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Is this PTSD? Petty problem, but still..

Z

Zhile

New member
Joined
Mar 11, 2021
Messages
1
Location
Australia
Hi all,

what I'm about to describe might seem silly (to me, it definitely is) and perhaps unmatched to what "real" PTSD is. My "trauma" is nothing close to sexual abuse, violence or something that serious, but it gives me some problems in daily life. So here we go.

In few weeks, I'm about to have an exam of skills and knowledge obtained on a certain course (no neccessary to go into details here). Yesterday, I had dreams that I failed it and I'm afraid I'm about to have those dreams regularly in following weeks. Anxiety attacks are becoming frequent as the date of exam is closing in.

This started to happen during my college time, when I first experienced such dreams. Always some time during exam period in January, June and September. It became regular, especially during senior years. I graduated and left college in 2013, but I experienced those kind of dreams and anxiety moments until 2016 (always, each year during January, June and September), when it kinda faded away. I can say that I stressed pretty much regarding finishing college, since no viable option was left if I failed.

Nowadays, every time I'm about to take some kind of exam (whether be language after completed course, driving exam, literally ANY kind of test/exam where my knowledge is rated by someone, instructor or professor), I start experiencing anxiety attacks and bad dreams at least several days before. No matter of importance, it can be just some petty course, even if I'd fail, it wouldn't have any negative impact on my life (contrary to exams in college).

Is it possible that this "trauma" has been caused by stressing too much about successfully completing exams years ago? It's becoming quite annoying to deal with. Is there any method to get it under control?

Thanks for your answers!
 
Marrex

Marrex

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 17, 2021
Messages
138
Location
Oklahoma City
I'm no psychiatrist, but from a glance this seems like Generalized Anxiety to me. Then again, this is rather specific... Let me just say this: it's not petty. My mother always taught me that just because a problem doesn't seem significant to one person, doesn't make any less significant to the other. That said, bad dreams ring familiar with me. I'd suggest a sort of over-the-counter anxiety med, but I'm not sure what that would be. For instance, I take Vistaril but that's prescribed. I wish I could be of more help. Anyway, welcome to the forum!
 
LizBo

LizBo

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
945
Location
Down-under
Hi all,

what I'm about to describe might seem silly (to me, it definitely is) and perhaps unmatched to what "real" PTSD is. My "trauma" is nothing close to sexual abuse, violence or something that serious, but it gives me some problems in daily life. So here we go.

In few weeks, I'm about to have an exam of skills and knowledge obtained on a certain course (no neccessary to go into details here). Yesterday, I had dreams that I failed it and I'm afraid I'm about to have those dreams regularly in following weeks. Anxiety attacks are becoming frequent as the date of exam is closing in.

This started to happen during my college time, when I first experienced such dreams. Always some time during exam period in January, June and September. It became regular, especially during senior years. I graduated and left college in 2013, but I experienced those kind of dreams and anxiety moments until 2016 (always, each year during January, June and September), when it kinda faded away. I can say that I stressed pretty much regarding finishing college, since no viable option was left if I failed.

Nowadays, every time I'm about to take some kind of exam (whether be language after completed course, driving exam, literally ANY kind of test/exam where my knowledge is rated by someone, instructor or professor), I start experiencing anxiety attacks and bad dreams at least several days before. No matter of importance, it can be just some petty course, even if I'd fail, it wouldn't have any negative impact on my life (contrary to exams in college).

Is it possible that this "trauma" has been caused by stressing too much about successfully completing exams years ago? It's becoming quite annoying to deal with. Is there any method to get it under control?

Thanks for your answers!
Hi and :welcome: @Zhile!

Anticipatory anxiety is very normal in such circumstances. It's how we 'cope' that's important. Is your experience traumatic? That's not for me to say as they're your feelings.

In a nutshell, we actually 'teach' our brains how to respond through habitual thoughts, worry etc; a type of rote learning. We create new neuro pathways in the brain from doing the same thing over and over that eventually turns into a normal response to a particular stress like yours for instance.

I also believe that if we have unresolved issues, a part of us may not be able to let go for whatever reason. It's this reason that holds us back from maturing or developing our resistance to stress.

As examples, I've had quite a few issues with striving to lead or excel in some areas, but fail just before I'm about to attain what I wanted; a lifelong pattern unfortunately.

I blew my crucial ligament one game before winning our B grade basketball championship and be put up to A grade, a pride of place in sports.

I nearly completed a very important certificate because I didn't attend the last exam. (Self sabotage)

I was a high rated candidate to be promoted to team-leader but made a silly but telling mistake and lost the opportunity.

I looked back over my life at these instances and others trying to get to the core of my sabotaging behaviour and ended up at my 2nd year of high school. I was put up a grade to advanced maths, an exciting time, but soon realised I was actually 2 years behind the rest of this class.

In those days there wasn't any type of transition program to ease me into their work and catch up, so I was totally overwhelmed and cried until they put me back into my old class.

This might not be classed as traumatic for some, but for my 14 yr old self, it was devastating. I didn't realise how this one event would affect the rest of my life until recently. It seems that to get to the top one must work hard, ask for help and 'prepare', prepare, prepare.

At 61, there's probably not much I can do, but lessons learned can be passed on to others.

I hope you get something of value from my words. It's probably different from your situation, but as it's a pattern of behaviour, I think there might be links of sorts.

Lovely to meet you...

Liz
 
S

SunnyDaze

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 11, 2017
Messages
4,107
Location
The couch
Hi there @Zhile

While what you describe is nothing that could be considered traumatic enough to cause PTSD,that type of anxiety sure feels traumatic.

I hope you are or will seek help with it. You deserve to feel better and not be so affected by it.

Hugs
 
00Bluejay7500 (was Scapes1986)

00Bluejay7500 (was Scapes1986)

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 10, 2020
Messages
4,772
Location
My house
I have many embarrassing moments in my recovery that make me feel like I’ve been through traumatic experiences. These embarrassing memories slowly faded over time. I hope your anxiety and flashbacks that you’re dealing with subside.

only you can master this exam! 🙏 good luck!
 
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