Friday, 13 May 2016

The anxious, dyspraxic guide to: managing frustration

Frustration is something we all experience during life, whether it be at school, university, the workplace or just in general. We all encounter stressful situations, ones we feel uncomfortable in or feel like our skills are under appreciated.

The frustrations which go alongside a hidden or visible difference, disability or illness are ones which people struggle with but often don't have the confidence to talk about. Ever since I was a child I've always been a very determined, stubborn (I'm a Taurean) soul, determined to keep going with whatever life decides to through at me. But along with that has been a lot of frustration at either struggling with day to day tasks or the environment around me.

When I used to come home from school two things normally happened, I either fell asleep exhausted or would end up in floods of tears and my family having to walk on egg shells, the smallest of things triggering an emotional response but then afterwards feeling very guilty for expressing my emotion like that. In reality at the time I had no idea how dyspraxia affected me, I just knew my brain was telling me to do one thing and my body didn't want to co-operate. When we got dressed for P.E I was always the slowest, gripping onto a chair for balance whilst at the time looking puzzled when it was pointed out that half of my labels were showing. I tried so hard but was making so many mistakes and so much mess at the same time and I worked so much slower than everyone else. But my effort was never noticed, it was always, "must try harder and try to be neater." Which made my frustration levels rise even more and it made me feel so isolated, confused and different to my peers.

Struggling with day to day tasks is something which I feel has a slight stigma attached to it, a lot of people whether there's a label for it or not feel embarrassed either admitting or talking about, through fear of coming across as stupid or careless. But in reality it's something a lot of people do find tricky. It can often be confusing when people see I have  achieved quite a high level of education yet can struggle with basic tasks such as: crossing the road, brushing my hair, remembering to eat a meal, keeping up with a conversation or to go up and down stairs. If I was to list everything it would probably fill this blog post and whilst I've developed a lot of coping mechanisms even for those my brain is having to process every movement and is having to work 10x harder. Dyspraxia is quite complex too and is so much more than the physical side, a lot of people struggle with social skills. Most people do tasks without thinking for dyspraxics you're constantly aware of every little thing involved, and then of course in typical dyspraxic fashion those wires get tangled and mistakes happen. Which can be difficult to understand as a person I am very conscientious and worry about making sure I do a good job. One of the biggest frustrations is because a disability or difference is hidden or invisible to the eye people assume they don't exist.

An onset of that is anxiety, low mood and difficulty controlling my emotions. Over the years I've really struggled to manage my frustrations in a positive way. Anxiety is simply more than just being a worrier it can be debilitating and zap all the enjoyment in life. My wonderful friend Claire has recently written a blog about how frustrating anxiety can be in her recent blog which can be found here: In it she talks about how anxiety can affect situations many people take for granted such as: volunteering, spending time with friends or simply relaxing and enjoying life. I could also relate to her description of wanting to isolate yourself from others and not wanting to put anyone out or annoy anyone in situations which cause me anxiety. Often building a wall around me, pushing loved ones away from me, which then makes me feel guilty.

Alongside the worry comes difficulties with confidence and self belief and needing a lot of reassurance. Reassurance that I haven't made an idiot out of myself and that people don't hate me and that the physical symptoms I'm experiencing don't mean I'm going to be ill or that a loved something bad will happen to a love one, and that I'll not do as badly as my mind is telling me. I can appreciate that it can get annoying, but the reassurance means more than you'll ever know.

Learning to manage my frustrations more positively has always been a struggle and learning to challenge self destructive behaviours ,emotions and thoughts into more manageable ones has been a  difficult for me, but recent therapy is slowly helping me with this, whilst at the same time helping me build my self worth. It's something I know is going to take time and will be something I'll always have to work on, but baby steps forward.

The world around us can be overwhelming if you process it differently, so many noises, sounds, smells and people it can feel like there is too much information going on. I describe it as feeling like there is a bowl of spaghetti in your head. Then there's the sheer exhaustion from it all, when your brain is working 10x harder mixed in with an overwhelming environment it can really affect your fatigue and energy levels. One thing I'm slowly learning to do is stop comparing myself to others. When you're in a negative thought pattern it's easy to think that it's just you experiencing your struggles and feel very isolated.

In reality despite what the anxiety or low mood might be telling you, you aren't stupid or thick, or worthless, you have a lot to offer this world. Most importantly there are many others out there going through what you are, you aren't alone and if these blogs have helped people feel less alone it is always worthwhile. If I am lucky enough to be shortlisted for the National Diversity Awards (thank you for your kindness so far it means so much) -  I hope to keep raising the profile of dyspraxia. (Please also nominate my wonderful friend Alice, I'm sure you read my blogs as well as mine- search Alice Hewson)

Everyone is different and others with a hidden difference or disability might choose to do something completely different, it's about what works for you. Most importantly it's important to find something which you enjoy and makes you happy and helps you relax. There is professional help out there if you find your struggles impact your day to day life quite significantly and most importantly be kind to yourself.

 For me one way managing my frustration over the last few years is to raise awareness, fundraising, writing these blogs and help others. In my last blog I talked about how blogging has helped me with the frustrations of struggling to express myself and social anxiety.  Being able to give something back to causes which have  personally helped me and meeting others at events who have experienced similar gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside which helps the sickness or dread of anxiety. Also getting away from city life is so important, in holidays I spend as much quality time as I can walking my dog and I'm lucky to have my boyfriend Matt who is very kind in knowing when I need some time out.

Please don't judge someone for what they do to manage their frustration you never know what struggles they're facing, look a little deeper. Most defiantly don't belittle someone when you see them making mistakes, see past face value and give someone a little bit of time and patience. After all we all need a little bit of encouragement from time to time.

For more, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more dyspraxia awareness :)


  1. My son is 17 and has Dyspraxia. You are spot on. Because it is a hidden disability it makes it even harder for others to understand the daily difficulties. Thank you for your insight. My son tries so hard and the anxiety and frustration make me sad for him. I will share this with him so he can see he is not alone.

  2. My son is 17 and has Dyspraxia. You are spot on. Because it is a hidden disability it makes it even harder for others to understand the daily difficulties. Thank you for your insight. My son tries so hard and the anxiety and frustration make me sad for him. I will share this with him so he can see he is not alone.


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