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Disease of the Mind

The night has grown dark; the only light that shines now comes from the desk lamp burning next to me, and the open Macbook that lies before me. The blank white page stares back at me with its black cursor flashing at an unnecessary rate. Minutes seem to contain hours as my eyes bore holes in the screen, or maybe the screen bores holes into my eyes; I’m really not sure at this point. I’m not sure if the shaking in my hands is from the countless ounces of Red Bull I have chugged tonight in preparation to write this paper or if it’s back. Anxiety rips through my body as I realize that this is due in 4 hours. “Oh f***, not again,” I say as I realize it has consumed me yet again.


***


I had always been on top of my assignments. I would always return home and sit at my white paint-chipped IKEA desk and work laboriously on every assignment I had. During the winter I would use my desk lamp for warmth; I did whatever I had to do to make sure that my homework got done regardless of the fact that I might lose a limb to frostbite. That’s why I was so shocked when I when I was diagnosed with an early onset of Procrastination. I didn’t even know what that meant, but I had heard the treatments for it weren’t so bad as long as you caught it early on. Early stages of procrastination are usually treated by reserving time in each day of the week to complete assignments and tasks. Believe me, I really did attempt to do this. I bought a planner and meticulously wrote down every assignment’s due date. I would get home and feel the procrastination building up as I sat on the couch and ate potato chips. “No!” I would yell at myself and run back to the comfortability of the white paint-chipped IKEA desk.


For awhile that method worked. I could deny my urges to ignore my responsibilities. Unfortunately the disease started to leak throughout other parts of my brain. I took a visit to my guidance counselor because my symptoms were worsening. I had finished the Gossip Girl series in its entirety in less than 2 weeks. Worse yet, I moved houses and sold my trusty desk. I needed help, desperately. My counselor cautioned me that setting habits like that would increase my vulnerability to the disease. He suggested as a secondary treatment method I add extracurriculars to my schedule to keep me away from Netflix and after-school-naps. That seemed easy enough, so with that I joined the high school swim team. In theory this seemed like a really great idea; unfortunately, it was counterproductive to getting things done. The dedication and time put into swim eventually took over my calendar. I was using swim as a method of procrastination at this point. I could feel the procrastination begin to flow through my veins like a river after it rains. The procrastination brought late nights of anxiety that would disrupt my sleep cycle for months.


That river of procrastination flooded the cities of hopes and dreams within me until finally the disaster relief team arrived to aide my mind. In my third year of high school a switch flicked on inside of me. The treatments were working! I sat down each night and completed my assignments in their entirety. Setting aside time for school work and swim was starting to become a piece of cake. This is where I must caution you. Diseases of the mind love to hide inside the foldings of your brain and act like they are the all-time-champions of hide-and-seek. It may be months, or even years before you’re able to find them again. Beware of relapse.


Going to school for one final year of high school was going to be easy; my procrastination symptoms had practically disappeared, and I was going to crush this year both athletically and academically. To be fair, I lasted a whole 24 hours of no procrastination; however, by the end of the first school week I was already drowning in assignments. I put one off after another claiming that I would get to it after swim practice, or after cheer practice, or after I ate dinner, or after I drove to target to buy something that I didn’t need. I made up excuses for everything. “Oh sorry, Mrs. Henzel we actually couldn’t turn in our group project because Symone’s cousin’s pet cricket died and we had to have a funeral for it!” (True story). The procrastination began to manifest so deep within that I was procrastinating getting in the pool at swim. How many minutes could I hide in the bathroom and pretend I was changing for? By January I was in full fledge procrastination mode. I turned in an essay to my english teacher 2 months late. 2 months. This led to me actively failing 3 classes simultaneously.


No method of easing my symptoms was working. The procrastination had whittled itself so far into body that teachers had lost hope in my case. I thought this was going to be the end; I was going to be a super senior. Most teachers and admin left me to silently suffer. It wasn’t until March that my saving grace came. Kelsey Fickes, the Athena to my Odysseus, was my IB Bio teacher. She knew that no mechanisms were aiding my symptoms of procrastination. No study hours or extracurriculars were going to do it for me. She brought in the best tactic of them all. The scare tactic. She threatened to cut my ponytail off while wielding a pair of scissors in her mighty hands. “Write your damn essay!” She would tell me this everyday and hold up the pair of scissors with a menacing grin. I guess that threat was enough to even scare the procrastination inside my head. If it weren’t for this wonderful/terrifying woman, I’m not sure I would be here procrastinating this essay right now. I might still be in my high school trying to convince myself that being a super senior is totally okay. I might still be writing that essay that I turned in two months late. She got me the help that I most definitely needed.


If you or someone that you know is suffering from procrastination, seek help immediately. Procrastination is a disease of the mind that can and will deteriorate your mind and sense of motivation. If you suspect that you or someone you know is prone to the early onset of procrastination I implore you to speak with a counselor or advisor who can show you the best methods to staying on top of things. Do not let yourself fall victim to a completely preventable disease!




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