June 4, 2011 - submitted by Mindy, United States of America

Q. Team Oracle - #27
"I've been diagnosed with a pretty bad disease, but this wasn't recent.
My family and I had thought that it was in remission.
But now, it's come back even worse, and it's really impacting my life.
I am 14, I play representative sports and I'm in year 10.
My school and my sport lives have always clashed, but it's worse this time around, with both becoming more involved and more intense.
My arthritis makes it hard for me to do the things I love, which is my sport, and makes it quite painful for me to be at school, which I don't enjoy.
I have my ups and downs, but with such a large work load, and so little time because of my sport, I am starting to feel so very overwhelmed with stress.
I know it's only going to get worse throughout the semester.
I get tired and sore very easily, and my family and friends get very worried for me.
Do you have any suggestions which could make me struggle less with the work/sport/rest balance? Mindy, Australia.

The Oracle replies:

I hate to take what may seem like an easy way out here but I think you need to talk with your doctor to make sure that the sport is not having an adverse effect on your arthritis as well as monitoring any medication/treatment I assume you are having. Movement and exercise can help but you may be exacerbating the problem.
I'm afraid there's nothing I can do about you not enjoying school but do try to stay focussed as your education is important. Also, keep comfortable as you study, I'm sure you know all the things that will help with pain and discomfort but again, your doctor can help.
I think it's amazing that you are committed to your passion but you have to realise that it isn't always going to be possible to be 100% up to it. Your health has to come first so please don't push yourself beyond your capabilities.
There is a lot of information available that may help you regarding exercise, diet, breathing, supplements and alternative therapies etc. Counselling may be beneficial and also help with your stress levels. I think you need to plan your time wisely but make sure you timetable rest time as your condition certainly requires plenty of it.
Over to you...

I am so sorry to hear that you are stressed. A very wise man once told me "Life is all about balance." It sounds so easy, but I think it is one of the hardest things in life to get right. It is important to do what you love but it is also important to do well in school. One of the first things to look at is whether or not you are getting enough sleep. I know that sounds cliche, but a good night's rest is the pathway to a very happy heart. In terms of your sport and school, sometimes we have to temporarily give up something we want to do in order to do what we have to do. It is never fun but in order to balance the life scale out we have to take something off one side. It doesn't mean you have to give up your dream forever; just for now, so that you can enjoy it even more later. And when later comes, try to take on a smaller school load, if possible, so that you can live your dream but also excel in school. Wish you the best. Joseph S.

I maybe wrong but its sounds like you have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Having this especially at such a young age can feel overwhelming. I assume you see your doctor about this and I was wondering whether they had recommended any support groups for you? Take it from me that these things can sound very cheesy but there will be people there who are going/have already been through the exact same things as you and will know how to deal with it. Perhaps it will also give you hope that you can manage as well. As for a balance well this may not be the answer you want to hear but just slow down a little bit, don't be so hard on yourself and give yourself a break. It will take time. The best thing to equip yourself with is patience. I wish you the best of luck for your future. Shay.

Perservere; with God's help you will be able to overcome the troubles that currently antagonize you. With a strong-willed, determined effort and mindset you can overcome the obstacles laid before you. Take each issue in it's own, and focus on each difficulty until you overcome it and make it go away. As for stress, think day-to-day and focus on what you need to do for that day only. For example, as of right now you should focus on your resting habits. Go online look at tips that will help you go to sleep (there will be something on the internet that will help). If the internet doesn't totally resolve your issue, maybe try going to a doctor or psycologist to help you. So overall, take each day as it comes focus on one goal until it has been completed then move onto the next one. Sometimes you'll be successful other times you won't, just work as hard as you possible can, learn from your mistakes and you will be successful and have a happy life. God bless, Colin.

My best friend was diagnosed with arthritis when he was two. He's seventeen now and the most phenomenal concert pianist. I'm an avid athlete. I play lacrosse, basketball, soccer, volleyball, everything. Both my pianist friend and I are... nerds. We're in 11th grade, but we take as many rigorous college-level classes as possible. So when my life gets crazy with homework, finals, playoffs, and practice, I focus on what's most immediate and go from there. I've found if you're a good enough student, you can work with teachers, explain to them what's going on, and they work something out with you that's convenient and less stressful.
For dealing with the discomfort, my advice is to find an enjoyable distraction. My stomach gives me pains, and they only get worse if I focus on them or I'm in a bad mood.
Personally, I try my best to keep up sports and education, because both are essential, especially if you have arthritis, sometimes the best thing is to keep moving. (Hence my friend is a pianist.) It might be best to give it a try and see what can work out with teachers and coaches. It might not be as stressful as you think it will. Best Wishes! Dianna Black.

Finding a balance between school, sports, and personal time is hard. It seems you are so overwhelmed because you have so much on your plate all at once. You may not like this suggestion, but you should try taking a break from your sport for one term. This will alleviate some of the intense stress you're feeling from trying to balance it all. This will also give your body some well deserved rest and allow you to gain back strength. For your arthritis, you may want to consider medication or consulting with a physical therapist who can show you exercises that will help you. Having some personal time to gather your thoughts can also help deal with stress, so try setting aside some "you" time each week and see how you like it. Most importantly, surround yourself with friends and the people who love you. They will help you take your mind off the stress and give you support when you need it. Blake.

Honestly, the only option I really see for this situation is to stop playing your sport. Not only is the sport taking a huge toll on your physical health (which you yourself say is not optimal), but it's also causing you to mentally shut down. You may not want to, but if your illness is as serious as I read it to be, and if you really want things to be better, that's what you need to do. I remember my junior year of high school when I was juggling so many things (AP classes, band, etc.), and because of it, I was eventually forced to give up piano lessons. I didn't like it initially, but I ended up feeling not nearly as strained afterwards. I know I don't have the same situation as you. Yours is more complicated, which makes it even more imperative for you to stop before you end up severely hurting yourself. I know you want to be happy, but it's more important for you to be healthy, and by continuing to play, you are only making things worse for yourself. I wish you the best of luck, Mindy. Violet.

I'm sorry that you have a chronic disease. Exercise is a very important part of therapy. I'm wondering if swimming during a flare and backing off of the more load-bearing activities might help? Ask your doctor if there is a support group for teens and their families.
I think sharing will help you see that 1) you are not alone, 2) you may pick up some coping skills from other teens, and 3) provide opportunities for making life-long friendships. Most chronic conditions come with some level of pain or discomfort, but it is crucial that you continue to keep an open dialogue with your doctor and your parents.
I know school compounded by all these other activities feels overwhelming, and managing a chronic disease on top of that must be exhausting. I would like to recommend that you keep a journal of this time. It can help you to organize your thoughts and gain perspective and distance from your anxieties. Sometimes when I'm stressed, I'll write a list of the things bothering me, and that lessens some of the burden; like I'm moving all of that stress from my soul to the paper. You will get through this time, and reflect back with pride at how well you handled these challenges!
I wish you well and take good care, Aimee.

Thank you all for your replies.
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