Stress and Tests

For those of you who read my previous articles, you know that I have been in firefighter one class and was getting close to the end of class and some tests.

I have now finished firefighter one class for those of you who haven’t read my previous articles, and I took my written for my certification this past weekend. I have my practical next month.

I feel like most people stress out about upcoming tests or waiting for test results, but for me, it is so much more than that.

Feeling overwhelmed and stressed

At least the week before a big exam, I feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Stress normally takes a huge toll on me and my narcolepsy symptoms.

I don’t sleep as well, and I am normally up extremely early every day until the exam. This past weekend, on the day of my test, I was up 2 whole hours earlier than I had to be. I looked at my clock and saw it was 5:30 AM, and I just knew it was going to be a long day.

Up early, tired early

I tried to lie there and go back to sleep, but after a half-hour, I knew I wasn’t going to go back to sleep. So I got up and got ready for the day.

I ended up getting some extra studying time which was nice, but by 7:00 AM, I was tired again. I laid down and rested my eyes for about a half-hour but never fell back asleep. I got up once again, got ready, and went to my test.

Pushing through the sleepiness

Luckily, this time for my test, I only had a 15-minute drive, unlike over an hour for my hazmat written I had to take months ago. I felt awake and alert when I got to my test and I was doing well throughout it.

But then I started to get sleepy again. I knew I had to push through because I was already over halfway done with my test by the time this happened. Luckily, I get accommodations for these tests and I am allowed extra time and extra breaks. This helped a lot because whenever I was feeling sleepy, I would stand up and walk around to try and wake up a little.

Waiting for my results is stressful

When I was done with the test, I was so relieved. I had studied hard for that test and was glad to be done with it. The downside is that the fire service training bureau isn’t up to date with the testing system, and I have to wait a week or 2 before I find out my results.

That would be fine if stress didn’t mess with my symptoms so much. I have found myself waking up before 7 AM every day this week, and it is starting to really show. Today I was ready for a nap by 9 AM, and normally I am good until at least 10 AM.

Frustrated with an inefficient system

I wish the testing system was online so we could find out our results right away or get an email within a few days. Instead, we have to wait for the testing instructor to mail in our tests, and then we have to wait for the fire service training bureau to mail us a letter with our scores on it.

It is also annoying that we have to wait so long to test because if we don’t pass, we have to schedule a retake, and most testing sites fill up quickly or are far away. We can’t even sign up "just in case" because they said it screws with their numbers, which I get, but I feel like they could do things differently.

Another test on the horizon

Another thing about these tests that is stressing me out is waiting until next month to take my practical. I have time to study, which is nice, but waiting that long just stresses me out even more. People in charge of these tests don’t get that someone like me is not just an ordinary person.

Most testing centers are at least an hour away, if not longer. I was lucky to sign up way in advance and get into the site closest to me. If I have to retake any of the exams, I have to sign up after I get my results in the mail, and normally the only tests left are either far away or months away.

Stress is my nemesis

I feel like stress is the hardest thing for me to manage because we can’t help it most of the time. It’s even harder when it affects my symptoms SO much.

Do you have any ways to help you with stress and tests? I know some things help, but I feel that there is no way around most of it. All we can do is focus on things we can control rather than the things we cannot, no matter how hard that may be.

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