Hi, there. I’m (almost almost a) Dr. Pat, here to tell you today about the dangers of the dreaded Finals-Week-Associated Meltdown (FWAM). Not much is known about the cause of the FWAM. Research points to the changing of the seasons and massive amounts of paperwork, yet at least one school of thought believes it is a psychological disorder related to lycanthropy, or “werewolfism.” There are four stages to such an event, providing warning signs throughout the last weeks of the semester.
FWAM begins with “the windup,” when symptoms first start to emerge. This first stage is where warning signs are still difficult to spot, but early detection is crucial to a speedy recovery. Symptoms include earning a gold card at Starbucks, glazed eyes and, in males, unruly growth of facial hair accompanied by the excuse “I didn’t have time to shave.” Patients often commonly present with a condition commonly known as “sweatpants,” in addition to falling asleep in books, class and the middle of sentences. They may also become focused on trying to remember what sunlight feels like.
The second stage is commonly referred to as “the trigger,” the stage at which a meltdown becomes all but unavoidable. Students appear constantly on edge and anything might send them over the brink into a full-fledged FWAM attack. For this reason, this stage is often referred to as the “printer jam” stage. Other concerns involve tiny paper cuts, running out of staples and running out of Cheerios in DS. At this point, extreme caution must be taken in approaching students of concern, but help can still be offered. If you are able to reach an at-risk student without bringing them sobbing to their knees, remember that kind, patient words and probably a muffin are the best first aid.
The third stage, or “the collapse” as it’s referred to in the medical community, is the pinnacle of the affliction. The transition between the trigger and the collapse is often rapid and violent, occasionally marked by trying to throw laptops off the highest structure accessible. Finally reaching the point of no return, students crack under the incredible pressure of finals week. This climax of the anxiety-induced illness is also the easiest to spot, with students generally found silently weeping in the fetal position in a library study room. Little can be done at this point other than rest.
Finally, the refractory period between bouts of FWAM can be wildly variant, from as little as 24 hours, but more often lasting four to seven months. Immediately after a FWAM attack, patients report blurred vision and a craving for chocolate and pillows. Experts recommend that these requests be attended to, as well as offering a glass of water. Additionally, researchers are in clinical trials of “kitten therapy,” a promising new treatment for students that suffer from regular FWAM flare-ups.
So there you have it, a brief review of the stages leading up to and following the finals meltdown. It can happen to anyone, and the best defenses against a meltdown are being well-prepared for your week and impossible amounts of sleep. Stay healthy, my friends.
Disclaimer: Our lawyers tell me that it’s necessary to mention that I have no doctoral degree, (medical, philosophical or mail order) and am in no way a registered physician, counselor, therapist, nurse or domain name.
A class of 2013 psychology major with chemistry and biology minors, Patrick joined the Concordian as a contributing writer for Arts & Entertainment before writing and editing for the Opinions section.