6 Tips for Chronically Ill Students Going Into College

Starting college can be stressful at the best of times because it can mean a new city, new friends and new teachers. This alone would fill most people with dread, but I’m assuming if you’re reading this you are a fellow spoonie or you know someone who is. This means you have the added task of being sick and balancing meds and hospital appointments. College and chronic illness alone can be daunting, but put them together and you may be wondering how you’re going to cope… Well, I’m here to give yourself some advice I found useful when I started college.

1. Pace yourself. You don’t want to wear yourself out in the first week, so you need to set yourself some guidelines. For starters, don’t try and join every club you see – maybe just one or two. You should also know your own limits. If you get tired, take a break. It could save you from being bedridden for days.

2. Eat properly. This sounds pretty basic but you need to make sure you’re eating a full three meals a day, or at least do your best. You don’t want to become vitamin deficient or take meds on an empty stomach because it might make you feel worse.

3. Keep a bullet journal. This really helped me because I could keep track of all the things I needed to do as well as monitor my pain levels and flare-ups. I just find it super helpful. Even if you’re not a spoonie, you should definitely start one.

4. Forget the haters. I know this one is pretty cliche, but it’s actually super useful advice. You don’t need all the negativity in your life, especially if it’s coming from friends. If it is, I recommend ditching them and finding new ones.

5. Inform your tutors. This one could be a lifesaver. I miss a lot of class from having appointments and from being stuck in bed, and if your teacher knows this then they’re less likely to give you grief over missing class. If they do give you grief, ask for some support. Did you know you can get someone to take notes for you in class? Well, I didn’t, but I had a teacher tell me that you could get someone to take notes for you, even when you’re in class.

6. Don’t struggle in silence. If you need help, ask! You can’t expect someone to know you need help, especially if you have an invisible illness. If you need help getting between lessons or you need extra exam time then this could be arranged for you if you have a valid reason for it. If it will be beneficial for you then it’s worth asking. Even if they say no, it’s not the end of the world.

That’s most of the advice I have. I’m pretty new to being a spoonie and I’ve only just finished my first year of college, a.k.a. sixth form (this means I’m only 17 – in Britain college is the equivalent of being a junior/senior in America). I really hope this helps because when I started college I had no idea how important these seemingly small tasks were.

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Thinkstock photo via moodboard.

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