The previous day Matt got elected as social media trustee and ended up winning the Mary Colley award. Which was on the day of the AGM and we all met with the youth focus group on creative ideas for a film to raise awareness which will be coming up. Over the weekend I felt like I was accepted as simply me, and through spending the weekend with Alice, who has blogged about the weekend meeting other dyspraxic young women like Maxine I felt like I had a sense of belonging, and hadn't laughed so much in months.
From coming along to Dyspraxia Foundation conferences, it has given Matt a chance come out of his shell, and be given a chance to show what he's good at. He's always been someone who keeps himself to himself, and before we met never had the courage to leave his house apart from work, was too shy and anxious to speak to anyone. He always saw himself as a bit of a pessimist in life and never thought anything positive would happen to him. But for what he lacks in social skills he makes up for it in logic and ICT skills, someone also with passion and can enthusiastically rhyme off about Arsenal football club and Britney Spears tours.
The last few years haven't been easy but they have made us a lot stronger as a result of it all. He's seen the day to day struggles of me being dyspraxic and living with severe anxiety and low mood, seeing me experience horrific ignorance and being being bullied leaving me in a dark place using coping strategies I wasn't proud of and experience a lot of misunderstanding in day to day life, which has affected my confidence and anxiety levels. But this is why there needs more awareness.
But also us turning a negative into a positive by this blog, achieving an award and masters degree and helping others along the way. Sometimes just getting us out of the house to face the day can be a huge task, never mind a 10k, so I'm always very grateful for all he does.
Matt gives me the confidence to share the strengths (creative ideas, determination , thinking out of the box, and empathy and compassion for others) with others and use in a platform in my awareness work. From being at rock bottom it made us determined as a couple that nobody should feel or go through what we have alone, but hopefully educating others by the awareness work we do at the same time. It is also why as social media trustee Matt wants to link with mental health charities so dyspraxics have access that support.
Dyspraxia awareness has come a long way but still has a long way to go so many people don't know what it is and awareness is so much lower than the more well known hidden differences, from that comes a lot of misunderstanding especially understanding the strengths and being socially misunderstood, the amount of times my social anxiety and shyness has been misinterpreted as being quiet passive or in my own world, or even rude when in reality my brain is working harder to process the information or worrying about making it mistakes and making an idiot out of myself which makes me go into myself even more. All it takes is people taking the time to get to know me so I can find the courage and trust to break down the walls I often put up to protect myself and come out from hiding, sometimes literally and let people in.
It can be incredibly isolating and lonely at times feeling different to your peers, especially with familiarity of the people you know being dotted around the country. Which is why events like these are so important, they're simply more than just a conference or just about dyspraxia. When you struggle with social anxiety or meeting new people it can be made so much harder, which I thought in this blog about anxiety and loneliness covered very well. But by having that acceptance it helps give someone the confidence that they can achieve something in life and have something to offer this world.
One thing is though is hidden differences, disabilities and illnesses need to be spoken about, people encounter ignorance, judgement, and lack of understanding on a daily basis. The more issues are talked about the less misunderstanding and stigma there will be and people feel less alone. On the day of the walk someone came up to us and asked about what dyspraxia was, we also had many shoutouts from the main speakers. I would like to thank Natalie for agreeing to walk with me and help encourage me round with our many chats, Natalie's dad for following us round and taking all of the photos, the ladies at Dyspraxia Foundation, Alice and my mum for all their encouragement and reassurance and cheering at 9k.
As someone who always says I do it for the causes and charities behind it without having much confidence in myself, I felt a sense of achievement and I can say I'm proud of myself, which has taken years to be able to say. I was close to pulling out due to my anxiety and I was thinking every worse possible situation. It was completely out of our comfort zones, very nerve wracking but our determination got us round. Sometimes anxiety can lie to you it can make you believe you're useless and you won't get anywhere but sometimes everything ends up ok. I would also like to thank Mollie King for tweeting both myself and Natalie very randomly, it was a lovely surprise and thank you for taking the time to spread awareness of dyspraxia, your empathy and putting yourself in someone else's shoes, it gave me such a confidence boost.
Everyone you meet in life is facing something in life, social media only gives a snapshot to what people experience or who they are, before you roll your eyes or pass judgement put yourself in someone else's shoes, have a little bit of empathy, find the courage to ask questions but most importantly be kind.