5 Ways I Survive College
Going to college with a chronic illness is like trying to swim laps with bricks tied to your legs. It’s hard. Really really hard. No matter how hard you swim, you are always sinking. If I missed class every time I didn’t feel well I would miss 100% of my classes. Some weeks I spend more time in appointments than in classes. Most days I want to quit, most days I question why the f I am even trying, if I am actually enjoying school, if the tremendous toll it takes on my body is even worth it?
The answer to this I do not know. However, I am okay functioning in this uncertainty for now. I do my best to make peace with my pain, take things day by day and listen to my body as best as I can. But it’s damn hard. I am shoveling through piles of trauma the past years have left me. In some ways, things are harder now than they were when I was in the hospital weekly being poked and prodded and searching for answers.
I am still searching. For peace of mind. Healing. Calm. Inner stability. Less nightmares. Less pain. More consistent happiness. To break the dark, traumatic feeling state I am trapped in.
I have an excellent medical team in place, the best I’ve ever had. I have faith I am on the right path and am eager to put in the work to get there. For this, I am grateful. I am working extremely hard and my people are working extremely hard.
One day healing will not be an illusive concept but will become my reality. I will be able to sit here and write to you, “I am feeling so much better. I am much happier and healthier and here is how I did it.” I am manifesting healing every day.
For now, the past two weeks have been exceptionally hard. I’ve felt some of the worst physical pain I have experienced in a while. The type of pain where I run out of the room in the middle of class. The type of pain that makes it hard to walk down the street and forces me to lay in bed all day. The type of pain that makes me feel unsafe and afraid. With this pain comes emotional traumas, doubts, irrational feelings, anxiety, etc. I have heavily and repeatedly questioned my choice to be in college.
This period of time has got me thinking a lot about how I walk the tightrope of managing college and illness, so I thought I’d share some things that help me and may help you whether you have health issues or not.
Always have exciting, delicious food stocked and/or prepared.
My love of cooking has saved me from demonizing food and viewing eating as a burden (as many people with severe digestive issues experience.) Preparing and enjoying food is nothing short of a spiritual experience for me. Each week, I prep a new soup and try and incorporate a new veggie/drink/brand of almond milk/spice/etc that I don’t normally try into my food regimen. I ensure and prioritize eating 4-6 delicious small meals a day.
Working on a side project
I always try to be working on a side project of some sort. Whether it be a creative writing project, a recipe, art project, meal plan, etc it is very important for me to feel creatively fulfilled outside of school. Converting my instagram into a place to share wellness and recipes has been one of the most gratifying side projects I have undertaken. I intend to continue to build and use instgram as an extension of my blog and platform to share my story throughout the coming months and years as it brings me so much joy.
Going home on the weekends
This is something I was terribly insecure about when I first re-entered college, but it is the whole reason I chose to transfer to a school close to home in the first place after getting sick. I now have no shame over this. Nothing grounds and rejuvenates me more than hanging out with my mom on the weekends and watching TV with my brother at home. Respecting this and unapologetically utilizing my space in Encinitas to decompress is one of the only reasons I have been able to make it through this semester.
Surfing and reality TV
My two favorite activities. Lately, my surfing has been less frequent and my sessions have been cut shorter due to my fatigue. I try to at least get in the water for 10 minutes to an hour everyday. Salt water is the single most healing thing for me. Plus, here at PLNU surfing is a social activity. I always feel uplifted by the people around me out in the water. The second most healing activity for me is reality TV, my favorite of which being 90 Day Fiance (the best show ever). I have no shame in this and I love reality TV more than most things in this world.