A rant about education

Hello all! Today I thought I’d talk to you about the joys of trying to get an education whilst suffering with M.E. I’ll say before I start that this has only been my experience and doesn’t speak for most sufferers (as I know some people who have had relatively okay experiences). Just as a word of warning!

I suppose I should start from the beginning, although you know the history of how I became ill, I’ve never really touched on the education side of it. Though if you’ve been reading this blog for a long time I’m sure you’re aware of how important education is to me!

In early 2007 my health started to deteriorate again and an opportunity to be in the school play fell through as I was ill throughout the rehearsals. I had about five weeks off school before I returned – much to the annoyance of one of the teachers for essentially “ruining” her plans for the production. Cough. I managed the rest of that school year before going up to Year 6 and going on the school camp. I’m pretty sure that’s what finished me off (although it was a very enjoyable experience and I’m glad I did go).

For most of early 2008 I managed to attend school and get through my SATs (spurred on by the usual threats the teachers give you of “if you’re ill you have to do it anyway!”). It was after that, however, that my health began to dwindle rapidly and soon I was having every Friday off school due to the fact I was so exhausted (much to the annoyance of a few fellow students by saying “we all get tired on Fridays, but we don’t have them off”). That was followed by a period of time off school, during which I was bed-bound for the majority of it. I somehow managed to gain energy to enter school for a morning or an afternoon for, I think, a week or so. I can’t really remember the specifics of that particular time, but I do remember the awkwardness of having to explain why I hadn’t been in to all my friends (who wrongly assumed the colour in my cheeks were a good sign).

My teacher had insisted that I needed to attend the step up day at the nearby secondary school (I assume in the eventuality I got better and would actually need a school to attend to). I went nonetheless and I actually wanted to stay for longer but, when I got home and spent the rest of the day in bed, I don’t think that was really possible!

After that school year ended I spent the summer holidays in bed, with occasional trips to the hospital. On the first day of secondary school I gave a letter to the deputy head of year, that mum had written, explaining that I had been very poorly and if I felt ill again she needed to be contacted so that I could be taken home. When it came to lunchtime the smell of the cafeteria made me feel incredibly unwell so I went to the nurse’s office and asked for some of my medicine in the hope that’d help. Unfortunately I didn’t get sent home like I had hoped (I assume they thought I had first day nerves) and continued on with the day until I got home and collapsed at the bottom of my stairs. The next day I had a half day and the next week I was in hospital with a relapse.

Mum researched for other places to educate me whilst I was at home so in the October (or November) I had a meeting with a place who were very helpful and offered me online lessons. I had my first lesson which, because I was doing well with it, I ended up staying for the whole hour, even though it wasn’t expected of me to do so. That resulted in me hobbling to bed to promptly pass out in my dark bedroom so I could sleep for the rest of the day.

My next experience with the same education people was in early 2009, after I had met one of my best friends (we both attended the same distance learning centre). They organised for one of the tutors to come and visit me each week and we did a mixture of English and PSHE. I had to have them come up to me in my room due to the fact I physically could not get downstairs without my legs collapsing under me. We gradually built it up to two sessions a week and by the September they had built it so that I would have 3 different tutors on 3 days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday – to give me time to do the homework and recuperate in between lessons). This involved maths, science and the English/PSHE mix.

During this time we were having regular (ish) meetings with the school team at the secondary school to see if I could gradually build up time there (maybe to see if I could have my lessons with the distance learning team in the SEN area at secondary school). They were, to put it lightly, not very helpful. With the M.E fluctuating constantly, it’s not very reliable and from that point of view I can understand, though it would’ve helped if they had been more supportive (given they said they had an older student there with M.E who they helped a lot, but we’ll ignore that, eh?).

Pretty much after those meetings I was going into school for half an hour sessions (My paediatrician and psychologist said it would be advisable for me to go in for 10 minutes at break just to get used to the idea of being in the school environment again, and I’d be able to meet up with my friends etc.. Look how that worked out …) and resulted in me relapsing. I will point out that this was in November and I was surrounded by many hundreds of students, you can probably guess that I caught something.

The whole of 2010 was pretty miserable for me. I was very emotionally and physically drained after the relapse and school (and other unhelpful busybodies) were pushing me to continue on with my education (even though my baseline was at about 1 hour of high energy activity again, go figure). I continued with my original tutor who taught me PSHE/English but they soon added in someone different (to keep up with the things I was learning before. I had severe social anxiety, to the point I froze at the top of the stairs and couldn’t get downstairs for my lesson. Again, go figure) and mum, at that point, snapped a bit (a lot, *grin*).

Our family was a bit stretched as we were constantly arguing about the state of my health and the obvious need for me to keep up with my education. Mum researched home education like a mad woman and soon I was pulled out of school, with really no intention of going back. Everyone kind of had a fit at that (“she will be isolated!” Oh now that’s when you consider how I’m feeling!) but we were approved and I obviously continued to get much better now that there wasn’t pressure for me to perform like they wanted me to, and I caught up on about 3(ish) years worth of maths in 2 years. If that doesn’t say something, I don’t know what does.

After we moved to where we are now I had the last meeting with the home-ed people as by the time they’d see me next I will have had a birthday and therefore not needed to see them. While my education hasn’t been as … structured, should we say, as it had been when I was a bit younger I have been learning about how to deal with the real world and I’ve explored a lot more of my interests in depth (ones I wouldn’t even touch 4 years ago!). My health has improved so much because I’ve no longer had the stress and anxiety of needing to get everything school related done to fit in with the conformity of what people thought I needed (when really I needed everyone to sod off and leave me alone to get better!).

Last year into early this year, I felt well enough to consider going back into education, but doing something relatively easy, so as not to completely screw myself up again. I was working on my English and maths (more so my English as I struggle with it a lot more) and I attended an open day at the local college to see if it’d be even possible for me to apply to a course. They said it’d probably be a good idea to see about just doing a maths and English refresher sort of course (can you tell I remember exactly what it is?), just to see if I can cope with doing the work etc. which was very sensible. We then ended up in the photography department and it all went a bit downhill from there, to be honest!

I ummed and ahhed over whether or not to apply, but after speaking to the learning support people they essentially said to apply anyway and that we’d work from there. I ended up applying, got an interview date (my interview was probably unlike the others in terms of the majority of it was spent wondering how the hell they could be flexible enough to let me on the course – the joys of focusing on attendance rather than the education of young people) and got offered a place, which to me is a massive achievement and that’s how I’m viewing the whole thing.

We went back in a few weeks later to discuss the logistics as the head of the department (as always!) had issues with the attendance problem. He didn’t turn up at the meeting to voice his concerns, so it was a very awkward 15 minute meeting of wondering what on Earth we could feasibly do. They suggested coming in for a taster session, so I could practise getting up early and going to see how the lessons are structured. I was told not to give up hope and that something could be sorted, hopefully.

As it is now June it doesn’t particularly likely I’ll hear from them and for that I’m relieved. My health has taken quite a severe drop again and my cognitive function is not as it was before I applied to college.

What frustrates me through all of this (finally getting to my main point, only took me 1700+ words, oops), is that the only thing schools look at you for is what rating they can get for their attendance marks or their grade marks. You may be fully capable of doing the actual work, but just because you can’t get to the building in order to do lessons that accompany it, you’re not really of much use. They see you for the illness and not the person who wants desperately to do something with their time that results in them getting some sort of path to the future, when they become well enough to work in their area.

I don’t see why we should be … discriminated, for lack of a better word, for something we can’t control? I have never chosen to feel the way I do and I’ve certainly never wanted it to stop me from achieving things with my education. The stupid thing out of all of these incidents is that I feel like the bad guy because I’ve made all these people fight for my education when I couldn’t and then couldn’t continue with it because of error on their part. We all have a right to learn but that proves very difficult when the education people see you as a statistic rather than a person.

If this has made any sense I would be pleasantly surprised. I’ve written this over the course of two months and both times were during brain-foggy days (because that is obviously the most sensible time to write anything opinionated!).

I shall see you all soon with another (probably equally ranty, though hopefully more inspirational) post soon!
Jess x

PS: I’ve said in a recent post that I don’t really identify with M.E but to make things simple (and because I don’t have results yet) I’ve said M.E!

Good things

Hiya! 🙂

Since I last wrote I’ve been doing things that make me happy or that will improve areas of life that I enjoy. I’ve joined a garment making class at the local adult education centre and I’ve also booked to go to the local college open day to have a gander and see what they’d say about me doing my GCSE in English. Alongside that my aunt has been helping improve my English to prepare for the fun that will be had at GCSE level. While that is a daunting prospect, it’s fun to get parts of me back. 🙂

I’ve also had no phone (due to deciding to break. For once it wasn’t technically because of me, all I did was put it on the table!) so that has made life a bit more enjoyable. A break that I once promised my friend has become a lot easier without my phone being next to me 24/7 (even though I’m on my laptop for most of the day, but hey, it’s not as draining as the phone). I think my mood as improved slightly as well which has been a great help to encourage me to do what I want to do.

I’ve been trying to think more seriously about what direction I want to go in with my life. It revolves around creativity and history, so I think I need to find a good balance with that. As I said long ago, it always comes back to both things so maybe I should think my options through a lot more. I’ve considered that if this year doesn’t finish me off (lots of exciting things happening!!) I might be able to volunteer at the local charity shop next year, just for some experience and to see how I’d manage with that level of energy-draining activities. Though that might have to wait until after I do my GCSE, if I get on the course.

I assume all this adult-like thinking is due to the fact my birthday is in just less than a month and I feel a sort of responsibility to act my age more. I definitely don’t like it, but I feel that I can’t just continue on making it up as I go along, as I’ve never particularly liked not having a vague outline of a plan. With this swirling around in my head I hope that it’ll help my mental health. It seems to be doing its job so far, so I hope that continues!

Sorry for a particularly wordy post today! This is all that’s been on my mind since I last wrote, so I thought I’d share it with you. Hopefully next month I’ll have some good picture-filled posts for you! 🙂
See you soon,
Jess x

What happened?

I wrote last year in my introduction to home education that I felt kind of left out in the education department which is something I still struggle with – especially when my friends go back to school. I mentioned in another post on the same topic that I would probably study at the OU.

Yesterday and today I’ve been kind of planning the route I want to go down. Education is really important to me, as well as the more helpful things like how to run a house. After discussions with my friends, I’ve decided I would like to return to education, to further my knowledge in subjects I love. At first, I’d found a course on the OU that I would’ve loved to have started next year, but due to being out of formal education for so long, it wasn’t feasible. Instead, I talked to my mum about it and we decided I should try to get my English skills – and my brain – in working order so that I could do the English GCSE next September. It kind of stresses me out at the thought of it, but I know it’ll be worthwhile.

After that I might do the A-Level or just go to do the course. It also helps that the course puts your footing in both English/creative writing and history, so it’s definitely something that would be of help to me. I then had a little more of a look (once you start looking at courses, you can’t seem to stop) and turns out the modules in the history degree look really interesting. A bit too interesting. Turns out I quite like the idea of getting a history degree, even though I’ve never wanted to do the uni thing at all. Bugger.

It does worry me that I might not be able to have enough energy to do it. It also worries me because education is really expensive. I’m quite worried about it all, but at the same time I’m excited at the prospect of being able to do something that I never thought I’d be able to return to. I’m glad that I didn’t do GCSEs at whatever age I was meant to, I would not have been ready for it and I know I would’ve ended up making the wrong choice. I know though that if I can do it I will give it my best shot, like I do with (nearly) everything.

Like I said, I am worried I won’t be able to have enough energy to do it. That does frighten me a bit, but then I look at the fact that 6 years ago I didn’t even see a future for myself, so being able to plan something like this is an incredible feeling. I have lots of things I want to do and I hope I’m doing them in the right order. Who knows, I might be out of education by the time I’m 25 (this is my maths though, so don’t quote me on that. Also . . . 25. *shudder*). Or I might be a few more qualifications further than I ever thought I would be.

I just thought I should keep you updated on that front, after all I did say I hoped to be doing more home ed blog posts and although getting back into formal education isn’t quite home ed, it’s still something!
See you soon,
Jess x

Frustration

Hello! I know this isn’t the post I promised but I’m having a few issues, this time not with WordPress! I’ll say before this won’t make any sense and I’m sorry for that. xD I want to document this so I’ll probably be okay tomorrow but yeah. Just wanted to get this out.

I’ll be 17 next month and it’s really freaking me out. I’m closer to 20 than I am to 10. What happened there, time?!

I’m not really sure how to explain this, but I’ll try my best. I still feel like I’m 11-14. I really can’t explain it. I don’t feel like I’m 17. I know I shouldn’t, but I’m comparing myself to other people and it just makes me upset. I can’t express myself and explain what I want to say, it ‘s so hard. This blog post is going to be a mess xD

Basically, I can’t put my words into the right order or even think of the words I want. I know this is probably down to brain fog but still. It also makes me annoyed because I was, what I love to call myself (without sounding up myself), “smart”. I knew I was intelligent and until I got my depression I was definitely smarter than some of my peers. That’s where the stuck at 11 comes in. Once I became poorly everything stopped. So I still have the mind of an 11-year-old when I know I’m capable of so much more. I just can’t do it. It’s making me cry thinking about it oh god. *breathes*

It just frustrates me knowing I could be so high up where I want to be but I’m being held back. This is why my goal for this year is to kick my own arse and focus on improving my mind. I hate not being able to do what I want to do. A lot of people (I have witnesses to prove I’m not making this up, okay) have said I’m eloquent and that makes me pleased but I don’t feel it. I don’t feel “smart” and I don’t feel eloquent. I feel a jumbled mess and I really don’t like it.

I think it will always be one of my weaknesses. I’m a high achiever (which I think we’ve covered) and I sort of like the security of knowing what’s happening (stops anxiety, ya know).

Argh, I really don’t think I should have written but I need to get it out of my system. I’m sorry that you’ve had to read my ramble, I know it doesn’t make any sense. It makes no sense in my mind tank, either.

Hopefully I’ll be back soon, with a better post than this.
Sorry again,
Jess x
(I’ll be okay. I feel better for letting it out)

It’s been forever!

Or at least it feels like it!! I was supposed to do a post for Remembrance Day, but the pictures were messing around and they weren’t being my friend. Stupid pictures!

So, what’s been happening since we last spoke? Well. My nan gave me the lovely 30s encyclopaedias (Did I tell you about them? I honestly can’t remember if I mentioned it) when she came up last. They are absolutely fab and I honestly can’t wait to have a look through them.
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The cover is absolutely gorgeous. I’m guessing all the things on it is what is included in the series!
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The spine is pretty fab too!
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Most of it is in black and white but they do have some colour pages, which are stunning. 🙂

Then I went on a roll with sewing (so much so that I made myself feel rather ill). I have nearly finished a Christmas present but I did something wrong so I have to unpick a lot of it. What annoyed me most is that I have tiny stitches when I sew, so having to unpick tinsy stitches that you probably need a magnifying glass to see was pretty frustrating. ;D It’s just sat on my sofa hoping to be fixed soon. Poor thing.

What else . . . Ah yes! I said I was going to my nan’s house in my last post, didn’t I? Well I went, and I’ve been there a few more times since!! I really love the house, they’re very lucky to have such amazing views!! Of course the days I’ve gone round have been the crappiest with rain or fog or whatever so I haven’t had chance to see them, but I know they’re there somewhere! xD

On Friday the parents and I went on an adventure to the charity shops and I couldn’t resist having a little nose at some of the pretty things they had! I found some amazing scarves, but the picture is awful. D; They’re silk ones with delicate flowers on them. Yay! I also found a little treasure, which I love. For just £2.99 this was mine.
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I’m thinking that they are late 20s early 30s but I’m not sure. A book from a completely different set of encyclopaedias/knowledge books. It’s really cool to have, especially this one as it has loads of fables and stories, which is cute! All in all a happy bunny!

The next day we went over to my nan and granddad’s to cut down a tree (dad did it as my granddad injured himself on the wardrobe. *shakes head*). While dad was up the tree and my granddad not knowing quite what to do mum, nan and I went into the garage and my nan gave us my great-granddad’s projector and all of his reels of film.
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Needless to say mum and I were excited! When we got home we pretty much set it up immediately. One of the reels was a bit broken, but we got a different one working. The height of technology in the early 70s, we were having a hard time understanding how it worked. I’m sure granddad would be very annoyed with us for taking too long to set it up. 😉 We managed to watch a few and you have no idea how amazing it felt to be able to see my granddad. Having never met him, it was a great feeling to be able to see him on this film and watch him draw these cartoons (he was very interested in film, photography, editing things etc..). 🙂

Since then I haven’t really done a lot, or at least not that I can remember. I’ve been trying to organise some schoolwork so I can get back to doing that in the new year once all the present making is out of the way. Yesterday I went to my aunt and uncle’s to spend some time with my aunt and cousin. My cousin decided – with the new craft stuff we had given him – that we should make some pictures so we sat at the table and did that! He got very excited about it all and let me use one of his chalks to do a picture of my own. I think it’s a masterpiece:
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I am obviously a great artist. I left it there so it could join my cousin’s pictures on the fridge. Although I highly doubt that’ll happen because I’m sure my cousin will protest. 🙂

Oh, and also yesterday I spent my morning trying to figure out PDFs for mum and nan’s blog. It took a little while but it’s all done now! If you are into crafting and like Christmas, go check out their site! Click here and you’ll get taken there on a magic carpet (possibly. It only works 50% of the time, you just can’t trust magic these days).

So, after that rather lengthy catch up, I s’pose I should leave you now! I hope you all have a good rest of whatever it is, wherever you are! I shall leave a picture of my rabbit from this morning to cheer you up if you are having a bad day. 🙂
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See you soon!
Jess x

Projects, projects and more projects

I honestly don’t know how I’ll find the energy.

The problem with me, is that I’ve always been very ambitious. Which is probably why I’m so poorly. *shakes fist* But it doesn’t stop me one bit. With my recent creative-ness I’ve found lots of old projects that I really want to work on, as well as new projects that I’ve started. I’m in a bit of a muddle now and not sure what to prioritise.

First of all, back in, um, 2009 I think, I started writing lots of poems. I love writing poems and I was hoping to turn it a book. Like a proper book with pictures I had taken to go with it. I even started it but mum and I have forgotten the log in so I’m not sure when that’ll happen.

That same year I started writing a book about . . . Well, I can’t tell you that, can I? 😀 I was speaking about it to my nan today and I think it’d be pretty cool to release that, maybe as a short story because it doesn’t really have that much of a plot. Well, it does but it’s not like a thriller or anything. Just a simple book for probably 7+. Pretty cool, huh?

Then we come to the past, oh I don’t know, year or so? My friend and I (as mentioned in the last post) have such weird lives (seriously, if you spoke to my pal you would either think she makes it up or she is Miranda) that I sort of want to write some sketches, because that would be pretty cool. That and our sense of humour is quite weird so it’d be cool to see people’s responses. Also, we’ve always said we’d release an album of songs we’ve made up (mainly covers but so very funny).

Then in July I started a blog with a girl called Ann. Check it out here if you want to see it! We’re hoping to do quite a bit of it in the next few years, so keep a watch out.

Then next year you will find out one that I’ve mentioned before on here but it is super top-secret so nerh. 😛 I’m not sure when it will be announced but you will definitely hear about it. 🙂 Ooh, ‘ark at me being secretive (I don’t do this very often as you can probably tell).

So, now we are at the end of my arm long list of projects (I say arm long, it’s more half an arm, but if I write it in big text it’ll look more impressive). My top-secret one and my project with Ann are probably high on the list, but I would really like to do more poems and writing for that book so that can be released and done. Imagine me with books out?! Oh dear, that’s quite a scary thought. I’d have to be all normal . . . Nah, they’ll just have to like me for who I am. 😀

As I mentioned, I am very ambitious. But I don’t s’pose you noticed that at all, did you? 🙂
Jess x

PS. My next post is my 50th. Imagine that?! I’ll make it super special!

Studying (apparently)

Hello again!

Thought I’d make a quick blog post (not a crafting one this time. Still need to take a picture of the hexies!) telling you what I’d been up to.

Yesterday was a very excitable day. Like, really exciting. So much so that I got extremely tired because I was so excited. You’ll probably find it very geeky, but please don’t judge me? Where to start . . . At the beginning of the day I s’pose!

In the post yesterday morning (after answering the door to the postie looking a bit like I had just stumbled out of bed and not bothered to do anything to my hair, which I had) were two workbooks. They were for citizenship and history. Can you see where I’m going with this? Mum and I looked through the citizenship booklet and it looks really interesting, I seriously can’t wait to learn more about the law, human rights, the UN etc.. Very exciting stuff. Then we looked through the history book. I fell in love. We looked through the first module and I think I nearly squealed. From that moment on I grew more in love with the modules and the sections and well. I could go on. xD In my excitement I have nearly finished one of the “challenges” from the first module today! Four more to go and I have my first credit towards a shiny certificate. I have chosen to do 6 credits (which is 60 hours). I’m sure I’ll regret this at some point but for now I am very happy. Yay!

Now to the next thing that happened yesterday. Dad came home from work and said “I’ve got you some strings. Look.” and I could have done a dance. New violin strings for the win! I’ve said on here about wanting to re-learn my beautiful violin and now that I have new strings, I can! While dad was helping me to tune it up (and re-string them as I didn’t put them in very well), I practiced my bow work. Basically that means using the technique my teacher in Year 3 taught me. Practice writing your name with it and writing numbers etc.. Then it was tuned up and I got straight into learning it. I obviously started with Beethoven (read as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star), but got frustrated as I still can’t use the bloody bow right. I’ll get there though. I did some practicing today and will do a bit more in a minute. This means business, I never practice my instruments!

I don’t think I ever showed you my violin! Here it is!
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Crap lighting but ah well. ‘Scuse the mess as well, please! It is a metallic purple violin, not very big (my arms are strained because I’ve obviously grown since I got it!). My grandparents bought it for me in I think 2004/2005 for Christmas, probably one of the best presents ever! It still has its tape on it from my lessons in Year 3, it’s been with me through a lot. Quite a few orchestras (if you want to hear those stories you can comment and I’ll tell you all about them. I won’t be offended if you don’t!), many classes (including getting to intermediate strings. Oh yeah) and zero practicing. It’s my buddy and I love it. Even if it’ll take a while to remember how to play it. xD

Well, what was to be a short post ended up being a long one, sorry about that! I will come back soon with another post about my adventures in geek land soon!
Jess x