This is a guest blog written by the lovely Tamsin who tweets as @titchtamsin and also has a wonderful blog, http://little-glitterblog.blogspot.com. She has written about how she coped with having chronic illness and being at University several hours away from home. Despite her health battles Tamsin has recently graduated with a BA (Hons).
 
I shall hand you over to Tamsin, or Titch as she is affectionately known!
 
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Who here gets ill? Everyone’s hand should be in the air because we all do. How we cope with it is a different matter. Now, I get ill, a lot. And I mean a lot. I have a problem with my immune system and that is all I can explain without it getting too confusing! My biggest challenge in recent years was moving to university, and knowing I’d get ill and have to deal with it on my own. When I moved to university, over three hours away from my home in London, I knew that this would be a big challenge for me. I find moving doctors quite intimidating as you learn to be comfortable with your own surgery, your usual doctor, the nurses etc and getting to know new ones is always tough. I don’t know about you but sharing your feelings and intimate doctors issues can be embarrassing…we have all been there and I’m sure we all will again.

Imagine getting a cold. We feel all snotty, tired, sneezing and coughing for a few days, and then bounce back to life. When I get a cold, I become bedridden for up to 3 weeks or so. When I got freshers flu at university, I missed all the freshers events. Every single one. Freshers week is so important at uni, and I missed it because I got ill! However, I got involved with everything as soon as I was better and it was like i’d missed nothing at all. In my time at university, I’d say I was ill at least once a month. Now, musicians do not have the typical uni life of minimal lectures and then partying/shopping/sleeping. Musicians generally have lectures in the morning, and then rehearsals all night, and this pattern continues. When you’re ill, you just cannot continue this routine! When I got glandular fever, I didn’t think I could cope. Anyone who has had glandular fever will know how nasty it is. However, keeping people in the know is key. My uni was aware how ill I was and I got extensions, help, advice, the lot. In the past year, I have been in and out of hospital constantly with a blood disorder, and the uni were so supportive of this. I have only described a few of the illnesses I have had recently, but they will give you an idea of what I mean.

Being away from home, living 7 hours away from your boyfriend, trying to run a crazy musician life was NOT easy, and knowing you were guaranteed to get ill all the time was no help either, BUT it is possible to cope and get through it all with the right support. There were times when I thought about giving it all up and returning home, but I am so glad I didn’t, and I have just graduated from university with a Batchelor of Arts Honours Degree, and it was all so worth it.

My advice? If you have any concerns, be it illness, family related, friend related, work, uni, anything…keep the people who need to know, in the know. The support and understanding you will get IS there. Don’t be scared about a situation. Sometimes sharing something is a lot better not only for work or university, but also for yourself. I know that I will continue to deal with the illnesses I have, but here is my tip: keep in control of your situation – don’t let your situation control you.
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