‘Dear Becca’ – the letter I wrote to myself in therapy, 577 days ago

Hello all,

I know normally, my reflective blog posts come from a really positive place. If anyone follows me on twitter, I tend to joke about my impairments/disabilities, get really political, and tweet photos of my cat, and memes, like any “Woke” liberal millennial (I’m trying to reclaim that word too, on top of all the others).

But today I opened my letter for the first time in a long while. It’s dated March 7th, 2017.

Back story: I was seeing a psychiatrist, specialising in pain, once a week, in the final year of my undergraduate degree.

My relationship with my mental health, and therefore, my own self worth, have been turbulent to say the least.

Today, after a few days of low mood, fuelled by extreme fatigue and a to-do-list as long as my arm (I have a Marfan Habitus body type, so it’s long) I opened my letter for the first time in just over a year.

It reads like this, and I feel like if you switch out my name, there’s kind of a piece of advice in here for almost everyone:

Dear Becca,

This is just a letter in case you ever need a boost.

I just want to start with saying how proud I am of you, and how far you’ve come.

Secondly, I’m going to list some little pieces of advice:

. Always remember you are YOU

. Always keep pushing forward, no matter how long it takes you- as long as you get there, that’s the main thing

. No one is perfect

. No one has the right to treat you like you are inferior

Becca- You are not defined by grades, statistics, or labels. You are not your illness. You are you. You’re pretty funny, you’re caring and loyal to your friends and family, you’re determined and ambitious.

If people can’t handle you- from your ambitious nature to your illness- then they don’t deserve to be in your life.

If they left you when things got tough for you, then that’s their loss.

When things do get tough, the best thing you can do is be kind to yourself.

Run a bath. Eat some chocolate. Do some drawing– Close your essay down because that can wait- you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Even if it’s a pretty good day, still eat the chocolate or run the bath because you deserve to treat yourself either way!

It’s okay to hit pause on all the stuff that wants doing and to give yourself time to recuperate.

Yours sincerely,

Rebecca

So, how is this going, 577 days later? (Thanks, google)

It’s never easy. But I am getting better everyday. Tiny steps.

I actually admit every-so-often that I work extremely hard, instead of being over humble, and that I am proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.

Doing my MA taught me so much about how my opinions are important, and that people actually want to listen to me (#shook)

I did a conference. I actually stood up, no audience adjustment, no “Oh it’s okay Rebecca, you don’t have to present” – I opted in to talking about my research for 10 whole minutes, with completely unscripted questions from an audience.

If only my high school teachers could see me now.

I’m essentially an embodiment of the positivity and hope in the letter above.

I’m going places.

Those who stuck/stick with me can see the change in me for the better, and I’m a damned good friend: those that didn’t stick around don’t matter

I don’t need their validation.

I am me.

My illness doesn’t define me, but me as a Disabled person does: be it activism, or academia.

You know what?

I’m bloody proud of that too! My Disabled identity is my badge of honour. Just as much as my northern working classness, or my feminism, or even my bisexuality- I went to my first pride this year!

And yeah, I’ve had a couple of rough days this week, because I feel like I’m currently at a “Creepy pasta Russian sleep experiment” exhaustion, but it’ll pass, and my levels will get back to my ‘normal’.

I do things in my own time: and I get them done. I went to uni a year or so later, because I dropped out of college the first time. And that’s okay, because at 16, very few people know exactly what they’re going to do with their lives.

It’s almost as though I have nothing to worry about- but also- I deserve chocolate and a hot bath. So I think I’m going to make a new to-do-list, and put the other on hold.

~ Becca

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Driving as a dyspraxic human being 

So I’ve been learning to drive for a while now (3 and a bit years- yes- I know)

And I see it pop up a lot in dyspraxia forums ‘will I ever be able to learn to drive?’
I suppose one of the key things to be remember here is that driving is learning a new skill.

Some new skills take longer time to learn than others.

This isn’t just true of those with learning difficulties but true of everyone.

Some people are better at learning some types of skills than others.

The answer is no: A poem (I think it’s a poem?) about how fucked up the world is.

If I stopped you in the street. Would you stop and help me?

I’m not begging, but there’s some issues that the world needs to address.

At what point did our society, in search of progress and innovation,

Turn the calm sea that washed away impurity, to one that washes away the bodies of those broken by war?

The sun beating down on the poverty stricken is the same sun, regardless of if you have access to a food bank or not.

Regardless, of if you have a job or not. 

Poverty lives.

Never has been truer, the Shakespearean phrase ‘there are daggers in men’s smiles’

Than those gleaming daggers in the mouths of politicians.

Bombing for peace.

An oxymoron of propoganda and distain for fellow human beings.

But they aren’t like us, you tell me.

Forgive me, sir, 

But the last time I checked, 

they breathed and their hearts beat like ours.

The daggers gleam once more, as they separate the people in their land into those who are worthy and those who are not.

But I can tell you sir. All human beings are worthy of life.

I know you didn’t want a pole dance 🌚

If there’s one thing that pisses me off about my dyspraxia it’s the physical aspects of balance and trying not to be as clumsy as fuck.

Over the years, I’ve developed a good few coping strategies to deal with my Dory-from-finding-Nemo memory that it’s not too bad

* Also when I forget I’ve ordered something cute from Topshop and it turns up- that’s always a plus! *

And yeah sometimes it’s frustrating, but the clumsiness and balance is something else.

Take buses for example.

Easy task right? 

You get on the bus.

You sit down (if possible)

Or you stand gracefully, managing to stand your ground right?

Hahahaha- not if you’re dyspraxic.

I recall one occasion quite vividly when, standing, clinging to a pole, I accidentally gave an old lady an involuntary pole dance neither she or I had planned for, or wanted. Here’s hoping she didn’t die of shock and horror shortly afterwards.

Or that time I knocked a friend’s drink over with my elbow.

Or the time I dropped a full on bucket of water, all down myself

Or when I take what feels like about six billion years to come down one flight of steps. With tuts from the people behind me (sorry not sorry)

Forgetfulness is more acceptable, as my friends and family are very forgiving and I can say ‘oh sorry! I completely forgot!’ Which is fine

A lack of coordination makes for many an embarrassing moment. Sometimes even humiliating by the stares I get. It makes room for more judgement.

And that in turn only makes me less and less confident.

But I just wish people would give it a second thought.

Rather than just staring like ‘what the fuck?’

Help someone out.

My attempt at a poem about disability …

Society Still Judges me 
I was born premature

3 months early 

Tested for disabilities

And society judged me

I was fine

I’d struggle in life 

At school 

But I was doing fine, considering 
I had Physio until I was 7

To strengthen my legs 

I was given insoles

And society judged me

I was discharged 

A wobbly walker

But it was better 
My mum raised concerns 

With my primary school

That I was needed help

And society judged me

And she was dismissed 

Rebecca isn’t a naughty child

Rebecca is fine 
I got to high school 

Quiet, shy, and self loathing 

I went to councelling at 15

And then society judged me

I needed self esteem 

I was clearly just stupid 

Because I couldn’t keep up with learning at the pace school wanted me to

I went to college

Child care BTEC

It was overwhelming 

And then society judged me

‘You aren’t cut out for this’

‘Lacks common sense’

Heavily disorganised and a mess
At 17, I dropped out of college

My stupidity was proven 

I just could not keep up: I’d failed

And then society judged me

I was mentally ill

Depression, they called it

Drugs and CBT
At 19, better now, I reapplied to college 

I did A levels

And then society judged me

I wasn’t stupid

I had Dyspraxia and would get help

I was bright 
I passed my A levels

I went to university 

Things started to get bad again

And then society judged me

Councelling 

Failing to meet my own academic expectations 

A void of extreme homesickness and loneliness
At the same time, I was in pain

Physical pain 

‘Joint hypermobility syndrome’

And then society judged me

Here’s a leaflet 

There’s no cure

The best of luck with your studies 
In the middle of this

Were a few women

My study coach, my mum, and my friends 

And then society judged me

But they did not 
‘You’re too young to be disabled’

People would tell me

As I stood with my crutch in hand

And then society judged me

But you aren’t in a wheelchair 

But it’s not like you have cancer

And society still judges me
But I’m chronically ill 

But I have a specific learning difficulty 

But I battle with my demons daily 

And yet society still judges me

How does your disability affect you?

Asks the PIP assessor 

I’ll pray for you 

Says the total stranger 
You work so hard, you know you best

Says my support network

Who fight my corner when I cannot

And yet society still judges me

But they do not 

So, here I am…

This blog is to (hopefully often) share my experiences, and possibly rant about living with dyspraxia, joint hypermobilty syndrome, and anxiety. 

Living with it, that is, as a 20-something undergraduate student who is generally melancholy and pessimistic about life.
But I have had to find a more positive attitude (mostly)


Happy reading.