By A Third Year PLA
If you feel like you’re dying during exam period, it might be time to ask for help. Sometimes it’s necessary to get over yourself, put your stubborn behaviour aside, and make use of the many wonderful resources available at Queen’s.*
Only in my second year here did I decide to make use of Disability Services. The problem when suffering from a chronic illness is that you want to pretend it doesn’t exist, and you just want to be treated like everyone else. Plus, it almost makes you feel guilty to ask for special treatment. Why should you have the luxury of being able to have your exams scheduled every second day when your peers have to endure two exams in the same day? After barely surviving my winter exams in first year, I decided that it was time to take action.
When faced with a chronic illness, you must learn to accept and come to terms with it. Whether you like it or not, it does exist. Pretending otherwise will only make matters worse. You shouldn’t feel guilty about being treated differently, because you are different. Yes, everyone gets overtired during exams and may feel stress-related symptoms, but so do you… and this is in addition to whatever it is you’re already suffering from!
Something as simple as having your exams scheduled to be every second day, or writing your exams in a room with fewer people, can make a world of difference. Remember that not everyone has to run to the washroom as often as sufferers of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or has to monitor their blood glucose levels several times a day as is the case for people with diabetes. You shouldn’t feel guilty about asking for extra time between your exams, because you need that extra time in ways that others don’t.
This fall semester was especially difficult for me. I was very ill, to the point where I ended up writing an exam fighting through pain, feeling weak and essentially ready to pass out. Realizing after this horrific experience how stupid it was on my part to have written an exam worth 70% of my final grade under such conditions, I proceeded to contact the professor coordinating my next exam to ask for a deferral.
For one thing, I couldn’t find the energy to study for this exam, and secondly, I was scared to get into the exam only to feel as awful as I did throughout the previous one. The idea of having an exam lingering over my head throughout the Christmas break did not sit well with me and I felt ashamed for having to make such a request. However, the professor was very kind. He indicated to me that there was no problem and that he only required documentation to prove my case, which was easy enough with Disability Services backing me up. Although I felt like my ego had taken a huge hit, asking for that deferral was the smart thing to do, and I definitely don’t regret having made that decision.
The moral of the story is this: when you need help, put your ego aside and ask for it. Whether you’re sick because of a chronic illness, or are unlucky enough to catch the flu during exam period, or even if you have stressed yourself to the point where you’re no longer able to concentrate, remember that there are people who can help you. Your health – physical and mental – should always remain your first priority, especially during exam period. Come midterms, assignments, and April 2013, remember to stay healthy and ask for help when you need it. There is always something that can be done.
* For more information (including contact information) on the services ready to help you at Queen’s and in Kingston, visit http://myams.org/services/health-services/mental-health-resources.aspx.