I started this section of my blog to talk about things that aren’t going to be as pretty as our holiday gift guides, but must be talked about. WE NEED to get real here and discuss those hard topics. That happens with me being vulnerable. That happens when I share my stories. On this part of the blog we are going to dive deep into disabilities, anxiety, depression, dropping out of school, feeling lonely, and schizophrenic family members.
I feel it’s important to discuss these topic on my platform because I know at moments we all need these and that everyday is not going to be as filtered not perfectly centered as our instagram pictures. Behind social media there are REAL people, with REAL emotions, and sometimes you just want to relate to someone. I’m here to say you are not alone and I am here to stand beside you to speak on topics you may feel like no one else can relate to you on
I am going to jump right and open up about my personal struggle and disability. I am dyslexic. It is actually national dyslexia month so I figured I better grow some damn courage and finally open up about something I usually hesitate I speak about. For those of you who need a better idea of what that entails I snagged this from the Understood website:
“Dyslexia is a brain-based condition. It causes difficulty with reading, spelling, writing and sometimes speaking. In people with dyslexia, the brain has trouble recognizing or processing certain types of information. Like other types of learning and attention issues, dyslexia is a lifelong condition.”
Did you know over 40 million children and adults struggle with the condition? It is SUPER common. The physical part of the brain that’s responsible for causing dyslexia is actually an impaired CV function (there are many theories, but we are going with this one for now ) that is found in the cerebral cortex or the thinking side of the brain. They say that many people with the condition learn early on that they are different, but try to hide those tendencies in order to fit in. Cough cough ME. Articles I have listened to say many people can feel isolated, dumb, and depressed because they are different ( checked all of those boxes). Also trying to overcompensate in other areas to prove yourself has been actually found as a catalyst for success in many dyslexic people they tested.
This condition is also genetic and I did inherit this from a family member. For me, the struggle started when I was in elementary school and got really sick with strep throat. I missed a lot of class work that required one on one with teachers, especially with reading. I was sent to another room for the “slower” children to comprehend the assignments. I hated that damn classroom because I just wanted to be with my friends and I knew that I was smart and capable. I did not want to be called stupid and there were kids who made fun of me (honestly sometimes people are the worst and my little blonde self did not need that type of negativity).There was not a grade level I did not struggle in and I had to work twice as hard to just reach the level as all of my friends. I remember thinking what is wrong with me? Why is this so easy for other kids? I had to take so much more time to read the assignments and still struggled to retain information. It killed me as I was becoming myself and growing older because none of my friends understood what it was like for me, therefore I kept a lot of that inside and internalized it. I began to get frustrated with myself. I felt like “I should know” anything as small as a certain word or how to spell. Looking back I was just doing the best I really could and if I could go back I wish I could go tell myself that.
Later, once I started high school I developed enough ways to just get by. I tried very hard in school and would still fail certain assignments. I got good grades but tended to feel behind in everything all of the time. What saved me through it all was honest to god my personality. I knew some teachers passed me based of the fact that I tried and asked tons of questions (all hail my 8th grade Spanish teacher because I know deep down I got an F and you gave me a B). My parents had suspected that there was an issue with my reading overall, but because I got A’s and B’s there was never a reason to look into it. It was not until my senior year of school that my Spanish teacher asked me to stay after class. I had that “oh shit” moment because I truly believed I was in trouble. She asked me if I had been tested for dyslexia because of my tendencies to mix up words, even on oral tests I had showed signs of a potential issue. What was ironic is that she happened to have the same disability, which probably helped her spot it. I was honestly not surprised, but could not believe she was the first teacher to pull me aside. I was either THAT good at hiding it or my teachers were THAT oblivious to their students.
My parents paid for me to be tested and I remember at 17 years old sitting in this small room with a professional. They literally handed me blocks and I remember thinking this is a fucking joke. “What is this going to prove by playing with blocks buddy?” I thought. But he was actually testing how my brain worked and we had sessions that felt like they lasted days. Blocks, colors, memory tests, I mean it was similar to a brain triathlon because you never stopped the entire time. They concluded that I was in fact dyslexic and proved I had just learned enough ways to cover it up. I totally had though. I banked on my personality and my work ethic. Looking back now I have zero idea how I covered it up for so long.
After being diagnosed, I was admitted into college where I am available to a lot of resources and additional help. They offered a private room for test taking, people to read me my tests, and a note taker. That does not mean that it has been any easier in college. It has actually gotten WAY harder because there is such extensive reading and the tests are just plain fucking difficult. I struggle with reading daily still to this day and I know that now there is nothing truly wrong with me. It is just how my brain is built. That is how I was intended to be and because of my work ethic I can achieve anything. It is wild though, especially in classes, that I can tell who has dyslexia based on the questions they ask. It is VERY strange. One of my best friends actually has the same disability and I was in class with her and just knew. I asked her afterwards and she was completely shocked that I could tell. I can not explain it, but because our brains run a little different it's almost like just an intuition I have. Don’t try to test me on this, but I have been able to point out about 5 separate people at this point that have it. Just saying. My new found hidden skill.
It is over the top ironic that I am a blogger who never actually “writes”. Usually I speak into my phone for blog posts because I know that they will get done faster than I can do by writing it. It would take me 12 years to write out this full blog post and I do have to make sure someone takes a peak at them before I hit publish. My biggest piece of advice I want you to take away from this is there is a purpose for everything. Every disability whether it might be big or small in size, they’re capable of helping form us into the people we are today. We should not let these things define us or hold us back. There might be road blocks. There might be struggles. Disabilities don’t have to define your potential. My saving grace was the fact I was never was scared to ask questions because I did not know what the hell was going on with my and why I had such a hard time reading what was on a page. I wish I would have shared how much this all affected me because you never know how much someone else needs to hear that and needs someone to relate to. I now have learned to embrace my disability because I am never going to be able change that piece of me and I’m finally ok with that. Some of the most successful people share my same disability from Henry Winkler, Steven Spielberg, Mohammed Ali, Anne Bancroft, and Magic Johnson (just to name a few!). Just opening up to others can create a new bond that never could have been possible! So I urge you to reach out to others and share your story. You are not alone and you have the ability to create your future, disability or not.
My TED talk is now complete! I hope you guys liked this new section of my blog. It is a little different, but I am super excited to be able to tell my story in hopes that it can help just one of you out there.