Learning What I Am Able To Do With My Disabilities

I have been going to therapy for about five years now, but it was not until three years after I started that I realized how my anxiety spikes when it comes to testing and my academics. For weeks in therapy I tried to solve the mystery behind my testing anxiety: why I studied so hard and understood the material yet performed so poorly. It got the best of me, made me feel worse about myself and made me feel like I did not belong at UCLA. Finally, my therapist and I came to the conclusion that many external factors influence my test taking abilities: time, environment, scheduling and so on. She offered that I get accommodations from UCLA. So, thus began the process that my mental health issues not only included anxiety and depression, but also a subtle form of ADHD and a learning disability. 

Then came the testing process. I had to meet with a different psychologist that primarily focused on getting documents for accommodations. I went into her office twice, and each time I was there for about three to four hours. The rest of the day was the worst in my opinion. We spent the first hour literally going through my mental health history from 1st grade to now. We even went through my family’s mental health history. It was honestly draining, but then we had to continue to spatial testing, testing with numbers, puzzles and even the most boring video games. At the end, I had to take a long test that consisted of over 300 questions. It was primarily about my current and past emotional state, how I feel in certain situations and how I tend to cope when I enter dark times. This was the worst part. I remember feeling so overworked, so drained and so sad. It was like all of my sadness and difficulties I felt throughout my life was right in front of me, on paper. The next day was better. We did spelling tests, reading comprehension and more math. I then had to return about a week later for my results. 

First, the psychologist gave me a super thick packet which consisted of all my results that were both quantified and qualified. I was so overwhelmed and worried. Then she broke it down for me in two hours. Essentially, we came to the conclusion that my IQ has the potential to be very high, but because of my mental health, the number is lower than it should be. It also became evident that I have subtle ADHD, which means that my ADHD is not noticeable to the naked eye. I also have specific reading disorder, which affects my processing skills during learning and test taking. For example, I tend to forget the easy concepts, and I have a difficult time matching up different concepts while test taking. She also mentioned my diagnosis for depression and anxiety, which often goes hand in hand. Now that I have seen the results, in a weird way, I feel relieved. It was eye opening to see my mental health just written out in front of me with data to back it up. It just felt like everything made sense. So, I got accommodations for my testing anxiety at UCLA - more time, in a smaller and quieter room and the option of breaks if I feel like a panic attack is coming. I have yet to take a test with my new accommodations, but I already feel relieved knowing that I have this option. Being willing to take care of your mental state, getting professional help if necessary and being okay with your disabilities is a healthy mindset to have. Everything that happens with me mentally is not a negative reflection of who I am.