So I decided several years ago it was time to be assessed for dyslexia. There was just too many coincidences between how I operated and the experience shared by those who were reported to have the condition. I had entirely forgotten the whole experience until last week I stumbled upon my notes about the experience and the details as to why I originally wanted explore the possibility of having the condition. Going through the notes again with a good deal of hindsight it became somewhat a lengthy endeavor of self realisation.
My notes at the time:
- A history of poor spelling, since Primary School through to Masters. Being at the very bottom of my class in Primary, I recall frequently getting 3 out of 20 on spelling tests.
- Spelling is phonetic, relying on spell check for essays (sometimes changing words or restructuring whole sentences when no correct spelling could be found).
- Reading is slower than that of peers, with seemingly less comprehension.
- Reading on the computer is aided by tracing and highlighting lines with the mouse pointer.
- Written sentences become string along with little use of full stops. In Honours I would frequently write 10 line paragraphs as a single comma broken sentence.
- No joy or desire to read. Reading is tiring.
- Skipping to same line frequently.
- Late speech development (age of 4).
- Memory poor on unessential facts (order of the months of the year, places, names).
- Placing letters in scrabble out of order.
- Using math tricks to find multiplication conclusions instead of memory.
- Two thirds of art school students in the uk are estimated to have dyslexia.
- Excelling at spacial and mechanical reasoning
The clinic’s conclusions:
The results of the test concluded that I was in fact normal (state average) at reading and writing and my academic record (pretty much perfect top marks) was obvious proof that got by just fine. At spacial and mechanical reasoning I achieved a perfect score. It was suggested that I was simply being hard on myself, comparing my normal level traits with my vastly above average traits while also comparing myself to academics of a superior age who are of course expected to be at a higher level. It was a good that I was in a area of study which valued my strengths in spacial and mechanical reasoning and that perhaps I could make more friends my own age if I wanted to feel more confident.
My conclusions (then):
I remember it being suggested by a friend that my difficulties spawned from learning to read phonetically at a Primary School which was somewhat aligned with Steiner disciplines. “it’s outrageous how they have failed you, letting your spelling remain so poor” she once said. But after the testing the conclusions I came to was that I had brain of someone who in many circumstances would have very much been diagnosed with dyslexia. I discovered that the way in which my School taught English at the time is how it is now recommended that kids diagnosed with dyslexia are to be taught, then they get by just fine, just as I do. It wasn’t my downfall but my saving grace and the reason I passed the test with no obvious signs of dyslexia.
My conclusions (now):
The effect certain proteins and chemical structures have on my brain due to over-active opiate receptors and blood flow issues is profound and is highly likely to be the cause of memory deficits which are responsible for a tenancy towards dyslexia. Having a friend with ulcerative colitis who’s memory was also noted to be terrible but has drastically improved in the past 3 years while attempting to treat her condition through diet confirmed this suspicion for me that diet and brain function is linked. She said that she was also in the habit of making constant lists and notes for everything until she was encouraged to rely more on her brain. I don’t believe that she could have achieved a better memory simply through practice but instead through the actual improvement of her brain in the parts that are responsible for memory, and then having the encouragement to use this new improved brain.
A few resent reports state that 95% of the serotonin in the brain is actually produced by amoeba in the small intestine and since serotonin is highly responsible for correct blood flow in the brain it is not too hard a stretch of the imagination to link an upset intestinal flora in the digestive tract with memory deficits and depression. This has been my own personal experience after all depression is widely linked with a decreased memory facilities. I am not saying that all mental health issues are simply nutritional issues, I have no intentions in discrediting psychological theories but there do seem, especially in individuals such as myself, to be a connection between gut health and emotional well-being. I have even (but only at certain times in the past) suspected myself of having traits belonging with in the Asperger’s spectrum, which also seems to tie in with some theories you can find if you search for them.
I have a few reference points which confirm this for me. In what I like to refer to as the magic week, post gluten loading, I was overcome by a feeling of calmness and connectedness to the world. I felt at peace and for the first time seemingly ever, achieved a memory of a childhood event with a much greater emotional clarity. I relived a moment in my childhood, the feeling of soft autumn winds swaying leaves of gold in a quiet street from around the age of 8, I was at a relative’s house during the school holidays. I could taste the air and sense the precise feeling I had felt at the time. I proceeded to test myself, remembering the names of children in my primary school class that I had long forgotten and never thought I would ever be able to recall.
Usually long term memories feel like vague memories of photographs, or memories of remembering memories of memories. An ever fading cascade of the degradation of both fact and feeling. A glimpse or snapshot that allows for some facts and the analytic but not so much the emotion and feeling of an event to transpose through the ether. Retrieving the visceral taste and texture of a lived experience was never a possibility until this point. I even managed to teach myself that names of the months of the year in order, a task I had never quite managed before. I had both the capability and the confidence to test my new found cognitive abilities.
Then I realised something hugely important in the narrative of my existence. I have always been known as a very dry, restrained, unemotional sort of a person. Never getting excited about art or people or anything really and I never truly knew love. It felt more of a mass delusion than something real, something that actually wasn’t real, which is understandable given that I had never experienced it. I had plenty of girlfriends, and liked the majority of them very much but when they told me they loved me I could either respond with the truth or the more gentle approach, which was to lie.
That is, until it happened. I found a creature with whom I felt the deepest of admiration, who’s darkness was light and who’s flaws oozed sweetest perfection. Never before had I felt such excitement over the sight and sense of a person, at last I had encountered an entity for whom the production of compliments wasn’t a task but a desperately relentless pleasure. And it just so happened that at the time I was, to a certain extent, eating a diet which promoted the intake of meats and vegetables, and restrict the intake of processed food and gluten. The girl flew away on a pre-booked flight abroad, I drank lots of beer and soon enough I was yet again incapable of love. It was a beautiful tragedy and I soon came to appreciate the absurdity of a life which allows such a sheer magnitudes of sorrow to exist.
I feel as though the girl absurd was a trigger for the chemical/hormonal process involved in love that I simply would not have been able to process if I were in a previous or future cognitive state. I also believe that with out the use of an emotionally capable memory the presence of another being will simply not be able to spark deep and true emotions from with in ones own psyche. A person for whom excites you does so not because of who they are but because they trigger a learned response with in you which can only flourish when the memory of their divine beauty shines true.
Though to some it may seem grim, even dire to believe that one’s ability to love is dependent on the content of their digestive tract, for me it gives me hope for my own potential for emotional growth. I look forward to falling head over heals love again and maybe even being able to cry over the beauty of an artwork instead of judging it simply by the quality of it’s brush work and context of it’s references.
Just have to get the serotonin pumping again.
The future looks bright.