January 21st, 2006 was an extremely important day for me. That was the day I found out I am dyslexic, and started a never-ending fight. In the first grade I received an IEP (individualized education program, a written statement for a child with a learning disability that is written and revised in a meeting while keeping certain requirements of law and regulations) which is very rare to receive at such a young age. My parents were told that I would probably never read at a 6th grade reading level because my dyslexia is so severe. Now if you ask my peers, or even some of my teachers, most of them would never guess I have dyslexia. I’ve had lots of people ask me; “How did you overcome it?” Well I never got rid of it, heck it’s still a big part of me even as I write this essay. My mom says it’s because I have always been a fighter from the moment I was born. That I’ll hit the ground running whenever I’m faced with an problem or obstacle that seems to big to swallow. The thing is I’ve never really seen my dyslexia as a disability, but more as a opportunity to see life through different eyes then what my peers might see. Although most of the time I am working twice as hard as the rest of my peers just to keep up, all the hard work has shown me anyone can accomplish whatever they put their mind to as long as they have the right attitude. Multiple teachers, tutors, Special Ed people have told me that I am the rare exception to my “condition.” That usually Special Ed kids don’t receive 4.00s, or get good reviews from their teachers. My secret? I strive to show others that I can do amazing creative things with what I’m given. I am sad to say that not all dyslexics think this way. Some have seen their opportunity as an excuse to get out of work. If it were up to me I would stop calling Dyslexia a disability and start calling it an opportunity. Because this word this thing that we have doesn’t restrict us from doing anything we but our minds to. It teaches us different ways to learn and see the world differently than what our peers might see. This thing that someone has labeled as a disability, is really a strength to see the world more artistically. So hi, my name is Abby Lowry, and I don’t have a disability, but an opportunity.

(We asked Abby to elaborate on how she was able to overcome her challenge.  The following was her reply.)

What has helped me survive through these trials of mine are multiple things: Journaling, Therapy, prescribed medication from my doctor, an Emotional Support Animal, and being around my family

Firstly, I find it very helpful to write down anything and everything that I’ve been thinking and feeling. To have writing as an outlet is a very useful and helpful tool. Writing your feelings down is a personal way of communicating without having to share how you feel with others. Writing is a way to process and ponder all the things you’ve been feeling.

Secondly, Therapy. I use to think I had to be embarrassed about going to therapy, but there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. I think everyone should have a therapist, or at least someone they can go to so they can get things off their chest. Having a therapist is as important as having a doctor. One of the worst things you can do as a person with anxiety and/or depression is to keep to yourself. Holding everything in only makes a time bomb out of yourself, you think it’s for the best but really deep down it’s only causing you more pain than there needs to be. If I could give any advice to people who have struggled like me, I would tell them that there are people out there who care about you. There are people out there who want to help you! You don’t need to feel ashamed or embarrassed. You’re not the only one going through these challenges. If anything you should be proud of yourself for getting help from someone, because that takes courage and it means you’re trying to move forward with your life. I have learned so many things from therapy. It’s helped me develop into the person I am today. My therapist has helped give me tips on how I can better manage my anxiety and depression. For example, We’ve talked about changing our perspective on how we see things, If there’s something you don’t agree with about yourself then you can either change it or accept it — there’s no inbetween. We’ve talked about embracing who you are, to not worry so much, especially if it’s things you know you can’t change. She always reminds me to think positively and to not be so hard on myself. Setting goals for yourself everyday and reward yourself when you accomplish them is also very important and awarding. It’s important to look at yourself in the mirror and saying positive messages to yourself, the more you hear and speak positively the less you will hear negativity. Living a healthy lifestyle, spending time with nature, listening to music, and taking deep breaths are some of the things that’ve really helped me. My Therapist has also taught me how to identify my emotions. When identifying your emotions you have to ask yourself “why am I feeling this way?”, “What’s the underlying fear?” and “Is this emotional or logical reasoning?” . This method helps you to think through your emotions, and to ask yourself if what you’re feeling, or fearing, is valid. It’s important to ask yourself if this emotion is worth my time, and to always ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to help yourself. The list can go on and on… With these skills I’ve found many of them helpful. And although some of these skill have’t seemed to personally help me, I find some better than other. I’ve learned that some of these skills aren’t easy, some of these skills take time. With certain skills, you won’t see results automatically, you have to keep trying and working on them.

Thirdly, Getting an emotional support animal has helped me out a ton! I believe animals were put on this earth for a reason, and one of those reasons is to have them as a companion. I have a pet rabbit, named Quinn, and she can change my mood in a blink of an eye. She helps me see a light towards life, She helps me to not feel alone. She’s someone I can talk to and love. Having her is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.

And Lastly, being with your family and loved ones. There’s something about being with the people you love that makes you feel warm and bubbly inside. Family helps heal the loneliness inside your heart. Family is there to help you with anything you need, Family is there to talk with you, Family is there to love you for you.