What can help
What can help

Storytelling is one of the foundations of our culture. We can create connections by sharing stories – especially those that offer inspiration and hope. Recovery in mental health is not always well understood; sharing your story makes personal recovery come alive. It also supports values and strengthens lessons learned from life experiences. It helps to build community and create connections.

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Alternatively if you are a registered student and would like to write your story and want to share it, please contact us. You can read about other students experiences on our testimonials page and learn more about getting involved on our student development programme page.

KIFF-11 or not

Martha
25 March 2022

How my neurological challenges have pushed me to be the success I am today

KIFF-11 or not

As a child I had learning difficulties. I didn’t know I did, but everyone else did. I only realised how bad it must have been when my family said on my graduation day that they didn’t even think I would pass my GCSEs, let alone get a degree.

I didn’t do very well in school. Until I decided I was going to; no matter what. It took all my energy to be better, and over time, my ability to learn grew. But this isn’t the same for everyone with my condition. Everyone born with KIFF-11 has a different level of intellectual disabilities. Although my eyesight is poor, my brothers is poorer. Whereas I can understand money, he does not. And I have been able to complete a lot of self-development; whereas my brothers’ development has stagnated.

One characteristic my parents have told me that I do share with my brother though is not letting things go. They see it as negative, but I think this is what got me through university. It’s what kept me going when I found out I was banned from driving due to the poor eyesight. It’s probably what kept me applying for job after job every time I got fired for not being good enough too. And I think it’s what has helped me keep my marriage, even after the depression, the separation and learning that this condition would be passed on to my children.

I only found out I had this neurological condition when I was in my final year at university and in my third year of marriage. Boy did it explain a lot – like why I could never understand when I lost friends. I don’t know for sure, but maybe I hurt a lot of people when I couldn’t see their point of view? I always blamed them though, their nastiness caused a lot of anger and hurt; which I internalised because after learning I had this, I suddenly felt not good enough and became a people pleaser. But this people pleaser business stunted my development, my career and ruined multiple relationships. Something I have only just learned.

It affected my career in a lot of ways. I got the degree I wanted… but I never expected what was to follow: an intense level of imposter syndrome that I still haven’t quite shaken. It took a lot of energy to consistently be at the standards needed to get the degree… and so I feel smart on paper only. I apply for the job, and think my resume looks good – but when I start, I freak out about not being good enough to deliver on their expectations; and I realise trying to meet them is  mentally and physically exhausting to keep up; which then affects my energy levels at home; and so followed the depression, anxiety, stress and low self-esteem; which affected my marriage and was taken advantage of a lot.

Despite not being where I expected to be in my life (high up on the career ladder, with child, and with a kick-ass car!), it is something I have accepted. And this has played a huge part on my mental health recovery, and personal and professional development. It was hard watching as my friends achieve their dreams, but I am now working in a job that I find fulfilling; and with which I am getting a lot of developmental support – something I never had before. Plus, because I understand myself more, I can communicate better. But most importantly, I am more forgiving towards myself now. My neurological condition is ingrained in me. I cannot change it, but I can nurture it. I’m now proud of my accomplishments, something I was able to do after practicing mindfulness, gratitude and self-compassion techniques I learned from New Leaf Recovery and Wellbeing College.

Thanks to the college and their pro-neurodiversity work, I am now able to truly believe that I have a choice in the direction I wish to take my life, and how far I want to take things, regardless of whether I have neurological challenges, intellectual and physical disabilities and limitations or not. My new belief is that my only limitation is my mindset – if I set it to push for success, I’ll make it. And so will you.

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