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Is it LD or just anxiety/phobia about writing? Please help!


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Joined: Feb 21, 2005
Posts: 2
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Posted Feb 21, 2005 at 2:57:32 PM
Subject: Is it LD or just anxiety/phobia about writing? Please help!

Hi everyone,
I'm 27, brand new to researching LD. I'm sitting here about to cry because I can't get myself started writing a crummy 500 word paper. It's already 5 days late and I'm about to lose it because I just started back in school and I don't know if I can do this again. I have a therapist, who thinks my problem is more of a phobia, but it's making me so miserable I'm wondering if I should get tested for LD (and maybe ADD). My brother has ADD and LD (just language, I think), but he was a preemie, so it may not be due to genes. My mother was diagnosed with ADD as an adult, but she's a drunk/drug addict and I suspect she was just trying to get the amphetamine prescription and could have fooled the psychiatrist.

A little background -- I have two college degrees (a BA in psychology and an AS in nursing). I just started a combined BS/MS program in nursing (63 credits). I didn't have any problems in school as a child until 7th grade, when I started a new school and started having trouble with humanities classes (english, history). Basically, any class that involves a lot of writing is really hard for me. Come to think of it, even as an 8 year old applying for admission to an elementary school, I wrote a one-sentence answer to their essay question and was rejected (they said it was because of that).

I have a high IQ and recently tested very well on two parts of the GRE (800/800 for quantitative (92th percentile), 660/800 verbal (93th percentile), but just 4.5/6.0 on analytical writing (47th percentile). If this sounds like I'm trying to brag, I promise I'm not.

I have chronic depression (diagnosed at 15), for which I take an antidepressant. I've also taken some form of methylphenidate (ritalin or concerta) since around the same time for excessive sleepiness and difficulty concentrating, but I've never been tested for ADD.

My first degree was pure torture because it involved lots of writing. I never should have been a psych major. My first nursing degree was much easier for me because it involved mostly multiple choice testing, and very little writing. I actually got the academic award for my graduating class.

The two classes I'm taking right now are online and require a lot of writing. My problem is not with spelling, grammar, syntax, or even vocabulary. This is why I'm wondering if it could even be a learning disability. My problem is with organizing my thoughts and figuring out how to spit them out on paper. I'm a big-time procrastinator -- always have been. I can remember having the same problem with writing papers as far back as 8th grade. I always wait until the last minute and spit out my paper then. Most of the time, this has worked fine, and I've actually ended up with a good product and usually received good grades. However, the assignments always cause me a great deal of anxiety, and it seems like it's getting worse. It seems to be the worst with research papers, where I have to put together information from lots of different sources and make a coherent point. I have a hard time remembering everything I've read and using it in a paper.

Because I test well and have generally been successful in school, it seems like people dismiss my problem and think I should just be able to get over it. The problem is that it's causing me great anxiety, and my procrastination is getting much worse. I'm even contemplating giving up on this program, just because I can't deal with the prospect of a few writing-intensive courses.

I'm sorry, I've really rambled here. As you can see, I have no problem writing in informal forums like this. Can somebody please tell me if this sounds like a learning disability? Or is it just that after years and years of school, I've created a phobia for myself?

Somebody please help. I can't deal with this anymore.

Hillary

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 22, 2014
Posts: 69138

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My two cents as a college professor are that you don't have a writing disability. You write very well, better than most of my students frankly. You may lack skills at writing research papers, but that is a very different thing. You may be trying to put everything you read together which is almost impossible to do. You may be expecting to write a wonderful paper when you need to be writing multiple drafts.

One book that is geared to PhD students but you might find interesting and helpful is Writing for Social Scientists by Howard Becker. He talks about the "magical rituals" people go through before they write (have to have all pencils shapened, a clean house, yellow paper on one side) because of their fears. People are afraid that 1. they won't be able to organize their thoughts and 2. that people would think they were "wrong" and laugh at them.

Beth

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victoria
Joined Jun 13, 2003
Posts: 1784

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Well, it is impossible to diagnose by internet, but writer's block is a very well-known and common syndrome. Personally I have no trouble writing notes here, but formal letters and papers still hang me up for a while, often to the last minute.
One thing that helps is to avoid the problem of staring at a blank page. Open up a file on your computer and start typing notes and ideas into it, anything that comes to mind. Then the next day start organizing that file and adding to it. Keep at it and after a few days you have a paper growing on you. Sometimes it is nothing like the paper you thought you were planning to write, but so what?

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 22, 2014
Posts: 69138

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Posted:Feb 23, 2005 12:05:45 PM
Subject:hmmm...

One thing that I have learned about in pursuit of my own degree is that sometimes you might have to force yourself to do an outline. After reading the material, make notes in whatever fashion you deem best and have these notes be the final thing you do, eh? Because, you have mad skills with those GRE scores. Then, after you have your notes written or typed out, make a big outline and use that as a guide for writing your report. There are templates on the ms works that have outlines and I just think that can help you.

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HillaryC
Joined Feb 21, 2005
Posts: 2

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Posted:Feb 26, 2005 2:40:39 PM

I really appreciate your feedback and advice, everyone. It sounds like my therapist is probably right -- this probably is more of an anxiety/phobia problem than an LD. I know drugs aren't the answer, but I decided to take a small dose of an old anxiety med I'd been prescribed, to see it that helped chill me out at all so I could write my paper. Maybe it was the placebo effect, but it did seem to help me a little, once I decided that I needed to relax and just write something -- anything. I think the advice you guys gave me was great; In addition to dealing with the anxiety/quasi-phobia I've created, I need to make some behavioral changes in how I approach writing papers. It's true that I do think I should just be able to spit it out once and have my final product, rather than expecting to have multiple revisions. I also have a big problem looking at a blank screen, so starting typing random notes in a document and adding to it is a great idea. Also, forcing myself to do an outline is a great idea.

I still feel like writing is definitely not my forte; it just seems like my thoughts are so disorganized. I guess I just need to accept that writing just isn't something that comes easily to me, compared to math or science. I also need to commit to working harder; I think I get very lazy about these papers and don't want to make the effort I should.

Thanks again for all your help.

Hillary

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