Thursday, 12 July 2018

Inclusion and participation

Hello everyone, long time no speak, I hope you’re all well?

After a slight break from blogging, I wanted to write about something really close to my heart:
the value of inclusion. Before I begin, I think it’s important to remember that this is my personal experiences, and interests- other people may experience things differently.

Just because a person finds something difficult or more challenging doesn’t mean they don’t want to feel included or that they belong. Being inclusive is giving someone a bit of your time, patience and empathy. Being inclusive isn’t about fitting people into boxes, it’s about letting them find their feet in their own way - at their own speed. Not putting pressure on someone can give have positive results.

When people think of issues such as anxiety, mental health, confidence and/or neurodiversity there is often a focus on their impact on school/university or work. For this blog, I wanted to touch on the impact of more everyday issues such as; travelling, social situations and leisure activities.

From a young age, I’ve always struggled to find the confidence to participate in activities and everyday things many people take for granted - these situations can be anxiety or even panic-inducing. Personally, these can include; stepping out of my comfort zone, trying new things, travelling, anything involving crowds or social situations. Due to my anxiety, mild depression and self-esteem issues I find these difficult, also situations in everyday life such as; going shopping, days out, going on holiday or having meals with family can be challenging.

A month ago, I attended Dyspraxia Foundation conference in London where there was a keynote speech from Anxiety UK, I also attended the youth group workshops. The thought of being in a group of people and people I didn’t know, was quite anxiety-inducing. My friend Alice, who is a youth worker was running the icebreaker sessions. She is an inclusive person and uses her own experiences of mental health and dyspraxia in a positive way. Straight away we were met with no pressure to join in or participate and to do what we felt comfortable with and people wouldn’t think any less of us for that. Due to that many people took part. Thank you to both charities for all being understanding and for an inclusive conference.

As an avid pop music fan  growing up listening to (in my opinion) feel good, uplifting music, helps to lift my mood when I’m feeling low or down. I’ve been lucky to have some lovely handwritten messages and hugs from Mollie, her words of kindness and empathetic nature really do make a huge difference to me. Travel, crowds, the concerts themselves and finding the confidence to let go, and enjoy myself due to anxiety and panic attacks can be difficult to explain. I would love to find the confidence to join in with things I love more and whose music has helped me.

I value friendship a lot and as someone who has struggled to make them, I appreciate it a lot.  But again anxiety and social anxiety can make it hard to meet up with friends, keep up with what’s happening or participate and in group situations especially if it involves travel or meeting new people. I’ve always been quite shy and quiet and it can take quite a while to get to know me and feel comfortable with people. I worry about how I come across or if I might say the wrong thing.

I’ve recently started therapy and hopefully, I can learn to be calmer, happier and face my fears but it’s going to take time. As someone who finds it quite difficult to ask for help, it’s important that there’s understanding how difficult it is to speak up and ask for help when you’re struggling especially with mental health. But it's something I wanted to raise awareness of in this blog.

I like to hope my experiences have made me open-minded, non-judgmental and someone who will always have a listening ear.

One of the best things you can do listen, help someone to believe in themselves and give someone a chance.

Until next time....

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