Sunday 13 October 2019

Nerd Church - Dyscalculia (Part 2: The Real World)

Dyscalculia is a maths learning difficulty that affects a lot of things that other people find easy and/or straight-forward.

Today, I figured I'd give you a real-life example of how Dyscalculia affects me.

You can catch up on my first post about Dyscalculia, which includes a lot of general info., here.

station clock with blurred affect and a variety of words, including: stress, schedule, busy, late, delay, time management, overtime, and rush
Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

A real-world Dyscalculia example: catching the goddamn train

Catching the train is a military expedition for me, combining all of the things I struggle most with - money, time, direction.

Added to that is my Anxiety.

I've talked about Anxiety a lot before, but what you need to know here is that I still have my 'normal' Anxiety - the sh** that I deal with when it's acting up - in these situations...

...AND the natural nervousness I feel when doing something that my Dyscalculia makes it hard to do is amplified by the Anxiety.

Which makes it more difficult to do the thing, making me even more Anxious and getting me caught in a feedback-loop.

So, yeah, me and trains have some issues.

Before I set out for the station:

I have to check the times before I leave home - because there aren't that many trains from my town, and they all tend to be at very specific times.

So instead of 16.15, they'll be at 16.13.

Because life is like that sometimes.

If I miss one, I sometimes have to wait an hour or more for the next one, so checking the times is a must.

At the station:

I have to buy a ticket before I get on the train under current laws. Yay.

Since I live in a rural town, the station is unmanned and I have to use the machine.

I have to put in my departure and arrival destinations, which I type in so that's OK.

I then have to select the type of ticket, which is in a grid-type set-up, and has different conditions and prices. 

So I have to really concentrate.

Winnie the Pooh tapping his head - 'think'
Via Giphy

...It's too easy to hit the wrong one, thinking that it's the right one, because the numbers move, or I mis-judge where I'm supposed to press.

It's a bit like playing a game of whack-a-mole that only you can see.

I could end up accidentally buying a ticket that I don't want and I can't afford to waste money like that. 

Especially not when train prices can get £100+ levels of expensive.

Chandler from Friends: I'm gonna miss being able to afford food
Via Giphy

I'm terrified I'll do something wrong, and my Anxiety is usually screaming at me.

I end up checking the details so. many. times.

Then I pay. It's card-only, and there's always a chance I'll end up locking myself out of the account. 

If I'm lucky, I get the pin 1st try.

If I don't, the 2nd try is more nervous, but I usually take a deep breath and manage it - slow is better because it means no mistakes.

3rd try, if it's needed is crunch time. I hate it. I don't have another card to pay with - it's this or nothing.

(This is even more nerve-wracking if I'm trying to get back to my town from somewhere, cos I might end up stuck in the city or wherever with a frozen-out card.)

As I mentioned last week, even if I remember my pin correctly, sometimes something goes wrong with the actual input.

I often see the numbers as being in the wrong places on the keypad - only I don't know that they're wrong until after my pin's been rejected.

Most commonly, I'll be seeing a mirror image of what the keypad should look like - so I'll push the opposite side to the one I actually want.

Sometimes it just point-blank looks like someone's stuck the numbers on randomly - which I know, objectively, shouldn't be, so I kind of have to force my brain to re-assess reality!

Like: 'Hi brain, would someone really put the numbers in a random order?'

'Looks like it.'

'Maybe we should look again.'

Clefairy (Pokemon) pushing random buttons. Captioned: I have no idea what I'm doing.
Via Giphy

'OK. What do you suggest?'

'Well, logically the number one would be the first number on the left. So we can work out where the other numbers are from there.'

'OK, I still think it's at the bottom, but we'll try it your way. Which one's the left?'

'...I have no idea. Hang on, I have a freckle on my right hand, we'll work it out from there!'

On the train:

I have to leap to get onto the train because the gap from the platform at my station is like 2ft, and I'm only a little over 5ft over all.

That's not a Dyscalculia thing, no, but it's an Anxiety thing, and a 'I'm no good at long-jump/high-jump' thing!

Brendon Urie from ME! Taylor Swift video, leaping out of a window and catching an umbrella, Mary-Poppins-style
Via Giphy

So, assuming I've made the literal leap that my petite legs have to make, I'm now on the train.

And I have to somehow get off at the right stop.

I don't automatically recognise the different train stations, especially if something's changed - like there's a really noticeable billboard ad that wasn't there before or they've repaired something, or even if the trees look different - so I have to rely on reading the station signs.

That's OK when I can see the sign, but when the train's full as hell, I can't always see out the window over other people.

(I'm short, remember?)

There's one stop in particular (before the stop for Cardiff - the city - which is normally where I'm trying to go) which I feel like I should get off at, because as you pull into it, it looks like it should be a bigger station than it is.

So, yeh, I have to remember to read the signs before I get off the train!

At my stop:

I usually follow the herds of people out of the station - because there's no way I'd find the exit on my own - and then I have to try to find the place I'm going to.

This is more stressful if I'm time-constricted, because I don't want to miss whatever it is I'm going to, or let people down by being late.

If there's no time-limit, I'm free to wander around 'til I find the place. Which I usually do eventually, more by luck and keeping to populated streets (like shopping areas,) than anything else. 

These areas are also more likely to have maps for lost visitors, not that I find reading maps easy, but sometimes it's useful to know where tf you are!

Katy Perry: So lost
Via Giphy

The thing is, my default state is 'hopelessly lost' so actually being lost - so long as I don't have to be somewhere in particular by a certain time - isn't really a big deal!

So, yeah... catching a train? A little bit stressful!

Are there everyday things that you struggle with?
Talk to me! 😀💬

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Last updated: 27th Dec 2019


  1. Wow, this seems like a very tiring day, Cee! I guess the everyday things that I struggle with all have to do with my anxiety. Things like reminding myself that I won’t throw up and embarrass myself in front of a lot of people, is stuff I have to deal with.

    1. Again, as someone who has thrown up and embarrassed herself in front of a lot of people - I can confirm that the thought is worse than the reality!

  2. You have shared a detailed review of this book. I have not heard about this book before. Thank you for sharing x

    1. Um... this isn't a book review...?

      But thanks for the comment!


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