Coping Corner, Fall '97
Originally published in Youth Allied By
CFIDS, Fall 1997
Hello from New England! There is a chill in the air as I
write this edition of "The Coping Corner," and it hints at cozy evenings of hot
cocoa and flannel sheets soon to come. I hope that you are all enjoying the
beauty of this season in your own little corner of the world. Autumn means
different things in different places, but for young people all over the country
it means heading back to the books, teachers, tutors and the hustle and bustle
of school. For that reason, I have some wonderful study tips to share with you
from Vanessa Matthews and Patricia Labrador. (Thanks, you guys!) And when you're
done studying, check out the fun new ideas I have for your Dream Boxes.
Testing... One, Two, Three...
Ah, tests. What
young person with CFIDS hasn't had dozens? The needles, X-rays, cute little
hospital gowns, number two pencils. Wha...? Oh, that's right, we're talking
about tests of the academic variety.
A first-year nursing student, CYA Youth
Ambassador Vanessa Matthews is no stranger to these kind of exams. When it comes
to studying, she advises her fellow young persons with CFIDS (YPWCs), "Rather
than cramming the night before a test, look at your notes every day, if only for
a few minutes, to learn your material. Make note cards, or have someone call
stuff out to you when studying."
Patricia Labrador of New York concurs
this "study buddy" tip. And if no one is available to give you a hand, she
suggests, "Try speaking the facts aloud to yourself - talk yourself into it." I
have found it helpful to read aloud from my textbooks because sometimes, when
words make no sense inside my head, they seem to unscramble a bit when they
leave my mouth and hit the air.
To help yourself memorize information
test, Patricia says mnemonics are a useful trick. Also, "Make songs (e.g., the
alphabet song) about the information and sing them to yourself." Familiarize
yourself with the things you'll need to know for the test and spend plenty of
"Don't be afraid to ask your school
things you need," Vanessa says, "If you do better in a room by yourself during
testing, do yourself the favor of asking for it." Check with your school's
disability services department to see how they can help you to cope with the
special challenges of being a student with CFIDS.
When it comes to keeping your equilibrium
while balancing school and uncertain health, common sense and good habits can be
a big help. Simple things like getting enough rest, drinking plenty of water and
recruiting a friend to help you carry heavy books can make a big difference.
Take good care of yourself and don't push yourself too hard.
"Don't get discouraged. Even the healthiest
of students have a hard time!" Vanessa reminds us. Don't get down on yourself
when things get tough. This just wastes precious physical and emotional energy.
You should be proud of yourself for hanging in there through the difficult
times. Be sure to take the time to congratulate yourself on your accomplishments
- big and small! Although you may not be able to perform like your peers right
now, you can be a success in your endeavors.
Whether you're attending school, studying
with a tutor, or giving independent study a whirl, remember that there are other
YPWCs out there who know what you're going through. Let's give one another the
support and encouragement we need! If you have suggestions to share with other
students with CFIDS, send them in to "The Coping Corner."
If you're faced with some sleepless nights at any
point during the school year, push those school books aside for awhile and pull
out your Dream Box.
For those who
are new here in The
Coping Corner and puzzled about what the Dream Box is, allow me to explain. Many
YPWCs suffer from insomnia and find themselves feeling lonely and bored late at
night or in the wee hours of the morning. The Dream Box was created to help you
through these times. Each Dream Box is unique. Find yourself a box of medium
size (a shoe box will do) and decorate the outside with pictures, drawings,
comics, favorite quotations, etc. Cover it with things that make you smile. The
inside will be filled with things to do in those hours of insomnia. For
- A Walkman: My
radio/cassette player Walkman is my most valued companion during bouts of
insomnia. At times when I'm too sick or tired to read, write or lift my head
off the pillow, I can slip on my headphones and listen to some music or an
audio book. In my Dream Box, you'll find tapes made especially for nights of
insomnia. They're ones that friends have made or that I've made for myself.
Some have soothing instrumental music and others have favorite songs - old and
- A Book of Poems: Often when
my powers of concentration aren't enough to follow the story line of a novel,
I can still manage to read some poetry. Nothing overly intellectual like Emily
Dickinson or Shakespeare, but short, fun poems by writers like Dr. Seuss and
Shel Silverstein. Yes, I'm 18 years old and I still read Seuss. At three in
the morning, there's nothing quite like One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue
Fish to pass the time.