NEVER NORMAL BLOG…

So, I am not conventional …. I knew I was different and thought differently to others. I didn’t always ‘own my weird’ like I do now!

At school despite ‘getting things’ quickly it somehow didn’t translate into my writing and grades. I spent nearly all my primary school years having additional ‘remedial lessons’ . My school didn’t like to ‘label children’ and so I/my parents didn’t seek further assessment. I often felt like I didn’t really fit in anywhere. But, I was fairly happy, relieved when I acted on being gay instead of pretending to be something I wasn’t. But, it took a while for me to feel safe enough to be ‘out’ at work as being Neurodiverse ,

I am Dyslexic and have ADHD traits. At secondary school I watched my friends go off to uni, which at the time felt unobtainable. It was so frustrating to have friends who could go, who I could converse with, but why couldn’t I just get the grades like they did!! In the end I moved on and managed to get into nursing based on an IQ screening test that they did for those with not great qualifications like me! Hurrah I got in and that was the start of a lifelong passion and career of helping others.

It was in my late 20s when I got my Dyslexia diagnosis. At the time, I remember it was such a relief and a huge ahha moment! This meant that I got to go to uni. A dream come true. During obtaining my psychology and counselling degree I also had coaching for my dyslexia which was a life changing moment!! These strategies, hints and tips gave me access to a whole new way of being which meant not only did I get my degree but later I was able to get a Masters too!

As I continued my life in the NHS I got to see more of life (and death) than most, touching moments like a young Dad who sadly had a stroke and lost the use of his left side, a few months of rehab and I watched with tears in my eyes him walk out holding his little girls hand. Being a nurse you are never off-duty. Like the time I saw an epileptic fit on the way to the cinema and helped the person until the ambulance came, or when I was on the hovercraft and a guy had a heart attack, and we managed to revive him or that time when my neighbour also had a heart attack, but sadly we couldn’t get him back. Even the other day on the school run I saw a road traffic accident and of course I am straight there to give aid until the ambulance arrived. So you see, I will never stop being a nurse as it’s a part of who I am not what I do.

My NHS career ended up rocketing and I went up the hierarchy, loving urgent care – drama queen junky – and, yes, riding in an ambulance with the blue lights is exciting! I do remember not always disclosing my Dyslexia straight away for fear of prejudice. In fact, I nearly didn’t get an interview because of my handwritten (in those days) application was so bad! Thankfully I did and this is when I became a ward sister level role. Later I went into more project management and then programme management, and even got to be Walk in Centre Lead for the South of England. Later, I started my own consultancy firm, initially part-time, and did that for over a decade. But, shh don’t tell anyone, I struggled every single time I had a new form to complete!! Every day then and now I struggled to cope with my emails!

Alongside this, there was so much more to me too. I became a lecturer at City university in London. I can’t tell you how much pride it felt to stand there as a lecturer. Me, that girl from the remedial class. Me, the dyslexic who could only dream of going to uni, and there I was! I got involved in charity work for many years, active in local sports clubs, even organising a masters swim competition for over 300 swimmers at the London Olympic pool. I got into waterpolo and represented my country at the Gay Games in Paris (OK so its about inclusivity more than skill – thank god - so a cuddly over 40 something got to go and play with pride).

Along the way, I also became a parent, and I can tell you that all my smugness about how I was going to be a parent - I knew I was a good nurse and surely it was a similar skill set - disappeared! Now, I love my son dearly and also feel rather sorry for him too! Because what they don’t tell you is that not only does the blasted learning disability never go away but you become a parent and it hits you on the head all over again. My previous issues got exaggerated and my timekeeping got outrageously bad. I remember packing up the car one time then looking at my watch, realising I had missed said event so just unpacked it all again! The toddler years are character building at the time and then you somehow seem to fondly look back at them! My short term memory issues got worse and my work suffered as it was hard to concentrate (half my brain power taken up with a small person). Suffice it to say, with some patience on my son’s part and lots of perseverance on mine, we muddle through okay these days. I will let you know how the teenage years go!

The other disability that I have significant amount of traits of is ADHD which I realized even later in life I had. You know what, so many things make so much sense now! Like my timekeeping, low boredom threshold and my sensitivities. But, I hold my head up high as they also have helped fuel my life, I have more energy than a Duracell bunny! My hyper focus means I really get into things, understand them and have become an expert – like in coaching, as people are my thing! Combined with my sensitivity, it means even though I am straight-talking, I have a big heart and wont judge you, but will get you!

So I am not one thing, but many. I can help you navigate the tricky moments in life, juggling being a neurodivergent parent, being a leader who may not have disclosed their disability…who had imposter syndrome, confidence issues, who got their diagnosis as an adult which meant a whole new chapter in my life and I’m a nurse, passionate about wellbeing too so can help you there as well. Life does not come in nice little boxes and neither do our struggles so let me help you with your work/life balance.

So I’m Helen with Dyslexia that gives me spider senses and intuition second to none, alongside my ADHD with more energy than a Duracell bunny, these are my superpowers. What are yours?