As school starts back for many of us, anxiety rises. For the chronically ill education can is always hard. Even with helpful changes and supportive friends it’s so hard to manage your health and successfully continue education.
One of the biggest things I have learnt on my journey with chronic illness is that education will always be there. I can hear my 1-2-1 now repeating that over and over while I drag my dead ass to school. There is an expectation set that by 18 we will be all done with school and on our way to university. People don’t even stop and think “wouldn’t it be nice to have a chill”. I know I sure planned on a gap year when I left because even for the average teen schools just so much stress. But the truth is you can one way or another continue education whenever and wherever.
If you need to go on medical leave, focus on your health and continue some other time, DO IT. Mainstream school isn’t always accessible or accommodating so find a way that works for YOU! There’s special needs schools, medical schools for chronic and mentally ill people, colleges for the disabled, departments for disabled learning, home schooling, homebound, hospital school and even internet schooling. It’d be nice to stay with friends and be normal but you have to remember that this is YOUR LIFE. These decisions you make now will affect you and only you. You’ll be the only one having to live with the affects of these every single day.
So do what works for you. Being as well as possible will allow you to be your full potential in your studies and over all life! You can access accommodations like suitable chairs, classes on the lower floors, a lift, less lessons, more support and so much more to help you continue education through your schools special needs coordinator. I’m sure if you go to your head of year or a favourite teacher they can help arrange a meeting with the SENCO. I would recommend talking to your fellow spoonies about what is available, this is how I learned about medical exemption, it was a life saver during a really horrendous flare.
For me personally, we tried almost everything from minimising my schedule, using a wheelchair, added support, no homework, doing all work in one room and even shorter days but during this time education just really wasn’t working for me. I had every accommodation I could’ve asked for but my body would not cooperate. So I took 6 months on medical exemption, meaning I didn’t have to attend school, without the legal issues and I could focus solely on getting stable again. This break helped my mental health immensely and decreased the number of panic attacks I was having because I didn’t have the stress of being behind, keeping friendships, catching up whilst doing the current work. Those few months off were utter hell but having school on top I just wouldn’t of coped. Now I will be starting my Health & Social GCSE repeating year 10 through homeschooling. We haven’t tried homeschooling before, it was more like homebound so I am excited to try this. I’m not giving up yet but I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. I’ll do what I can, I’ll try my best and that’s enough. After all I can continue education at a more suitable time in the future.
Might I also add, I appreciate the fact I can learn. I am intelligent (when I’m not on morphine) and I enjoy learning. It is a blessing to be able to access free education and learn about so many cool things. I’ll never take that for granted and I always remain mindful of how cool learning is, but it isn’t the be all and end all.