Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Guest Blogger - Blog 2 - Hidden Conditions : Stigma and confidence

Firstly I would like to thank the overwhelming positive comments that I received from my previous blog, the idea was to give a perspective from someone living with someone diagnosed with Dyspraxia. It wasn't a 'Matt & Rosie' story, I fully understand that those with dyspraxia all have their own very unique traits - I did mention that despite working in a very large (600 plus including children and staff) primary school, I don't come across dyspraxia outside my relationship with Rosie on a daily basis.

I always planned to write another blog, but after the huge success of the first, the second is coming a little earlier. This second blog is about hidden conditions, this can both for those who are diagnosed with dyspraxia/ dyslexia and other hidden conditions - which means certain conditions can be heightened, and those who aren't, its very easy to have your confidence knocked, even by the most silliest things!

I'll start with memory, and alongside this - organisation - which is an issue that I come across on a daily basis! If Rosie isn't organised, all chaos can break out, anxiety levels sky rocket, and the memory goes to pot and all crazy can persist for hours afterwards. There has been many a time where Rosie has forgotten where she has placed something - be it something simple, or more important - and queue the chaos in trying to find it, the longer it goes on that its not found, the more anxious Rosie becomes. This itself causes problems, Rosie's head becomes 'spaghetti' like, and any calm approach to remember where it was last seen is thrown out the window, then before you know it the room has been turned upside down, only for the item which we are looking for to be found in a coat pocket! By this time everyone's anxiety levels are through the roof and we all need time to calm down and get back to what we where doing beforehand - that's if we even remember! (I've also realised why Mollie King is always late all the time!)

With this thought, it is probably key to remember that those who are dyspraxic/dyslexic, can feel overwhelmed before event going to social events. This isn't a sweeping statement as everyone is different, but from experience, Rosie has already thought out the way the event will go in her head before we've even left the front door. The event goes in a logical A>B>C>D>E. As soon as we get to the event and the event goes A>B>E it can all go wrong, anxiety increases, organisation goes out the window. Obviously this can affect everyone, a lot of people like organisation and a plan on how things will go, but everyone reacts to change in a different way, some take it in their stride, others just awkwardly go along with it and for others it creates complete and utter chaos.

Moving the blog along, I want to touch on stigma, modern society and communication and how this affects everyone. Last week I attended an event supporting at Kickstarter for a short film, Bueno Key, supported by the Dylspa and at this event we met Sean Douglas (The Codpast) and he's written a blog which I feel is worth a read, The Text Take Over - about how society simply doesn't talk anymore and how reading and text, which is a key issue for those who are dyslexic, are becoming the normal.

  I personally feel there are huge benefits to social media in the modern society, but the seemingly requirement of always being 'on' and 'available' and the way this form of communication shows no expression - no Emoji's don't count - is a problem for everyone, can is definitely heightened with Rosie and I presume other dyspraxic people out there. You never know who people are behind a computer screen too, which can be confusing to those without hidden conditions never mind those who do.

In modern society, a lot of people are seemingly seen for what they cannot do, rather than what they can do. A lot of this is becuase hidden conditions are just that hidden you have no idea from looking at someone what they could be struggling with. Whether be it learning, mental health, medical they can effect anyone and you'll never know. Rosie has often come home from work in the past in floods of tears saying people have called her stupid or wortthless or in one bad incident a bad role model, which has had a knock on effect on confidence and self esteem, which then can cause a more downward spiral into more mental health related issues such as depression and anxiety. I was shocked to hear over 93% of dyspraxics struggle with additional anxiety, I'm sure the precentage of depression and self harm cases are high too and a lot of people expreience bullying .

When you're constantly told you can't do something or won't amount to much it can really effect your self concept of yourself- this has been one of Rosie's biggest battles all her life. Not just the difficulties dyspraxia/dyslexia present but the constant having to proove herself. Even when she got given her masters degree she still doubted herself. She was at one point applying for jobs far lower than she was capabilities were because she didn't think she could do it. A lot of people don't think people with hidden learning issues can struggle with mental health as the media often portrays very confident celebrities who only seem to have slight problems, in the real world sadly there is a lot more little understanding. It pains me hearing recent news items on how self-harm is on the increase and how schools are unable to cope. Couple this with the pressures of modern life, online bullying (banter), increase of stress due to anxiety and obviously the increase of depression - just good old fashioned praise has seemingly gone out the window, for something that can be (not) expressed in 160 characters (online).
You can blame whatever you like for this online, but the trend right now - which is always passed off as 'banter' - is that negativity is key. People can say what they want and don't consider the emotional effect afterwards.

I'm personally a tough cookie, but  As my previous blog said, dyspraxic's have a wonderful mind, seriously amazing minds, but are also literal thinkers, if they see something online that is (or isn't) directed at them, or they aren't directly involved in, any negativity can trigger anxiety - something I have to deal with Rosie a lot, which goes back to my original comment about the lack of talking in today's society. That lack of speaking, tone of voice, facial expressions, really doesn't help. MSN Messenger is long gone, but we still have Skype, we all have smart phones with cameras.

The stigma of modern life is an issue that affects us all. The BBC wrote an article in 2013 about 'Is modern life making us lonely?' which leads me into the stigma that surrounds hidden conditions, such as dyspraxia, I think its key to realise that those with hidden conditions enjoy doing the same things as everyone else - it just takes a little more planning. Myself and Rosie enjoy travelling around the UK, going to events, we enjoy a good night out as well, all it takes is a little bit more planning. It's important to see past the label. Rosie is an average 27 year old loves her dog, pop concerts, shopping, buying lots of nailvarnishes and jewelery, exploring cities and having a cocktail or 5, she just so happens to have dyspraxia/dyslexia and over recent times a few mental health issues alongside it. It's important that we remember that when we see people with hidden conditions they're people behind it all.

I want to end this blog on a positive note. Over the last year or so Rosie experienced a difficult time at work, mainly due to lack of understanding - which is worrying as she worked in a school - but she pushed though all this, took the big step of moving from a quiet Lancashire town to London to a new job in a large college. The support her new job has given her is second to none and when her article was published in SEN Magazine they even sent an e-mail around to staff saying that they should read it - and the students they support - as it could inspire them onto greater things! There needs to be more teacher training and support out there and an undertanding of the emotional effects too. Which is key to say that with the correct support, from peers, family, friends and work anyone can achieve what they set out to do! Anything is possible!


  1. Hey Rosie, I love your blog and what you write about so I've nominated you for a Liebster Award! You can see your nomination here:

    I look forward to seeing your answers!

    Hannah xx

  2. My partner has Dyspraxia and Dyslexia and I find it is easy to forget she has both sometimes when she reacts in a certain way or does something different.

    I find myself having a go at her sometimes over trivial things and she refers to me as her wally because I am always doing silly things and then having to apologise for being so silly.

    Each day I wake I say to myself If she doesn’t do a certain thing or reply straight away to a text it isn’t personal it is her Dyspraxia that is playing a part.

    Examples being if she is watching TV at the same time, she will find it difficult to do two things at once, I often find myself talking to her but feel she isn’t listening, this I know is not intentional but part of her Dyspraxia.

    Sometimes I will ask her three questions on text but she will only reply to one. I do find myself getting on my ‘high horse’ and shouting at her asking why she hasn’t answered my other two questions.

    I then reflect on these moments afterwards and realise I should take her Dyspraxia into account.

    Sometimes her sentences and conversations make no sense to me and I feel myself asking her what she means, this is down to the Dyslexia and again I realise this is something I have to understand more and support her with it.

    She gets very anxious and uptight about certain things but she does not let dyspraxia and dyslexia get her down too much and she doesn’t hide behind either.

    She is a support worker so supports others and she is the most kind and caring person I know.

    She likes to make other people happy and nothing is too much trouble for her.

    She is quirky and unique, she is an inspiration to me and she summed it up perfectly when she told me that living with Dyspraxia is an ability not a disability.


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 r...