Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Long Distance

Hello, everyone, I hope you are staying safe and well during these unusual times. I wanted to blog (for the first time in a long while) about something which has been a part of my life for many years and needs more understanding. But has become more spoken about recently since the outbreak of the Corona Virus. I'm writing this blog as I'm currently at a long distance from my parents and Border Collie Toby.

Before I begin this blog, as with all of my blogs I am only speaking from my perspective, everyone is different and experiences life differently. It's important to take the time to listen to someone and their story as an individual. Also, remember that there can be a lot more to someone's story than one blog post.

For some people making friends and finding people they connect with isn't easy. Especially if in their local area there isn't much understanding, awareness or opportunities which incorporate inclusion. It's easy for people to take for granted having family or friends living in close proximity. Where you maybe can just pop round for a drink, a meal or a hug.

All of the above have applied to me. As a quieter person, who has always found social situations anxiety-provoking and had my fair share of misunderstandings and bullying. Making friends has never been easy for me and to be honest a really sensitive issue. I'm also dyspraxic, had very different music taste to my peers and experience mental health issues: anxiety and depression. In short, it takes quite a long time to get to know Rosie and for Rosie to feel comfortable with people and I've had to look further afield to find some of those connections.

I've been brought up near Burnley, Lancashire famous previously for its mills and power station also most recent campaigns to protect the local greenway (run by my dad). But awareness and opportunities to build up confidence growing up were sparse and where we live at home is quite a long way from the nearest city (Manchester.)  But I hope times are changing in terms of understanding.

In the past, people haven't understood why I can't just do something, meet people, or go somewhere or why it's so anxiety-provoking for me. Also why my confidence in cities(and general) can be really difficult for me. Due to my difficulties, people didn't understand why it was taking me longer.  I've always struggled with low self-esteem and can also struggle with my mood too. The little things can mean a lot.

Taking longer in life and being at distance from the people, things and pets I care about has made me a really understanding, empathetic person who takes the time to listen. I'm grateful for the few people who take the time to listen to me and make me feel like my voice are important and matter.  Hopefully, in time I will be able to build up my confidence to be where I want to be in life, in my own way and time. Sometimes things aren't easy to explain, give a quieter person the time and space and you never know what you might learn.

Throughout this difficult time and in general please be kind to others, put yourself in other's shoes and understand that everyone is different and does things in their own time. Please don't compare time frames. If you see someone who's at distance from their loved ones show some kindness.

Take care of yourselves.
Until next time........

Friday, 27 December 2019

Taking time and listening

Hello, apologies for the delay in blogging, this blog will be my last one for 2019,

Listening has something which has always fascinated me and which is really important to me. If someone feels listened to they can feel heard, validated, believed in. It can be such a powerful tool in communication.

Listening to someone is also understanding that it is something which takes time so that the other person believes that they matter and have important contributions to offer. It's giving that person time to speak and able to put their trust in you. It's taking the time to empathise and realise that there may be more to them and to their story.

The world we live in is such fast-paced, especially with the rise of social media. This can leave those who maybe need time feeling left out or misunderstood. People can take a snapshot of what may assume they know a lot more. This was spoken about at the Dyspraxia Foundation Conference in London in the summer. Little things can make a huge difference.

As a quieter person who has anxiety and social anxiety, I know what it's like to feel left out and people assuming that there's nothing more to me, often focusing more outspoken others. It can affect my self-esteem, confidence, mood and anxiety.  I understand people can be wary to include people who are quieter, experience anxiety or other difficulties e.g dyspraxia.

Little adjustments such as: understanding if someone needs to leave early, or find a quieter space can be helpful and reassuring that they still enjoy their company. Often those of us who lack confidence can feel like we don't have anything interesting or important to say, we just need to believe we do and feel listened to rather than misunderstood. It's still really lovely to be invited and included. Even if someone may decide that something is not for them.

As a dyspraxic, this can also apply physical activities and there being more so there are more options for more supportive, inclusive activities to participate in.

A positive of being a very emotional sensitive person, is that it has made me a caring and empathetic and I hope I take the time to listen to others whether humans or animals. However, I struggle to not take things personally,  and can be sensitive to the tone of voice and perceived criticism and rejection. I'm a very deep thinker as you may gather from reading these blog posts I'm a huge over-thinker and worrier due to anxiety and low mood. I can struggle to communicate my feelings and thoughts so can be hard for those around me see me being hard on myself and getting overwhelmed, but my counsellor is trying to help me believe that I do matter and am important.

These things take time and time to discover what might help. Which is still very much ongoing for me. We are all different and have our own journeys in our own time frame.

You never know what you might learn from someone. You might even be surprised. Please take the time to read my boyfriend Matt's blog: Quiet people have a voice too. 

  I'm so grateful to those who do give me time and stand by me; and my border collie Toby who offers unconditional love. Thank you for reading my blog. Next year I hope to be kinder to myself and believe in myself more, build up my confidence and manage my anxiety/low mood.

It's really important that people feel that their voices matter and feel valued and appreciated.

I really hope this year is kinder to everyone, wishing you a Happy New Year.

Until next time....

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Everyone’s story is different

Hi everyone, after a bit of a break from blogging, I thought I would blog about something which has become quite close to my heart. It has recently been Mental Health Awareness Week.

Everyone has their own story, their own life experiences, their own ways of seeing the world. They will have lived in different life and family circumstances surrounding us, even different pets.
Sometimes people may not fit into a neat little box.

As someone who has lacked confidence in myself, is quieter, experiences social anxiety, anxiety, depression and dyspraxia. I have faced a lot of misunderstandings and assumptions.

When you lack confidence in yourself and your opinions it’s very easy to feel like you don’t have a voice, that you and your voice doesn’t matter and people will walk away or ignore rather than listen. So it's easy not to say anything, which can lead to feelings of isolation. I’m someone who’s had a limited support network and faced some not nice experiences or people in my time. I like to hope it's made me non-judgemental/empathetic/open-minded.

I grew up in a time where awareness of mental health and disability was simply not talked about. Some of these experiences are difficult to talk about and may not make the blog or my social media. There may be a lot about someone you don’t know about or their story so please be open-minded and non-judgemental. There needs to be more understanding of issues invisible to the eye.

Joining in and initiating conversations can often be anxiety/panic-inducing, it doesn’t mean someone is rude or anti-social but it may just take them more time to feel more comfortable people and build their confidence often in a safe place or with a safe person to find their voice . Just because someone is quieter it doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to say, options or interests. People have often assumed there's nothing to me. On the outside looking in it can sometimes that I'm not wanting to do something, being rude or not trying hard enough as it can take me a lot longer, especially if it's something new or unknown.  But it doesn't mean I'm not persevering nor that I don't care.

When someone is quieter it is very easy to slip through the net when it comes to needing help and support. When I was at school the people who struggled were seen as the ones who shouted out too loudly or had a lot of behavioural issues. I was the opposite: I lacked confidence, was too shy to put my hand up in class and spent a lot of time by myself being left out of situations and conversations.  I withdrew into my own rich, deep fantasy world. I was also very tall and physically clumsy and was always picked last for P.E.  I also always hated drawing any kind of attention to myself. But it didn’t mean I wasn’t struggling, finding things difficult or that I wasn't trying either.

It helps if I still feel included and included in conversations as joining in conversations can be really difficult for me and my social anxiety, and even in adulthood I've felt left out of situations, photos or conversations.  I worry that people don’t want me there/like me/enjoy my company and has lead to feelings of social isolation or depression. Being listened to is so valuable and when people do little things like check in with me or listen to me it can make me feel valued and appreciated. I’ve never had much of that, so when it does happen I really do appreciate it. Especially amazing friends I’ve met through the Dyspraxia Foundation. Most importantly it helps if people are patient with me, force me to speak up and I’ll close up. Give me time, value and appreciate me and I’ll reveal more about myself.

Due to my anxiety, especially really high levels of anticipatory anxiety (worry about what may happen or how I'm perceived), and generalised worrying- you name it I can overthink it and low mood.  I can find various situations difficult. Some things as a dyspaxic may be more difficult for me than others, I for example: I am a mucky pup and can struggle with simple things such as: brushing my hair/teeth. I love pop music and am an only child and have had other health issues, others may not have experienced this.

It’s really important not to make assumptions about someone, their story or their difficulties or strengths. Also don’t compare people, their stories and their experiences but take the time to listen and let someone share in their own time when they feel comfortable. Don’t stop inviting/including friends to things even if they say no or have to leave early. Be patient, day to day tasks can take longer and energy consuming so be kind.

Asking for help and support can be really difficult for people who may be struggling with their mental health, it can be easy not to want to bother someone or burden them with their problems or It can also be hard to know what help there is out there and what may or not be helpful.

When you read someone's blog please remember that they're still a work in progress, still figuring things out and how to help themselves and navigate life. Things take time, please be patient with us.

My boyfriend Matt is running some events this year to raise awareness of mental health and dyspraxia and funds for Dyspraxia Foundation.  To read our story, and to sponsor him:

You're a lot stronger than you think, be kind to yourself, keep going.

Here's a photo of my rescue border collie Toby who has recently lost his eye. Sometimes even our pets have their own story. 😉

Until next time....

Sunday, 30 December 2018

2019 in review- You are not alone

Hello everyone,

It's come to the time when I write my end of year blog. It really doesn't feel like two minutes since I wrote my end of year blog last year.

This year has been a pretty hard year for me for a number of reasons and circumstances. I've also struggled a lot with my mental health, but I'm grateful for the support of the people who I've had in my life. I've never found making friends easy or had many of them for that matter either so those of you who have taken the time to listen to me, it means a lot to me - thank you. 

There can be a lot of comfort in not feeling like you're alone, the opposite are feelings I have known well - talking about I feel and about the things I find difficult has never been the easiest for me due to social/general anxiety.  I've always worried if people will be understanding and supportive or if they will laugh, judge, simply not get it or if I will bother others. Also expressing my thoughts and emotions is difficult for me. 

Due to my anxiety/social anxiety and dyspraxia, day to day life and situations can be a challenge and I also can experience panic attacks and low mood. I’m also a big overthinker and have challenges with confidence and low self-esteem. It can take a while to get to know me and for me to feel comfortable, especially due to my anxiety and quietness. It can be so easy to think it's just you who finds these situations difficult or why you may feel down.

I also struggle to find confidence in sharing my ideas and opinions due to my social anxiety, I can worry that I will offend people or that my ideas, stories or experiences aren't interesting and others will roll their eyes and think, "what is she on about?"

There's been a lot of talk about mental health in the dyspraxia world this year which in my opinion is a long time coming, but I hope in future this is something which is developed more alongside the social difficulties people may face. I think it's really important that people aren't put into the same bubble and that people are known as individuals with their own unique circumstances so that there aren't stereotypes. 

Some people may have different challenging situations to me, or complete them in a different time frame, or may have had more of a support network - outside of close family and had more general support -than me. Understanding is also something which takes time and time to get to know people.

This year my boyfriend Matt became vice chair of the Dyspraxia Foundation. A quieter member of the board who has used his IT skills, passion and understanding from his own experiences and his anxieties and difficulties in social situations. He is building up his confidence to promote inclusion within the charity which is something important to him/us. I am also grateful for the members of the youth group I have had the opportunity to meet and spend time with and those who from
various communities I’ve spoken to online. You have really opened my eyes.

This year I've realised that things take time and that it's ok to be on your own journey and time frame. Also that I'm a lot stronger than I give myself credit for.  Next year I hope to believe in myself more, build up my confidence and manage my anxiety/low mood.

Thanks to Matt for all of his support and strength this year and a special thanks to my border collie Toby who is always happy to see me, appreciative of snuggles and for always wanting a toy to be thrown. I am very grateful for the kind words Mollie King has given me this year, they give me strength in difficult times. I hope this next year is a bit kinder.

I hope the year ahead is kind to you,
Take care  of yourselves

Lots of Love

Monday, 10 September 2018

Things take time

Hi everyone I hope you're well?
I wanted to blog about something which I've been thinking about a lot recently and how a lot of things in life take time.

It can be very easy when you find day to day life more challenging to find yourself getting frustrated with yourself and question why something which others may take for granted may take you longer. I've always been someone who needs to have things broken down, as someone who has struggled with a lot of anxiety and social anxiety over time, I need to break my fears and situations of things I find more difficult to build my confidence up.

Another person close to me who is similar is my boyfriend Matt, recently he became Vice Chair of Dyspraxia Foundation a charity very close to our hearts. When I first met Matt he was studying for an Open University degree in ICT. I often received passing comments telling me he would, "never get there." As his degree was taking him a longer time, I became annoyed with the comments about how people could give up on someone so easily. 6 years on the charity have given him a chance, and he is valued, included and respected not just as the ICT guy but as Matt. Outside of his strengths and the comfort zones of ICT, Arsenal Football Club and pop music life still take him longer and more difficult. A man who finds social situations especially with groups, new people and trying new things anxiety-inducing and challenging. I'm grateful to the charity for taking Matt on board and look forward to his passion and the unique perspectives he can bring to the role.

Like Matt, I know too well how it feels to struggle emotionally which hasn't been helped by bullying and negative attitudes and stigma. At primary school, it was often assumed I wasn't trying hard enough or was being lazy when it was taking longer than my peers to learn or process the information and copy from the board, write neatly or play games in the school playground due to dyspraxia. In social situations especially in groups, new people, or people I don't know well,  people can often make comments like, "you're so quiet/weird/antisocial" instead of including me in their conversations when I've felt socially anxious which can be upsetting and affect my self esteem as having anxiety and being a huge worrier and overthinker can make you have thoughts such as they won't like me, they'll think I'm boring or annoying or my ideas and thoughts are embarrassing or rubbish.

The world we live in can feel very fast paced and modern society can make you feel like you have to have achieved or done something by a certain time or age. For many people and for many different reasons e.g. mental health and/or disability these milestones can take a little longer to achieve. Learning to drive, finding your place in the world of work or studying, living independently, or simply going out and doing what you love and enjoy in life or day to day tasks can take a lot longer. Which can affect self-esteem and mood. Everyone works differently and has different life circumstances and it can be tricky sometimes to get people who work  or live at a faster pace than you to understand this.

Life hasn't been too easy for me lately, but I just want to thank you for standing by me and this blog.

Just because someone takes longer to do something doesn't mean they don't want to be able to do it, they aren't being lazy. Their journey just might be in a different way down a different path. If anything it can make someone a determined, persevering person. It can also make them have empathy and understanding for others and their journeys in life. Don't give up on someone and keep believing in them when they struggle to. But simply listening can mean a lot.

Keep going, you're stronger than you think.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Anticipatory anxiety

Hi everyone, I hope you’re ok?

This week is Dyspraxia Awareness week it is Wednesday it is also World Mental Health Day. The Dyspraxia Foundation has recently released a press report of the emotional needs of people with dyspraxia finding 55% of dyspraxic people feel anxious all of the time. It also mentions high levels of anticipatory anxiety. Time To Change have recently launched a campaign on their website, talking about if a mate is acting differently, to ask twice as people if they're ok as I know how easy to say you're feeling fine when things may be more difficult.   It's important to remember not to be stereotypical and get to know someone as an individual as anxiety/mental health issues will be different for everyone. Also from a dyspraxic perspective, not every dyspraxic may have mental health difficulties. It’s also important to remember “life” may be different for everyone, people live in different areas of the country, some may live in towns some cities and different family backgrounds and circumstances and maybe a few sensitive life experiences which for me don’t focus in this blog but my anxieties generally.

Anticipatory anxiety is the feelings, thoughts and sometimes dread before something is going to happen. This could be; a social situation, a holiday, a day at work or uni, or an appointment- the list is very much endless. Anticipatory anxiety is your mind racing with all of the “what if’s,” and the brain can conjure up an endless list of possibilities or scenarios of what might happen, and more often than not think of the worst possible scenario and catastrophize it. This can lead to physical symptoms being triggered and even lead to panic attacks. This can be exhausting enhance low mood.

One (of many) for me is before social situations: as a  quiet/shy person who experiences social anxiety, initiating and joining in conversations sharing ideas, or being in situations where I may be the centre of attention such as 1:1 meeting. I worry people won’t want to meet me, find me boring, that they won’t enjoy my company or they will assume I’m rude. I can self-doubt myself and my abilities probably far too much.

What I’ve found with anticipatory anxiety is that it’s not just something which might happen the night or day before but can happen days or even weeks beforehand. Although, from personal experience,  the night/morning before can be really hard.  I know how easy it is to get into that vicious circle myself and the frustration of when it can feel anxiety has got to you or affected your plans. I’ve personally found anticipatory anxiety can be worse if it is new and unknown to you or has a new element or unpredictability.

Check in with your friends, although talking can be difficult for many a listening ear and knowing you have people in your corner may not take away the struggles but can help someone not feel alone. I also think it’s important no matter what difficulties someone has that they still feel included or invited to things or included in the conversation. That inclusion is something which is really important and can help build someone’s self-esteem and confidence in themselves. I also think it’s important to take a little bit of time especially if someone is shy/quieter or has social anxiety is to get to know them as an individual and how they may be affected, but also as a person.

Always be kind, you never know what fully is going on someone’s life.

Life hasn't been too easy for me recently so thank you to those who have been there for me.

Keep going, you’re stronger than you think! I was given some words of advice from my therapist today: "don't believe everything you think."

Until next time..

For more about mental health:

To donate to the Dyspraxia Foundation 30th birthday appeal:

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Inclusion & 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 go and 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 and dyspraxia 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. Anxiety can make you want to avoid doing things like this and it can be a vicious circle and can get you down.

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....

Long Distance

Hello, everyone, I hope you are staying safe and well during these unusual times. I wanted to blog (for the first time in a long while) abou...