It was no surprise to me to find out that University much like almost everything else in life, is not designed with chronic pain in mind. I have first-handedly experienced the difficult and vicious cycle that university brings. It starts off you’re too tired because simply acting like a semi-normal human being with chronic pain is exhausting. So you drag yourself to lectures to make up for not doing the reading. But it’s pointless because despite the decent amount of sleep you got, you’re tired and all you can think about is the pain. So you miss lectures to nap. And next thing you know you have three assignments due and you’re up to you’re eyeballs in lecture notes you can’t understand. Oh the stress! And what comes along with stress? More pain! Thus begins the cycle.
There are plenty of supports within Maynooth that are excellent. But from my first hand experience, you know you best. So here are a few tips from a “literally” suffering student to another
Treat yo’ self! – Eat that goddamn chocolate bar. You deserve it! You are going through too much right now to be worrying about calories. Why deny yourself simple pleasures? Put aside a bit of money or even just time for just you. Treating yourself isn’t all about self indulgence though. Maybe instead of reaching for the coffee for that energy boost grab a nice cold glass of water instead. It’s hard to treat your body right when it most certainly isn’t doing the same for you
“Tough love is the best love” – sometimes. So maybe treating yourself to that lie on and missing a 9am lecture once or twice isn’t the end of the world, we all do it. But doing it every week isn’t a great idea. So even though you feel miserable and you’re wondering if education is really worth it, make yourself get up. Have some will power. You’ll thank yourself someday. You have a two hour break between lectures? Tempting to sit on the couches in Arts avoiding all your responsibilities and maybe have a quick nap, right. Trust me, you’ll nap more peacefully when you have all of your upcoming assignments completed.
“Work hard, play hard” – Take it easy you’re not a Duracell bunny. That doesn’t mean you have to drop your social life. Work moderately hard and play moderately hard. Listen to your body, not your sesh mad friends. No one knows you better than you and it is so easy to forget about your limits and cross them. Chronic pain is draining and it’s ok to sit out every once and a while.
Dealing with chronic pain can be difficult. It’s an internal struggle and it can be hard to explain. There’s no quick fix but trying your best to stay out of the vicious cycle is the most effective thing you can do. Chronic pain is a massive barrier in many people’s lives and it goes unnoticed by most. It needs to be recognised as a legitimate illness both by people who suffer from it and those who don’t..