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Studying with CFS

Messages
91
I just wondered if anyone on here has experience of studying a degree with this illness. My degree is 100% exam based with intense memorising required... which I feel is the worst combination for managing CFS.

Tomorrow I'm due to start my final year of my degree (mainly self studying as I opted out of lectures due to them being in the evening which I find over stimulating and negative on my sleep).

My new ideas for this year were going to include handwritten notes only so as to avoid crashes from using the computer. It doesn't stop my crashes from reading too much though...

My other idea was setting a time for ever twelve minutes to have a break of closing my eyes or neurological rest?! Not sure if this is going to help ?


I would be grateful if anyone who studies / works could share any tips.

Thank you in advance. :)

And my main symptoms now are cognitive and immune system dysfunction : fatigue and brain fog and chronic sore throat and frequent infections.

Apologies for the bulk of writing.
 

Cheesus

Senior Member
Messages
1,292
Location
UK
Sorry, I don't have any recommendations about how to manage studying directly.

However, if you haven't already, I do suggest you speak with whoever does student support in your department. If they know about your circumstances they can help you with various things such as longer exams to allow you some rest time, acknowledgement of mitigating circumstances when the exam board meets, and possibly spreading your final year over two years if it is appropriate.

They will help you if they can, but they have to know about it.
 
Messages
5
Location
Melbourne, Australia
I'm in year 10 (16 years old) and have had the illness for a couple of years, give or take. The last 6 months or so I would say I've declined to moderate severity (in bed about half the time), and before that it was more just annoying rather than debilitating.

I'm actually in the middle of exam week at the moment, so it's kinda nice to find this discussion. I'm just really glad I'm only in year 10 at the moment, where grades don't matter as much. Not sure how I'm gonna cope with year 12 (final year of secondary school here in Australia), but I guess I'll take it as it comes.

Okay I'll actually answer the question now. Here are some things I find to help:
  • I prefer to study in long sessions when I have energy, rather than short interrupted periods. But on weekends I still need to take a break every 30-60 mins.
  • Stimulants. I take methylphenidate (ritalin 10mg) a few times a day, depending on how I'm feeling. Just helps me to focus and feel a bit more absorbed in whatever I'm doing (studying or otherwise). It helps me quite a lot but its effect is a bit limited and is very dependent on my other symptoms.
  • When you have energy, getting organised should be the first thing you do. I hate schedules and rules and confinement, but at least when you need to meet a deadline, a rough schedule or todo list helps a lot. Often before I have exams or tests, I write a brief outline of what I need to do for each subject, a list of all my resources, and roughly plan the days when I will do certain things. But of course this all has to be flexible since our energy is so volatile. If there's one thing I've learnt from my interest in engineering, it's the importance of redundancy. Make sure you allow plenty of time, and learn everything back to front to minimise the effects of brain fog when it really matters.
  • Paying attention in class is really hard for me. School just drains all the energy out of me, and the inefficiency of the education system doesn't help. I also get bored very easily (depending on the subject - physics is my favourite!). I still haven't found a solution to this, so let me know if you find one!
Hope there's something useful there. Good luck!
 
Messages
91
I'm in year 10 (16 years old) and have had the illness for a couple of years, give or take. The last 6 months or so I would say I've declined to moderate severity (in bed about half the time), and before that it was more just annoying rather than debilitating.

I'm actually in the middle of exam week at the moment, so it's kinda nice to find this discussion. I'm just really glad I'm only in year 10 at the moment, where grades don't matter as much. Not sure how I'm gonna cope with year 12 (final year of secondary school here in Australia), but I guess I'll take it as it comes.

Okay I'll actually answer the question now. Here are some things I find to help:
  • I prefer to study in long sessions when I have energy, rather than short interrupted periods. But on weekends I still need to take a break every 30-60 mins.
  • Stimulants. I take methylphenidate (ritalin 10mg) a few times a day, depending on how I'm feeling. Just helps me to focus and feel a bit more absorbed in whatever I'm doing (studying or otherwise). It helps me quite a lot but its effect is a bit limited and is very dependent on my other symptoms.
  • When you have energy, getting organised should be the first thing you do. I hate schedules and rules and confinement, but at least when you need to meet a deadline, a rough schedule or todo list helps a lot. Often before I have exams or tests, I write a brief outline of what I need to do for each subject, a list of all my resources, and roughly plan the days when I will do certain things. But of course this all has to be flexible since our energy is so volatile. If there's one thing I've learnt from my interest in engineering, it's the importance of redundancy. Make sure you allow plenty of time, and learn everything back to front to minimise the effects of brain fog when it really matters.
  • Paying attention in class is really hard for me. School just drains all the energy out of me, and the inefficiency of the education system doesn't help. I also get bored very easily (depending on the subject - physics is my favourite!). I still haven't found a solution to this, so let me know if you find one!
Hope there's something useful there. Good luck!
Thank you !

Yes definitely agree with everything you've said.

I think for me it'll be having a two month revision period which will help me memorise inside so if I am crashing in May I can use my long term memory rather than short term memory haha.

Aww I'm sorry it's hit you at such a young age. It's bad enough being a uni student with it I can't imagine it having hit me a few years earlier.

Good luck with exams.
 

Mary Poppins

75% Smurf
Messages
560
I do. I have undergrad studies and now I'm currently doing some post grad.

Yes, I may very well be some sort of moron, haha.

It's really very difficult. Keep your sense of humour, and use extensions when required.

Is there an access and equity or diversity /disability program support service with your learning institution?

How much flexibility is there to reduce contact hours for yourself?

All the best. Don't be shy to reach out and PM - even just for a bit of a giggle or a chat.
 

Mary Poppins

75% Smurf
Messages
560
I'm in year 10 (16 years old) and have had the illness for a couple of years, give or take. The last 6 months or so I would say I've declined to moderate severity (in bed about half the time), and before that it was more just annoying rather than debilitating.

I'm actually in the middle of exam week at the moment, so it's kinda nice to find this discussion. I'm just really glad I'm only in year 10 at the moment, where grades don't matter as much. Not sure how I'm gonna cope with year 12 (final year of secondary school here in Australia), but I guess I'll take it as it comes.

Okay I'll actually answer the question now. Here are some things I find to help:
  • I prefer to study in long sessions when I have energy, rather than short interrupted periods. But on weekends I still need to take a break every 30-60 mins.
  • Stimulants. I take methylphenidate (ritalin 10mg) a few times a day, depending on how I'm feeling. Just helps me to focus and feel a bit more absorbed in whatever I'm doing (studying or otherwise). It helps me quite a lot but its effect is a bit limited and is very dependent on my other symptoms.
  • When you have energy, getting organised should be the first thing you do. I hate schedules and rules and confinement, but at least when you need to meet a deadline, a rough schedule or todo list helps a lot. Often before I have exams or tests, I write a brief outline of what I need to do for each subject, a list of all my resources, and roughly plan the days when I will do certain things. But of course this all has to be flexible since our energy is so volatile. If there's one thing I've learnt from my interest in engineering, it's the importance of redundancy. Make sure you allow plenty of time, and learn everything back to front to minimise the effects of brain fog when it really matters.
  • Paying attention in class is really hard for me. School just drains all the energy out of me, and the inefficiency of the education system doesn't help. I also get bored very easily (depending on the subject - physics is my favourite!). I still haven't found a solution to this, so let me know if you find one!
Hope there's something useful there. Good luck!

Matey I did year 12 with it, actually it sounds like I was similar age to you when diagnosed.

There are plenty of options available. Clearly it's not ideal, but you sound like you've got your head on straight. Hopefully you have at least one switched on ally on staff at your school.

Lots of love to you.
 

justy

Donate Advocate Demonstrate
Messages
5,524
Location
U.K
Hi, ive just completed a degree and achieved first class honours this year while being mainly bedbound.

I studied with the OU so no physical contact time
I studied part time so over 6 years
I timetabled study time in my day eg always studied only in the am unless an essay due. Studied for about 2 -3 hours a day max, unless meeting a deadline

Only ever studied mon-fri, unless on a deadline.
Twice i just handed in notes rther than an essay as i was too sick to finish it
I always asked for extensions if necessary

I didnt choose any modules with exams, except once.
When i did the exam i requested:

extra time and the exam in my home.
An invigilator came out and i did a three hour exam over three days, and could take rest breaks if needed. Exams were harder, due to the stress than essay based final papers.

It can be done! Gives one a great purpose outside of being ill, but also at times made me sicker. I would still do it again and miss studying now.
 

CFSTheBear

Senior Member
Messages
166
Hi, ive just completed a degree and achieved first class honours this year while being mainly bedbound.

I studied with the OU so no physical contact time
I studied part time so over 6 years
I timetabled study time in my day eg always studied only in the am unless an essay due. Studied for about 2 -3 hours a day max, unless meeting a deadline

Only ever studied mon-fri, unless on a deadline.
Twice i just handed in notes rther than an essay as i was too sick to finish it
I always asked for extensions if necessary

I didnt choose any modules with exams, except once.
When i did the exam i requested:

extra time and the exam in my home.
An invigilator came out and i did a three hour exam over three days, and could take rest breaks if needed. Exams were harder, due to the stress than essay based final papers.

It can be done! Gives one a great purpose outside of being ill, but also at times made me sicker. I would still do it again and miss studying now.

This is incredible justy, congratulations.
 

Mary Poppins

75% Smurf
Messages
560
Hi, ive just completed a degree and achieved first class honours this year while being mainly bedbound.

I studied with the OU so no physical contact time
I studied part time so over 6 years
I timetabled study time in my day eg always studied only in the am unless an essay due. Studied for about 2 -3 hours a day max, unless meeting a deadline

Only ever studied mon-fri, unless on a deadline.
Twice i just handed in notes rther than an essay as i was too sick to finish it
I always asked for extensions if necessary

I didnt choose any modules with exams, except once.
When i did the exam i requested:

extra time and the exam in my home.
An invigilator came out and i did a three hour exam over three days, and could take rest breaks if needed. Exams were harder, due to the stress than essay based final papers.

It can be done! Gives one a great purpose outside of being ill, but also at times made me sicker. I would still do it again and miss studying now.

Good on you Justy x
 
Messages
91
Sounds cheesy but you guys inspire me ! :)

I hope I manage to complete mine and even better if it was to a decent standard.

My first day wasn't so bad. But taking it easy x
 
Messages
91
I do. I have undergrad studies and now I'm currently doing some post grad.

Yes, I may very well be some sort of moron, haha.

It's really very difficult. Keep your sense of humour, and use extensions when required.

Is there an access and equity or diversity /disability program support service with your learning institution?

How much flexibility is there to reduce contact hours for yourself?

All the best. Don't be shy to reach out and PM - even just for a bit of a giggle or a chat.

There's not really any help because I'm technically distance learning and the institution where I study offers no pastoral/ disability support sadly :(

Although I have now zero contact hours which is very helpful and all of it is online / reading / audio :)

I am just going to take it easy. It's hard because it goes against my instincts. I used to study significantly longer before being ill but I suppose it's not the end of the world :) it's just taking some adjustment. Worrying I'm not going to do as well because I'm putting less hours in but health is way more important.
x
 
Messages
91
Postscript... I did actually well in my exams (No idea how!!!!!) CFS has not killed off all of my intelligence... just a little!! Now just have to keep it up and not crash before the end of my degree. Resting , resting and resting some more!

Thanks for all your support xxx