Everyone can agree that being sick sucks. Whether it be a minor cold, or a bedridden flu, not being at your absolute best is never fun. It always feels as if I’ve taken advantage of my good health once I’ve fallen ill. I get kind of mad at my healthy self for not truly appreciating the fact that I was healthy, that it didn’t take so much out of me just to breathe.
Being sick isn’t so bad, however, if you have someone to take care of you, or sympathize with you as you go through all the struggles that being ill entails. Bedridden and barely coherent is much worse when you’re alone, and being on campus, it’s much harder to find someone who is willing to risk their health for yours.
It’s just easier to rely on those you’ve always relied on: your family. So, unless you have family on campus, or a very close friend of many years, being sick is most likely going to be lonely and difficult.
Sickness is a state of vulnerability, and that vulnerability can make a person feel ashamed, which may prevent said person from seeking help. This puts them at risk for many things; they can make their sickness worse, get other diseases, or get an infection. They may brush symptoms off and end up actually being ailed by something worse than they realize.
This risk isn’t just something someone on campus may face–there are many stubborn people who have the same attitude at home. But, those who may have pushy, worrying parents who would otherwise take care of them when ill, or those who are just suddenly uncomfortable on campus asking for the help they otherwise wouldn’t think twice of asking for at home–those people are going to have a harder time being sick on campus than they would at home.
“It’s worse to be sick on campus since you don’t have someone to take care of you–to make soup for you. Plus, if you have to throw-up, you can’t do so in private but instead you have to throw up in a communal bathroom, where anyone could see or hear you. You don’t want people there, it’s humiliating,” First-year Sydney Swenson said. There are worse things that could happen than someone hearing you vomit in the bathroom, but it’s still scarring. At home, at the very least, the only people that may hear that are family members or your pets. Being sick is a weakness, and being don’t like being seen–or heard–as weak.
There is also a matter of people who are unaware of the health resources here on campus, and even once they are ill, they decide to not look into them. “Since I don’t know enough about the health resources here and I don’t have parental guidance like I do at home, it’s a lot worse to be sick here on campus. Here I have to figure out how sick I actually am. Do I need to see a doctor? How long can I tough it out? I’ve switched to trying to tough it out with the lack of resources or time,” First-year Jesper Salverda said.
It’s hard to balance everything that college throws at you, and differentiating between just needed a bit more sleep because all this stress is taking its toll, and actually being clinically sick and needed some time to recover. Either way, it is highly suggested that if you feel unwell that you take time for yourself over other things, but having a cold or the flu requires some more self-care than taking a break from class. This is where being able to know just ‘how sick’ you may be is important, and in a high stress environment such as on campus, it can be hard to take time to do so.
All this being said, it’s very important for everyone to take time for their own health. Be sure to ask for assistance when you don’t feel to your best–whether that be for a friend to get you some soup, someone in class to share their notes, or going to the health center to double check that it’s just a cold. It’s alright to take time off for yourself sometimes, even if you can’t quite relax in the same way that being home may allow you. Stay informed on your resources and try to keep healthy in any way that you can.