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A Day In the Life of My 10th Grade Self

I have no clue how I made it through my sophomore year of high school. It was pretty horrible, with constant anxiety and barely any sleep. I am going to walk you through a typical day my 10th grade self went through, third quarter of the school year. I am not exaggerating, this is what I went through on a daily basis.

3:25 a.m.

My first alarm goes off, and barely wakes me up. I only got 4 hours of sleep, but I still have homework to do. I drag myself out of bed by sheer determination, and go to the bathroom to get ready, walking right in the door frame in my zombie like state. I get dressed and ready on auto pilot. My routine is strict and must be done in a certain order to have a slight chance that a catastrophe doesn’t happen some time throughout the day.

3:45 a.m.

I finish getting ready, and go eat breakfast. I have what I have every school morning, a smoothie that I made the night before. Breakfast cannot be anything other than the smoothie, I will not eat breakfast before I will modify the smoothie or eat something else. If I would modify the smoothie or have something else, I would guarantee that something horrible would happen to me that day, or so my OCD says. While eating I go through the apps on my phone in a very specific order, checking for any new notifications. Fitbit app to check my sleep, personal email, school email, SAT practice question, Act practice questions, Spanish dict for the daily spanish word, Dictionary app for the word on the day, Twitter to get rid of notifications, and then Facebook to clear any notifications.

4:00 a.m.

I finish breakfast, and grab my lunch from the fridge to put in my lunchbox. My lunch is practically the same everyday, consisting of an apple, oatmeal, and another fruit (if there wasn’t any other fruit I would stick with oatmeal and an apple). There were no substitutions allowed for the oatmeal or apple, ever. Then it comes time to brush my teeth. I would brush for six minutes, which is three cycles. I would do more if I had more time but my morning schedule is very strict. I then floss and use mouthwash.

4:15 a.m.

I finish getting ready, in a very specific order. One of the things I do during this time is straighten my hair (I do this every other day, so if I don’t straighten my hair that day I have an extra 15 minutes to eat breakfast, but this is a day I straighten my hair) where I think of all the things that can go wrong throughout the day.

4:45 a.m.

Now I finish the homework that I didn’t complete last night because my mom made me go to bed, in an attempt to try to get me to sleep more. She meant well, but my OCD is much louder than her reasoning and frustration, so I got up early to have time to do more homework. I have alarms set every half an hour just in case I accidentally fall asleep from exhaustion.

7:00 a.m.

I start getting everything ready to leave. My brother has gotten up by this point, or I will wake him up. The leave time is supposed to be 7:30 (well, actually 7:45 but I have a meltdown if we haven’t left by 7:30 because I’m convinced that we are going to be late to school, even though it is only 10 minutes away and starts at 8:30), but my brother doesn’t want to risk me freaking out, which would consist of screaming and hysterics.

7:15 a.m.

My brother and I leave for school. Some days he decides to sleep in and take the bus, but he often comes with me. I am always driving in the morning unless my mom doesn’t let me. I am not allowed to drive if I get too little sleep, but it is only enforced when my mom knows how little sleep I got. Besides, in the morning my brother is tired like any normal teenager, but by this time my anxiety is in full swing and I’m wide awake, so it is better if I drive. Despite leaving early, I still feel like we will be late to school, and each red light raises my already high anxiety.

7:30 a.m.

We arrive at school, and I feel like we barely escaped being late, despite being an hour early. For the next hour I either do homework, study for upcoming tests/quizzes, or go to teachers to get reassurance that I did the homework right. Some days I have band stuff before school, and on those days I am very close to freaking out because I don’t have the opportunity to get reassurance from teachers.

8:30 a.m.

School starts, and my first class is band. It should be minimal stress, but during this time of the year solo and small ensemble festival is coming up, and I am performing a solo, in a french horn quarter, part of a horn choir, and in a brass choir. On top of that, our band got selected as the best in the state and is preparing an hour long concert that we will perform for pretty much all the band directors in the state. Throughout the rehearsal, every mistake I make feels like the end of the world. Each mistake convinces me more and more that all of these performances I am in will go really wrong, and it’ll all be my fault. By this point I am freaking out and my throat is closing up, making it all worse.

9:15 a.m.

Band ends, and I rush to Spanish III, which is on the other side of the school. If I get let out late I have to run to make it in time. I speed walk through the halls, constantly checking my phone for the time, feeling like my life is on the line.

9:20 a.m.

I make it to Spanish on time, and I am hit with a wave of relief. The relief is short lived, because Spanish class is full of chances to make mistakes. I answer a lot of the questions the teacher asks to make sure that I don’t get sleepy, but it really isn’t necessary. I am completely focused, because if I have a lapse in focus then I feel like I will miss a super important piece of information. There is a quiz soon, and I feel like my grade is in jeopardy once again. My anxiety skyrockets, my grade cannot go down, because if it goes down my OCD says that it will keep going down until I fail out of the class. That is what my OCD says for every class, and my grades have to be an A+ (A is acceptable for an AP class, I’m not completely unreasonable, although for an AP class A and A+ doesn’t make a difference GPA wise).

10:05 a.m.

Spanish ends, and I grab my phone from the cabinet (where we have to put it during class) and head to history. I walk fast because I need to have a certain spot, but I get nervous because in my next class, AP world history, the teacher likes to switch the desks around a lot to make different shapes for whatever we are doing in class that day. Like usual, I am one of the first to class and I find “my” spot, even if the desks have moved.

10:10 a.m.

Class starts, and most days in history we have a discussion. I have read the assigned part twice, while also taking notes on two sticky notes (to try to prevent me from taking too many notes, but I just write really small) and have come up with questions. I try to talk as much as possible to try to get a good grade, and any time I don’t contribute to a question I feel my grade dropping. The rest of the class is spent with me trying to pay attention to what the teacher is saying, taking pictures of the slides so that I can write notes when I get home (different notes than the sticky note ones), and feeling like the world is ending because I didn’t do enough in the discussion.

11:45 a.m.

History ends, and I’m off to lunch, at this point I am completely convinced that I’m not going to pass any of my classes or get any sleep. At lunch I try to talk to cover up the fact that my life is ending, while forcing down my pitiful lunch. My friends are used to what I eat and don’t comment on it. After I finish eating I have a mint, to try to stop the thought that my teeth will rot and fall out, which is only sometimes successful. If not, I will go the next class actually feeling my teeth rotting in my mouth, scared to talk because I feel like my lips are all that are holding my teeth in.

12:10 p.m.

Lunch is over, and I go to English where I will take a quiz over what I read the night before. I spent a few hours reading the section the previous evening, looking up every word I had the slightest doubt on the meaning of (which was pretty much every word, because my OCD made me second guess my own word knowledge). I also read through the sparknotes and shmoop for the section, but I still don’t feel prepared. I ask a whole bunch of questions to my classmates around me for reassurance.

12:15 p.m.

Advanced English III starts, and I have entered a life or death situation. The 10 question quiz is torture. We grade the quizzes right after, and if I miss any that night I will spend probably twice as long reading the next section so that I don’t miss a question the next day. I spend the rest of class trying to pay attention and contribute to the class discussion. If we get any reading time to get a head start on the assigned reading, I only make it a few paragraphs before I’m stuck rereading a paragraph over and over, convinced that I don’t fully understand it.

1:50 p.m.

Class is over, and I’m off to Pre-Calculus. By this time in the day my anxiety is through the roof, and the only good thing is that I like math.

1:55 p.m.

Pre-Calc starts, and I pull out the printed copy of the powerpoint notes that my teacher uses. Almost everyone else writes notes, but I am too scared to do that for the fear the I will not write down a key piece of information. We don’t get any assigned homework, but I do all of the suggested problems, which takes forever because there are a ton of them. It is extreme overkill but my OCD says that I will fail if I don’t do them all.

2:40 p.m.

Class ends, and all I have left is AP statistics, another class I like. However, I am one of two sophomores in an upperclassman math class, so it is rather nerve racking.

2:45 p.m.

Stat starts, and some days we turn in our homework. I had spent hours on the homework, writing everything out in detail, while checking my answers in the back of the book and using Slater. I also read the chapter and take notes on sticky notes, even though we were never told to read it. I feel like I have to because in stat we have group quizzes, and I feel like I need to know everything really well to catch any mistakes anyone in my group makes, since we don’t know which paper will be graded in the group.

3:30 p.m.

School ends, and I am dead tired. The adrenaline high I had been on the entire day wears away and I feel terrible. My brother usually drives home, since I’m so out of it.

4:00 p.m.

We get home, and I go through a very specific routine to put everything away. I grab some food and sit down on the couch, eating while mindlessly doing stuff on my phone. Once I am done eating I make sure to grab a piece of gum.

4:30 p.m.

I start doing homework. Some nights I have stuff going on, but luckily not this evening. The rest of my night is spend doing homework, eating dinner, and practicing my instruments (piano and french horn, half an hour each). If I have something going on after school I usually don’t have time to practice. My homework routine is ridiculous. I take a long time on my homework, often going down thought spirals about failing out of my classes because I don’t immediately know an answer to a question. I reread things, recheck answers, and make more work for myself that I feel is required. As it gets later in the evening, I get more anxious as I am trying to figure out how I am possibly going to get everything done.

11:00 p.m.

My mom didn’t make me go to bed by 11 tonight, so I am still up doing homework. At 11 I decide that I will probably be more productive tomorrow morning since I’m tired, so I start my hour long nightly routine.

12:30 a.m.

I finish my routing, which took longer than usual thanks to the extended time I spent brushing my teeth. When my OCD about my teeth was the strongest, I would brush my teeth for 20 minutes at night, until my gums were bleeding. I would also set around 20 alarms (the number started at 12 and kept going up) and make sure they were all on, intending to get up at 4:25 tomorrow, since only in a crisis (which happened a lot) would I reduce my usual 4 hours of sleep down to 3 hours. Once my head hit the pillow I was instantly asleep, beyond exhausted.

This was an average day during my sophomore year. I was extremely anxious the entire day, feeling like one wrong twitch and my life would fall apart and be beyond repair. OCD reduced my life to this shell of an existence, and I cannot let it continue to rule me like this. I am almost starting my junior year of high school, and I hope this is the year that things change. I barely made it through last year, so I need to stand up to my OCD, even if it feels like the world is ending. I want my life back, but OCD isn’t going down without a fight.

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