Wednesday, December 15, 2021


She came in and seemingly couldn't stop talking.  Told us about her husband driving her there, how she's cold all the time, why she brought so many different forms of identification, how many times she "went pee" beforehand...  And so many questions:  how do I work the locker again?  What did you say my seat number is?  Can I use the bathroom? Can I use the bathroom again?  And then, apologizing for being cold, for asking to use the bathroom, for forgetting her locker combination.

I wanted to tell her Just. Stop.  Calm. Down. Breathe. Slowly.  But I couldn't get a word in. Anxiety.

She took two separate but related certification tests.  She passed both of them, but thought she'd failed both. Then she couldn't stop talking about how amazed she was that she'd passed. She was positively giddy and shaking and teary eyed.  Honestly, I thought she was going to pass out.  Honestly.

She left and was going to text her husband to come get her.  We let her go on her way, in her racing heart, chatty state.

Did we do the right thing?

That was yesterday.

Today, a young woman came in, hardly said anything or made eye contact other than when necessary.  Similarly, she asked twice for bathroom breaks during her test.

While on her second bathroom break, my coworker returned saying that the young tester was having an "anxiety situation" in the bathroom and someone from disability services was talking with her.  She's not a student at the college, had similarly come in for a certification test.  But my coworker noticed her and rightfully found a counselor.

We patiently waited a few minutes for the woman to return and calmly redirected her to her workstation if she wished to continue.  She did manage to complete her exam, but her scores were not immediately available.

Upon finishing, she quietly signed out, gathered her things, and left - as silently as she'd arrived.  Shortly afterward, my shift ended, and I popped into the bathroom before heading home.  Quiet woman was in there sitting on the floor of a stall, her knees pulled up toward her face. I noticed someone was in the stall, but hadn't realized it was Quiet Woman sitting on the floor until noticing that what I thought was a backpack on the floor of the stall next to me was an actual back of a person.

"Are you okay?", I asked, not knowing what I'd do with her answer.

"Yeah", she replied, rather unconvincingly. "I'm just not feeling that well today".

"Would you like me to get someone from Student Services?", thinking that whomever she'd spoken with earlier had been of help.

"No", she quietly responded, adding a, "thank you", and a hint of a smile in her voice.

In my mind, I waivered.  Should I get someone anyway? Or did she just need a bit of quiet time?  Was this in relation to her test?  Or something else?  

I reminded her that the counselors were just a few steps away, or she could always return to the testing center for help or concerns.  

"Okay, thank you".

Then I left her alone. 

She was young - early 20's.  I still picture her sitting there on the floor.  She wore jeans and a cute pair of pink high top Vans.

Did I do the right thing?  I had the impression that she needed some alone time.

But I could be wrong.

Anxiety can look so different from different people.  Maybe that's why I'm more of a math person.  


Linda Sue said...

Oh man, what to do...Not sure, sit on the floor in the stall next to her? You did the right thing I reckon. Space is needed sometimes but on the floor in a toilet stall - not a great choice, is it?

Abby said...

Linda Sue, yes, a dilemma. People react to anxiety in so many different ways, and they also respond differently to "help" with their anxiety. Beats me!

Duble said...

I don’t get over here much anymore but when I do I am always glad your still posting regularly. Your blog makes me smile

Abby said...

Duble, what a nice "blast from the past", Jerry. Thanks for checking in :).

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Who knows what to do? I think I know what I'd do if it presented itself in that way but who knows? You have to read the room the best you can and you did. But unlike you, I run from all things math so...

Abby said...

Peggy, yeah who knows? The ironic thing is, her exam was for certification in a pretty stressful field. Maybe it's a sign?

betty said...

I suffer(ed) from anxiety; not so much anymore but there were periods of time when I was extremely anxious. I always tried to hide it though when around people I didn't know (and in general). I would have wondered if these two ladies were nervous for taking their tests or perhaps nervous is part of anxiety? I wouldn't have known how to help out; I probably would have ended up causing a bigger problem (lol).

If you want to follow along, I'm back to blogging here.

Merry Christmas!


Abby said...

Betty, I'm guessing both ladies are nervous/anxious people in general. But their "symptoms" were so different. Tricky stuff.

Better yet - YAY! Betty's back!