Friday, 27 April 2012

How To Survive University With An Illness

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I am an English and Creative Writing undergraduate with a chronic illness. Whilst those two things don't often work in harmony, I have managed to survive my time at university so far with the help of some simple steps. Naturally, everyone's experience is different and individual so, first and foremost, listen to your body. However these steps on how to survive university with an illness may just help you out. 


1. Don't feel as if you have to follow the crowd
You don't have to do as others do. You don't have to drink excessively or go out all the time. If you want to, go for it. If you don't want to, don't. Don't feel as if you have to jeopardise your health and wellbeing to fit in with others. The ones that respect you and truly care are the ones who will understand wholeheartedly. I limit my nights out, try and get a good night's sleep, eat a balanced diet and drink soft drinks when I go out but that's just what works for me. 


2. Alert your seminar leaders and disability support 
The first thing to do once you've got your timetables is to email your seminar leaders and the head of your department to let them know a bit more about you. It can feel a bit embarrassing but it seriously makes a difference. My seminar leaders have been really respectful and understanding, making allowances for me and regularly checking in to check that I'm okay. Don't feel as if you're bothering them at all. It's their job! It's also a good idea to get in touch with disability support. They can give you lots of advice and they also offer services that will make your time at uni a lot easier. 


3. Go at a steady pace
For christ sake if, like mine, your illness feeds off of stress, don't be one of those people that leaves everything to the last minute. I'm not suggesting you spend a month prior to the deadline nerding out but it's clever to get yourself ahead of the game, in order to account for the days where you wake up unable to face the world. It also prevents stress from making you ill. Not a day goes by where I don't feel seriously fatigued so I find that, in order to get the perfect balance, I accept the bad days, that limit me to working from my bed, and really make the most of the good days where I'm able to run errands and have a bit more fun. Which brings me on to my final point...


4. Have fun and make the most of it!
You take a billion tablets a day and your monthly check up at the hospital consists of a five minute conversation with your specialist about the regularity of your bowel movements, so what?! You can still get out there and have fun! If you're having a bad day, lock yourself away and have a weep but follow that up with a busy good day. Get outside, meet like minded people and never ever let anyone tell you that you're incapable of anything. 

Even if this has helped just one person, I'll have succeeded in my mission to soothe people's anxieties. That's more than enough for me. Don't ever feel like living with an illness means you can't reach your goals, you can go for it...just at a steadier pace! Furthermore, if an illness has meant you couldn't meet some of your prior goals, don't feel as if you're to blame, or as if you cannot eventually meet them. Take time out to look after yourself and then look into different pathways. 

If you'd like to scroll through all of my advice posts then you can do so.




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