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How to stay healthy when you have a chronic health issue

Credit: DYLAN CHARETTE

If you are balancing student life with a chronic health issue, you're not alone.


Chris Fink | Interrobang | Lifestyles | January 10th, 2020




Dealing with a health condition, whether it be long or short-term, hidden or out there, can be hard as a student — especially if you’re dealing with kids, relationships and work, as many of us do.

The challenges can range from mobility (walking and getting around campus and other locations), emotional (stress, depression, PTSD in some cases), learning disabilities and others. All of them can hamper getting an education, much less getting through our days. We do our best to get through them, by drinking lots of good coffee (Tim’s and Starbucks are rarely not busy from what I’ve seen, and with good reason, it’s good coffee), taking medications that we need to take, and doing what we need to do in our busyness to get the marks we need, and keep up on all the other things we need to do.

There are other ways we can deal with it though, and with myself dealing with depression, stress, and migraines, I love Fanshawe for how it is and the services that it offers. Please note before I continue: These are my thoughts, and talking to your doctor/talking to a trained medical professional with regards to your specific needs, is critical for correct diagnosis/care/ follow-up when it comes to dealing with issues.

On that note, though, Fanshawe does have awesome services, even in how the College is laid out. From a nature-loving perspective, there are a lot of groves — groups of trees — and as I’m spiritual, I’m able to connect in with nature, and ground, letting my stress go (it really helps with migraines, at least for me), and letting in clearer thoughts to help me deal with whatever I’m dealing with at that time.

The gyms here are awesome too, and I’ll be taking advantage of them this coming semester, getting in a solid workout to get my mind and body tuned up (cue the guitarist tuning up his guitar). I never really knew about them until I started walking around campus, and finding there are so many ways to keep fit is truly remarkable. Plus there are social events that happen around campus, and some of them can be ultra fun (check out fsu.ca for information).

For other issues and advice, there are some powerful health services on campus: fanshawec. ca/student-life/campus-services/ health-services offers a wide variety of services to help you get through your days, and to offer medical advice when you most need it.

As well, with mental health, there are counselling services available: fanshawec.ca/student-life/student- services/counselling-services, and they can help with a wide variety of issues.

Learning disabilities are covered too at Fanshawe: fanshawec.ca/student- life/student-services/accessibility, the accessibility services are awesome and can really make a difference with learning disabilities.

All of the above are accessible for free for full-time students (check the sites for information about part-time).

Going back to what I mentioned about the college layout, there are elevators for people who don’t want to walk up stairs (we all have those days), or for those who truly need them. The efforts of the designers to keep an accessible college have been successful, as I’ve found multiple ways to get around campus pretty easily, and without too much people traffic (depending on time of day).

Walking through the campus too, I find that people are generally pretty responsive if something is happening, or someone is in need. With paramedic teams walking around campus (a first for me seeing that), and with a constant presence of security and others, if something is going on that needs to be addressed, it is. For us with hidden disorders/disabilities, we may be self-conscious about saying something, for fear of being labelled or being looked down on.

I found that within the first semester, I gained friends that actually cared and asked and listened if something was up. I did and would do the same for them, and will for others too. Having that support here, especially with having been out of school as long as I have been, is critical to my overall health.

I know it isn’t easy to reach out for help, or feel as if you’re being a burden on others, but, if there is something really bugging you, or something you need to talk about, reach out to the services above, or talk to a professor/professional. Sometimes it just takes that one person to listen, and give you some direction to change your entire perspective on things.

My last thoughts? Take care of you, don’t sweat the small stuff, you ARE enough, you ARE awesome and you kick butt in everything you do, even if you don’t feel it at the time.
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