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Studying When You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Part 1
Studying can be extremely difficult when you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome /Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome /ME. And if you experience severe brain fog, concentration and memory problems, it can be a near-to-impossible feat. But if you **do** feel well enough to study, there **are** options out there which can make things a lot easier for you.
Well if your condition is moderate-to-severe then taking a term- or year-out to recover from your condition is definitely worth considering. But for some of us this just isn't an option.
In addition, some of us may already be studying a course when we first develop this condition. Not wanting to stop the course, it is not uncommon for us to try to carry on, regardless of our struggles to keep up with the course's pace and intensity.
What's more, often it's not a case of 'just managing your course' either. If only it were that simple! College and university life opens up a 'brave new world' of socializing, parties, and events - things that most CFS/ME/PVFS sufferers struggle to keep up with, if at all.
----- SIDE NOTE -----
Alcohol for example, can play a big role in socializing, especially at university. But many (if not most) CFS/ME/PVFS sufferers are alcohol-intolerant so beware!
Check out the article below for more info:
----- SIDE NOTE -----
From a personal perspective, studying with CFS/ME/PVFS is something I'm very familiar with. I was diagnosed with Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS) in the second term of my first year at university, so most of my university-life was spent as a PVFS sufferer.
Although the PVFS wasn't nearly as bad as it is now, I still had to battle with the brain fog, exhaustion, weakness and the many other dreadful symptoms that come with it. That was in addition to the emotional stress of getting used to the illness and the restricted lifestyle it imposed on me. In fact, not being able to do as much as I would like to is **still** something I'm trying to get used to even now!
Many students move away from their home to study further a field. And while that often can make sense for a healthy individual, I think that in some cases, the strain of living on your own/with friends/in halls/dorms can make coping with CFS/ME/PVFS even more difficult.
When I was a university student I lived away from home, firstly in halls, and then with friends. I studied full-time but with hindsight I think that studying **part-time** would have lifted a lot of the stress for me. The pace would have been slower and I may have even been able to attend more classes too (I missed many of them).
With hindsight, I think that it may have been easier if I had considered either:
1) going to a **local** university or college and studying **part-time** or;
2) opting for a 'home study' course (distance learning).
So if you feel that you can study but perhaps not full-time, then going part-time could be an option for you. And if you feel that you are not able to manage a full-time or even part-time course, then home study (distance learning) can be a viable option.
I think that living in the home environment while you study may make it much easier on you (if your home environment is a safe, calm environment and if you are surrounded by people who know and care for you).
Studying when you have CFS/ME/PVFS **is not** a decision to be taken lightly, particularly if you are considering moving far from your familiar home environment and studying full-time. That is not to say that it cannot be done, because it can. But how well you manage will be largely affected by your living and course arrangements, and the severity of your illness.
That doesn't mean there aren't ways around it! The location of your university/college, and the length of your course/ frequency of your classes can all have a bearing and this is especially relevant when you study as a CFS/ME/PVFS sufferer. So bear this in mind. Try to keep your options open and don't rule out taking a term- or year-out, part-time study or home-study.
The second half of this article will feature in another issue of the Sleepydust E-magazine, where we'll take a look at studying techniques and exams.
To read more tips about how to manage and deal with your ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome visit:
And to learn more about working from home when you are chronically ill or disabled, visit:
Copyright, Claire Williams, 2004-2005. All Rights Reserved.
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