Avatar universal

exam phobia, and trying to get my future planned

I am doing well in my recovery from BPD, am 9 months sober from my addictions/alcoholism as well, and doing well in my other problems! 12 step programs have helped me in every general area, but i am here to ask about a current pitfall i am facing.

Background: In my lifetime I have never finished anything i started, job, education or work related, suffer from perfectionism, and black and white thinking, and a moral to only do things i love. When i am situated in a job or doing something i do not like i break down psychotically, the stress is too much to bear, i become exhausted, and i quit, my mind shuts down.
My resentment towards society = do not understand or agree with the way things work, thus vowed to myself to never conform, i don't agree with the world and that i should be working for riches because i believe there is more to life, and i cannot compute with stress. But i now feel the stress of having to get on with my life, having to plan my future and be independent and successful.
I have trauma from back in school, whereas i tried my hardest to learn, but after they did millions of tests trying to "figure out why i was so stupid" they found nothing and labeled me as rebellious problem child, which hurt. I then went along with being a rebel because the failure hurt me, dropped out of school as quickly as possible. I am an extremely intelligent being, i can grasp things most people cannot, but i still feel incompetent. I taught myself how to learn. But I learn differently and that along with my past of being called stupid, people constantly telling me what i cannot do, is really hindering me now. Later in life, they finally diagnosed me with a rare learning disability, a little too late.

So I recently quickly jumped into many set plans of studying to get into the medical field, I found a passion for first aid, helping people and anatomy, my brain is like a sponge, it absorbs the information so well it surprises me that i enjoy the education. I took standard first aid, aced it, got one question wrong, and beat myself up about it. I do not handle failure well at all. So after i figured out i wanted to train to become a paramedic, i decided to take Level 2 first aid, before Level 3 so i would be more prepared.
Until class came around and i was told Level 2 is more difficult than level 3, and i should have just went straight to it.
Level 2 was 5 days of cramming in a spastic hurry, only hands on material, role-play scenarios and I do not learn that way, especially in a stressful environment where they have no time to explain, i need repetition for hands on, and I did not agree with the way they taught the course at all, was a rip off, 600 dollars.
I was getting angry, stressed out, was not till later i figured out why. It brought out deep seeded issues and shadows,
i get so angry at myself when i do not understand, i have such an intelligent analytical mind that i need to know and feel superior, thus NOT knowing raises insecurities that makes me angry. I blame it on everyone else for not explaining it accurately, or think that i should be right, cannot admit i am wrong.
But... I passed the written exam highest score in my class. But I failed the practical hands on. In all i cannot handle failure, but this was really bad. I got around 400 percent DEDUCTED off for ridiculous mistakes. I froze and panicked, i couldn't handle the exam it was terrifying, i have a horrible phobia of exams, but this was worse because your role-play acting in front of a judging audience, trying to remember every order of the priority action approach, my mind blanks out, as soon as i make one mistake, i shut down. It doesn't matter even if i was 100% confident in what i knew, i fear i would still fail due to my anxiety. Even worse i killed many imaginary patients that day. They probably think i would be a danger to people.
Since then i have went downhill, past childhood memories coming back to haunt me, depression, urges to go back out and drink, just give up and quit.
Worse is that my mind is on constant negative mode, and coming up with horrible scenarios of "why should i succeed anyway?" I mean, when even doctors who take one look at my medical charts tell me i am a danger to society and shouldn't be on the streets, how does that give me a chance to succeed in life?
To tell you the truth, i believe i can do it, in my heart, i know i can, i know i would be great at that job and i would love to. I react well in emergency situations, and i am amazing at helping people out. I am great under the stress of emergencies, but when it comes to learning and exams I am not. But it's just my past, and everyone who ever told me, I can't. My self doubts have real outside influence.
I know i am not completely stable. I jump into opportunities, and i am still freshly new in recovery, 9 months ago i was self medicating with booze. Let alone lying to them, i can't do. I am incapable of living in lies, but i would have to. They can't know i am an alcoholic, addict, and my medical history if i want to be a paramedic, they would take my certificate away. I feel discouraged. I feel like maybe people like me aren't meant to succeed in life. I know that is not right, but that is what society wants, to keep us hidden, to keep us medicated, brainwashed, living in fear, keep us as minorities, they don't want someone who is as awake as me getting involved with their society.
I never wanted this - to be successful, to be part of society, but now I do. I don't want to be a disgrace to my family, i want to get off of disability welfare and support myself, because I know i damn well can. I am not unable and unfit. I can function just as well as anybody else. In my past, i could not, but i have come a long way. I know more things then they do, i know just how corrupt the mental health and medical systems are, and i could be of assistance to people. I have overcome a lot of experiences, and i can use that to help people. But i was also diagnosed as a "psychopath" and the same statement that i can't ever do anything in life, came from the same ******* liars that said i do not feel empathy, which is bull. I love people, i care, and i am destined to be a healer of some kind, it just so happens i am greatly interested in the actual physical side of healing injuries.
I can put my past behind me. But the doubts are chaotic in my head right now.
I am terrified of going on with my goals. But i don't want to give up. Someone told me once, about bravery... that it doesn't mean you aren't afraid, it just means you do it anyway.
But i don't know how to cope. I have never been in the situation of trying to be involved with planning, my future before, i've always quit when things become too tough.
People tell me to not be so hard on myself when it comes to my failure. That doesn't help much. They say, this too shall pass, or, just try again, and i feel like punching them in the face, because they don't understand how horrible this is, i can't even understand why it bothers me so much.
I'm going to go back and do it... i think. Actually my psychologist and I came up with a plan to find someone to teach me before i go back to the courses. That perhaps if i am 100% confident in the subject matter, when i panic, my body can just do it anyway out of habit.
But even thinking of going back to the courses scares the living daylights out of me.  
I hope someone can give me some helpful advice about these things.
Thank you,

7 Responses
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Avatar universal
My advice would be to be absolutely honest and disclose the information you are required too.  I think that for your safety, as well as others, that this would be important.
failure to admit stuff always ends up bing us in the butt somehow.

I think that discussing this with your T is a great idea.  I think that working through your perfectionism and all-or-nothing thinking is important.
I'm a little like you in that I tend to focus on the negative stuff or the stuff that I do wrong and not reward myself for the positives that I do achieve.
I think acceptance helps you to learn to live with both the good and bad.

People blame and label us when we don't meet their expectations.  Becoming defensive and blaming us can be extremely damaging.

Working on your self-confidence could be a good idea.  If you think that you're intelligent then what does it matter what others think?  you have a learning disability and have worked through that.  You are working through barriers that many others don't have.  Be proud of what you have accomplished.

What would continuing mean to you?  What if it weren't as scary as you thought it was?  What if by working through it you gained more insight into yourself?  That can only be a good thing, right?

Could you have social anxiety or is that just perfomance anxiety?

What if you reframe the challenge?  a real life emergency may present similarly?  Are you able to look at on the job training?  Would that help with confidence, etc?

Keep talking to your T, keep educating yourself and keep following your dream, even if you do have to put it in perspective a little.  Maybe break your goal down a little more.  If you can visualise your outcome that will help you through the difficult times.

Good luck!
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Avatar universal
I guess i am proud of what i have accomplished, but i still feel pressed for time, like i need to be moving ahead and doing more with my life.

I have it all planned out eh? "Tell God your plans and see him laugh" that's a joke they say at AA. It seems i look ahead and figure out right away, that it just won't work out. But you are right, there is no way i could possible predict the outcome. Especially if it is fear that is creating my imaginary outcome. I still don't know how to put my fears and doubts behind me.

I have social anxiety of course, but i have learned to live and cope with it. What i experience with exams stems from my childhood, as explained in my previous post. I have done that much digging into the why and how. Fear of failure. It IS performance anxiety, but the cause is what happened in my past.

How would i reframe the challenge?
Real life emergencies are nothing like the course and exam, another reason why I can't comprehend why i need that education. I know the Priority Action Approach is important, but the roleplaying is ridiculous, nothing like a real life situation. I have been in my share of emergency situations, and i am amazing at responding to critical danger. Everyone else freezes and goes into emotional shock, while I am the only one who is able to react on impulse and help the person in danger.
Now that i know exactly what to do for proper care, i would be of even more help, but the dilemma is actually getting the certificate so i can do it. The way they do the roleplaying is completely unconventional, they give us scenarios and test us on things that would not happen. You wouldn't be telling the instructor step by step what you are doing in a real life emergency, but during the exam you have to. You have to pretend every single aspect of it. Not to mention i failed one scenario simply because i did not have enough descriptive information to go by. When you ask what happened, the instructor gives you a very brief false description of the injury that does not exist. In real life, you would automatically know. But you can get tricked very easily because of their lack of description in words - you need to know what is going on before you approach the injury. For example if they say "patient is bleeding" you would handle an arterial bleed differently than you would someone who was bleeding otherwise. You don't even go near the wound, even if there is a pool of blood, you'd continue onto the primary survey, UNLESS it is a severe bleed. I have difficulties piecing together all of the information i am giving in under a few seconds. But if i were to see it for real, i would know what to do immediately. I just can't learn under these pretend circumstances, of hundreds of different scenarios, with lack of information, while my brain can't really compute with vagueness while doing hands on anyway.

It would be a very good thing that they do not do job training. You don't want someone without a certificate who doesn't know anything, to be helping someone save lives, that could cause some huge legal issues and giant mistakes.
In all, i would not feel confident with anyone saving my life who passes that level 2 course either. There is no way anyone can know what to do after only 5 short hour days of learning everything. They should have prerequisites for that course, but they don't. If you pass that test, you are okay to be in the workplace saving lives, and honestly, everyone in that class did a lot worse than i did during the course itself, i actually did amazingly when i was not being judged. But frankly, if they passed the exam i wouldn't want them doing cpr on me, or even removing dust from my eye. The whole course itself was extremely unorganized, it may be better in other communities, but our instructor was in such a rush and preoccupied, and all of the students did not feel prepared enough. At least they did not suffer from anxiety, hope they did well.

I think so i can feel confident with it all, i will try to find someone who can teach me long term. There is no way anyone can learn all of it in that short of time period and be allowed to be certified, perhaps just in the course i took. I don't feel safe in my community if everyone who has first aid is taking courses from these people.
Most people that were there had failed a few times already, or some of them were retaking it, but all of them had to take it as necessary for the job site they worked at. You make one simple mistake, like one guy, he took his hands off of c spine control for a split second to ask the instructor something though he knew in a real life situation you can't do that, and they deduct you 100% on that because in real life he would have killed the patient. And they tell us once were in class, that even physicians have failed their course. No doubt, it is so unorganized. And you have to know how to act and pretend. It's like going to drama school. They ran out of time to even teach us critical things that were on the exam.
But yeah, i am taking some time off, because the next course is on my birthday in july, so i've already made the decision to take a break for the summer, but i've still been trying to figure out what to do for when i do go back.
I think the best choice for me is trying to find a tutor that can help me out so i can feel 100% confident, before i retake any courses.
I could also jump into level 3, which is easier, and it is 3 weeks long, so more time to learn everything. Level 3 is actually what i need in order to get into paramedic training courses.
I had originally taken level 2 cuz i thought it would be easier to step into level 3 afterwards, but apparently not. They say level 2 is the most toughest course offered.
The only difference between the two levels, is that in level 3 you are now able to assist in transport, and use spine boards. I could get a job in camps, and i would be like a personal ambulance system. It would open up a lot of career opportunities and doors. A few people told me that being a paramedic on the first level does not pay much - but if i was working on a job site somewhere, i could make a lot of money.
In general i thought my plans would be a piece of cake, thought i would be a paramedic at the end of the year, but it is taking longer than i thought. I was in a rush also, because i am involved in volunteering through Emergency Social Services, and we've been expecting a big earthquake here, especially after Japan, and the whole ring of fire and all the seismic activity, my community is bracing itself, i've been doing everything in my power to be prepared so i can be of help to people during a huge event. I get pressed for time because it could happen anytime. Earth disasters are one thing that intrigues me, i love them. Just like emergency situations, they don't scare me like they do for some people. I know i would be of huge benefit if i could get the proper training.
I originally got into first aid because i was gaining experience for earth disaster preparedness. Well, it's still on my agenda, but i am not as obsessed as i was as before.
That's when i found out i had a passion for first aid, and my horizon widened. So many possibilities.


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Avatar universal
About truth:
Thing is, I am sure that if i am entirely honest about my conditions I will not get anywhere, and that they will not want me to pursue my goals. The one thing i know about life so far, is people don't want to know the truth. Being truthful backfires on me, not confessing backfires as well, so it is a no win situation.

I agree acceptance is key. And things tend to look better in the morning, become a little easier to accept. Just last night i tried to be truthful with a woman, about my step 3 in the AA program i am doing, the whole thing was difficult to deal with. Ya know what she said? She said i was just crazy, should see a psychologist. On top of the diagnosis' i have had (which she has no idea about) i have always had spiritual gifts which led me to drink and escape. I know there is a lot more to this world than science and chemical brain imbalances. When i was young, i had psychic gifts. I was different, my mind is different. I believe i do have these brain imbalances, but i also believe there is more than just that. I have seen things that are amazing, indescribable, unexplainable, they are not hallucinations, they are spirits and higher frequencies, different realms, and i can see through illusions. My psychiatrist does not even believe that i am crazy, at least not now. But back in the day, when i saw spirits, the warped part of my mind was intrigued with bad things, and it brought me to the depths of insanity because i did not understand, did not know how to protect myself and had no spiritual mentor to guide me. I delved into the darkness, and my insanity increased. Since a child, i had an activated pineal gland, a natural gift that spiritual masters work their entire lives to get. But i viewed it as a curse. And it completely destructed me. I just wanted to be normal, like everybody else, so i turned to addiction to self medicate.
Now you tell me, when i talk like this, do you think i am just insane? Of course ya do. I have talked to inter dimensional beings, loving energies, i have many spirit guides, and i can even converse with spirits like plants and trees. I see them all the time, with my eyes, vivid detail i could not imagine. And it is all so vastly confusing to me, because i am just a stupid human. I have even met what they refer to as "extraterrestrial beings" and "angels". If you think i'm just crazy, then join the rest of the population.
I can't tell people the truth, because of that. They don't get it. As you can see, when i talk like this, about seeing "aliens" no ones mind is open enough to grasp that it could be true. Not to mention my history, of being in asylums, i have always been called insane, and my self doubts have reason. Every time i try to open up about what i am going through right now, people just ask me if i have chemical brain imbalances. So i have accepted that i can't tell the truth. I drank because i wanted to get away from it, and because the labels ive been condemned with were hurtful.

I have been labeled with these diagnoses, i sure have been to the depths of true insanity, i have many mental diseases and addictions, i am not well - but i also have a lot more than that going on, and i have faith, which is the only thing that helps me, as i am truly powerless on my own. I have seen different realms and i know that part was real. I can astral travel, but hey! It scares the living daylights out of me! Do you know why? Because everyone insists i am just crazy. I am terrified that the only thing that gives me any faith and hope to go on, is just part of my mind like everyone says. I can know damn well it is not, but this world brings me down. I despise society, because their brainwashing infection gets to me easily. So it does matter what everyone thinks. What everyone thinks has plagued my mind, and I am suffering in going on with my step 3 'came to believe a higher power could restore me to sanity".  But there is no possible way i could imagine anything like that. I know the difference between hallucinations and what i see now.
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Avatar universal
I think the problem is more how you are allowing your past to dictate your life now.  Does it really have that much basis in reality now?

You say, react on impulse.  That scares me a little because how can you make good decisions if they are impulsive?  I guess perhaps you mean just doing what comes naturally to you.

Practice makes perfect.  If we practice something enough we will become more proficient at it.
Going through the steps with an instructor is a good way to monitor if someone is following the correct procedures (which are there for peoples safety).  It's the same for most things in our lives.  It starts with school and having to learn the alphabet.  Having to learn the building blocks or frame work of something.  It is something that we can all fall back on and is a good reference point.  

Just wondering if you're devaluing the process because you failed it?  ??

You should ALWAYS access for safety regardless of the situation.  It is about not putting yourself and others at risk.

Are you able to ask for more information?  What other clues are around you?
Patients aren't always conscious or coherent.  Observation is going to be a big part of your job , but won't be the only part.

In an emergency situation there is going to be a lot of stress around you.  Patients and family may panic, there may be aggressive or abusive people around.

Could you volunteer for the ambulance crew, etc?  Here people are able to do that.  There are also programs such as Friends of the ED where again volunteers talk to patients waiting in the ED.  That one would be different to what you are aspiring too though.
Volunteer as a surf lifeguard or something like that.  They deal with numerous medical emergencies.

If you were in need of CPR I expect you would take what was on offer.  Sometimes we don't get to choose who resuisitates us and while they may not be as good as some medically trained people it may just be enough to keep us alive (even if we do sustain substantial brain damage or broken ribs and punctured lungs in the process).

Maybe the lack of organisation made you feel somewhat fragmented?

You could always go to Christchurch.  They are still experiencing big aftershocks.  I live in NZ.  Just a thought but SAR or some cicil defence organistion may be another option.  Maybe that's similar to what you're already doing?

I do wonder but it's just because it's so far beyond what I have experienced in my life.  That doesn't make what you experience unreal or psychotic though.  It is hard for me to sometimes believe without something tangible to grasp.
I can't label you as crazy, etc because I don't understand you or what you experience.  I have had an out of body experince when I have been unwell.  Does that make me crazy too?

I get frustrated when people talk about chemical imbalances.  My feeling is that a lot is more about psychological issues which a lot of people are in denial about.  Just my opinion.  If I had bipolar I would probably disagree and agree to the biological aspect.

How could you know the difference?  Is that an aspect of reality testing?  People with bpd can have transient-like psychotic symptoms but still be able to reality test.  Is it sort of similar to that do you think?
They wouldn't be due to drug-induced psychoses or something like that would they.  Just posing the question not denying your reality.  People don't always get me and I know how rejecting and invaidating that can be.  It is certainly undermining when they challenge what we believe to be true.
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Avatar universal
The past dictating my future is the problem - well at least the biggest aspect, and to me it really does have basis in the present now, despite whether it should or shouldn't, and i don't know how to let those influences go.

I meant acting on impulse means "performance",  another way to describe it is, in emergency situations you need to be able to act quickly - not react. Reaction is a typical bad reaction to the situation that can make one unable to perform, while simply acting quickly is the ability to perform. Many people cannot handle being in those situations, and i have always been the first responder.  

I am taking the plan of finding that teacher for a thorough length of time so i can be more confident in my skills with practice. Yet I am still going to be terrified of exams by the time i do go back to the course itself. And i know, even as confident as i am, i still mess up when it comes to being anxious. I really need tips on how to cope with that.

No, our course should have prerequisites and prior experience, rare few who do pass and receive their certificates, still do not feel confident enough to be out in the field, they do not run this course for "educational purposes" (which is what i am looking for) it is a high demand for worksites - depending on your job site, most employers don't actually care if you have the education or confidence to be qualified or not, just as long as they don't get in trouble for not having level 2 first aid attendants on site.

But for people who are wanting this education to get into the medical field, level 2 is certainly not the way to go, but my town is small and the resources are not many. Besides, level 3 is what you need to get into paramedic school - i just wanted more than what i needed so i could feel prepared with the limited education around here.

No we don't have alternatives here, like volunteering with ambulance crews. I know we can as soon as we have level 3, it is a whole step by step process, here they don't like us to jump ahead. It's a small town.

Interesting, we have an evacuee member on our ESS board, who lived through the events at christchurch, the volunteer work through ESS is that whole opening reception centres in the community for huge disasters, apparently we are not as organized as large cities, but we are planning to become more organized.


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Avatar universal
Well basically, in my belief - the human mind existing in our material selves is possible of manifestations of fear and love and thus in between, the reality we live in is like an illusion, which is why we can bend it, psychological labels only grasp the surface, as being human, we have important purposes, as we are able to exist materially, physically - some people think of that free will of physicality being a fault, but we are also higher dimensional beings with huge potential, capable of breaking through the 3d existence, when we manifest our fears and shadows, we can be lead to the brinks of "insanity", there are no demons and there is no darkness, except what we create ourselves. This is as far as psychology goes however, yet it does not concept that we can create because we stem back and are one with all of creation, that these things are in fact real - but at the same time, the fear manifestations are not, as the only thing real is love, that if we wake up to this fear existing life, and those that are "crazy" can actually see through the veils and do see things that are manifested, or perhaps true existence of love. Some people have open minds, they label as different - but these people also have the ability to see through the illusion of this world and wake up into remembrance of who they really are, and concept ambiguity. Humans are meant to be physical, but in a balance, also spiritual. If these things were taught to us in school, imagine how far spiritually advanced and knowing people would be today, but the government does not want people knowing any of this, thus they instil fear, they use manipulations, manifestations to keep us in self doubt, therefore keeping our true spiritual capacities and power dormant. That being said, when we fool around these brinks of illusion, it can be mind numbing and blowing - therefore dangerous without the proper spiritual support, with our pasts and society of belittling it, it can turn us against ourselves. When people begin delving into the power of their minds, that gift - it can turn us to "insanity", which is basically, self living in manifested fear, and it can seem completely real. The human mind is much more than just a bunch of wires for chemical brain imbalances, it is indeed the grounds we walk on, that can bring us to our higher self, and to other high frequency worlds, yet on the flip side, when our fear and ego works along side us, we can go to low frequency places. So reality testing? Our whole reality is only created by us, and it serves a higher purpose, so as we wake up, we can see through the illusion. So how do you know the difference? Because fear is the polar opposite of love. Any negative feeling, sentiment, occasion, it is all manifested by fear - false evidence appearing real. Anything you see as delusion that is bad, is false, very real and created by human manifestations, but the opposite of fear, which is love, in tuned to higher vibrations is what is truly real. Not meaning to make this more confusing, but darkness does not exist without light. There is no such thing as dark. Because there is only love. People with any disorder have symptoms - and this is all manifested somehow. If you have ever experienced hallucinations for example, when you see a hallucinated person, let's say, you will have an inner gut feeling that you are completely alone, you will feel this gross itching feeling of fear. It may seem real, but deep inside, you know it is not. Now, if you see a loving high frequency being that comes to you, that is a whole different story, you will feel this pure amazing vibration pouring all over you, the frequency of love, you will feel not alone, and that fear, will be vanished, it will blow your mind, but you will see evidence that they are truly there, you will feel them with all your senses. There are many ways to tell the difference between self manifested fear, and true divine love that exists in this world. So it is not just undermining to me - it is silly, it is preposterous that this world exists in its fear to hold us down, and to keep us away from finding out where we truly come from, that we are truly beings of complete divine love, and that we hold that power to achieve anything.
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Avatar universal
You could try talking to the governing body about what may or may not be possible.  You can't change your past and if they won't let you practice due to it you may need to rethink what you're doing and where you're going.  It may be that you need to accept these limitations and find other avenues to get your needs met, as in volunteering, etc.

You could ask a tutor for exam tips, etc and a T about better ways to manage your anxiety.  Practice can make things better.

I live in a small town/ country and most people welcome volunteers.

That could be considered relaity testing, knowing that it is not real.
Maybe it is just something for the individual to pursue?
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