Graduating from sixth form and gaining a place at university is a unique experience for everyone. It is a time when the student feels excited, sad, and everything in between. It is a huge accomplishment which brings inner pride to those who had to go through tough times. But for Katie Livings, 18, from York, it was an immense achievement.
Katie suffers from Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), a long-term illness with a wide range of symptoms, the most common being extreme tiredness—but may also incur sleeping problems, headaches, problems thinking, remembering, or concentrating, among others.
Katie, who was diagnosed with the condition in 2013, has said that the journey from being diagnosed has been one of great difficulty and shock.
‘Living with ME can be difficult. I was surprised when I was diagnosed, although it took a while for me to realise the full extent of the condition.’
Her constant feeling of tiredness and other physical symptoms makes it hard for Katie to carry out everyday activities. Not only that, but the severities of her symptoms vary from day to day, or even within a day.
‘Having ME means that I am not able to study for long, while it takes me longer to complete work, especially when I am not feeling well.’
As a result of her diagnoses, Katie had to leave secondary school and be home-schooled to cater to her condition. She didn’t see her friends as much, and even when should could,
‘It can be quite difficult to do activities with my friends if I am feeling unwell’.
‘However, all my friends are very understanding about this; I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them and their support’.
As well as asking for her family and friends for support, Katie found it useful to talk to other people with ME through the different charities which highlight the condition.
Most people with CFS get better over time, Katie herself has seen improvements, although many people that suffer from the condition do not make a full recovery.
‘I was told it would take 6 months to a year to recover, although I am much better now than I was then, I still suffer from ME.’
When the time came for Katie to sit down for her examinations this year, her college, The Mount School, put the interests of Katie first by letting her take her exams at home and invited teachers to invigilate her examinations in order boost the chances of her succeeding with her condition. She cracked down and battled through with the dream of gaining a place at a law school in Britain.
To the delight and surprise of Katie, her results saw her achieve an A* in Extended Project Qualification, writing about the illness she has suffered for the last five years, A’s in History and French, and a B in English.
‘I was really surprised and very happy,’ recounted Katie, who, thanks to her determination, and outstanding grades gained a place at the University of Kent to study Law and French Law.
She added: ‘The University and Union have been really supportive since I have joined Kent. Student support has been amazing and the support through the KLS student support has been great. It has really helped with my studies.’
Katie is not completely sure what career she wants to pursue in the future, but she said after working as a receptionist in the Kent Law Clinic that she would like to do a job that can help others.
‘This has got me considering becoming a solicitor after finishing my degree.’
To find out more about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, visit https://www.meassociation.org.uk