I’m Dyslexic and it isn’t a Superpower!

Byp5ttxubl0 I 8217 m Dyslexic and it isn 8217 t a Superpower

I’m dyslexic. I was diagnosed 30 or more years ago. So I say with all respect, stop calling Dyslexia a superpower. It belittles & glamourises a condition that is, to many, crippling and leads to terrible anxiety and self-esteem issues.

When I was young, I was labelled stupid by my school. In fact, my maths teacher even told my Mum – to her face – that I was dumb and should just be left to get on with it. I am very lucky my parents took me to a specialist in the early 90s to get a diagnosis to force the school to “reassess” their opinion. I was the first in my school! Read More ...

6 rules for surviving and enjoying social media.

1. Don’t believe everything you see or read.

Social media has no filter, so anyone can post almost anything and they don’t always post the truth. From politicians to socialites, very often what is put out is tweaked in some ways be it the facts or the flawless texture of a models skin. Be alert to it.   

2. Do your research.

This goes hand in hand with the first rule. Sadly you can take everything at face value. It takes very little time to fact check, but use reliable news sources and websites, not gossip rags or other social media sources.

3. Don’t over share.

If you wouldn’t tell your gran don’t tell social media publically. Public social media sites like twitter, Tik Tok or Instagram are great places to share what’s on your mind, your latest talents and so on. It’s fun and can be very rewarding. However, some things just don’t need to be shared to the world, doing so can come back and bite you in the future. Many celebrities have fallen foul of drunken tweeting one day and losing their job the next!   

4. Do use the report features.

The report features on social media are their for a reason. If you see things that are inappropriate, harmful, hurtful etc, report them. It is anonymous and there to protect everyone.

5. Don’t obsess.

It can be all to easy to get hooked on social media. That’s how all the apps are designed, they want your attention for as long as possible as that’s how they make money. If you find yourself unable to sleep because you are worried you might miss something, or are anxious because you only got 1 like, it may be time to take a break or even seek some advice and help.   

6. Do have fun.

Social media is meant to be fun, so use it in a way you enjoy. It may be just reading the latest happenings in your fandom, it may be sharing your singing or photography skills etc. You can make good friends through sensible use of social media and have a great time.   Be sensible, be safe, be alert and when it stops being fun, take a break.

How Are You?

This is from my guitar related channel, but I thought it was important to share it here as well (as I have not been sharing much here of late).

How are you? Let me know in the comments. Mental Health is a struggle many of us face and it is important to remember that you are not alone. The following link has a list of international mental health charities you can reach out to.

International Mental Health Charities

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The Man in the Hat: Anxiety, Public Speaking and Dave Rage

I’ve not been shy about talking about my issues with anxiety and depression over the years. They are a part of my life and something that I am not ashamed of these days.

However, not being ashamed of them does not make them go away!

Anxiety is the biggest problem on a daily basis. A large portion of my time is spent wanting to curl up into a ball and hide from the world. cutting any and all contact with other humans. That is part of the reason that I used to love online gaming. I didn’t have to interact with “real” people, there was no expectation that I would have to make eye contact. I could be Dave Rage, cannon fodder grunt in Call of Duty.

So, what do you think one of the most unnatural things I could possibly do would be? Public speaking. Standing on a stage, with hundreds of eyes looking at me, expecting me to impart knowledge and wisdom in an interesting way. What do I spend a fair amount of time doing? Public speaking!

I have never been good at standing in front of people. I remember one school play where I was asked to step in for another child who was sick. I had one line, that was it. As soon as I got on stage, I froze and had to be dragged off. It is not my natural environment.

Over the years I got better, especially if I was doing something I felt I was ok at, such as singing or playing the guitar. But it never came naturally.

So now I find myself in the position of being seen as something of an expert in gamification. This comes with the expectation that I will speak to people at events. First off, I feel privileged and very grateful for this. And, perversely, I actually really enjoy it. But, I don’t find it easy.

Introducing Dave Rage, the Man in the Hat

That’s where a hat and Dave Rage come to the rescue.

If I am struggling with anxiety at an event, the hat goes on and I become Dave Rage. Dave Rage can walk on stage with rock music playing, arms raised and soaking up the applause. Dave Rage can confidently tell an audience of several hundred adults that they need to play more. On those days, Andrzej just wants to curl up into a ball and cry!

I recently had the honour of speaking at Gamification Europe. However, I was really struggling with anxiety at the time. Some noticed that on the first day when I wasn’t speaking, I didn’t wear “The Hat”. I kept to myself or with people that I consider friends in the industry. On the second day, where I was due to speak, “The Hat” was on my head all day and Dave Rage was mingling and networking like a pro.

The hat acts as a costume that allows me to become a character. What you see on stage is not usually just Andrzej, it is Andrzej and Dave Rage.

I don’t have to do this every time and I am not suffering from multiple personality disorder, but sometimes it is what gets me through.

If you have any kind of mental health issue, you have to find mechanisms that allow you to function from day to day. In my case, this includes needing to function in front of large groups of people.

My advice to those who have to speak in public and don’t want to create a character? Remember they are there to see you speak because you know something they don’t and they want to hear it!

What are your coping mechanisms? Do you create a character, or do you just try and face it head on?

 

World Mental Health Day

On World Mental Health day, I thought it was important to remind people of one thing. Mental health is not a rude term. It should not have shame or stigma attached to it. If you suffer from any kind of mental health issue, you should not feel you have to hide it.

Over the last few years, I have made no secrets of my issues and struggles with mental health, issues that have plagued me since I was 9 or 10 trying to manage school whilst being seriously dyslexic, getting no support from the school! This, I am sure, is what triggered the start of my problems with depression and anxiety. My Mum also suffered from similar issues, and at least one of my children has similar.

I was not always able to speak about these things. Anything that meant you were different had to be suppressed when I was a kid and the habit followed me into adulthood. It was not until my wife was unable to watch me trying to be “normal” whilst simultaneously self-destructing that I sought help. It was at that point that I realised that there was nothing wrong with admitting I had these issues.

If you think there is a problem, or if others tell you there may be a problem, listen and find help. These days there is a wealth of advice and help available to you, but you have to go and find it – it won’t come to you I’m afraid.

If people around you pressure you to keep quiet about your issues – fuck ’em. Look after yourself!

There is Help

If you think you need help, or if you know someone who you think does, talk about it. There is help out there.

In the UK start here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health/getting-help

In the US try here: https://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/finding-help.

Please tell me other country starting points in the comments and I will add them.

You are not alone.