So… those of you close to me know I have had to intermit my degree on health grounds. It sucks but it’s what is needed right now. ☹️☹️☹️ I wanted to keep it quiet originally as I was so disappointed with myself. I have always been taught never to give up. You don’t do a job half finished. It was hard to do. To me right now, this is actually the best decision I could’ve made. Pausing until I’m feeling fitter.
I was studying English language & linguistics it was very intense but super interesting. Basically the science/ theories behind speaking & communicating.
Trying to study an English degree whilst unable to attend lectures due to severe Tourettes/ tic attacks was hard. I haven’t suffered with severe panic attacks for years & I could feel myself slipping back into old habits. I don’t like people looking at me & lecture halls and classrooms are overwhelming as it is. Let alone having an anxiety disorder which causes panic and MY TICS.
Anytime I tried to listen to a lecture back on recordings I fell asleep. 16 hours asleep was normal. My note taker was hired by the university & covered by my disabled students allowance to take notes and send them over to me and whether I made the lecture or not- it would’ve been great1 but she didn’t turn up. It wasn’t convenient for her. Relying on someone who is unreliable & putting the majority of whether or not you’ll do well and get the information for your degree was hard. No thankyou. I had a voice recording device & a few of the girls on my course were beyond amazing/ they were there since my tics started & had witnessed all the emotions of insults, hilariousness & fear. They did as much as they could through sharing notes- screens, taking my recordings for me etcetc.. insuring I didn’t fall behind, it was not their responsibility. They were amazing. Their response was always ‘there’s no way I’d still manage to be studying at uni I’d be crying everyday, you’re doing amazing’ A positive outlook really kept me going.
Anytime I tried to do readings I’d get a migraine & be violently sick, struggle seeing the screen or need to sleep. The fatigue side of life was hard & being able to sit at my desk was merely impossible. I was in denial. I wanted to be able to complete my degree as an achievement of me.
I had struggled a lot from the ages of 15-18 with my mental health & I finally felt like I had it under control- I was positive, I wasn’t panicky or having depressive mood swings & I felt in control- then my physical health went ‘LOL.’ I had come so far and I knew from an intellectual side of things I was very capable of completing the degree with a good grade. I had a achieved what I wanted before. I had pushed myself. ALOT. I had managed to complete 10 GCSE’S whilst fainting in most exams, panic attacks, being sick, pooping myself & not sleeping for weeks. I managed to complete my 2/3 Alevels with really good grades. I did very well considering the reality of those two years at that college were up there with the worst few years of my short little life. I achieved a lot and did very well. Without giving up.
Completing one subject at degree level should’ve be easy! I am trained now.
It sucks that my health decided to do me over. But that’s life. Expect the unexpected. I knew I could do well. I still know I could. But right now studying isn’t right for me unfortunately. It’s overwhelming.
I couldn’t attend lectures due to my Tourettes, I couldn’t sit at a desk without falling asleep or being in pain, (I cannot sit for long periods of time as I broke my coccyx a few years back YAY.) I had constant migraines and was becoming messier and messier with day to day life.
I fell down my stairs, slipped over in my own sick, fell over when I got out of bed 3 days in a row & had very severe migraines, one resulting in needing an ambulance- I was really unwell- all floppy & couldn’t speak and gross. It was at this point that I realised perhaps I was overdoing it. I like to push myself to my breaking point. I subconsciously pretend I’m fine and then I crash & usually big time. I seem to live my life in a massive wave. The top being – me being super over productive wanting to help everyone and do everything and be great and everything get better and perfect and aghhhh…. or hating my life everything’s crap, I hate everyone, I hate my life. There’s very rarely much in between. I need to learn to pace myself and not boom & bust physically & emotionally. (SOMETHING I’M TRYING TO DISCOVER HOW TO DO BETTER NOW I’M OFF SICK!)
I knew I needed to slow down. My personal hygiene was going out the window- I used to be someone who would shower twice a day- three times a day if I was going swimming. I went 5 days without showering last week, gross. Washing my hair hurt everything. So I didn’t do it- colourful headbands & scrunchies helped a little. I felt faint standing in the shower & my hips/ coccyx wouldn’t get into the bath. Makeup wasn’t an option. (I know I feel better without makeup so perhaps I wanted to feel low for a while). I was feeling very depressed and I couldn’t physically get to where I wanted let alone up & down the stairs. I fell over and hit my head on the bath. I overfilled the water. Living off takeaways and crisps, I burnt pasta twice and woke up to the smell of potatoes smoking when I had forgotten & I had boiled them dry. OH & MY OVERNIGHT LASANGE!!!!! I left a lasagne cooking in the oven overnight?!? I am feeling a lot better now. I buy easy meals and ready chopped veg. Asda have an amazing plant based range & aldi have lots of ‘no meat’ options which I am trying & would love to review soon. My fingers won’t work sometimes but that’s okay as now there are ways round it. Trying to study a degree whilst not attending, not reading and not studying along side being unwell was hard. All while convincing myself & everyone else I was fine.
My mums always said to me she can tell when I’m feeling rubbish mentally because everything becomes a massive mess. Paper everywhere, doctors notes growing out my ears, tablets & rubbish everywhere. I left banana skin on the floor for days- could’ve been funny if i slipped on it I guess. But also gross. I hate mess. I’m very clean. I have OCD. Everything has to be perfect in my living space otherwise I feel uncomfortable. Even if it’s an organised mess. When I become overwhelmed there is stuff EVERYWHERE. I looked around my house over the two week period of deciding to intermit my degree, it was a mess. I knew I had to do something. I got help & then I stopped. I’m better at noticing the warning signs now. Mess. Chaos.
GOD THAT’S DEPRESSING. Now to be more positive
I am so so happy I made the choices I did & when I did. YAY!
I made the difficult decision to stay in Brighton: after a very emotional few days, I realised the part that was saddening me most about leaving university was leaving Brighton. I feel comfortable here. I can wear no makeup and not feel like anyone is looking at me negatively. I can go to the beach and ‘blow away the cobwebs’ when I’m feeling low. There is so so much to do to keep me structured & happy. My mental health is so good here.
On top of all of this- my friends here are like my family, they’ve been there for me through the worst times (getting surprise Tourettes to name one- late night trips to hospital or random impulsive fun Lauren decisions.) Being around people my age of similar interests really helps emotionally.
I don’t want my life to be ruined by being ill. I might get better. I might not. I didn’t want my illness to take over me. M.E sucks.
I was conscious of knowing it is not the responsibility of my friends to look after me and therefore was unsure if I should return home to be looked after by my mum & be closer to my dads, I spent a lot of my time pretending I was fine when in reality I was falling apart. I felt if I were to stop studying that was letting myself down & all I had worked for, let alone my family.
If I were to have to move out & go from living with my best friends who help me maintain a positive outlook on life and still feel young despite the need for a mobility scooter & the ‘old lady noises’. I wouldn’t be happy. I love my family to pieces they’re so so supportive & I know how fortunate I am for this. BUT… for me, to be living back at home, feeling more isolated & bored as ever while all my friends would be away at university, that would’ve been tough. Yes I would’ve had the support of my family there- but they also work all day so I would’ve spent a lot of time without human interaction. Brighton is a busy place with loads to do – meet ups with strangers even!
I had an amazing English teacher when I was in Primary School- during year six SATS aged 10 (lol) he really gave me confidence in myself & my writing & to love English. I feel like he really did inspire me to study what I did. I’ve always loved writing Non fiction texts & my degree was very fitting. It saddened me to intermit. It doesn’t mean I’m never going back. But for me I don’t think I can. And that’s okay. I have tonnes of other ideas to incorporate my writing & experiences into work. I want to make sure I keep incorporating writing into my weekly life. I am looking to take an online writing course & WordPress course (I haven’t a bloody clue how to use word press hence the lack of inspiring layout!) I’ve always loved journalism and Biography type writing. I want to maintain this as much as I can for my own sanity. Hence the blog.
For me my mental health has been miles better since being in Brighton I feel happier 70% of the time- I was really worried of my mental health deteriorating if I were to move back home as I associate Luton with more negative past emotions. Besides the fact that I would’ve found it so difficult to leave my friends, all my consultants are here, my doctors- support groups etcetc.. It takes months to transfer all that stuff. The practicality of living in Brighton. ( I’m thinking about writing lots of top tips I’ve learnt about how to navigate around the NHS & private health!)
I am currently waiting on an Occupational Therapy assessment from adult social care. It sounds scary but it isn’t. It’s to stop me nearly burning the house down on a regular basis or from living off crisps & bubble tea. Sleep walking to take tablets in the night etc. I went to see a health trainer on the NHS- she caught me on a very bad day and although embarrassing, I am so grateful. She referred me to adult social services which basically means I am a young person who needs some daily living aids and carer support to ensure I live a quality life. (I’ll do a little post for anyone else going through PIP, benefits, carers, DSA- my experience & maybe what I wish I knew before.) Just because I’m able to drive from Luton to Brighton one day, I find it hard to express the amount of rest I need for 2 days prior to this. During a period of 24 hours asleep. 15hours asleep. Any day time naps (My new record being 28 hours) ,I would benefit from a carer, the consequences of not being able to wake up to an alarm means my body suffers, my eyes are and I quote my optician ‘the driest eyes I’ve ever seen’ – thanks I think?! Being asleep for such long periods of time results in exceptionally dry eyes. On a rare occasion I do wake up its usually because my eyes are so dry they hurt. Or my legs are cramping. Having a part time carer to ensure I woke up and took eyedrops, drank water to rehydrate me etcetc would really improve my quality of life. It’s not as simple as setting an alarm. I answer phone calls in my sleep & text people in my sleep & have no recollection. From sleeping so much I often oversleep- Alexa, 10 Alarms, my housemate & my mum calling me 10 times from Luton to get me up. My housemate will come in to wake me up- she is the best ever- she’ll put my food in the oven and remind me how many minutes are left. I’ll leave my washing in the washing machine for days & she doesn’t complain. It’s like I’m a baby sometimes. I am very independent and capable so it frustrates me when my brains fatigued. I am happy for anyone to wake me up- I might be rude to you when I wake up, but you may aswell get me up- it’s not like my nap will refresh me- I’m more than likely to miss things & bore whomever is in my company, honestly anything to get me up. Having a carer would take responsibility away from other people.
Again sleeping for such long periods of time means I miss meals. Speaking to doctors lately, a factor of my weight gain could be down to to the amount of sleep I’m getting causing my body to go into starvation mode. Storing everything as it doesn’t know when the next meal will be. When I am awake I will eat a lot in comparison to nothing when I am asleep for hours at a time. I have bananas and crisps & juice next to my bed to try and have something small everyday to maintain my metabolism. Some days I’m too fatigued to cook, eat or even prepare something in a bowl. Other days I’ll cook tonnes to store in my body while I sleep.
I’m so bad with my medication – I really don’t know my doses & when to take what HA. It’s not great, since stopping uni I am hoping I can prioritise taking them properly. I am focusing on what I take and when. A doctor of mine said a few expletives when I showed him how I stored my current meds. I had to throw them all out and start again. It was funny to see his reaction to how unsafe my storage method was. I now have blister packs for my meds & this seems to be working well. They get delivered to my door weekly & are already put into what to take when.
When I speak to people about the fact I’ve stopped uni (temporarily, although who knows if I will go back) People often ask me what I’m doing now, what I’d like to do, plans etc.. They give off the vibe that they are sort of like ‘should you really drop out’ ‘aren’t you doing nothing’ ‘lazy’ kind of thing. Trust me I’m so so busy. I’ve booked on a few first aid training courses- because why not! They’re day courses to keep my brain ticking but not overwhelm me. I have allowed two days either side of these courses to rest. I am looking at more.
Beauty Therapy: an amazing side career. I don’t ever book in more than one client a day. I’ve made that mistake. My body cannot hack it. I charge next to nothing for the treatments. It keeps my brain ticking I am fully insured & qualified & I get to chat to people to keep my tics at bay. I do not want to do beauty therapy full time. It doesn’t really stimulate my brain. It’s a skilled profession in terms of as an art & I do not knock anyone who does it full time, as it is very physically demanding. But for me with constant brain fog I’d love to work my brain more than just become settled into something that becomes easy to me. It is very fun. the science & anatomy behind it all is very cool. Meeting new people is good and learning treatments for my own body/ face/ toes etcet & about clients jobs to get my brain thinking is great. However for me. I’d love to do a slightly more educational career. When my health is at a point it is stable I’d love to look into helping others in similar positions to me. ( part of my reason for my blog) Trust me I’m a bit of a mess but through being a bit of a mess I’ve learnt a thing or two.
BSL – I started learning BSL, I was in the BSL society and had attended an introduction to level 1 BSL course. I stopped attending as I was embarrassed of my tics. It sounds so silly as if I were to use sign regularly I’d be communicating with deaf people or people who are hard of hearing and wouldn’t hear my tics just see my weird facial expressions. I want to get back into this and maybe gain some qualifications I think it’s be a really good way to help others and maintain my own concentration.
Babysitting – I have some super amazingly lovely babysitting families here in Brighton, I look after their children for a short period of time regularly, this helps pays the bills. I’m a very good babysitter, I know I am. I love doing educational play with children. Colour & number games. Lots of fun. I’d like to explore working with children with special needs more. They get so much from support & I find it so rewarding. Babies & up to 5 are my favourite age range. They can learn so much so quickly. They’re very cute, compassionate & funny. It’s also always nice to have a little cuddle off a little person.
First aid- I’ve just attended 1 of my first aid courses- I’ve got a few more booked in. I loved it. So interesting. So useful. A confidence booster & life skills. I am looking to study more similar courses. I LOVED.
Short courses- There are lots of short courses available to people who are off sick, on benefits etc.. I am definitely exploring my options here. When I feel well enough I book on. BSL, beauty, TESOL,I’ve seen a few arty courses, Calligraphy & brush writing could be fun. Lots of ideas
Swimming – A tic of mine ‘swimmmmmmyyyy’ ‘Yay’ I love swimming, it is quite clear to me that swimming improves my symptoms. I used to go everyday. This was too much. I have an agreement with a local pool where I can use class time in the warmer pool to do my hydrotherapy excercises. I have stopped going as I’m literally exhausted. Plus it’s so cold in the winter. I am going to aim for 2-3 days a week. A 45 minute class or 30minute swim. I used to do 100 lengths crawl easily. I was good. A strong swimmer. Now I look like more of a beached whale trying to get back into the water. A few lengths exhaust me. Squats, lunges etc in the water really help strengthen me without putting pressure on my joints. There is not many activities I can do other than swimming and walking. I’m very hyper-mobile and yoga etc make things much worse for me from a pain perspective.
Getting better: I intermitted my degree to focus my time on getting better. My well-being is important. My health is important. Other things can wait. People assume that as I am off uni I need to be working full time. Absolutely no way. Waitressing for 4 years destroyed my body. Thanks for that. No money is worth it. I am not being lazy I am getting better. I’ve started a group in Brighton called ‘ a little poorly- Brighton’ I am super super excited about this little baby and to present I have 48 members of my group. The aim is to get young people (under 40 but the younger the better & not excluding anyone older) together to do light activities to focus on getting better & tackle isolation. I have loads of plans here and am slowly having meetings with local charities and companies & just lots of lovely ladies (all the men seem to be hiding!?) sharing stories & building ideas.
Doctors appointments – I kid you not when I say I practically live at the doctors. Monday I had 3 appointments at the doctors, yesterday I had a two and a half hours at the doctors. Whenever anyone asks me what I’m doing now I’ve stopped my degree- am I not bored? I’m actually exhausted. Trying to socially still be involved with everyone at uni whilst attending numerous appointments. I’d say of a 5 day week I usually have 1 day free which usually a pre- planned 26 hour nap or something similar. I’m not living a glamorous lifestyle doing nothing- getting food out constantly and not paying for my rent.
Health courses, ME management, fibromyalgia management courses, women’s courses all sorts.
Rest is still vital & I’m trying not to over do it.
LEARNING TO PACE MYSELF.