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My CFS blogs

I posted this originally last week on my wordpress blog, but I thought I would see how it fairs on this website.

My name is Thomas, I am 29 years old and I have just completed my first term at university. The aim of this blog is to provide an insight into the everyday trials and tribulations of living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), during the intensive experience of university life. I am hoping to resonant with anyone who suffers with chronic illnesses and to prove that you can be successful whilst overcoming obstacles.

CFS is a complicated illness that I find many people can’t grasp, one in which people tend to have a pre-conceived idea of what CFS should look like, and I don’t fit that. I often find social situations that I don’t feel comfortable in the most draining, where I often just shut down and feel cut-off. This is contrast to my capability of walking several miles without any issues, I even tried sports last term, which led to extreme tiredness on the following days. Mentally I often, in moments of exhaustion, tend to let my emotions overwhelm me, and to go to a dark place.

My CFS started 10 years ago after I originally dropped out of university, so coming back has led to a whole range of emotions, from excitement to being utterly terrified. The last few weeks before starting university climaxed with a debilitating series of tension headaches, that only released when I started at university and realised that there isn’t anything too scary.

The first term was challenging particularly as I suffered with my tension headaches throughout the majority of the term, due to stress from a personal relationship. Thankfully my CFS stayed fairly consistent which meant I was able to attend classes and see my friends, although I struggled a lot with focussing on reading, especially books which I found uninteresting.

I received my first piece of marked coursework back last week, and I just got a 1st, which I am very happy about. This was an aspect of university that felt particularly daunting because I haven’t completed any marked work for ten years, but amazingly I felt confident when I handed it in. Even last week’s exam seemed to go fairly well, with the extra time coming in handy, as my wrist wasn’t used to writing this much.

Socially I am quite shy, especially when tired, however luckily, I found a great group of friends last term, unfortunately two were Erasmus students who have gone back to Germany, both of whom I miss greatly. This has left the desire to make some new friends, because friends, especially close ones, can give me energy, which is greatly desired. So far there is one new person who I hope to become good friends with.

Comments

Good for you for going back to school! Are you taking a full course load?

A few years ago, also at age 29, I decided to go back to graduate school. It was a little stressful before classes began--I wasn't sure if I remembered how to do basic things like write an essay or even study for a test! Plus my brain worked very differently than it did before I became sick. But it didn't take too long to figure out how to be a student again. It sounds like you're off to a great start! I'm sure there will be ups and downs along the way, but you can do this!
 
Good for you for going back to school! Are you taking a full course load?

A few years ago, also at age 29, I decided to go back to graduate school. It was a little stressful before classes began--I wasn't sure if I remembered how to do basic things like write an essay or even study for a test! Plus my brain worked very differently than it did before I became sick. But it didn't take too long to figure out how to be a student again. It sounds like you're off to a great start! I'm sure there will be ups and downs along the way, but you can do this!
Yep, it is a full course.

It sounds like you had a good experience.

First term went well, but my energy levels have dropped in the second term, and now i am worried... which doesn't help at all!
 
I did have a good experience overall, but I also had difficult moments when I didn't feel well or didn't think I could handle the workload. There were times when I had to be honest with my professors about my illness and ask for extensions on papers, and there were terms when I had to take fewer classes than I would have liked.

So try not to worry! Just do your best (which sounds pretty amazing), and know that if you do get in a spot of trouble with your energy you and your professors will be able to figure out ways to handle it.
 
I did have a good experience overall, but I also had difficult moments when I didn't feel well or didn't think I could handle the workload. There were times when I had to be honest with my professors about my illness and ask for extensions on papers, and there were terms when I had to take fewer classes than I would have liked.

So try not to worry! Just do your best (which sounds pretty amazing), and know that if you do get in a spot of trouble with your energy you and your professors will be able to figure out ways to handle it.
My tutor, who teachers most of my modules, is really nice, and I have been keeping him updated with how I have been getting on so far.

I will try not to worry, but that can be hard at times, as this is my second time at uni after falling ill first time around.

Thank you for sharing your experience of university with me, it is helpful to hear how you managed to get through university.
 

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