Dyslexia, HG and me
It's Dyslexia Awareness Week this week and it got me thinking about my own journey with the condition, particularly in the wake of our incredibly successful book launch last month. I found some unlikely parallels with hyperemesis! What do dyslexia and hyperemesis have in common? Not a lot it may seem at first glance... one is a learning disability and the other is a pregnancy complication that causes severe and prolonged nausea and vomiting.
However both can be very misunderstood and stigmatised conditions. Both can rob you of your self esteem. Both can make you feel isolated from your peers. Both can cause long term suffering and misery if not properly helped and supported. And both can contribute to who you are and your personality, in a really positive way... if you let them. Both can make you stronger.
I was about 10 years old when I was diagnosed with dyslexia after a number of years of being told I was lazy and troublemaking. It was in the early 1990's and although many state schools at that point had good recognition and support for dyslexia, at the incredibly old fashioned private girls convent school I was subjected to, the condition was pretty much denied. Having had all of my self confidence systematically stripped from me between the ages of 5 and 9 by the nasty witches called “teachers” and the even nastier playground bullies, by the time I was diagnosed I was a nervous, slightly depressed child with zero self esteem and very few friends. So when I was subjected to the humiliation of having to walk across the silent classroom to follow the lady who had announce “Caitlin, it's time for your remedial class”, I didn't have a lot else to lose.
Luckily the remedial teacher was very nice and, despite having to teach me in what was basically a broom cupboard, she taught me valuable skills in learning techniques for spelling tricky words, which I still use to this day. My reading and writing improved too, although it would be many many years before I had as much as an ounce of self confidence. My year 6 teacher was also very nice, the only nice one I had during my junior school years.
But you know what? Now, some 25 years on I wouldn't switch that part of my life, despite that fact that I pretty much hated every moment of my schooling and put in huge effort to avoid going to school as much as possible... feigning illness, willing my leg to break, coming up with inventive new lies to get out of it. So why wouldn't I change it now? because it's part of my story and it's significantly contributed to who I am now... And I like who I am now!
If childhood is preparation for what lays ahead in adulthood then boy did dyslexia help to prepare me. Hyperemesis wasn't the first misunderstood condition I had suffered, it wasn't the first thing people didn't believe me on or think there were quick easy fixes for. I'd battled dyslexia and I'd won. Knowing I had not let dyslexia hold me back meant that I was more able to turn my journey with hyperemesis on it's head too and not let it hold me back.
My spelling is pretty poor still but I have spell check and people to proof read for me but I can read and I can write... and I can do it well. People read what I write and now people even pay to read what I write. It wasn't always like that, in my early teens my reading and writing age were that of a 7 year old and even during my university years my spelling was a major problem for me.
So what does dyslexia mean to me... it's was an obstacle that I didn't just overcome... I smashed it to pieces (admittedly I still have to step around the pieces now and then as editors come back with a hefty list of edits and typos). It represents a part of me which made me strong and determined and self reliant. And they set me in good stead to overcome hyperemesis, not just survive it but once out the other side I've used it to thrive. There is not much more satisfying and rewarding in life than making something positive out of something that initially seems negative.
Both Dyslexia and Hyperemesis are parts of my definition, they are badges I wear proudly. The cumulation of my determination to overcome both of these conditions was the publishing of the book Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Definitive Guide (that's me, on the left, working on it late at night in a little cabin in the middle of know where by torchlight while the kids and husband slept around me). And boy am I proud of that achievement... even more so because not only am I now an author, I am a dyslexic author, and frankly... That's cool!!!
For more information about Dyslexia Awareness Week and for resources have a look at the British Dyslexia Associationwebsite.
To buy my book Hyperemesis Gravidarum - The Definitive Guide click on the Amazon link: