The New Normal for a High Achieving Student
By chyp‘s Board member, Julia Kelly

My daughter’s Chronic Fatigue Syndrome slowly eliminated all the activities she enjoyed in high school. She mourned these losses greatly because she loved school and was in a group of students who were participating in an academically strenuous program. As teenagers often do, her self-identity was very tied to her academic achievements and it was important to her how she was perceived by her friends. She tried to keep up, but the programs she was in required attendance and she was unceremoniously removed from a program that included a coveted hospital internship. As if this wasn’t enough, her friends decided she was being unfairly academically accommodated and stopped being her friends. She was crushed by the perceived unfairness, the bullying and the lack of understanding from teachers she admired. She was depressed and isolated. She benefited from medication, therapy and biofeedback and came to the conclusion it was better that she lost it all because there was freedom in starting over. She went to a public school, so she could have a limited schedule, and made physical therapy, rest a priority and avoided academic stress. She took accounting, which was not a college track class, a ceramics class and made it a priority to do the physical and emotional work to get better. She looked at what was required daily and for many months picked one thing she could do physically each day. She became acutely aware of her limited amount of energy and didn’t waste it on anything that included waiting in lines, parking difficulty or emotionally negative situations. As she improved, she was able to do a little more each day. She learned at a young age what was necessary and what was just expected. Prioritizing what was important to her, versus what she thought was expected of her, helped her maintain her health in college and continues to be vital in maintaining her good health in a professional career now that she is in her twenties.