Going back to school can be stressful enough, let alone if you have a chronic illness or chronic pain condition to manage on top of that. I wanted to help make back to school season less daunting, but as I have only been sick for 1.5 years and I spent a year of that off school and the other half doing online school, I don’t have much experience. So I reached out to some of my friends who were kind enough to share with me their advice, for me to share with you.
While I haven’t been to school since I got sick, I was at school when I was having vision issues (due to a past horse accident). And the biggest thing that helped me was telling my friends about it. I explained to them what would happen when my vision would happen, why it happened, things that would trigger it like me running around too much and what things helped settle it down. People aren’t mind readers and can’t understand or help you unless they know. I am still so grateful for the friends that helped me when I was at school, it made everything less stressful and scary. The same thing goes for any type of chronic illness or pain condition. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or just tell your friends so they are aware of your situation.
ANNIKA CASSIDY – @confidentlychronic
I ask myself constantly “what are you working towards?” As daunting as the question may be, I feel it’s super important. My number one tip for any high school student with chronic illness and pain is to take everything one step at a time. My Mom has a quote that goes “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” The same goes for school. My trick is to stay organized. I always use sticky notes in my planner so I can cover things I don’t need to worry about right now. This reduces stress and makes me feel like I am in control. I really hope this helps someone who’s in the same boat as me. You’re strong and you have got this in the bag! Sending love and spoons
AMIE LIANE – @helloamieliane
This might be cliche advice by now, but the best thing I can say to you is “Listen to your body”. Pushing yourself to do things when you know you’re not up to it is only going to make you feel worse. Make sure that your teachers understand your condition by having them speak to your parents or your doctors. If your school is understanding of your limitations then it can take the pressure off you. Remember that your health is, and always will be, the most important part of your life.
PEYTON – @andpajamas
If education is important to you, there is always and will always be a way to make it work. It can be frustrating, it can feel like the mountain of work is forever building and you’ll never catch up, or that everyone is out to make finishing school impossible; but the saying is true, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Work with your resources, don’t be ashamed of accommodations if you have them, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself, and take charge of your education. Be proud of your accomplishments, proud of the work you’ve done, and know that you’re never alone. Personally, looking back I’m amazed at myself for how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved in my education. In the end, it all came down to my drive to make it happen, ability to advocate for myself and my needs, and my passion for learning. I found ways to make learning work for me, gave it my all, and I’ve done better and more than I ever thought possible. Back to school can be hard, just try to remember: you are not alone, you can find a way (even if it’s non-traditional), and there’s no shame in taking care of yourself. Good luck!
HANNAH – @fightingwithhamps
My top tip for getting through school is to be in constant communication with your teachers. From my experience, teachers want to help you succeed and will try their best to make sure you do well! Communicate your needs and how they can best support your success in their class. Outside of classes, make time for things like spending time in nature and hanging out with friends. Try to remember school isn’t life or death and though it might not feel like it in the moment, one grade won’t determine your fate.
VEERA – @veeraelisabeth