What to Do?

I am currently struggling with this decision. If I follow what would be a rigorous schedule just in my normal mind set, I can finish my degree in 3 semesters. However, I struggled immensely to pull off a 2.4 GPA last fall semester and had to drop one class and technically 'failed' another with a D. I say failed because if it is a major requirement you have to make a C or better for it to count. Our school also implemented a new rule in that we may only drop a certain class ONCE in our career there. Meaning, the next time I take the class I dropped last fall I will be obligated to finish it no matter what my performance is. The fog has been really bad for me and I have struggled to get a good medicine combination. Lyrica helps the pain (mostly) but doesn't help fatigue, fog, headahces, etc. Can't tolerate Cymbalta or Savella. I already take an extremely high dose of Provigil as a stimulant for fatigue meaning that anything like Adderall or Ritalin I cannot take due to heart rate and BP concerns when combined with the Provigil.

In short, I am wondering if I should drop my hours to part time. I have never never neeeever done that and I actually find it embarrassing that I have to. It makes me feel stupid. I also know that my grandparents and other family members who do not understand this disease expect a lot more out of me.

Dear whisperingwillow

You should not feel stupid to drop your hours to part time. With chronic illnesses there is only so much the body can do or tolerate. That is not your fault. You have a chronic illness that can affect your body in a number of ways. Would it not be better to drop your hours to part time and be able to apply what limited energy you have to fewer subjects? It would be less stress on you and stress is very detrimental to your health issues. Stress ignites widespread debilitating pain.

I am so sorry that your grandparents and other family members expect more of you than is possible. It's most unfortunate that they don't make an effort to understand your chronic illness. But many members are experiencing this same problem with family members.

That is what is so important about this website. People understand and support one another. Welcome to our fibro family.

Gentle hugs


Dear Whispering—About 7 years ago my 3rd child came down with a form of schizophrenia. It broke my heart and I struggled and cried and cried for the loss of the son I expected to have. After a few years of struggling (he had received a scholarship to BYU, a very difficult University to get into, let alone a scholarship) and bringing him back home from school, we found a medicine combination that allowed him to be a functional person again. He started to attend college again, but just a few classes at a time. Like I said, that was 7years ago–right as he was graduating from High School. He has had to withdraw twice, but now he is doing super well. He knows he has to take his medicine forever, and he knows that he has to keep stress to a minimum. Two years ago he got married, and this summer he just started an internship as a computer programmer. He has about three more years to finish his degree and get his Masters degree, but realizing his limitations and taking it slow has led to his success! I can see him down the road getting a good job and being able to support his family.
Do you have anyone that can support your decision to take things slow? Sounds like you would be successful if you didn’t have to keep up the pace of “regular” people. Some people just need to do less to be successful. But, the bottom line is, you will be successful in the end. You have my vote to take fewer classes and take longer to graduate. It has made such a difference in the life of my son. The end result will be the same. Be kind to your self and go slow!

It's perfectly ok to be a part-time student if you need more tiime to take care of yourself! I had to take a leave of absence for a year when I was working toward my doctorate degree (I could not do part-time because of my student visa status) and I am glad that I took that time off because I was able to graduate!

I may not have been able to finish if I tried to keep going. I kept pushing myself despite severe pain and fatigue and my symptoms got worse and worse...that I became almost bed-ridden. Brain fog/memory problem also forced me to read my assignments over and over and redo my projects.

Have you talked to your academic advisor about your chronic illness? The university should allow you to drop a class more than once and make other accommodations if you have a legitimate medical reason. I petitioned my leave of absence for a medical reason and it was granted with no problem. I hope you will take good care of yourself before anything. Your health is most important! Please get help with people around you...

Never be embarrassed to realize that you have boundaries. You are very smart at realizing that so quickly. When I was your age, I was an undiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder AND Fibro. I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off at the end of each semester. My stress was off the charts.

As for your family, you do what is best for you. Say that you need a break, that last semester beat the daylights out of me and that I need a slow semester. That way you aren't slacking, you are still taking classes, just not a 5 class work schedule.

Good luck in your choice.

I would definately go for part-time hours. I became ill when I was at a good university studying a hard subject. Like you, I was struggling with the work-load. If you don't drop to part-time hours, the reality is you will fail your degree and have to leave. I know you know that deep down, but you have to accept that it is true. Believe me, the alternative, of failing your degree is much, much worse. What would your grandparents and relatives say then? If you take only a few classes, the chances of you getting good grades is much higher.

It is awful that you are not being supported in this and that they don't understand how fibro feels. Perhaps you could show them the brain scans that were linked to on another discussion and explain that fibro actually affects how well you can think, so it's not "just" a matter of overcoming exhaustion and pain. Hopefully, that will fend off the "when I was your age, I had to work no matter how sick I was" kind of lecture.

I really hope that you can get the help you need. Have you spoken to the university you attend and made sure that you're getting all the support and help that is available? I hope that they will be understanding and help you to find the best way of getting through your course with the best grades possible.

Good luck.

When I was in college, I came down with ulcerative colitis. It was an acute case and had to drop out out of college without finishing the semester. I ended up having a complete colectomy and missing the next semester also. The school was very good working with me to complete the semester I missed. I had to go to summer schools to be able to graduate a summer behind my class, but I did it.

You definitely need to take it easy. I could never had graduated without the summers. With the fibro, I know I could have not have done it. Good luck hon.

Whispering Willow,

First of all you would never be viewed as being stupid. You are a normal person with a chronic illness to deal with which at times - to me seems almost like a full time job. Just kidding, but sometimes dealing with the fatigue, brain fog - the pain....it all becomes overwhelming.

And, to be working on a degree, too. That would be a major struggle for me at this time in my life. But, it can be accomplished.

I am impressed that even though you are struggling, you are trying to hang in there. Is there a time limit for you getting your degree? It took me 5 years to get my B.S. degree. Do what you can, and don't worry about anything else.

Online classes were not offered when I was going to college, but they are offered now. That might be something for you to consider.

Speak with your College Advisor about your chronic illness? They may be able to offer you help or assistance in some way. It's a shame when our families do not understand our illness, and do not support us. But you have friends here, and online we can support.


I screen applications for admittance into the physician assistant program i attended many years ago. When they found out I had to retire early from my job due to these illnesses, they gave me some work. The bulk was screenings. Please consider this seriously.....In order to gain admission to this program, they had come up with a carefully constructed point system. If your points were over a certain number, you got an interview. THE MOST IMPORTANT AND MOST POINTS BY FAR WAS THE GPA. If your GPA was low, the chances of getting an interview were negligible. I reviewed MANY applications for students who had one or two bad semesters in collage and the effect on the GPA was great. Even for those who retook the class, it seemed to make little impact. I know the frustration of always having to compromise in life when you have a chronic illness, but it simply is NOT worth it for your own mental and physical health AND your career goals if u should ever want to pursue further education. PLEASE GO PART TIME.

Hugs and prayers


My heart goes out to you. I bet you are use to being someone who accomplishes what you set out to do and settling for less feels like a failure. However, you can learn a lesson that will serve you well in life by taking care of yourself before you take care of the feelings of friends and family. I send you my good wishes and strong advice to go part time without guilt.

Whisperingwillow - I had to do the same thing with work hours. I COULD NOT MANAGE the full time hour I was tired, in pain, stressed, and felt like I could just stop existing and that would be okay.

In short, you need to do what is BEST for you. You are young. You have plenty of time to finish the degree, even part-time and then go to work. My son goes part-time and there's nothing wrong with him.

As Rachel says, you have a chronic illness. We fibro people like to fool ourselves and say, "if I only try a little harder, I KNOW I can do it." And then we end up hitting the wall and being even worse off. More pain, more fatigue, more stress...

I think it's time for you to sit down with your parents and explain to them that you have a SERIOUS and chronic illness. Too many people (myself included before I read up on it) think of fibro as just people being tired and maybe a bit lazy? Print out dialogues on here from other people and let them read what others have to say about how ILL they are.

And you also need to accept it within yourself. You ARE chronically sick. It doesn't mean you cannot complete your degree, but maybe you need to do it at a slower pace.

Starsmurf, could you please tell me what discussion had the link to the brain scans? I very much want to see it, to validate to MYSELF that the illness is SOMEWHERE in my body (since the joint and blood tests always show up as normal.)


Great post whispering willow!

I think I am almost 100% certain I will only be going part time because of the mental state of fog and learning disability it causes. I also would like to keep my job working te kennels. It is surprisingly relaxing to me and I enjoy it and it gets me out.

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I am glad u made this decision

Willow, I totally agree with this wise woman! Totally!

Hi, I am from the UK so I'm not sure about all of your courses etc and have not heard of a lot of the meds over there, but I do know that unfortunately I had lost my jobs etc due to the fibromyalgia but I have managed to build up again and work part-time and go to college part-time. I am self-employed so I can plan my work around my illness as best as possible. I know you really want to get on with the degree and how much it is a struggle to work full time. But you probably will be better off going part-time. In fact you will may find you won't have a choice to be honest with you. I know other people do not understand how hard it is and you really need to explain to them your difficulties and they should support you no matter what. I was like you and tried to listen to others that don't understand and burnt myself out many times. Sometimes I have to do that to prove to others that I am actually really ill. It is not in any of our heads and its not something to be embarassed about. You should be proud of how well you are really doing. Not many people can do degrees let alone have fibromyalgia as well! You should be proud of yourself and do what you can do realistically. Good luck and well done you!!

Thank you. I have just lost so much of my life (this began when I was around 14 or so) to this disease because no one could tell me what I had at first. I never went to an actual high school, I was home schooled. My state is not a big proponent of that so there aren't any extracurriculars for home school kids. After that I had to settle for a college that would accept my home schooling. Then during college I have had the struggle of doing less than I am capable of performance wise and also being too tired to do anything else BUT school. And it is so frustrating to feel like at 22 I am still losing parts of my life to this disease.

Hi Petunia,

Sorry to take so long to reply, I didn't see your comment at first. The link is: http://forum.livingwithfibro.org/forum/topics/brain-scans-prove-fibro-is-real-4

I hope you find it interesting, I certainly did. Hopefully, it will provide a way of diagnosing fibro to allow those of us with it to have better treatments and to stop the "it's not an illness, it's laziness" brigade. It would also stop the tiny minority of people who pretend to be sick out of laziness from picking fibro. They makes us all look like liars when they suddenly have a good day that "miraculously" coincides with something they want to do.

I'm trying infusions of lidocaine for a different pain condition (erythromelalgia, I know some of you may have it) and I will be interested to see what effect it has on the fibro. I will post on it if there is any difference.

Hi Whispering Willow

I hope you have made the decision YOU feel is best for you. Do not overwork yourself and listen to your body. I have a schedule that is kicking my arse but I am determined and do not have as much of the fog as you do so I am so sorry for what the decisions you have to make. I decided to not work so much and focus more on school. We all have to make those tough decisions and it's okay to do so. Take your time. Education is always there for you to learn, cut hours at work if you need to. . that job may not always be there but jobs are. . hopefully : )

as Helen keller quoted, "Damaged people are dangerous. Because they know they can survive." Some may not like the reference to damaged but we all are whether we are sick or not so I don't mind it. I like what it says because she is right. We are sick and we struggle and we fight hard everyday to be as normal as we can, we are surviving and with the fittest of them all. We know we can survive, we know it's hard but we can do it and we are. . .even if we have to take steps back and go back to crawling, we will walk again. . .we are surviving this and its okay to take a step back and view yourself, see what needs to change. Do not feel stupid for choosing to survive the right way instead of a hard unnecessary way. . .you recognized a problem and you aim to fix it. That's not called being stupid, that's called surviving. . you got this so don't fret or stress, take it easy and your degree is just a little while more ways away but its there. . you got this!