The Happy Steps Calendar: Your Journey of Daily Living
An Interview with Happy Steps Creator Yvonne Williams
Last year, Yvonne Williams came to speak at the Adult Support Group and we were so inspired by her story that we asked to interview her for our blog. We wanted to know more about her story, the genesis for The Happy Steps Calendar and how its come to help people like her who live with the challenges of dyslexia and anxiety. It’s a wonderful story of personal triumph and the importance of putting one foot in front of the other!
We are running a campaign to celebrate the launch of The Happy Steps Calendar. Enter your email and be in for the chance to win 1 of 10 Calendars we are giving away for free in the run-up to Christmas. All you have to do is enter your details and answer our simple question before the 23th December!
Yvonne Williams grew up in Wandsworth Common where she still lives today. She was always aware that she had some form of disability. However, she went undiagnosed throughout her schooling. It was only when she was doing her Counsellor Training that she received a dyslexia diagnosis, during her final year in 2000.
It was later again when she was studying Mental Health and Social Care at London Southbank University that her dyspraxia was recognised and diagnosed.
“BEING DIAGNOSED WAS A HUGE RELIEF BECAUSE IT MEANT THAT ALL I WAS EXPERIENCING WAS REAL.”
On top of that, Yvonne has also struggled with bouts of anxiety and depression throughout her life too. At times, she was so overwhelemed that she had immense difficulty leaving her house. One particular Sunday, she couldn’t decide where she should do her shopping, stuck deciding between 3 stores in different locations. It took her 3 hours before she could overcome the agonising procrastination and eventually leave.
She did it by cutting up pieces of cloth and writing motivating statements on them to get her moving: ‘It’s going to be OK. You have to be strong.’ She tied these to her wrists while also repeating little sayings to herself; ‘I have learning disabilities. I have to be determined. I have to be strong.’ She created these prompts to help her cope. She then drew 2 feet on a piece of paper and Happy Steps was born.
Happy Steps Is About Self-Care.
Combining the two separate components of Happy Steps, the emotion and the action, became the key that helped unlock Yvonne’s anxiety, at that moment: ‘I had to put myself in a happy state in order to leave my house and then I had to make the first step outside my house.’
Yvonne is keen to add that is doesn’t have to big steps. Anxiety can immobilise you, the prompts are there as an initial boost to help you get up and make a small step if that’s all you can muster.
All of Yvonne’s self-motivational products are to help you. The Calendar is an aid too for your journey of daily living. Yvonne says it’s important that you plan and schedule all of your time, especially leisurely time for exercise, to see friends or a whole day at home by yourself. Planning to remind yourself that you are doing your best and to keep being brave.
The motivation can come in different ways and can come in useful when you’re outside of your home. Yvonne uses a security blanket in public. When she feels people are discriminating her, she repeats to herself ‘Be brave. It’ll be OK.’ She’s now at a point where just looking at the blanket makes her feel better. She hopes other people suffering with anxiety will get to that point too and that her calendars and the bracelets that come with it will assist them on their journey.
Happy Steps Is About Hope.
Yvonne is keen to say that there is nothing wrong with having mental health issues or disabilities and how vital it is to talk about it. You don’t have to be isolated – you don’t have to be alone. There are people like you out there. It’s so important that you share your experience because you will find solidarity and support.
“In life, you’ve got to learn how to care for yourself.”
Yvonne will soon be realising her new book called ‘Living with Dyslexia, Mental Health and Learning Difficulties.’ The book is full of drawings that illustrate the importance of communication, specifically asking for help when you need it, and prompts to help you get advice if you need it.