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New Semester, New Dreams, New Struggles

Day One, Fall 2019 Semester: One class, begins at 4:00pm. Continues until 6:40, but has a break in the middle, and is taught by my favorite professor. Able to sleep in, do laundry, and organize myself and my things before heading to class

Day Two, Fall 2019 Semester: Arrive on campus at exactly 9:00 to finish new hire paperwork for the theatre costume shop, back at apartment by 10:30. Spend afternoon doing physical therapy and readings for Monday class. Back on campus by 3:30 for French class, followed by dinner and campus ministry. Leave campus by 8:00pm, arrive at apartment shortly after. Begin going through first two class syllabi and writing assignment due dates in planner. Get about halfway through French syllabus, then stop, completely overwhelmed.

It’s only Tuesday. I’ve only had two classes so far, cumulatively taking up less than 5 hours over two days. Yet today, right now, at 10pm as I write this, I’m absolutely exhausted. My stomach is cramping with the familiar anxiety school brings, and my head is spinning with due dates, medical forms, and university disability support claims.

What gives?

Tomorrow’s class (I only have one class a day, save for Tuesdays and Thursdays where I work before class) is another 3 hour lecture, but it doesn’t start until 6pm, so I don’t have to worry about oversleeping or not having time to prepare myself. Thursday will be easier this week than the rest of the semester as I don’t start work until next week, and Friday I have an Acting for the Camera class I’ve been looking forward too. All in all, I have a great semester ahead, and more recent, have a nice week. I’ve done my grocery shopping and meal prepping, syllabi are printed, school supplies organized, and hell, it’s my birthday tomorrow!

So why am I feeling this way?

I feel sad, anxious, overwhelmed, achy, and exhausted. And it’s only day two of the semester. Does this bode ill for the rest of the year? I don’t know.

What I do know is, chronic illness shows up in weird ways. My schedule might not be what some people consider ‘busy’, or even difficult, but to get my body to comply is a full time job.

I’ve decided to stop for the night and take a deep breath. I can organize the rest of my planner tomorrow. Tonight my job is to shower and rest so I’ll be ready to go tomorrow.

Since I returned from France, I’ve faced the challenges associated with navigating life with chronic illness and invisible disability. This is all new territory for me. I haven’t lived my whole life with these issues, at least not to this extent, and I’m learning every day what my body can take, and what things I need to do in order to live in an able bodied world.

It’s easy to get stuck in the circle of ‘why me?’ thoughts, especially when in this kind of mental funk, but that does no good. Not for anyone else, not for me. The best thing I can do is keep moving forward. Take it one step at a time. Recognize that I have new limits, but that doesn’t limit me. My dreams are ever expanding and my goals are still reachable. I just have to allow myself time.

So for all the other spoonies out there starting a new semester of school, a new job, or hell, just living life, we’ve got this. One step at a time.

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