Dyslexia and Me: Y is for Yawn!

I’ve often been called ‘lazy’ over the years. To a point, I probably am. I do like my bed a lot and I’m not really into exercising (partly because I hate feeling sweaty! Yuck!). The more I look into dyslexia and scotopic sensitivity, the more I realise there is more to my loving a nap than just being lazy! 

When I have a lot of reading to do, I find that my eyes become very tired. This is partly to do with my eyes working harder than normal people’s eyes to focus on words and to process them. I have used coloured overlays and had programs that change the colour of my computer and iPad screens. This is great as it stops my eyes becoming quite as sore than black type on a white background. I have recently had prisms put into my glasses to make it easier for my eyes to adjust and I am finding now that I skip lines of text far less often than before. However, despite all of these handy adjustments to make reading easier, my eyes still become sore and tired.

It’s not just reading that causes my eyes to hurt. I really struggle in rooms that are clinically white! This became a real problem in some classrooms at university. White walls and artificial lighting was my kryptonite! It would trigger headaches and migraines that would last a couple of days, meaning I sometimes would end up missing classes. I was found many a time walking around campus with my sunglasses on even on a grey day to try to dampen down the brightness of the walls and lighting and I never left the house without a packet of painkillers in my bag. I used to wear my cap every day to try to block the artificial lighting. Adding on the brightness of my laptop screen made many of my classes a real trial!

When I was writing my dissertation I really struggled. My eyes were so sore I don’t think I’d ever experienced so much pain in my eyes before! Strangely, when I went to the optician after I finished my eyesight had actually improved! The pain was so bad, I was regularly having to stop to close my eyes! Even on these ‘naps’ I couldn’t get my eye muscles to relax. I had to take a day off from reading and ask for an extension so that I could edit it without struggling with the severe pain! Painkillers only took the edge off.

I realised that my need to nap and sleep was not because my body was tired, but because my eyes were tired and my brain was tired from processing. In my first and second year of university, I found myself regularly heading home from class and taking a nap before making my dinner. They were power naps and they made me feel a little bit better. I spent a lot of time with my classmate/best friend in third and fourth year drinking tea and having a natter. Being in an atmosphere where my eyes could calm down meant I wasn’t needing to nap quite as often as I had before. The cafe on campus was in a large sports type hall and there were loads of colours and natural light that allowed my eyes to adjust and relax after an hour in a white room! I never realised that this was the reason I wasn’t so tired. It wasn’t the caffeine, it was that my eyes and the processing part of my brain was allowed to chill out between classes or before I went home.

What I would love to see is a change in decor in places of learning and in the workplace. Magnolia didn’t have the same effect, it was only the harshness of the white and artificial lights that set me off. Even if there were pictures on the wall to break up the visual blankness. I’m not sure how having paintings on the wall would affect someone with sensory processing sensitivity though. I guess there is a balance that needs to be struck here. I know I have as much issue with things that are overly patterned as complete blankness.

I put my love of naps down to visual and processing difficulties as well as being just a wee bit on the lazy side. I don’t think I’d have got myself into loving my naps and sleep so enthusiastically if it wasn’t for these difficulties affecting me for my entire lifetime. It’s almost an escapism from the visual world.

This post is part of a series trying to help me to raise money for Dyslexia Action. You can donate as little as £1! To find out more, head over to: https://www.justgiving.com/DyslexiaAndMe

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Posted on August 31, 2014, in Awareness, Education, Personal Experience and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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