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Article: Study gave me purpose when the future seemed bleak Jan 2020

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS News' started by Sly Saint, Jan 21, 2020.

  1. Sly Saint

    Sly Saint Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    From the Open University website:

    full article here
    https://ounews.co/student-stories/study-gave-me-purpose-when-the-future-seemed-bleak/
     
    MEMarge, ladycatlover, Ravn and 6 others like this.
  2. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Learning languages has been one thing I've really struggled with since becoming ill, I'd love to learn Italian or French or a non-European language, but this illness makes it difficult... (a family member of mine is a DuoLingo addict)

    Do others struggle with this?
     
  3. Sarah94

    Sarah94 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I've recently started learning Italian on duolingo, and found it much easier than I expected with my brain fog. I think that the part of my brain that stores languages is maybe different to the part that's most affected by brain fog? Also a lot of the questions on duolingo are multiple choice on the first couple of levels. HOWEVER your mileage may vary... I was considered at school to be freakishly good at learning languages, so that might be why I'm not having too much trouble with it now. (Plus, Italian also has a lot of similarities both structurally, and vocabulary-wise, to French and Spanish which I already know, so that makes it easier for me to learn it.)

    Edited to add:
    I am only on the easy levels of duolingo thus far though. Multiple choice no problem (hmm I wonder which word means elephant? Elefante, uccello, or ciotola?) Translate Italian to English okay most of the time cos the sentences are basic things like "the dog eats the meat" but I may find I struggle more when it gets more complicated or when it starts asking me to translate from English to Italian.

    I think my brain's ability to create new memories isn't affected, it's just the ability to recall things that's affected? So if you show me an Italian word like say "uccello", I'll remember that it means "bird" (so long as I've done it enough times on the app for it to enter my memory), but if you say to me "what's the Italian word for bird" I may have trouble searching around in my brain for it depending on how tired I am feeling at that moment.

    However, duolingo is annoying me a bit because it doesn't explain some things to you and just expects you to figure them out yourself. It does teach you some stuff but I keep having to use Google to get some things explained. I want to know what the rule is, not just guess at the rule from seeing lots of examples. (It does tell you some of the rules though.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2020
  4. Kitty

    Kitty Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Yes! I was good at languages at school, but since becoming ill I've made concerted attempts to learn two. Nothing doing – I can neither grasp the grammar nor retain the vocabulary. :rolleyes:
     
  5. MerryB

    MerryB Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    137
    Studying has given me purpose too. I was in the first year of my PhD when I got ME, and I haven't stopped studying since.

    When I haven't been able to work because of my ME, I have found that studying gave me something positive and interesting to focus on.

    It has obviously had to be adapted to work with my ME symptoms, i.e. online learning, breaking it up into small chunks, studying in bed, choosing learning materials that are best suited to brain fog, etc.

    But for me it has been a lifesaver, as it gives me something to hold on foto and focus on when times are hard.
     
  6. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Although science was my thing I loved languages as a schoolgirl and studied 3.

    Since developing ME I simply cannot get new stuff generally to stick in my brain. Languages particularly. The more I try, the more holes that appear in my memory needed to day to day function.

    So the day after studying I might (or might not) remember what I studied, but I'll forget my passwords or how to use the kettle. The following day I'll also have forgotten what I learned but hopefully I'll get the kettle going again.

    My job entailed constant studying and taking exams and applying what I had learned in real life. So it's definitely how the ME affects my brain.
     
  7. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I personally think stories like this should come with a warning, as should stories about people doing physical exercise.

    For some of us cognitive exertion does as much harm as physical exertion.

    Hearing other people taking up new hobbies when they stopped work or full time study encouraged me to push myself harder than I should have. Then I felt even more of a failure when I couldn't retain what I'd learned.

    As this was happening at the same time I was learning all about having to become my own advocate & specialist it was a real kick in the teeth when I least needed it.
     
    dan6000, ahimsa, MEMarge and 13 others like this.
  8. MeSci

    MeSci Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I had just started studying with the OU in 1994 when my world collapsed (with the suspicious disappearance of my favourite cat), and my immediate boss was so unsympathetic that I walked out of my job.

    Poverty ensued as, try as I might, I couldn't get another job.

    But I carried on with my studies, until my suicide attempt in 1996. It failed, but landed me in hospital for 4 weeks. I abandoned studies for a year, but started again the following year.

    Serious house problems led to inhabiting a poky, damp bedsit for over a year, which was probably why I failed to get the first-class degree I had anticipated - I got a second-class degree.

    ME had developed over time in 1995, I think.

    I decided to go for a Masters, and this time I got the First - Yay!

    About 3 and a half years ago I suffered an inexplicable worsening, and it has continued. I don't think I would be capable of studying now. I'm not capable of much at all, although physically I'm quite similar to how I was before (although with less muscle power, I think).
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2020
  9. shak8

    shak8 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Location:
    Northen California
    I was able in the past (while disabled) to take one course a semester (two hours twice a week) at a low cost college. I did 3 semesters of french and dropped out of the 4th semester of Spanish (was too late in the day). Seven years of that.

    I had and have the means to pay for the French TV-5 Monde channel and the TVE (television espanol) for Spanish and so in the last five years I haven't gone to a class or group but have read newspapers in the languages and have listened to a heck of a lot language (every day).

    My comprehension is excellent now, gets better every six months or so. If I watch or listen (there's french and spanish state radio free to use) for several hours, I can start thinking or even talking to myself (I live alone) in that language.

    Of course, I can't carry on a conversation very well. I could use a language partner, but that venture is above my tolerance at present.


    Now, I'd like to pick up where I left off (more than 40 years ago) in Japanese. Maybe get a brush and ink and learn the systems of writing all over again. Never did learn any kanji. Might be fun to splash ink on long sheets of butcher paper and pretend I'm writing something like the Tales of Genji (which I haven't read).

    I think it's hard to learn languages on your own unless the online course is very very good. It also is a big investment of time and study to get beyond a basic conversational level.
     
    MeSci, Hutan, MEMarge and 12 others like this.
  10. Ravn

    Ravn Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    1,465
    This.

    And it's infuriating. A peripatetic childhood meant I got good at learning languages. Later I got a degree in linguistics. In other words, I'm interested in languages. So when I became housebound I thought ok, here's my chance to finally learn some Maori, even if it's just a word a day. Think again. Nothing sticks. This even applies to my native languages (I'm bilingual). I keep having to look up the same 'new' words over and over despite applying all sorts of memory and learning tricks.

    Interestingly I don't have the same trouble with remembering concepts - but I forget all the details that led me to understanding and remembering the concept in the first place.
     
  11. Michelle

    Michelle Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    186
    I was in the middle of studying Arabic and Hebrew in graduate school and my problems with short-term memory following the surgery that triggered-full blown ME was the first symptom that something was very wrong. I've used Duolingo to keep up with my French but...uh...not very effectively. To be fair, some of that is a conscious decision about what to focus my very limited energy on.
     
    ahimsa, MeSci, Ravn and 8 others like this.
  12. Michelle

    Michelle Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    186
    This.

    I may or may not have had ME as early as 10 years old and one of the problems I developed about then was with sequential tasking, which made algebra and up very frustrating. I would get the concepts--indeed, very much enjoyed geometry and could explain the concepts to those around me--but would often make very simple mistakes in my sums so that I would miss half the problems on my tests meaning I would fail the test. In the end I decided I just "wasn't good at math" and avoided it like the plague. In hindsight, I don't understand why my teachers never gave me at least partial credit for showing that I did grasp the concepts. I could have really enjoyed it otherwise.

    I've also just had to learn some patience when learning new things. Before I was sick, I needed little or no repetition to learn something (which I realize now was unusual but as a kid was too young to understand why we had to study the same thing over and over again). Now I just have to commit to studying something many times before it will stick.

    As for taking classes with deadlines? Ha! My ME always laughs at my attempts to place any sort of structure upon it. I've mostly made my peace with that. Mostly. :unsure:
     
    boolybooly, ahimsa, MeSci and 8 others like this.
  13. alktipping

    alktipping Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I get pem from reading too much so any kind of learning that requires re reading the same papers multiple times in an attempt to understand and remember is a no no . I have lost track of the amount of times I have given up on various papers just because it is exhausting to keep scrolling to the glossary . bloody initials for everthing just gets to confusing.
     
    Michelle, MeSci, Ravn and 8 others like this.
  14. Sarah94

    Sarah94 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I like learning stuff but I couldn't do open uni because you have to submit work for them. No way I could write an essay or anything like that. I just want to learn stuff in an easy manageable way. To be fair I think I am learning a fair bit of science stuff via osmosis on Science 4 ME, and a fair bit of humanities(?) stuff via osmosis from the pages that I follow on social media. I couldn't articulate what I've learned, but I know that I've learned stuff.
     
    Michelle, Ravn, alktipping and 4 others like this.
  15. Sarah94

    Sarah94 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Oh dear maybe this is why I keep forgetting to take tablets on time lately??? As I started learning Italian recently. But correlation doesn't equal causation ;)
     
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  16. Sarah94

    Sarah94 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Completely agree.

    I'm only doing the Italian because I'm enjoying it and it's manageable to me so far. In fact for me so far it seems to be less exertion than e.g. reading S4ME.
     
    dan6000, MeSci, Ravn and 4 others like this.
  17. James Morris-Lent

    James Morris-Lent Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    @shak8
    I took Japanese for 5 years in middle/high school. Kanji really is an absolute nightmare - considering the sheer brute force needed to learn all of the reasonably common ones combined with the fact that you are functionally illiterate in the language until you do so. At least in practice you only have to learn to read them, since the computer will pop up all of the possible options when you are typing. Or if you really need to write something by hand it should be intelligible without using them.

    After 5 years I think most of us were at toddler level. It's so hard! I just can't imagine somebody effectively learning it without making doing so one of the top two or three priorities in their life.

    It is 面白い (おもしろい), though.
     
    MeSci, Ravn, shak8 and 4 others like this.
  18. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    This is the thing, we are all so different.

    I don't begrudge anyone who can successfully study or achieve anything physically or cognitively that I can't do. Good luck & every success to them!

    Based entirely on my own experience - I was both cognitively and physically much more able and this has declined over the decades. Is it because I kept trying to function close to my limits - I don't know, but it is possible.

    In my case I do know the memory lapses are due to my attempts at learning. I have a background in engineering and as a techie worked with what was very leading edge tech back in the day. I spent a lot of setting up labs and test equipment troubleshooting & working out design solutions that had to work in the real world environment.

    Then I got sick and desperately keen to give my life some meaning I became my own test subject. Optimum amount of time spent studying, optimum study position and methods used, examined other tasks carried out during the same day and week etc., etc. Then I hadn't studied language for years - mainly technical stuff. So I switched my focus to a related, but different field to my area of expertise, but that is a similar type of subject. Nope, no difference. Still a dunce!

    The thing that surprised me more than anything was how predictably my working memory would fail. I always lose words and passwords, but the basic equipment my mind decides is superfluous seems random. Despite my techie and engineering background not only is it frustrating that I forget how a kettle works, it's bl@@dy frightening I can't figure it out.

    Once upon a time I could walk onto a strange client site in crisis mode, be given control of complex equipment worth vast sums, in a configuration I hadn't necessarily seen before and, under extreme time pressure, troubleshoot and resolve the problem.

    Sorry if my frustration comes across in this post. It isn't aimed at anyone here. I loved my job, I loved the constant learning (I hate to be bored), I got a kick out of the pressure. Not to mention that when I started out there were very few women doing the job and I constantly had to prove myself.

    Between the physical and cognitive limitations, like so many others here, I haven't even got the function left to take up new, albeit less challenging, hobbies.

    In short, in losing the ability to learn and retain new things, not only do I feel like I lost the person I was, I also lost the potential to evolve in a new and meaningful (to me) way.
     
  19. shak8

    shak8 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Location:
    Northen California
    Of course @James Morris-Lent, I can't even read the hiragana!

    My son is working for a Chinese company and I find myself reading everything about China. Since Kanji came from Chinese characters there is some concordance with Japanese.

    My son is not nerdish like me, so I'll have to use stealthy strategy to motivate him to learn Chinese.

    Taking up something from 40 years ago...I don't know why but I don't have any desire to start re-learning classical guitar. I can't read music for the guitar strings.

    Maybe it's just calligraphy that I want to do.

    If I were immortal, I'd like to study every language spoken on earth.
     
  20. ladycatlover

    ladycatlover Moderator Staff Member

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    3,385
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    Thank you to several people who mentioned duolingo. I always wanted to learn Welsh. My Mother was born in Wales, she spoke a certain amount of Welsh, but she refused to teach me. Mainly so that when she got together with her cronies they could chatter away in Welsh about all the local gossip (we lived in Greater London at the time, but I visited my Grandparents in Wales twice a year) and I couldn't understand.

    I can say Good Morning and Good Night, and count to 20, but that's about it, other than a few random words.

    From what I understand, in Welsh Culture it's the Mother who is supposed to pass on the Language to their children. Of course *her* Mother was English, though living in Wales and married to a Welsh speaker who was well known in their town (Silver Band [nothing as common as Brass!], Hospital Committee [local hospital pre-NHS] and so on).

    Gran Alice was a Lady's Maid at one of the local bigwigs houses, and he was the delivery boy for the local baker (his Dad) so I guess that's how they met though I don't know. He used to deliver the bread in a pony drawn cart to the big houses and places outside town.

    Anyway, I think I might have a go at duolingo for Welsh... I'll just have to hope they have the North Wales pronunciation as well as the South Wales one! At least around here (Llyn Peninsula) there will be plenty of people to correct any mis-pronunciation!
     
    MeSci, shak8, alktipping and 3 others like this.

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