The Uni Student’s Survival Kit: What To Do When Things Go Wrong

Hello again, friends. It’s been a while since my last post, and I’m going to share with you why.

During the span of silence between my last post and this one, I’ve been dealing with a set of new symptoms. My doctors (yes, plural) are unsure why they manifested and how to reverse them, but these new symptoms are likely linked to my pre-existing autoimmune issues. These symptoms also make it extremely painful to write and type — which, as a person whose entire life revolves around writing (taking notes in class, writing essays, working as a writer, writing as a creative outlet) I’ve found really stressful. I’ve missed blogging so much these last few weeks.

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If there’s anything I’ve learned since starting my degree, it’s that things can and do go wrong, and knowing how to deal with it responsibly is a skill set worth having. It may be health-related, financial, family-related — at some point, we all deal with obstacles of varying kinds. Here are a few ways you can help yourself get through it.

  1. Communicate. In school, I had a teacher who liked to drum into us over and over again that university is a Big Scary Place where Professors Do Not Care. This couldn’t be further than the truth. In my experience, university professors have shown me so much more compassion, understanding, and support during crises than my high school teachers ever did.

    When things go wrong, contact your professors as soon as possible. Let them know what you’re dealing with and what accommodations you may need (an extension, leeway around absence from class, etc.).

  2. Document. This could mean a doctor’s note, or a letter of accommodation from the Accessibility, Well-Being, and Counselling Centre. I also tend to document any changes in my symptoms to track patterns.
  3. Prioritise. What can be put aside while you deal with your crisis? What cannot? Consider the short and long term consequences. In high school and in my first year, I was very much a #teamnosleep, get-through-it-and-cry-later, “push through the pain” kind of person. Nothing would prevent me from getting my readings done or handing in an essay — and it had long-term consequences on my physical and mental health. Consider your wellbeing.

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    Art by Beth Evans

  4. Seek support. Let your trusted loved ones know that you need support. In addition, choose who you entrust your vulnerability to carefully. Inform your employers that you may need some extra support or time off. Seek counselling if you need it.
  5. Practice self-care. Sometimes self care is a bath bomb and a Netflix marathon. Sometimes, it’s exercise. Sometimes, it’s making a doctor’s appointment, getting out of the house for the first time in weeks, washing your hair, doing your homework. It’s not always pretty, but it’s always necessary.

If you have your own tips on how to deal with rough patches, please share them below. I hope these help.

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