can contact me about anything I write!

But, addressing the crying people again, do not be ashamed of crying over impending treatment but don’t be consumed by it either. Crying is a really great outlet for what is an incredibly stressful series of events and there are benefits to it. I will leave you with the following video from BBC Newsbeat that I actually watched this morning:

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My scar

Last night I was chatting with my flatmate and he said he hadn’t read the blog post I wrote about our trip to London and that he would read it right then so he wouldn’t forget. I then decided that I do not like watching people read my blog. Especially when I discuss things I wouldn’t say out loud because they are odd to talk about. But this blog is in part a personal record, and in part something for others to read and relate to, or use to understand those around them. So I will talk about these things, and today I’m covering my scar.

I write cover because it’s a way of saying ‘writing about’ that sounds a bit more journalistic. But actually I literally cover my scar all the time. Part of this is because I don’t like others seeing it, and I don’t like to see it myself, but then with it being on my back I have to try hard to see it at all. My mum says that unless people were looking, no one would notice it, but I never agree with her. However the main reason I cover it is psychological. When I’m having a shower or trying clothes on, if I leave my back exposed I can almost feel my scar tingling. Likelihood is that it isn’t at all, but in my head I feel that I must put on a dressing gown or something.

I’ve actually only recently felt able to touch my scar, which is quite an achievement for me. Before I had one of those scrunchie things in the shower so I would use that to apply shower gel etc. (sorry to said flatmate if you’re reading and finding this weird). A note on my shower gel – we love tea tree cream in our house, it’s good for spots and grazes and stuff, and I have a Lemon and Tea Tree shower gel, which I hope is helping my back. It’s the Original Source one if you are wondering and you can buy it here: http://www.boots.com/en/Original-Source-Lemon-Tea-Tree-Shower-Gel-250ml_870296/, also available from supermarkets and Superdrug (and I think the ‘male’ one is in Poundland). Anyway, my scar doesn’t feel too much like a shoelace anymore like it did initially so all is good.

Clothing choices are important in light of this though. I’ve written briefly about this before, and there is a new page on my blog dedicated to this issue (https://afterscoliosis.wordpress.com/clothes). It almost goes without saying that my clothing needs to cover my back, and I prefer things that are more close fitting rather than loose because that leaves my scar slightly more exposed (this makes sense in my head!). To be honest, this is always how I’ve liked to dress so it’s not a massive issue, but it can make dress shopping slightly more complicated. Anything that is low at the back I tend to avoid, but I am ready to experiment with my Summer Ball dress, so all will be revealed with that in just a week’s time!

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Essays

I have a list of posts that I want to write for my blog, and one thing on there was ‘Essays’. I have no clue what angle I wanted to take on it, but right now I’m interpreting it as writing about what I call ‘post-essay deadline sickness’.

As a history student I have a lot of essays to write. In total this year I had seven 2,000 word essays and four 3,000 word essays, plus 20 weeks of reflective journal that totalled 10,000 words (although it was only meant to be 250-300 words a week so I went quite far over). That’s an approximate total of 36,000 words for my assessed work this year.

Now let me explain how my deadlines work. I had two essays due in the first week of November. I had two essays due in the first week of December, and then the following week was the deadline for one of my larger ones and 10 weeks of reflective journal, plus a quiz for another module. One large essay to work on over Christmas then one essay due in the second week of February and an essay plan due the following week. A month later I had two due (the week after my birthday) and the following week another large one due plus quiz and reflective journal. My final essay deadline was a month or so later followed by revision for exams finishing two weeks later. So it’s a whirlwind of what I see as badly planned deadlines.

Now, the large volume of words that need to be written at one time cause a great deal of stress. I work hard up to the deadline and once the last one is finished the physical symptoms of stress often manifest themselves. I’m wiped out and my digestion is often messed up as well. It’s got better as the year has gone on but it shows how stress and anxiety still affect me, even though while I’m working I don’t notice it because of the adrenaline.

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Castle (2)

I am still watching Castle, and having previously blogged about an episode referencing scoliosis I didn’t expect to ever write about it again. However, I was wrong, they referenced it again, in the tenth episode of Series 4, entitled Cuffed.

“He had a degenerative hip condition and mild scoliosis, probably from sitting too much” [0:24:37-0:24:43]

I’m sorry, but “sitting too much”? POSTURE DOESN’T CAUSE SCOLIOSIS! Mindfulness of your posture and development of muscles can prevent back pain, but sitting too much is not going to create a spinal deformity! Sorry Lanie, I love you but you are wrong, might want to speak to the script writers about that…

[My previous post on Castle is here: https://afterscoliosis.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/castle/]

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A little note

So, I’ve had this blog now for 2 and a half years, since November 2012. I posted sporadically for the first year or so, but since January 2014 there has been at least one post each month, usually more. Most of last summer I posted every day, and since Thursday that is currently the case (and I have posts scheduled up to Saturday so I hope that’ll continue). Obviously I’m done with posting about my operation, but I’d like to think that my random musings on life are interesting too! I’ll have another follow up appointment in a month or so’s time and stress and anxiety are things to talk about. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for reading and I promise to keep posting!

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“Listening is like being happy when you’re depressed”

The above was what I said to my flatmate regarding the summer special of a radio show, the week before I started my exams. The presenters had finished theirs and so, rightfully, were making that week’s show a celebration of the glorious summer to come. Except I was stuck in revision, unsure of what to expect of my two exams and knowing that within a week it would all be over. The songs on the show were great but I felt like I couldn’t enjoy them because of the work I needed to do.

I should say that I have never been clinically depressed. However, once I had been told that surgery was imminently required in January 2011, I was incredibly upset and would cry myself to sleep sometimes over it. This went away in May because I was erroneously told all was well, but once September came around I was back in that fearful, low state. Looking back I coped remarkably well and the time that I spent feeling down was small. However at the time, I was almost self-diagnosing myself with depression. Because I couldn’t be fully happy with the weight of the impending operation bearing down on me.

This is where the above quote comes from. When you are going through something awful it can consume you, but some days you can also almost forget. If you have a good day you can smile and laugh, but in my experience I would get home, get into bed, and realise that despite the good things, the bad things were still on the horizon. It’s been a great day, you feel happy, you enjoyed it, but there’s an undertone of sadness as you remember the bad things and you can’t quite shift this.

I am by no means an expert on depression, but please if you do feel like this at all, do tell someone. This can be someone you know, or someone you don’t. For UK readers, Mind is a charity that helps those struggling with their mental health and their website is here: http://www.mind.org.uk/. You aren’t alone, and things will get better.

EDIT: Since I wrote this post, I found this article and I think it is very good so have a read: http://www.wifemomsuperwoman.com/2014/09/03/whatnottosaytosomeonestrugglingwithdepression/