Man, does writers block suck!! and on top of not finding my writing flow (for lack of a better word, I will talk about that a little later on in this post) I find myself fighting bits of self inflicted frustrations with my writing because of dyslexia.
Dyslexia has haunted me my whole life. When I was a child there was no real label for what I was going through, I mean, the word dyslexia was out there but the drive to label a child was not as present as it is today. I struggled my whole childhood, I remember leaving my peers for special reading groups, asking to go to the bathroom or getting a drink of water when it was my time to read, I remember the little helpers that would sit next to me and whisper the words that I had become stuck on. I specifically remember writing a test with a specialist while I was in school. I clearly (and there is another word that I want to use here and it starts with a V but I just can't think of it or pronounces it, another issue I face all the time) but I *clearly* remember this test and the question "What time is it?" I had to label the time the clock was showing which I think I flunked...I still struggle with that most days, digital is this girls best friend. There were questions where I had to read words like was and saw, thought, though, through...really basic words that we use all the time and then there were much more complicated words. I remember the specialist looking astonished when I was able to read the more complicated words because I was stumped on the everyday basic words. I believe it was in grade 7 my teacher told my mother at a parent teacher conference that I would not make it threw high school, I was just not smart enough! My mother was devastated. But it was a teacher in Grade 10 English, again at a parent teacher conference that confirmed my mothers understanding of what I was going through she said very blunt "you do know that Nicole is dyslexic, right?" I think my mother was relieved she found someone who knew I was not stupid, who knew I could make it, who knew I was JUST dyslexic and it was something that I will need to deal with and find tricks around my whole life. By the way...to my grade 7 teacher...I made it to University THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
It seems, when I'm tired, and what mom that gets up at least 2 times a night to check blood sugar is not? dyslexia has a way of destroying any writing I might want to do hence the lack of post lately.
It is and has been a huge source of frustration and when its at its worst, writing is put on hold, to come back to on a better day. On a bad day the number of little squiggly red lines from spell check will have me shut down the computer. I do LOVE SPELL CHECK, I would not be able to blog or facebook without it but I know by the number of squiggly lines that, that day is not a good day to write, kinda like today!
Spell check is a great tool that I use all the time but watch out when you get a list of properly spelled words from spell check...for example my spell check list for the word properly had properly and probably and property. I needed to sloooowly sound the word out a few times just so not to use the wrong one. I do this many, many times...there is one word that gets me EVERY TIME!!...but for the life of me and my dyslexia I cannot think of it at this time!! I bet my mom knows...
If there is a word I NEED to make sure is spelled and used right I will google it for the definition and right beside the definition there is usually a little icon that allows me to hear that word, a God sent for a person with dyslexia...I wish I could do that with every word but blogging takes me long enough! I type, I spell check, I fix, I type, I spell check, I google, I read over and over and over again and there are still mistakes that I will miss...UGH, I hate that! Over time I have become semi comfortable with blogging with dyslexia. It is still incredibly embarrassing some days when my mom calls me up to change the spelling of a word in a post and by that time the post has already had 100 hits...but what are ya going to do?
I'm a smart person...I am, really. But if you see me without google or spell check, when I'm filling out forms in the doctor's office or at school for my kids you might think to yourself "Damn, did this women not even finish grade 3?" and THAT right there is hard to deal with. Peoples judgements of a condition that they can not see and do not understand...and I think we all know a little about that! I find myself apologizing often and that drives me nuts "Oh sorry, I'm dyslexic" when making a spelling mistake in public or asking someone to spell their name especially a simple first name.
In high school I very rarely passed notes back and forth to my friends or wrote letters to people because of my spelling and if I did it would be extremely basic, I don't know what is worse seeming to have a grade 3 vocabulary or grade 3 spelling ability? The more flustered, scared or tired I get the worse or stronger the dyslexia seems to shine. In high school, Science class we had to read out loud...HORRIFYING...truly, because I know how to read, I'm smart, but on most days I know when I read I don't sound smart and what is worse to a teen then other teens in high school judging you!! In high school when reading out loud I use to count the people ahead of me, then I would count each paragraph finding the one that was destined to be mine. (in order to spell the word destined and make sure I had the right word I had to google it, spell check was telling me it was spelled wrong but did not understand what I wanted to say. Luckily the definition had an icon to hear the word)
Back to my story... I would practice my paragraph over and over and if there was a word that I did not know I would ask my friend (shout out to Hailey) sitting next to me (seating arrangements were very important to me in high school. I very much needed to sit next to someone who knew and understood me and if I ever got stumped on a word they could whisper it to me) by my turn I would have that paragraph down pat but unfortunately the information that others were reading and learning prior to me reading, I did not hear a word as I was stressing over finding and reading MY paragraph.
Ugh... reading out loud was horrifying...my heart is beating fast just thinking about it as I type.
Another problem on a bad day...as I type my words now, they are floating...slightly, but they are floating and with every blink of my eyes I try to correct that movement and refocus...and on that word (refocus) a red squiggly line...pure frustration!
In my dyslexic brain words and not just the spelling can become locked up and lost. Many times speaking or writing I will have a word that I would love to use, it is sitting on the tip of my tongue, I know the meaning, right down to the definition of the word and maybe even the way to spell the first few letters, just like the "V" word in my 3rd paragraph however I can not come up with it...it is lost. Frustration builds with all the lost words that seem to be prisoner inside my brain, locked up unable to find their way to the computer screen or in speak. Knowing what I WANT to say and trying to find the "simple" or accessible word that can properly portray the same meaning is so maddening...much is lost in translation.
I'm witty, I'm funny, I'm passionate but on paper or even in speech some days I'm half of that because my brain is on lock down. On a really bad day spell check can't even help me. Today was one of those days.
And as for following up with people on their blogs...well, when I find myself struggling to write my reading suffers as well. I may only be able to make it a paragraph into a blog post that I really want to read before my eyes are so strained I just can't focus on the words, almost like a sinus headache with a touch of dizziness and intense eye pain. I remember one morning getting ready for school and eating my cereal, as a kid I always read the cereal boxes and on this morning as I turned the box to read the ingredients I realized or I had thought I had turned the box to the french side (living in Canada everything labeled in English was also written in French) As I'm unable to read french I quickly turned the box only to find another unreadable french side...What In The Hell? two french sides? as I turned to look again at the other side and this time REALLY focusing and trying to read it the words slowly refocused to words that I could recognized. Not being able to make out any words has only happened to me that one time.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg living with dyslexia. It affects so many more areas of my life even parenting a child with type 1 diabetes.