Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Dyspraxia, anxiety and perseverance

Throughout my life there's a lot which has never come naturally easy to me, whether it be movement, tasks or adapting to change and the environment or being in social situations. Being dyspraxic means my brain takes longer than most for the wires to process information and carry out tasks that many people simply take for granted. It takes me a lot more attempts, with more energy and often done in a completely different way. Dyslexia also makes getting ideas down onto paper, take more time reading tasks and proof read any writing I do.

Alongside that comes quite bad anxiety which can be really challenging for me. It can  take me longer than others to feel settled in situations, struggle with social anxiety , get my bearings in environments and take me longer to face my fears. Even saying hello to new people is quite a big deal to me.

As a result of this  has come frustration both at myself and my body and also comparing myself to others. Comparing myself to others who may seem more confident socially than me, seem more relaxed or be able to do tasks with less time and less mistakes. I can be pretty hard on myself and beat myself up when anxiety stops me going somewhere, I struggle to speak to people or I see a lot of mess around me or my body and brain don't want to co-operate. It's made me struggle with my confidence in myself a lot.

When I first moved to London nearly 2 and half years ago with my boyfriend Matt, I couldn't travel anywhere in London independently. Everything about London simply terrified me and my anxiety imagined every worse case scenario possible. The tube was simply a no no, too many people, the thought of the tube door closing on me and getting lost.

But then I got the opportunity to have a job helping students all with a variety of needs. My passion for helping other who struggle kicked in. On the first day of my travel I had a huge panic attack and texted my boyfriend that I would never be able to do it and I came back home.  In short my travel has been a nightmare and definitely not in my comfort zone and caused me quite a few panic attacks. But breaking it down step by step I've managed to survive doing the length of the Northern Line.

The same could be applied when I was studying for my degree it took me so much longer than my friends to study, to read all the reading for my courses, finish assignments and proof read my work. Then there's the little things  many take for granted like tasks requiring fine motor skills, being able to speak in a group of people or facing anxiety to make a phone call. It might take me weeks, months sometimes even years to be able to face some fears or be able to complete a task with confidence.  I'm learning that sometimes anxiety can lie to you and make you feel not good enough and that the storm will never pass and be filled with negative thoughts.

But with time, practice, access to help for my anxiety and reassurance from others I persevere and  keep going. It can be very difficult at times especially when you're struggling but hopefully in time I will learn more strategies to help manage my anxiety.  I'm very grateful to the patience and encouragement from my boyfriend, family and friends especially in difficult times. I can appreciate it can be frustrating at times, but that reassurance has meant a lot to me and my anxious chaotic brain.

As things have taken me a lot longer to get there than other people, it's made me appreciate the little things and appreciate the little achievements in others. Throughout my life I've been called stupid, lazy, careless and that I wouldn't be able to get very far or achieve very much. It shaped my own values and has given me patience for those who struggle.

You never know what struggles people might be facing in life, always be kind. I may have a way to go to manage my anxiety, but I'm taking my own time little steps at a time and that gives me a sense of pride and achievement. I hope this blog might help someone out there, keep going and never be embarrassed to do things your own way, there is no such thing as normal!


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