Proud to Be - Sarah

“I’m from South London and was at school during the 70s, then moved to Hastings about 23 years ago. School was a bit of a strange place for me, I always struggled at school. I didn’t quite fit in for all sorts of reasons, found it a bit hard, and couldn’t quite make sense of who I was in myself.

“I grew up in a Christian family home and the church that we attended was involved in what was called the Christian Disabled Association so, from an early age I spent time with people of all abilities. I have always been curious about people, I love listening to people’s stories and we all have stories, it’s how we make sense of ourselves. Leaving school, I went into sort of what would have perhaps be seen as vocation work, as opposed to academic work. I worked with adults who had learning disabilities, which I found to be quite a liberating experience and I learnt a lot about myself.

“I was diagnosed with dyslexia in my mid-20s. All through school I had struggled, labelled as a bit “slow”. People assume dyslexia is about words, reading and writing and in some ways of course it is but it’s also so much more than that. It’s about memory, comprehension, understanding, and how I process information. One of the things I learnt about myself is that I get incredibly tired, because my brain doesn’t work like other people’s and it’s a muscle that has to work really hard. So reading lots of documents and sitting in lots of meetings, there can be a lot of information coming at you really fast. It’s like people talking to you in a different language sometimes and you have to somehow interpret it and then respond. I think there’s lots of hidden things about dyslexia that aren’t necessarily appreciated.

“The Hospice has been fantastic, I’ve been clear about my areas of weakness or where I need more help and that’s been supported. I have software on my computer which has come a long way since when I started working. I use humour a lot, and sometimes suggest a spelling test in the office because I can’t get a particular word right but, I also have people who support me in proof reading documents I produce. Sometimes organising my work schedule can be tricky and I do need people to explain what is required from me very clearly so I can plan a structure to work to. I may also need to leave work early sometimes because I’ve got to a point where I can’t work things through and it gets too much, and the Hospice is very flexible in that. If I need to finish early one day, I can make up the time the next day.

“I think dyslexia is a strength. I work differently, I’m more creative and imaginative in the way I see problems and think people with dyslexia are an asset to an organisation. I’m proud to be me because I am made up of many parts. I’m more than just being dyslexic, I’m more than a Hospice employee, I’m more than someone who is gay, I’m more than someone who grew up in a Christian family, I’m more than a white female, I am someone who is still exploring.”