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That Overwhelming Feeling: My Worst Nightmares as a Dyslexic

Banking, train timetables, London tube maps and filling in forms are just some of the life activities that are a nightmare for me. Even just the thought of any of these situations turn my brain into metaphorical mush.

Reasonably recently I remember standing in Paddington train station where unexpectedly several tube lines had been shut. Of course the line I was supposed to be getting was one of the ones out of bounds. With no idea where to go, what was going on or who to ask I did the only thing I could think of; panic. Thus from here, the internal meltdown began. It was evening and I was trying to get back to Kings Cross station and catch my train home on a Sunday night before work the next morning. My face started to burn, my body started to shake and tremble, I could feel the anxiety beginning take over and creep up my body like a gigantic cold wave. A panic attack was coming on. I had to ring my Mum and get to her explain my new tube route and I still ended up going the wrong way. Thankfully I did get home in one piece but, I was physically and emotionally shattered by the end.

There is something about a London tube map that makes no sense to me. There is too much intertwining and interlinking information in one place. I am absolutely fine it I take a picture of my journey when it is listed or if I write down which lines and stops I need. But, if I physically look at the map I freak out. To me, the map looks like someone has dropped a bag of multi-coloured shoe lace sweets that have miraculously fused together and formed a messy pattern. For me it’s a simple case of information overload. To be honest I’m so glad I don’t live in London as I would never be anywhere on time and I would be permanently lost! Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the tube or using it. I just don’t understand the maps.

Don’t even get me started on banking. It’s like listening to a totally different language. Every time I think about banking and trying to set up a new account I have in mind I get that all too familiar overwhelming feeling. The feeling of sheer bloody panic. There are too many words, finance specific terminology I don’t understand and too many numbers, again all in one place. Once more it is massively overwhelming for my brain to break down and process in a logical manner.

I have thought a lot about why I find the wonderful world of finances and tube maps so confusing. I have come to the conclusion, a simple one that is, being that I simply just don’t understand them. As stressed in one of my earlier posts outlining dyslexia as an important neurodiversity, dyslexics often need concepts to be explained to them in different ways. Because of this, I haven’t found the right way for me to understand or have explained to me tube maps and banking. It is a universal educational law that there is no ‘one size fit all’ method to teaching, as all individuals have unique learning styles regardless of whether they have dyslexia or not. In addition, everyone is good at different things, find some subjects, topics or tasks more challenging and some much more straightforward. My key point here is that everyone is unique and gifted at something; you just have to find it and be taught in a way that best suits you as an individual. I hope this post is helpful and meaningful to fellow dyslexics who may share the same or similar ‘nightmares’. Developing coping strategies or ‘life hacks’ can be a long laborious process. But, if it helps beat the confusion and anxiety which surrounds things we don’t understand (such as tube maps) then it is well worth it. Furthermore, I also hope this blog post is beneficial to non-dyslexics to assist in building understanding and empathy for dyslexics when they encounter everyday topics or situations they find confusing or challenging to get their head around.

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