Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Anti-Bullying Week 2015: Dyspraxia, Bullying and Breaking Free

I wanted to this blog about an issue which touches so many people in life throughout their life and can have such an impact on someone, this week is Anti- Bullying Awareness week the hashtag used across social media is #antibullyingweek if you wish to get involved and this years theme is "make a noise about bullying."  Even though this is probably going to be a difficult blog to write I hope it helps someone out there, please feel free to share this to someone you might think it might help.

My experiences of bullying have been in varied situations, from in childhood, to university to then into the workplace. Being dyspraxic meant I've always stood out like a sore thumb compared to others, the way I walk and move in a clumsy un-coordinated way which was different to others, always falling or bumping into others or other things,  it made me socially awkward and struggle to maintain friendships, I always had and probably will have different interests to people my own age, I've always been seen as disorganised, chaotic, messy and a bit all over the place and my dyspraxia/dyslexia meant I was a lot slower at a lot of things than everyone else.  I see the world in a very different way because of how my brain is wired which means people used to say I was a bit odd, but in reality I am just a bit different. 

I don't want to bore you all to death and go into lots of detail about my bullying experiences but I put a lot of it down to lack of awareness and knowledge as to what dyspraxia is and how much it affects day to day life. There's a lot of assumptions made about dyspraxia/dyslexia that it must mean you are stupid, clumsy, careless and  not trying hard enough, I even got told  I was a bad role model and I would never be successful or achieve anything in life. On top of remarks being made about my physical appearance (I also have pcos) the way I dressed and, being left out which had an huge emotional effect on me, I had people run away from me and was also physically attacked. 

Words can have such an impact on your life and how you see and perceive yourself. It made me lose what little confidence I had to begin with and I would hear the words of what people were saying constantly. I thought I must really be stupid and ugly if it was constantly being said to me and a long cycle of self hatred began, I became to anxious to speak and when I did speak my hands shook as I was so scared that I would just sound stupid if I spoke, I began self harming and it visibly upset my boyfriend and mum as I was constantly low, beating myself up and saying how they deserved better than me. 

But it was after I presented Mollie King with a fundraiser a few years ago and she wrote me a positive note when I realised that I could achieve something with my life and maybe I wasn't as bad as I thought I was and that I was worthy of positivity. It was after that day I decided that nobody should have to go through what myself or my family had been through and I was determined that more awareness needed to be raised about hidden differences.

 That was over 2 years ago now and since that day I have done 3 speeches, won a the Mary Colley award from the Dyspraxia Foundation and this blog which I began at the beginning of my journey has reached nearly 3/4 of a million views whilst achieving a masters and working as a learning support. I have also been able to prove the people wrong who said I wouldn't achieve anything. Thanks to the ladies at The Dyspraxia Foundation and a supportive boss I have managed to find a purpose in my life and piece back together the broken pieces. I highly doubt I would be so determined and resilient and it's made me a lot stronger person. 

The message I want to get across from this blog is that firstly if you or someone you are close to are or have been experiencing bullying it's not your fault, secondly bullying should never be seen as just growing up and thirdly people bully because they aren't dealing with their own issues properly, it doesn't mean you're a bad person. Please never struggle in silence 

Even though I'm still accessing help to come to terms with what happened to me, I get flashbacks and I still have times when I struggle with my mental heath and my confidence and self esteem isn't amazing but I am working on them. The bullying I experienced has taught me the power of words and why I choose mine so carefully and not make judgments and assumptions about others. It's also taught me that beauty is more than just physical attraction, even though I will never see myself as beautiful I know I have a good heart and that's the most important thing.

Words have the power to encourage, destroy, make someone hate themselves or make someone feel hopeful. I am also determined before I die the world will know more about dyspraxia.  More than anything my mum has a smile back on her face and is hopeful for the future and to me that makes everything worthwhile.




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