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Learning how my brain works

I’ve had my run with poor mental health. After one of my friends tried to end his life I realised how under-trained schools were with spotting and dealing with mental health. After being diagnosed with dyslexia, my self-esteem plummeted as I felt I was unable to do the things most people can do without thinking about it.

I struggled with self-harm from about Year 9.

Over the years I have learnt how to deal with my mental health. With help from friends and family we worked out that I suffer with executive function difficulties – that means my brain works in a different way to most people’s. I had some sessions with an executive function coach, which helped me understand how my brain works, and stopped me from feeling different to others.

It also helped me to communicate how I was feeling. After learning how to talk to people, and coming up with healthier alternatives to things I was doing, I’m a lot better now.

1 thought on “Learning how my brain works”

  1. Alex, I heard you speaking on Radio 4 just now and wanted to see your site. This article is so honest but also so wonderfully positive. I’m sure this will help other teenagers.
    I used to be a secondary school teacher and became aware that we were failing young people so I looked at what I could do in my small way to change that. My solution was to go back to the beginning and retrain as a Montessori Teacher for early years. There are two big things that the Montessori philosophy advocates that I believe have an enormous effect on mental health. The first is that we recognise and name emotions as soon as the children can talk. Little children have tantrums, but we help them to recognise what is going on e.g. “I can see that you feel cross, or angry or sad or what ever seems to be the cause of the tantrum”. Then we offer support eg. “Can I help, can you use your words to tell me,” and we connect with a hand on the child’s shoulder, they might want to have a cuddle but they also might want to be left alone, it is their choice. But the naming and recognising is the important thing for their future mental health. And it struck me that really this is what you are doing, naming, offering support and connecting.
    The other technique we use is to never praise the child but instead to praise the work. This comes I believe from Hindu philosophy. It teaches the child to do the work, the painting, the building, the puzzle what ever it is, but to do it for themselves rather than to seek and need external praise. In secondary school I saw so many young people striving for their parents praise, which caused them so much stress and distress.

    There is a very nice website that explains these techniques and more for parents, of small children and adolescents.
    Hand in Hand Parenting
    Maybe you could include this on your site.

    Thank you for what you are doing.

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