Friday, 21 March 2014

Struggling...




I was a clumsy child.

I walked into things, I fell... a lot. I constantly had bruises and grazes on my legs.

I had difficulty with things, not academically but practically. I could read 500 page novels before I could tie my shoe laces. I was top of my class but it could take me an hour to get ready for school because I struggled with my buttons, couldn't get my tights on or just got distracted by something and started reading a book.

I was socially awkward, from an early age I would do everything I could think of to be liked but always felt like an outsider. I knew what I wanted to say but often had difficulty expressing myself. I never learnt to ride a bike as I just didn't have the balance or co-ordination.

But I was determined, I had my strengths, and I played to them, I enjoyed school work and worked hard, I was creative and analytic but there was still something that stood out, that wasn't quite right. I seemed to have to work so much harder than everyone else at the little things.

Aged around eight I was diagnosed with Dyspraxia. It didn't really mean anything to me, I had tests and assessments, I saw lots of inkblots, built towers and threaded laces. I went to Physio where I was given exercises to do such as 'angels in the snow' and stretching out my hands. I found it all a bit too much of an effort.

There were no changes to my school life. This was the early nineties, labels didn't matter, especially ones no-one had heard of. I worked hard, I got good marks, no one felt they needed to interfere.

As a teenager things got gradually harder, there were more little day to day things to deal with, puberty hit, computers were introduced in school. I found change difficult to deal with, It had taken me so long to master hand writing, now I had to start again from scratch...

There were also a lot more emotions. I started to get dark thoughts, low moods, anxiety. There was one occasion around 13 that involved a large amount of over the counter painkillers and a trip to the hospital but it was all swept under the carpet. 'She's young', 'she's clumsy', 'she got confused' were all phrases I remember hearing. I put on my 'normal' mask and just kept going, nobody noticed...

There were other occasions over the next ten to fifteen years where I struggled. I 'rebelled' and walked out of school two months before my GCSE's because I couldn't do my course work. I had the knowledge in my head but didn't have the organisational skills to plan the work on paper.  After being made to feel stupid and a failure, I relented and ended up going back and just sitting the exams. Exams were easy, I could do exams. A similar thing happened a few years later and I ended up leaving University without completing my course.

Although I loved to learn and longed for knowledge it didn't seem like the world of academia and I were suited.

I settled in to administration and customer service roles, met my husband, started my family and was happy. My day job didn't really challenge me so I was pleased to come across the blogging world where I could express myself and share my thoughts in my own little corner of the internet. I found I was able to get my opinions across much better on a keyboard than verbally and I made friends online that soon became 'Real Life' friends. My little blog became something I could be proud of, people liked what I had to say and responded to it.

However, recently the anxiety has come back. Changes in my role at work that would be small and insignificant to some but to me are immense, make it almost impossible for me to get through a day without tears. Success with the blog meant offers of opportunities I felt I couldn't turn down and I soon found I had taken on too much.

I am really starting to struggle with day to day activities and feel constantly exhausted but then in contrast I have trouble sleeping. The housework is piling up around us, I'm scared to check my emails as my inbox is over flowing with reminders of promises I've broken and deadlines I've not kept to. The low moods are back, and despite having a loving husband and two amazing children, I have started to have dark thoughts again.

I have an almost constant emotional pain inside my mind that I just want to stop. I want to curl up in a ball and hide from it, to run away from it, anything to make it stop...

I am able to mute it on occasion. By concentrating all my waking thoughts and efforts on a recent charity event I was able to push it from my mind, similarly with a job application and a glimmer of hope that I had a way of escaping what I feel is my daily torture, but once the event was over and the application had failed I am back where I started. I struggle with job applications and interviews, symptoms of dyspraxia such as poor short term memory and the inability to organize my thoughts seem to put me at a disadvantage. I feel as though I am stuck with no way out, I feel like the pressure is just going to wear away at me until I crack open I don't want that to happen but I don't know how to stop it.

I'm not very good at asking for help, although I take pleasure in helping others, I feel the need to be in control. I have a fear of failure. I worry that if I let others know how I am feeling they will think I don't deserve my life, my children, my marriage... and take it all away from me.

I've tried though, I built up the courage to call the doctor's surgery but was stonewalled with no available appointments unless it was an 'emergency', how do I describe my feelings as an emergency when I struggle to describe them at all? Today I tried again, I called a counselling service but they couldn't understand me through my tears. So I sat down at my computer and wrote this instead. I don't know if it makes sense, I don't know if it needs to make sense as I may not share it with anyone. I don't know if it has helped or will help I just know that I needed to write it.

These days Dyspraxia is much more well known, especially in the education system. It's thought that up to 6% of the population are affected by it, recognisable names include Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe and singer-songwriter Florence Welch. Children with dyspraxia are getting much needed support and it's being picked up at an early age.

However I still feel that adults are missing out on support. You learn to deal with the little things, you manage them, you have coping mechanisms, but It's not difficult to make the link between a person who is having to put so much more effort into every daily task, who struggles to be understood and express themselves and a person who is gong to be susceptible to depression and anxiety is it? Then why is it not more widely known? Why is it not picked up on more easily? Why do I feel I have to hide it?





14 comments:

  1. You already know my thoughts. Your an amazing person and friend and you don't have to hide anything! You've been very brave letting it all out so be proud of yourself. Sending lots of love xxx

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  2. Well done for sharing Jen.
    Talking and writing will help you get through as well as good friends too. We are all here, maybe not close but if you wanted close enough for us to travel, to be by your side and hold your hand.
    Keep sharing and keep up that job search - you are amazing and they will see it. You are worthy and we all know that xx

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  3. You know my thoughts Jen. This is an exceptionally brave post and well done for posting it. I'm here whenever you need me. Looking forward to seeing you next week and sending so much love xxx

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  4. Sending huge hugs, Jen. I had no idea. My friend's son was diagnosed with dyspraxia last year & I found a support group for adults with dyspraxia in Manchester while I was looking for her. Here's a link. http://www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/groups/ this was a very brave post to write. There are lots of us who are struggling too, in one way or another. Remember that we are all here for you hun. You're welcome to come and hide from the world and drink coffee with me any time - assuming you don't mind counting raisins with Sydney! In all seriousness though - I think it might be worth speaking to your GP too. I was feeling very down last year and I classed it as an emergency when I was asked. Us mummies need to remember to put ourselves first sometimes. I hope things improve for you soon xx

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  5. Hodge Podge BlogSaturday, March 22, 2014

    Brave post Jen. I know how you feel (anxiety is my middle name), keep your head up and focus on what's important....those beautiful kids. Make the infuriating non-emergency appointment with your GP, please and then lean on your friends as much as you need to, me included kid! You are not, never, ever alone. Ever. Xxx

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  6. What a good post. You certainly have a way with words. It's not easy to put down so succinctly how you feel. I would definitely recommend going to see your GP, but don't let them fob you off. I agree that adults definitely need more help.

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  7. chantelle hazeldenSaturday, March 22, 2014

    Can I firstly say you are not alone. My younger brother also has dyspraxia and it took a long time for people to take my mums concerns seriously and to get him diagnosed, he went from someone that constantly struggled to a young man with a university degree and an amazing graphic design job straight out of uni, cant tell you how proud I am of him. I myself can't imagine just how much you are struggling but just know there are plenty of people including me who are there for you for whatever you need. Don't worry about letting anyone down, anyone that truly matters will just want you to be well and happy. I hope you manage to get the help that you need and deserve. You are one brave and strong lady, much love xx

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  8. Oh Jen. I wish there was something I could say that will help - I know words don't mean too much but I will say them anyway. You're not alone, you never will be. You're not a failure - just look how far you've come, how much you've achieved. Don't worry about letting anyone down - that's not what matters now, what matters is you. Maybe print this page off and hand it to your GP? Keep talking - to anyone, whoever makes you feel listened to, whether that is a GP, a health visitor, a friend.
    You are a brave and strong person. Don't ever forget that x x

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  9. I just want to give you a big hug! You are definitely not a failure and certainly shouldn't feel the need to hide how you're feeling. You help so many people, both through your wonderful blog and on a more personal level, and I have always (and always will) consider you as one of 'the' bloggers. One that was well established already when I started nearly 3 years ago and one who's advice was (and is) so valuable to me. I'm not saying this to install more pressure, I just want you to know that you do make such a difference to others and this just makes you and your blog more of an inspiration. Please don't struggle alone hun, because you're not alone. Speak to the people who love you (you know who we are!) Talk to the ones that won't ever judge you and rant & cry as much as you need to. You're coping so well and are stronger than you give yourself credit for. Thank you for sharing this post. Reading it, I feel a lot of the things you say mirror how I feel every day, and once again, you have brought comfort to me and I know that it's ok to feel this way. You still inspire me ;) xx

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  10. Monkeyfooted MummySunday, March 23, 2014

    Oh love huge hugs, writing is a good start but definately try the counselling again, you aren't alone and not failing at anything, I personally feel much tge same admitting to feeling low when I'm so blessed is hard but it doesn't mean you are undeserving at all.hope you feel better soon

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  11. I stand by everything I said before, it takes a lot of balls to take that first step and you took it with your head high. Anything I can do - you better bloody well say so, and I'm there :) xxx

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  12. It's a shame there is not more support for adults with Dyspraxia, you should be proud of yourself though for asking for help plus how well you have done with the blog and everything! My 4 yr old also has dyspraxia. I do think when people hear of Dyspraxia sometimes they just think of clumsiness but don't realise there is a lot of difficulties with planning and organisation and all that side of it. I really hope you will be okay, and you should not have to hide anything about yourself! <3

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  13. Let&#39;s Talk MommyFriday, March 28, 2014

    oh hunny I don't know anything about dyspraxia but I can tell it must be difficult but you have come so far with your blog and asking for help. I wish there was more support for you and that I could help you in some way. Sending a virtual hug now, although I know this doesn't help. boo. It's good to share what your feeling and maybe someone that knows a lot about it can offer their guidance but either way I am here to listen if you need that. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me and introducing me to your lovely blog. Feel proud of it my dear. IT's great. #sharewithme

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  14. So sorry I didn't see this back when you first wrote it. I hope you're going through a good time right now. My eldest daughter sounds very similar to this and I hope you don't mind if I show this to her. She may get some comfort from it, as I hope you have from writing this x

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