Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Dyspraxia, anxiety and determination

On Sunday I will be walking alongside fellow dyspraxic blogger Natalie and my boyfriend Matt around the British 10k course all in aid of Dyspraxia Foundation and raising dyspraxia awareness. It will be both a physical challenge and after quite a few rough months anxiety and mental health wise a mental challenge too. Alongside anxiety and the dyspraxic brain working 10x harder comes a lot of fatigue and tiredness. I was very close to pulling out of this due to my anxiety and fatigue struggles. But I've  decided to give it a go, no matter how slowly or uncoordinated I may go, I hope it shows one of the big strengths dyspraxics and those who may struggle with mental health issues have which is determination and empathy for others.

Whenever the word P.E was brought up throughout my life it made me feel full of dread, It made me feel embarrassed and very self conscious too. The reason why I dreaded it so much was because of how much co-ordination, balance,  gross motor skills and spatial awareness all the activities required. But the dyspraxic chaos often started well before the lesson began, I couldn't remember what I needed to bring with me, where to go, it used to take me so much longer than everybody else to get changed as I couldn't co-ordinate the movements over my head, often things would end up back to front inside out.(They still do- the amount of times I've realised my labels are hanging out of a cardigan or jumper.)

I was always the one who was chosen last to be a part of the team, the person nobody wanted to be partnered with and the one who was always last. I was the only person who couldn't hit or catch the ball (maybe nearly knocked a few people out with my bat mind) I would topple over as I tried to keep my balance and would bump into everyone who came past me. It had a detrimental effect on my self esteem and confidence and I used to beat myself up so much, something which has carried into adulthood. But I never gave up, I persevered, bruises and all. As as an adult, my dyspraxia hasn't simply gone away, I still find day to day tasks a challenge and they take me 10x longer, I walk with a clumsy gait (you can always hear me coming) and my arms and legs often don't co-ordinate together, I make quite a few mistakes, often with quite a mess and I get very frustrated with myself at times, but I'm a very determined soul, and carry out tasks in my own unique way. As you can imagine from reading the above taking part in a 10k walk, is quite a physical challenge for a dyspraxic never mind stepping out of my comfort zone.

Alongside the physical side of dyspraxia is the social side, social anxiety is something which I've blogged about quite frequently, alongside anxiety itself. The thought of being surrounded by elite runners, crowds of people, the sensory environment of being in a city and generally people watching me do any kind of exercise makes me feel sick or like I want to hide away. My idea of exercise is taking my dog for a long walk or going for a swim. Then of course there's the over thinking and the anxious mind coming to all kind of conclusions  but I know the anxious mind can tell lies and all will be ok. My anxiety can lead to low mood, alongside fatigue which comes alongside dyspraxia which affects my motivation and energy so trying to find the energy to get round this 10k has been on my mind, but hopefully all be a positive step in the right direction. Anxiety has taken so much from my life and stopped me from enjoying life, hopefully in time I will learn to manage it rather it controlling me,

My mum always tells me from a very young age I've always been determined  and determined to prove those who doubted me wrong. When people see dyspraxia or any other difference or disability people often make negative assumptions that we're lazy, careless, look like we're not trying or won't get far which is far from the case, we are simply just different and carry out tasks or see the world in a unique way. Which all comes down to lack of understanding and awareness and assumptions, especially about issues invisible to the eye.

This is something which needs to change, and I hope by stepping out of my comfort zone completely and wearing my Dyspraxia Foundation T-shirt with pride others may be able to take some positivity from it, and celebrate what us dyspraxics have to offer, plus hopefully raise some awareness and most importantly make a difference.

One thing which will help get me round is encouragement and reassurance, something I've been very grateful for these last few months, the little things can really make a huge difference when you don't find day to day tasks easy or go through a rough patch in life. Also feeling included, the race itself maybe isn't a fully inclusive event for people with differences or disabilities (which I think more should be, as it would encourage more people to take part and reduce my anxieties) but having friends, family and the Dyspraxia Foundation team cheering us on at 9k after the yearly AGM  and a youth group conference the day before, will make such a difference from being the girl nobody wanted on her team. Feeling included is such an important feeling for many dyspraxics.

The Dyspraxia Foundation themselves have provided my family with a lot of reassurance from when I was first diagnosed aged 4, and helped us feel not alone and less isolated, and I've met some wonderful people in my life thanks to them. For many years dyspraxia and mental health were my little secrets, I did everything I could to hide them from the world, but then I met others like me.  Maybe this will encourage someone else out there to step out of their comfort zone too.

If you would like to sponsor us and can spare any change our just giving link is: thank you for your kindness.

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