On being a Literature Student with Dyslexia

One of my teachers sheepishly approached me in class and asked if I would stay behind for a few minutes after. I, of course, suddenly started imagining the worst possible reasons why. Was I failing the class? Was I going to be kicked out of Sixth Form? Did my entire family perish in a terrible fire while I was at school but she wanted me to focus on completing the textbook tasks before I was told their fate? The bell rang. “Remember to finish the work on page 22 for next class- I will be checking!” my teacher called to her class, who were hurriedly rushing to their lunch. My teacher then looked at me, “Gosh, you don’t have to look so nervous. Basically, a few of your teachers have suspected that you may be Dyslexic, and so we are calling in an Educational Psychologist to screen you next week. Do you mind if I keep a hold of your writing book for evidence?”

I can’t remember the Educational Psychologist’s name but she was nice and spoke very slowly. She told me not to worry and that we just have a few simple exercises to do. I had 20 minutes to write about what ever I wanted, just as long as I kept writing. I believe they wanted to test my sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and speed of writing. I then was given a series of letters and was asked to read them aloud as quickly as I could, followed by a series of words, followed by a series of numbers. I then had to go onto a computer and each screen had around 15 alternate spellings for the same word, I then had to quickly click the correct spelling before the screen moved on and showed me 15 more alternate spellings for another word. I was given some example sentences and asked to identify what was wrong with them, or if there was anything wrong at all. This all felt a little silly, considering I was 17, however the results came back that I was in fact Dyslexic and that I would receive 25% extra time in my exams.

There is a whole spectrum of Dyslexia and fortunately mine is rather mild, which is why it took me 17 years before I learnt I had a problem. I was told that my form of Dyslexia was less to do with spelling and grammar, as is most common, rather to do with information processing. They said, for example, most people would be asked a question and instinctively answer it “A-B-C”, whereas I would answer it more like “A-M-X-J-E”. I would show strong knowledge, but it was not immediately as obvious to me as other people what I am being asked to answer. I was told that people with Dyslexia, especially my kind, tended to be creative and think outside of the box more. However, they can struggle with higher education as mark schemes are rigid and favour conventional answers over creative ones. This is why I was awarded extra time, as it meant I could think more about what the question is asking of me, and how they were asking me to answer.

I was rather nervous starting an English Literature degree giving that I knew I had a learning difficulty typically related to Literature as a subject, and I was not even fully aware of how my Dyslexia impacted me. It is simple enough being told “you have something that makes your thought pattern different to normal people”, but what did this mean? I could not identify it in myself, I could not see when I was thinking differently to others, if that makes sense. I genuinely believe when I am writing an essay that this is what they want me to write about. It can be very difficult.

I notice it in class when we are asked to share our ideas about a text and my answer varies a great deal from other people’s. I notice it in personal life when my friends joke I always misunderstand things. I noticed it in work when it took me a little longer than everyone else to learn the complicated order on how to do tasks, when another method seemed to make more sense to me. The older I get, the more I notice that I approach things differently to other people. Some things that are instinctual to others I have to learn, because I am unlearning the way that is instinctual to me.

On the plus side, I do tend to get marked highly for creativity and thinking outside the box in my coursework. I have been awarded extra days on all of my deadlines to complete my work which gives me more time to really develop my ideas. I do feel anxious as I have an important exam next week, and I know the mark schemes are more rigid than with coursework, and so I will try hard to truly use my extra time wisely and think about how a normal person would answer this.

People find it ironic that I am an English Literature student and I run a blog even though I have a learning difficulty which says I should do otherwise. Some days I agree and question why I make life hard for myself. However, most days, I just give them a smile and explain that in a way Dyslexia is a gift. I cherish creativity and I wouldn’t  have it any other way.

Let me know in the comments below if you have Dyslexia or any other learning difficulty. I would love to find out your tips for coping as I am always willing to learn. Also let me know if you would like me to do a little guide of things I do to help my Dyslexia!

Love from Evie x

How to cope with post-Christmas blues

I always fall into a depressive episode after Christmas is over, and it can last until about March! The lead up to Christmas is the best time of year for me as from about November onwards there is something to look forward to. I love the routine of watching christmas movie, banging out christmas songs, baking festive cakes and decorating my house! I genuinely feel really super sad when I have to take the decorations off the tree and go back to the mundaness of life for another long year. January and February are just the very worst months of the year as nothing is going on and it is cold and dark and there are exams and ugh! Fortunately, I have devised a plan for getting through this post-Christmas episode and remain fairly happy during this period.

  1. It may seem fairly obvious but not everything around Christmas is strictly Christmassy. For example, some decorations are not necessarily Christmassy, but maybe generally Wintery? And therefore they are allowed to stay up for a bit longer. Same goes for baking and certain christmas films. I say if they are not innately Christmassy, then why not keep enjoying them through winter? It makes you feel gleefully cheeky as you have found a loophole into enjoying Christmas year-long
  2. Make plans, especially for New Years. Do I actually care about New Years Eve? No. Time is a man-mad concept and I get tired of people saying “New Year, New Me!” as they begin the annual tradition of dieting and going to the gym until about January 12th and then fall back into their regular routine of eating too much and cancelling their gym membership. But I think this is why people seem to care so much about New Years: it is all we have after Christmas! Try and make plans to see your friends and have a banging night all dressed up and full of drinking! Try and make plans for the New Year to do plenty of stuff with your mates, so even though Christmas is over you can still look forward to ___.
  3. Now Christmas is over, it can be time to start getting into fitness. I know it is cliche, but now is probably the best time to get into fitness and dieting as you’ve more likely than not gained some weight over the holidays, and it will help kick the blues’s butt if you developed some abs or buns of steel. It is also a good way to distract yourself as you’ll be too busy counting calories burned to remember that there are over 300 days until next Christmas 😥
  4. Remember that, if you’re like me, Christmas celebrations start in about October. I’m not a big halloween person and we don’t have Thanksgiving in England, so I start secretly planning Christmas and get hyped about it early. I also feel a bit of glee when it’s technically “too early” to start thinking about Christmas, so you get to do it in secret. Instead of a whole year until Christmas, it is only about 9-10 months which isn’t as bad once you think about it!
  5. Get excited for the Summer! It is always good to have something to plan and look forward to. Plan a cool trip/holiday with your friends/partner during the Summer so you can spend the next few months obsessively planning it and looking forward to it. Time will fly and you will be on a nice hot sunbed in Barcelona or Skiing in the Alps before you know it!
  6. Get excited for Autumn! Autumn baking is frankly the best of all. I love Pumpkin-Spiced anything! When it reaches September try to really throw yourself into Autumnal activities such as long walks through the crunchy falling leaves, Pumpkin picking and hot chocolates while cosied up reading a book! You can find magic and whimsy in any time of year if you really try.

There are just a few tips I am hoping to use to get myself through this period. I know it may not seem necessary or perhaps even obsessive to someone who doesn’t appreciate Christmas time as much as I do, but if you are like me then you will understand the struggle. Comment below your tips on getting through post-Christmas blues!

 

Love from Evie x

The Unwritten Rules of Public Transport, Written Down

It has come to my attention that a great deal of people seem to have forgotten the unwritten rules of public transport. My dear reader, please treat this rant below as a PSA and forward it to the appropriate audience. Do let me know in the comments if I have missed any key rules.

  1. Do not sit next to me unless completely and utterly necessary. If you sit next to me when there are plenty of other empty seats then I will immediately think you are a creeper coming to kidnap me. Additional note: I hate the idea of some stranger’s leg touching mine (men are particularly guilty of this due to the phenomenon known as ‘man-spreading’).
  2. Do not under any circumstances try to start up a conversation. I get it, you’re old. Old people probably used to chat on transport back when there was no such thing as unlimited mobile data. However, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I am a millennial. We pride ourselves in being able to order sushi to our house via Deliveroo without having to talk to a single person. I would much rather queue for a self check out than go to an open till and have to speak to a shop assistant. If my earphones are in it means I am catching up on the latest episode of my favourite podcast, and frankly could not care less if you are having trouble finding the perfect shawl to go with your dress to your friend’s son’s wedding on Saturday, Janet. It’s 2018.

3. Don’t be a dick- give your seat to the elderly, pregnant or in any way disabled. The amount of times I have seen a tired old dear hobble onto the bus and people (even middle aged people who should know better) deliberately not make eye contact so that they do not have to give up your seat. Maybe your parents didn’t raise you as well as mine, but it’s the most basic rule of public transport.

4. Have you ticket at hand, for goD’S SAKE, WOMAN! When getting on the tube in rush-hour London why oh why on Earth would you not have your ticket ready to easily handle the barriers. You should have your ticket out when you leave the house- heck, it should never be put away! Always have your ticket at hand because there is nothing more infuriating than an amateur stopping the swift flow of commuters because they are thumbling around in their bag for their ticket.

Quickfire round:

  • passengers exit the train/bus/tram/boat/helicopter/batmobile before new ones enter
  • on the escalators stand on the right and walk on the left
  • your bag does not get priotrity on a seat over me- move it

Oh, The Humidity

We’ve all seen the headlines: “Britain set for three month heatwave” and “expect highs of 35 over the weekend”. It seems only yesterday we were cowarding inside trying to survive the ‘Beast From The East’, and yet now this is meant to be the hottest summer we’ve had in years! And us Brits? We are not exactly climatised to temperatures above the 20s. It’s been exactly 4 days since we last had rain and there is already a drought threat. Here is my official guide to British Summertime 2018:

  • Prepare yourself to be constantly reminded that “it’s bloody boiling” and “I’m sweltering”. Brits love their small talk and hate awkward silences so we jump at the chance of being able to comment about the unusually hot weather at any chance (despite it being this hot for about 2 weeks solid now, so sweating should not really be a surprise). Other phrases you will hear are “I can’t BELIEVE it’s this hot in Britain” and “oh I wish I wore a lighter outfit, I’m melting!”
  • Speaking of clothing choices, it is important to restrain yourself from attacking the kind of person who will happily sit there on the boiling oven of a train and wear a three-piece suit and not break a sweat. While you are dying in a vest and shorts, he will be sitting there with a steaming hot coffee. This man (it always seems to be a man) does not even seem like he notices it’s so hot. Seeing him wearing so many layers makes you sweat even more, and you physically have to stop yourself jumping up at him and yelling “YOU MAD MAN!!” Instead, you conclude that perhaps he is from Spain or another hot country, and that can be the only reasonable explanation for him being able to bear the temperatures of the Savannah in a suit.
man holding white teacup in front of gray laptop
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com
  • In order to survive this particular summer, prepare yourself for every conversation to end with someone chanting “it’s coming home”. And whether you like football or not, you better for the love of God respond positively. To say “oh I’m not really into football” this year (particularly now we are so far) is the equivalent to saying “I hate England and all things that represent it, and I’d much rather be living with our American cousins watching baseball and saying sidewalk instead of pavement. Good day.” Shocking.
flat screen television
Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com
  • Bit more of a serious point, but keeping well hydrated is of paramount importance during the heat wave. Get yourself a Love Island water bottle and play a game I like to call “Water Binge-go”. Take a sip every time one of these things happens, and you’ll be sure to keep hydrated throughout the day:
  1. Hear the buzz of a mosquito but can’t see it and immediately brush all your limbs incase it chose you as its dinner
  2. “IT IS COMING HOME”
  3. Gets burnt to a crisp
  4. Some misrable sod informs you is it scheduled to downpour on the day you plan to do a BBQ (it isn’t scheduled, they’re a liar)
  5. “Did you see Love Island last night? ___ are muggy aren’t they!”
  • And for the 97% of women who do not have thigh gaps, they know that dresses and short shorts result in thigh chafing. Also referred to as “chub rub”, women’s thick thighs generate sweat which causes friction burns and rashes. Women attempt to use baby powder, vaseline, deoderant and all sorts to avoid this chafing. By the end of the day, my inner-thighs are BURNING from rubbing up against each other. I end up walking with my legs far apart and somewhat resemble John Wayne after riding on a horse too long.
photography of a person riding horse
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

And this concludes my little guide to British Summertime. Good luck, and please comment below if you have any further tips or thoughts about summer and how to survive it!

 

Love from Evie x

5 quite terrible things I have learnt about working full-time this week

Catchy title, I know. This week was my first full-time job, and the first time I have had to commute into London. And I have to say, I have some thoughts…

White collar professionals are a terrifying breed of man.

On my first day I had to get the underground from London Bridge to Green Park, and I encountered the middle aged professional. Men six foot and above, each around 50 with greying hair and navy suits. They do not spare so much as a glance for the horrified little girl (me) being trampled on. It feels like a mosh pit, however instead of dancing to Wiz Khalifa I am being thrown about by the tannoy alerting me that “there are delays on the Jubliee Line”. And if you dare accidentally fumble at the ticket machine for half a second then expect the same glare you would receive if you just defecated yourself.

An 8 hour shift is a very long time.

Of course, I am happy to be getting more money than ever before, but 8 hours seems a little much. By around two hours in I am already bored out of my mind, and the day has just begun. I almost feel sorry for customers that I have to help at the end of the day as my introduction has gone from “good morning, my name is Evie, how may I help you?” To “what the hell do you want?” You can’t even fully enjoy the evening at home after your shift as you know you have to go back in tomorrow. “Welcome to the adult world” my dad says. I didn’t choose to be an adult, so why must I be a part of their world?

6am is a horrible hour to wake up.

On some days the sun isn’t even up. My colleagues live a lot closer to my place of work than I do, and pity me for having to get up so early. Fumbling around half awake trying to get into smart clothes and put mascara on his a challenge even in the daylight! The temptation to just turn off the alarm and go back to sleep and just never work again is unbearable.

The general public are actual idiots.

They are the most infuriating thing in the entire world. Asking obvious questions, accusing me of not knowing what I’m talking about and demanding to see the manager (who tells them exactly what I just told them, haha). Children screaming and crying, middle class people with their Waitrose hummus and Cath Kidson bags trying to skip the queue to get away from the commoners, and foreigners who can speak about as much English as I can mandarin. No amount of pounds per hour could make it worth dealing with them. And all while having to maintain a smile and a happy, can-do, polite attitude.

You then have to commute back home.

It’s 17:00, you have been up since 6:00 dealing with angry confused members of the public. Home time! However, the commute home is way over an hour. Your phone runs out of battery, you left your earphones at work. And then you have to do it all over again tomorrow!

Sorry this list was negative, I have just never been this mentally and physically drained my entire life! Full-time working isn’t all bad. My job is interesting, and I’m making friends with my colleagues. Plus, I get free lunch which isn’t so bad. What things annoy you about working and commuting? Comment below!

Love from a very tired Evie x

A beginner’s guide to BDSM: Being Depressed So Much

For as long as I can remember, I have had issues dealing with stress and anxiety disorder. Recently, a friend told me that I was “such a chill and laid back person” and I almost choked on my soy milk cappuccino because I am literally the most tightly wound person in England, and quite possibly the entire world. I believe it started when I was in the cub scouts, and I vowed “to always be prepared”. A promise which I have evidently taken too literally as I have developed an anxiety disorder which forces me to plan out every single possible scenario in my head.
So was it a shock to me when my doctor spun round and told me I had developed depression? No, because as I have stated previously, I have an anxiety disorder which forces me to plan out every single possible scenario in my head. Keep up.
How did I know I had depression? Well, I felt sad (shocker). But for real, whenever I was alone I felt this overwhelming feeling of sadness. While anxiety disorder pulsates adrenaline through your veins and sends my mind into thinking 100 thoughts a second, depression has the opposite effect. Suddenly my world had the sepia filter on. I took of my 3D-glasses to find everything flat and blurry. Flowers resisted blooming, the sun hid behind clouds, and I felt like Chandler in that episode of Friends where Joey forces him into a box with only a little peep-hole to see into the outside world (edit: season 4, episode 8).
Image may contain: Room, Interior Design, Indoors, Bedroom, Furniture, Bed
I find it really hard to enjoy things that I used to enjoy, and sometimes getting out of bed and doing some work makes me feel like I deserve some kind of award. It can be incredibly difficult to focus and do work as my brain will not stop telling me how shit my essay is. Depression is constantly doubting yourself and needing validation that what I am doing or who I am is okay. It is really hard to admit this, even just typing it on my laptop is making me realise how deep this issue is.
I used to not want to open up to people without depression, I thought they just wouldn’t understand. I tend to put on a bubbly, happy-go-lucky front, and I did not want people to view me differently. Or worse: pity me. However, one day I decided maybe I shouldn’t be discriminatory towards the happy-inclined and started slowly opening up to friends and family (and now the internet).
Am I fully recovered? No. Am I close to being cured of depression? No. But I am here to tell you guys that I am on my way. It might be something that I am never totally cured of, and so I guess I’ll have to get used to it sticking around. Like that weird smell that has lingered in the flat ever since your flatmate opened their bottle of 5 months expired milk.
From one sad bean to another, I do have a few tips. Or as I like to call it- A beginner’s guide to BDSM: Being Depressed So Much
1. talk to someone. It sounds really basic but if you can find one single person to talk to then 100% go for it. Hopefully they won’t judge you and they’ll help you work out what the next plan of action is. If you don’t have anyone you can talk to, here’s a link to a forum you can join: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums
2. Do some research! You have to be careful what sites you visit as the information may not be totally correct, but I recommend the NHS website as they’re pretty legit.
3. Know that you aren’t alone in your disorder. I know it’s obvious as depression is a leading mental health issue, but I know how isolating it can feel. Again, use the forum if you want to talk to someone with the same issue as you. It can feel really nice to share experiences and realise any similarities you have.
4. I actually recommend listening to a podcast/youtube series called ‘Adult Sh1t’. It’s free on Spotify, YouTube and iTunes. It’s rude and all but Kate and Kelsey talk about mental health and are real with it and they’re so funny. I just find it really encouraging. There are of course many more you can try out, but that is just my current favourite.
5. Practise self care. Whether going to the gym or having a hot bubble bath, do things for yourself that make you happy. Be a little selfish, be a little erratic. You know what’s best for you and if it helps alleviate depression, even for just 5 minutes, then it’s totally worth it (I like baking, Animal Crossing and shopping to cheer myself up)
6. I know this sounds scary but if you are feeling at all suicidal or want to hurt yourself, then contact someone ASAP. Either a family member or a friend or call 116 123 (Samaritans, they’re open 24/7 and I have heard are super nice)
7. And if you haven’t had it officially diagnosed yet- go to a doctor! Your GP will listen and give you all the help you need. You can even go see a therapist if that helps? Sussex uni has counselling for mental health (the building is hidden right behind the mini doctors on campus)
I know I’ve been pretty lighthearted and jokey during this article, and that’s mainly a self-defence mechanism. My goal isn’t to trigger you and make you feel worse; it’s to show you that you aren’t alone, and you can and should laugh in the face of adversity. If I have made even one person’s life a little easier, then I feel like writing this was a success.

On Being A Londoner In Brighton

I have lived in Brighton on and off for two years now as I am a student at Sussex University. During this time I have noticed a few key differences between London and London-by-the-Sea. Today’s post is supposed to be light-hearted and give people an idea about what life is like at our sister city. I will write a more thorough post at a later date about the wonderful Brighton Lanes. Enjoy!

1. The traffic lights are silent???
Are you telling me that I have to look up from watching snap stories for up to 30 seconds to see when the man turns green and it is safe to cross? I feel like this is an attack on millennials.
traffic light

2. I’m sorry, I’m going to say what we are all thinking: Brightoners don’t walk- they shuffle.

When it isn’t the entire population of Italy having a day out to the Pier rudely in your way, it’s the elderly. Sorry, Mr and Mrs Cute-Old-Couple but I have a 25X bus to Catch! If I miss that I have to get the 25, which is a whopping 7 minutes longer (an inexcusable amount of time to waste as an unemployed student).

25x

3. Brighton has a better selection of doggos.

The stresses of living in the capital mean that Londoners arm themselves with Rottweilers and Staffs, which are frankly more like weapons than man’s best friend. However, the sea air appears to calm Brightoners, and they opt for little bundles of fluffy joy. Pugs, Pomeranians and Poodles galore!
pom
4. Southern Rail is absolute sh*t.
Raise your hand if you have been personally victimised by Southern Rail. Every day I thank the Lord that I do not have to rely on it to get to uni. However, the few amounts of time I have used it left me reminiscing about the good ol’ days of being at stations like Victoria and Charring Cross. Southern Rail charges you a ridiculously high price just to be cancelled on.
station.jpeg
5. The beach is an absolute God send during heatwaves.
The hustle and bustle of the capital, and not to mention the pollution makes 27 degrees feel like 270. How many times have you tried and failed to find a nice spot in St James’ Park? Well, on Brighton beach there is room for all! The great atmosphere of students getting their first dose of vitamin D and fending off the rickets. Yes, there may be a slight whiff of weed in the air (it is always the guy in the Che Guevara top) but feel that sea breeze! Bring some cans, have a laugh with your mates. This is what Brighton is all about.
brighton beachh.jpg
I hope you enjoyed this little post!
Lots of love, Evie x