Studying & Chronic Illness

Deadlines and unpredictable health are at opposite ends to each other.

I remember the churning of my insides when my degree deadlines would creep up on me – I hadn’t been diagnosed with IBD at this point – and was at a loss of how to extend my deadlines due to my health. Alot of it was down to the fact I didn’t know the access was out there, and I didn’t want to be different to everyone else. I wanted to be part of the masses not an individual.

I would learn the hard way – with lower grades than I wanted – but still graduated. A year into post graduate life, IBD came a-knockin’ and I had no idea how I would ever attempt to study again as my disease was swift, severe and knocked me down too many times.

Last September I took on an accountancy course to gain a Level Two AAT qualification to get into fiance. I was eight years into IBD life, three years into Stoma life and felt comfortable enough to take on a new challenge. My drive to retrain was strong but I was still apprehensive about learning, working – albeit part time – and managing my health.

I got a lucky break – my IBD went into remission and I no longer needed my medications. I felt a little more free from the constrains I felt my IBD was having over me for many years. But it’s hard to un-train your brain, to un-learn all the coping mechanism and protection techniques you held close to you for safety. It was abit mental adjustment – it still is now, in some respects. But gradually, I was able to find my own balance between health and study.

So here are my tips on how to keep the balance:

MAKE A PLAN – Deciding when and for how long to study is a difficult one to approach. Course can sometimes be overwhelming, especially after a break from learning, but breaking it down makes things easier. Setting out hours when to study and when to rest – making this a red line, that you do not cross – will help you be consistant in sticking to your plan of study.

TAKE NOTES – Don’t rely on just the textbooks for your learning. Yes, they can be expensive, but they are written in someone else’s speak, so try and summarises these in your own words. I do this for most chapters, highlights the important information and then writing out what I know I need to use to accomplish that particular topic.

I also make notes so that I can make my revision flash cards – something I can discuss at a later time.

TAKE A BREAK – Getting away from your desk or study area is almost as important as setting up a good and practical space to learn. Taking a break helps the brain separate tasks out and allows some breathing room to avoid being overwhelmed.

DO ONE THING AT A TIME – This is the one thing I am most guilty for – not focusing on one thing. While multitasking is great in some situations, studying is not like this and multitasking can make it all feel too much at times. And for the most part, learning one thing before moving onto the next is how some topics need to be approached.

Photo by Sarah Shaffer on Unsplash

KEEP A ROUTINE – It is easy to find something easier to do instead of studying, specially if you are now remote learning after time doing classroom based learning. But keeping a routine helps – plan time for your study like you would do if you attended a class X amount of times a week and follow that up with your own routine – getting dressed, having breakfast and allowing time to rest in between.

BE PROUD OF YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS – Whether you are studying in a classroom or distance learning – even now with remote learning during this pandemic – studying is hard. It is taxing and requires dedication. Be proud of all the achievements you achieve throughout your learning.

Do you have any questions or queries? Or just want to share your own experiences?

You can leave me a reply here or leave comments via my social media accounts – on Twitter, find my blog page on Facebook and over on Instagram

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If you enjoyed this post check out IBD v IBS – Why Do So Many Get Misdiagnosed , Discharge Euphoria and This is Not My First Choice

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