My Neurodiversity Journey (Part 2)

Thank you for reading Part 1 of my journey on the 26th of Feb and your comments.

Last time I finished off by mentioning distorted belief systems and the effect that has on the mind / body connection. They are both connected. How does our own language effect our mind body connection? Language influences the mind and affects the way we live in the world. Language gives us emotional responses and impulses – our best friend, our worst enemy. Would you agree?

Language, by using labels and names, prevent you from doing what you want. We all have to be careful what we do name and label as it may become real!! In our own minds, using our own internal dialogue; it’s important to remember; “we don’t live in the real world – we live in the world of our own narrative or internal dialogue.” As the great Rudyard Kipling; journalist and writer so eloquently said “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”

So, going back to my own distorted beliefs, they started at a very young age along with my own story I was telling myself. My long-term memory is one of my super strengths; and I can vividly remember at the age of 7 at prep school; the head teacher advising my Mother that I was the last in the year, to tie my shoe laces and school tie.

This was my first real hurt in life; I felt it and it landed right on my gut. I had not met expectations. I was a failure.

Well, that’s when I started my own narrative or internal dialogue or self-talk. Did my masking start then? Probably. From that day on at school, it was a battle which continued throughout school life. I gave many clues throughout my school years that “I was not right”, not fitting in, the butt of many jokes.

At times I would be called snobby, stand offish,, zoned out and many other labels society chose to hand out free, gratis and for nothing. In reality, unknown to all back in the 60’s and 70’s, I was autistic, dyslexic, dyspraxic, ADHD, dyscalculic with Meares Irlen syndrome. Although; unknown to me and others around me, I was all of the above.

Many of you may relate to the behaviours experienced, the names and labels picked up from well-intentioned parents, teachers, coaches and peer groups; and the effect it has or had on your own self-esteem, self-image and perception and how it left you feeling. I also confirmed to myself that I was thick and stupid, as I failed not once, but twice, every exam that I sat.

Society must be right then, I often said to myself. I have no passes in my O levels, never sat Highers and could not speak French. When passing my driving test first time, at the age of 17, as a family we concluded it was an error a mistake!! LOL.

I believed my own narrative that I was thick, stupid and retarded, which was the label for being Autistic or child psychosis. I had the proof, as I failed my O Levels twice. I had convinced myself, society’s labels were correct.

So, what then happens when you start off working and do alright? Well, the self-talk starts and the internal dialogue goes into overdrive. I will get found out soon. Will it be today? More masking was required at an unconscious level.

In my late teens, early twenties, I self-adopted another new distorted belief system:
Imposter Syndrome. My internal language changed further as I climbed the career ladder. If only they knew I was thick and stupid – the anxiety increased, the masking of my deficiencies increased. I was more than aware I could not pronounce certain words, and had to adapt even further, as the business language environment required.

To offer a sense of balance, I went on to co-own a multi pound business, visited 12 countries due to business travel and saw parts of the world I would not have necessarily visited. In the press, in recent year’s headlines have included: –

“Tel’s mind Guru’s on job again”.
“Top Scots Shrink” etc
“The shrinks are on me – the brains behind our revival is psychology guru David Yeoman”

I will finish off by quoting George Orwell, “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought”. Once you accept the deficits then you can embrace the strengths. I am not thick or stupid or a retard and I am neither a genius or a guru. I am Neuro Autistic with dyslexia and other co-occurring conditions and most thankful that I am.

Until the next article, stay safe, be kind to yourself and gentle to those around you; being careful of what you label.

David Yeoman, Consultant & Volunteer at Dyslexia Scotland.