It’s August already and while I am enjoying a lot of sun, cocktails and ice cream I am also looking forward to start university again in September.
Last year around this time I was painting my room and buying books, not knowing what to expect and how to prepare for my first year at university. Of course, I also was a bit worried if I would be able to handle studying and living on my own at the same time.
Well, that all turned out fine. I even passed all my exams and have all the ECTs of the first year! Although I had attacks during classes and felt tired a lot of times, I managed.
The best tips I can give when you’re struggling with PNES as a student are the following:
Ask for help
I think this is the most important one. At any school there is a person who’s job it is to help students with dissabilities. In my university it is the student advisor. When I was about to start university I looked up whom I needed to contact to start my education without having to worry if they would cooperate or not. I contacted the lady in June last year and made sure she had all my health documents. She could take care of special requirements I would need during my studies. And I needed one, after making my exams in this big hall with a lot of people from different programmes I didn’t feel comfortable, imagine that I would get an attack?! So I went to the study advisor for help and she made sure I could make my exams in a different room. Problem solved!
As hard as it is, you should tell people about the possibility of you having an attack during class. You can tell your friends and I would definitely recommend to tell it your teachers. If you don’t, there is a possibility they’ll panic and call an ambulance. In my case, classes change every 4 to 8 weeks.
That means, different teachers and classmates every 4 to 8 weeks. In the beginning there is always an introduction round and after I introduced myself I always tell them about my attacks. Furthermore, I always have my health declaration with me and put in on the table during class. So that people can see what to do when I have a seizure. Since I always tell it in class, people are very understanding. And after a year a lot of people know about me and my seizures already, that makes it easier!
As much energy it costs you to study and live on your own, try to stay engaged in a social life. Having understanding friends at university is very important to my opinion. Whenever my parents are not there to help me , they can. Student life is also about partying and doing fun stuff! For me partying part is really hard because I don’t have enough energy to go to bed that late, but still I’ll join my friends for pre-drinks or meet with them for breakfast. I also try to do sports every week in the university gym. These are just group lessons and it doesn’t matter if you can’t go, so for me that is perfect!
Finding a balance in dividing your energy between studying and a social life can be very hard in the beginning but try to, because it can also give you energy when you’re meeting new people!
Of course, I also had some hard periods last year when I had a lot of attacks and had to manage school. I am not saying it’s easy but you when you try hard and you’re determined to let this work you’ll be fine. 🙂
Have a good week!