School Work 10/17/2016

Now that midterms are over, schoolwork has picked up again. It’s been constant naps, and homework, and work, and classes. Luckily this weekend I got most of my work done early, and I was able to go to the city with my boyfriend and spend some time with his family. He also has the cutest dogs, and I miss my dog, so they are a good substitute.

It was so nice to see them, and his mom who taught me how to knit said my knitting was doing good. So that’s awesome!

On Sunday when we were planning to go back to school with one of our mutual friends I got a mild headache that wouldn’t go away. I tried everything, but I ended up having to lie down in the back seat the whole ride back to campus. I was glad that we had our friend with us so my boyfriend wouldn’t be stuck with no one to talk to.

I usually get bad headaches about once every two to three weeks, but because I have been extra busy this past week, I have been having more. I just have to remember to stay hydrated, and put taking care of my body over schoolwork sometimes.

All in all it was a fun weekend, and a productive week. I take pride in keeping up with my schoolwork, even if I get more headaches.

Hoping for another productive week!

 

~Maddie

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Going Into Battle 9/29/2016

Sometimes I get really bad anxiety about going to class. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the classes, or I am doing badly in them, it’s just that I think of all the bad things that could happen and get overwhelmed.

I struggled with this a lot last year. I would skip classes, simply because I was so overwhelmed. I was insecure and unable to get over that fear, which is very frustrating because I have always prided myself on being strong and independent.

This year, however, I found my solution. Whenever I am anxious about going to a class or a function I put on my battle armor, an arrow head necklace that my dad got me.

I don’t know why this necklace is special, but I swear it’s magic. Maybe it’s the fact that it could have been used in a war, and if it made it through then I can get through this class. Or maybe it’s the fact that I know my dad put a lot of thought into it, and in a way I am carrying a piece of him with me. Whatever the reason is, it gives me strength.

I just put it on whenever I am having a bad day, and I am able to make it through. Yes, the day is still hard, and as I’m sitting in class I still get anxious, but at least I went to class. I am able to make it through all my busy days. Yes, there are still some days that I can’t go to class because I am sick, but now I miss less classes than I did last year.

If you are having anxiety about going to classes, or any obligation, I recommend trying a similar coping mechanism. Maybe it’s a really comfy pair of shoes that works for you, or wearing your hair a certain way. Or maybe you reward yourself after you make it through a class you really didn’t want to attend.

Going to classes can be scary and overwhelming. Strap your armor on, take a deep breath, and put this battle behind you.

 

~Maddie

Staying Motivated 9/26/2016

Staying motivated can be hard for anyone, not just those with a chronic illness. I have found it hard over the past week to keep my motivation up for school. I have found excuses to do something other than study, or work on homework. I have still gotten everything done, but it is not my best work.

Thankfully over the past couple of days I have been able to get out of that slump. It has helped a lot living with other people who are going through the same thing. I live with six other college students. We took one of the unused bedrooms in our house and turned it into a study room. So, when I have something to do, but no motivationkeep-calm-and-do-your-school-work-3 to do it I will just go sit in the room with them while they are working. I do not give myself a goal, and usually I start off by procrastinating, but eventually I find that I am working. Being around people who are being productive makes me want to do the same.

Another thing that helped is that I am really enjoying the book I am reading, Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. I tell myself that I can read for a half hour after I work on school work for an hour. I learned that if I give myself time limits my work is better. I can write an essay in a half hour, but I am guaranteed to get a better grade if I take at least an hour to write it and then another hour to edit it. As long as I am working for the whole hour I am satisfied, then I reward myself with a half hour of reading time. I have found that I actually end of reading for less time, because my mind is still on my school work. So, I put the book down and get back to work having found my motivation.

I also work wherever I am. No one said that you are going to get a worse grade just because you wrote your essay on the couch instead of at a desk. My feet go numb if I am sitting at a desk for too long, so I end up getting most of my work done in bed or on the couch. As long as it is getting done and I am putting in the proper amount of time I try not to get down on myself too much for not being able to get up.

I work the way that works for me.

 

~Maddie

Living Away From Home

I am a junior in college. A college that just happens to be 1,192.4 miles away from my family. I chose to go far away for school, in fact I didn’t apply to any schools in my home state. I wanted to try and be on my own.

I have always found it easy to be independent, to think for myself. This being said, being on your own, in a place where you know no one, can come with it’s challenges.

In my first semester I kept to myself mostly. Yes, I made friends, but I was shy and preferred my own company, rather than theirs.

Second semester I tried to be more outgoing. To make connections with people. It was that semester that I came to be close with my little group of friends. k0502332 I ended up leasing a house with them starting this summer. I have never been a very outgoing person, but forcing myself to be around people more gave me the best group of friends I have ever had.

I miss my family every day though. I try to call my grandmother at least every other day, and I text and call my mom at least every day. Being away from my little brother and dog is by far the hardest, and when I am home I try to fit in as much time with them as I can.

When I am home my family treats me like they haven’t seen me in years. They make the food I like, and do the things I want to do, that is until the novelty wears off after a few days and it’s back to normal, like I was never away.

When it comes time for me to leave again it is always hard. I try to focus on the fact that I am becoming more independent, and when I’m away, every decision is up to me. For me, that is an exciting thought.

My advice for anyone moving away from home, either for college or some other reason, is to make friends. Surround your self with people who make you happy. Also, try and keep in touch with family. That will help you feel like you are still a part of their lives, and you theirs.

Family, like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.

 

~Maddie

Long Distance Friendship

I met my best friend through a mutual friend in eighth grade. We became really close, and throughout high school we were each others emotional support. We tried to do everything we could together and spent all of our free time at school together.

When it came to choosing colleges, we never really talked to each other where we were going to go. united-states-map I went to Missouri and she moved to Florida. It was hard to say goodbye of course, and that first summer apart was hard.

We talk all the time, either over text or Skype. It is the fast that we keep in almost constant contact that we are still such good friends. We still go to each other to talk about our problems, and the good things that happen in out lives.

That’s how I know that our friendship will last, even though we are so far away, we are still the first person that we go to.

We have seen each other 3 times over the two years, and counting, of living in different states. 6-1-2014 046 When we are together, it’s like nothing has changed, no time has passed. We still enjoy each other’s company. It is hard to be apart, to see each other making new friends, moving on in life without the other, but we will always be there for each other, and that is what matters.

It is because we refuse to let go that we are so close. Don’t let go of something that is of value, and it will always be there.

 

~Maddie

A Day With POTS

For more information on what POTS is click HERE!

Everyone’s experience with this syndrome is different, and what works for me may not work for someone else with POTS even if they have the same or similar symptoms.

That being said, this is what an average day looks like for me:

Wake up and take my medication (water and meds are ALWAYS right next to my bed)

Sleep for the half hour it takes the medication to kick in

Wake up, get dressed (if I have a lab, or know it is going to be a long day of standing I wear compression socks, which means long pants. Yes, even in summer)

Eat breakfast (usually a Boost, a high calorie drink that my body can digest easily)

Brush teeth (I stand on my toes while I do this so that there is enough blood to my arm)

Fill up water bottle (I take one with me everywhere and am constantly drinking)

Go to classes (I leave early so I have time to sit on the way there and rest if I have to climb more than one flight of stairs)

Lunch (something light and easily digestible, no bread)

Go to work (I work at the writing center on campus, flexible hours, and NO STANDING REQUIRED!)

Go to the gym (I only do this on the days that I have energy, and am only there for a half hour or so)

Take a nap

Do homework (usually in bed or some place where I can keep my legs up)

Dinner

Bed early (usually 10PM or so)

 

Through all of this I have to take my medication every 4 hours, I am constantly eating small amounts of easily digestible food, and drinking either water or Gatorade. It seems like a normal day, but on some days standing is a struggle. If I get to class early I will sit on the floor, even if no one else is sitting.

My biggest piece of advice is: do not be embarrassed to do what helps you. If you need to take a seat on a crowded bus, do it. You don’t have to prove that you need the seat. There is no shame in doing that helps you get through the day.

Everything I do I have to think about how to do it with POTS. I am not giving into my illness, like some people think, I am learning to live with something I can’t change.

POTS doesn’t change you, just the way you do things.

 

~Maddie

Changing Majors

At the end of last semester I made the decision to change my major from ceramic engineering to psychological science. This was a tough decision, because I have always seen myself as an engineer, and being anything else struck me as a failure. It has taken me a while to see that change can be good, and that I am not failing just because I need the change. I did not chose this major because I thought it was easy, I chose it because I wasn’t interested in ceramics anymore, and I wanted to do something that I could excel at.

I go to a school where the majority of students are engineering majors, so, I went from being in the majority, to being in the minority. The two major things that helped me through this where that a lot of my friends where changing majors as well, along with my boyfriend who is going to the same school for computer science. He has been very supportive throughout the whole decision making process, and has always made me feel that whatever decision I make I am making the right one.

Change can be hard.

Another thing that was hard about this change was the reactions I got from people. Telling people that I am in school for ceramic engineering is met with a sense of aw and misunderstanding. I enjoyed explaining to people what my degree meant and what I was going to do with it. I am scared for the reactions that I will get when I tell others what my major is now, not because the responses will be negative, but because I don’t think I will be able to handle them just yet. One day I will get there.

This is what is best for me.

And that’s all that matters.

 

~Maddie