As you turn in your last midterm and submit that paper, you smile and think ahead to a nice, long nap and maybe celebrating with a night out alongside your friends. Sound familiar? Not so fast. Most students will suffer from PMSD, A.K.A. Post Midterms Stress Disorder, which will turn you into a nervous wreck for at least another week. It’s highly contagious, worse than any final you can imagine and like many diseases, tends to spread in high populations. If the following symptoms sound familiar, you may have PMSD.
1. Comparing with friends
This is where it all starts, although you won’t know it until later. Like most diseases, PMSD tends to take several days to incubate before unleashing its full wrath on you. You and your class friends will usually gather around to discuss the test: “Hey, what’d you put for question 26?” “Oh, crap, I should’ve changed my answer.” As innocent as a sneeze can feel at the time, if you’re at this stage, you’d best get prepared.
Too much discussion with friends causes that funny little jolt in your stomach. Common characteristics of this symptom include: forgetting if you wrote down your name, wondering if you double checked that last page (oh no, was there a page after that last page?) or if you wrote down your name. Yes, this is possible. I once wrote “Viola Davis” next to ”name” because I was too busy thinking about all the How to Get Away with Murder episodes I planned to watch. Or maybe you think that you should’ve written at least one more paragraph in the essay question. If you’re able to double check anything after you’ve turned it in, better do it now, because doubt left unchecked will lead to the next, less pleasant stage…
Those little niggling doubts (did I really cite my sources correctly? Oh God, please tell me I used MLA like I was supposed to) tend to breed inside your mind, which is already highly vulnerable from days of all nighters and nothing but Red Bull and protein bars. This inevitably causes nervousness where you’ll frantically try to recreate the test in your mind and remember how you answered every question. This stage usually causes the sleeplessness and loss of appetite. That huge Chipotle burrito you were daydreaming about just days before? Yeah, better pass on that.
Dashing back and forth from your bed to your computer to check your grades every few minutes, hands shaking as you type in your password? Check. Rocking in a ball while biting your nails to calm the jet of vomit that’s threatening to fly everywhere? Check. Remember when you were naïve enough to think that you’d actually enjoy yourself once midterms were over? Yeah, right. A common alternative to hysteria is anger, where anything and everything that people say will set you off. How dare they tell you to calm down?! After all, this is your future. One failed test leads to a lower grade in the class, followed by a bad GPA and before you know it, you’re asking people if they want to supersize their fries.
“Ok, if I get at least a B-, I promise I won’t skip any classes starting next week.” In the middle of your panic fueled craze, your thoughts are flying at a million miles per minute. As you curse yourself over and over, you’ll also find yourself pleading with any higher Deity. “I’ll be a better person, I swear. I’ll even start recycling!”
Whew, the worst is over. This usually comes at least three days after the initial outbreak. Maybe your grades came out, and you see that you didn’t do as bad as you’d thought. Or maybe you’ve decided to give up. You already turned everything in so it’s out of your control. Suddenly, it’s like everything’s flooded in color again, and you’re weak from exhaustion and hunger.
Even though you feel better, don’t overdo it. Take it easy: binge watch Netflix in bed, eat lots of greasy foods and get sloshed with friends. Avoid any triggers that might cause a relapse, such as anything school related. Rest up for the rest of the quarter, because this will likely happen all over again (hello, finals). After all, what’s college without getting sick at least once (or more) a quarter?