Monday was a mentally exhausting day for me. I was scheduled for a neuro-psych evaluation that would last for four hours. I wasn’t that stressed about it because the testing would be things I could do easily and would be stimulating.
I was called back by a nice gentleman around 1:15, trying to weave my way around a very disruptive child having a bad session. The room was small and windowless. It was also quite warm but I grew acclimated to it. He explained that there’d be three tests: the WAIS-IV (IQ), the MMPI (psychopathology) and a third one that was on the computer. I was allowed to have drinks and snacks during my break because I couldn’t sit there for four straight hours.
First, there was some block arrangement. Match the pattern in the book as fast as possible. Simple enough, up until the last problem where I ended up taking a bit longer than I’d like.
Next was some short-term memory recall. I struggled with some of the number sequences once they became longer. I tried to mimic the BBC Sherlock and visualize the numbers as they appeared but I wasn’t successful. Then I had to do the same thing backwards. As the sequences got longer, I noticed my ADHD kicking in despite taking my medication earlier that morning.
I was asked how two items were similar. This was to demonstrate the ability to think abstractly or something like that. He then showed me a list of words and asked me to define them. I got all but the final one; my etymology skills failed me in that moment.
After that, he asked me what kind of problems I was having. I gave him a CliffNotes version of the past four months, saying I had no clue what or why it was happening to me. He assured me that the doctors would eventually find an answer to what’s going on (apparently it’s not conversion disorder like I thought).
Next came some mental math questions. All those times in school I thought mental math would get me nowhere came back to bite me as I slipped up on an embarrassingly simple subtraction problem but then worked my way through the rest. It stung a bit because I couldn’t change my answer even though I usually come across as an intelligent man.
I was then asked some general knowledge questions. As he worked his way through the list, he paused and chuckled at one question: who was Martin Luther King Jr.? We both laughed because it was a coincidence that this would be asked on MLK Jr. Day. A few questions later, he asked what the importance of the freedom of speech was in a democracy and why it’s important to maintain good relations with other countries. We both smirked because we both knew why but some higher-ups clearly didn’t.
Then came some more recall, this time with stories. In grade school, my reading comprehension was terrible. I dreaded taking the computerized tests that asked for specific details that I didn’t think were important. I listened to the story and had to repeat as many details as I could remember. Some more tests came later and then he asked some long-term recall questions from those stories.
Towards the end, I was given survey after survey asking about my mood and desires. The MMPI in particular was exhausting because it was over 550 questions that asked me things ranging from whether or not I had a compulsion to steal, if I drink to feel better about myself (never had a drop), multiple questions on suicide that were phrased the same way, if I ever wished I were the opposite sex (clearly written with a gender binary in mind), and others.
After I finished all of that, he took me out of the office and told me it’d be another five to seven weeks before I heard back. At this point, I’m used to waiting. I left with a substantial hunger in my belly as I needed dinner. The testing gave me a glimpse into the future in terms of a career in psychology. With the cursory understanding of the abnormal, I was able to pick out what the questions were specifically asking. I knew I could mentally eliminate some diagnoses because I had no inclination towards them (alcoholism, kleptomania, pyromania). The rest, I’m not sure.
All I can do is wait.