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You asked:  What has been a challenge for you, and how have you dealt with it effectively?
Photo of Leslie Rott

Leslie Rott, Sociology PhD student with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, answered:
For me, getting sick during my first year of graduate school, learning to adapt to life with illness was a real challenge. But more than that was being willing to let go of my own expectations and others' expectations of me, and acknowledging that my graduate school experience was going to be vastly different from that of my "healthy" counterparts.

I dealt with this challenge by learning to forgive myself for my limitations caused by lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. More importantly though, I dealt with it by finding others like me, who understood what I was going through, to help support and encourage me.

Juli Harrison, School of Education Alumna, currently staff at the College of Pharmacy, with temporary disability from a knee injury, answered:

One month after starting a new job at UM, I injured my knee. It took six weeks for the doctors to come up with a diagnosis. During that time, I was in a lot of pain, and frequently had to rely on crutches to get around. Injuries are never fun, but having just started a new job, I found it to be doubly challenging.

Despite knowing that my injury was temporary, the daily challenges made the road to recovery seem insurmountable. Fortunately, I found that people on campus were very supportive. More than once, people approached me to share their stories of knee injuries, and provided suggestions on how to make the best of the situation and take advantage of the University resources.

It will take many months of physical therapy, but finding that people are able to look past my lingering limp and see me as more than just my injury has been a great help as I continue to recover.

Cristina Sienkowski, Cell and Molecular Biology undergraduate student with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, answered:

In high school I was very active; I played sports, participated in numerous clubs, and left myself very little time to relax. When I developed fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome during my freshman year of undergrad, I was forced to completely change my lifestyle. I could barely get to class let alone consider joining a campus organization or working a part time job. Instead of accepting my condition, I pretended it didn't exist and pushed myself to be as active and productive as I was before. Of course this backfired on me, and because I refused to ask anyone for help my grades took a big hit.

Eventually I realized that if I wanted to continue attending the University of Michigan, I needed to find ways to deal with my condition. I registered with the Services for Students with Disabilities (even though I still have trouble thinking of myself as a disabled person) and I started meeting with my professors from the very beginning of the semester. Since then my grades have greatly improved, I even 4.0ed this past semester! I am not saying that just because of a few accommodations everything will all of a sudden get better, it still took a lot of hard work on my part, but it is nice to know that with some help I won't have to give up on my dreams.