Regardless of whether you are in middle school, high school, or college, school will always be a challenge for those with chronic illness that many people are not aware of. People are often not aware of the challenges we face because we are so good at hiding them from others.
Today was a big day for me. I never wanted to tell my professors that I had lupus because I did not want to feel different from everyone else. I did not want to feel like I needed special treatment. Today I did just that. I told a professor that I had lupus. A professor who teaches many courses in my major, a professor who I have now had for the third semester in a row, who knows exactly the kind of student I am and how much I care about my grades. I first e-mailed her about meeting up to discuss that I have lupus and my grades are declining in her class because of the constant fatigue and brain fog that makes it extremely difficult to study, especially for a class where your grade relies only on quizzes and exams.
I felt as though I had given up on myself. I felt weak that I couldn’t just suck it up and study harder. I was wrong.
I nervously walked into her office and took a deep breath and told her everything that was going on. I am not sure why I expected her to not react well and to tell me something like “study harder”, but she reacted in a way that made me feel a lot better. She was completely understanding and helped me figure out different study skills that may be more beneficial to me. She also offered me the opportunity to take tomorrow’s exam on Monday instead. She knows that I am a dedicated student and she knows that I really do love my major.
I think it is very important, after today, that if you are struggling because of your illness, do not be afraid to speak up to a teacher. They are educators, they care, they want you to do well and succeed. I am sure people have experienced not as positive responses from teachers; however, it does not hurt to try and speak with a professor, especially one that you are comfortable with.
For those with chronic illness who have worse symptoms than I do, I and so many others have so much respect for you. It is quite the process going through school while dealing with an illness that effects a person every single day of their life. I know that for myself, school sometimes feels impossible. To everyone struggling as well, do not push yourself too hard. If time off is required for yourself, give yourself that time. If you feel as though school is still possible, maybe with just a few moderations, try and make that happen. It can never hurt to talk to someone, whether it’s your professor or disability services.
Don’t let your illness stop you from fulfilling your dreams, let it motivate you.