Working with dyslexia can be incredibly challenging, as it affects virtually everything I do. I believe there are a lot of misconceptions out there in regards to what dyslexia actually means, and I make no claims to understand its definition fully myself. The only thing I can speak about is how dyslexia affects me day to day.
I was diagnosed with dyslexia in 2019. I really don’t like using the term diagnosed, as it almost infers there’s something wrong with me, when in reality my brain is simply hardwired a little differently than the norm. Still, for simplicity’s sake, I’m going to use the word for the purpose of this post.
For me, the diagnosis was a revelation. I had struggled with things such as reading, written and verbal communication, and problem-solving, for as long as I could remember. I was home-tutored until I started college at 16, and I can recall how badly I struggled with both my studies and with socialising with the other students. The latter happened for many reasons other than my dyslexia – I was shy, introverted, anxious, and depressed – but dyslexia certainly had a large role to play, as it affected my ability to comprehend others, and to formulate my own thoughts and arguments. As I said, the diagnosis in my late-twenties was a revelation for me. It helped me come to terms with the way I was, and realise that there wasn’t ‘something wrong with me’, and that I was simply different.
Still, that realisation didn’t stop dyslexia from affecting me. At the time, I was in the process of editing my first novel, The Black Rook, and had completed a BA in Fine Arts several years previously. I looked at myself and wondered how I had achieved such things without any kind of specialised support. I had it then confirmed in my mind that although dyslexia had – and indeed always would – slow down my whole process when it came to things such as creative writing, I still had it in me to produce quality writing.
I decided that I wouldn’t let anything hold me back. In fact, I owned the title of dyslexic and wore it as a badge of honour when I looked in the mirror. Somehow, I had managed to achieve great things with my written and verbal communication, despite how confusing and frustrating embarking on such ventures were for me.
Today, I am just as challenged as I was before when it comes to working around my dyslexia, but I’m confident that I can still push on no matter what. It might take me twice as long to read a novel as most people, or three times as long as others to problem solve some dilemma, but I always get there in the end.
I think it’s easy to allow your perceived shortcomings to own you, and hard to fight against them. Indeed, I think that therein lies the problem: you need to learn to fight alongside yourself, rather than against yourself. Now I work with my dyslexic mind, rather than bemoan or belittle myself for making mistakes.
It will always be tough, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. But by being patient with yourself, trusting yourself, loving yourself, and ignoring those that tell you to do otherwise, you will achieve great things.