Dyspraxic traits Mental Health

Dyspraxia & Anxiety – A year long perspective

I’m starting this post on the first anniversary of receiving the report of my assessment for Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), the clinical term for dyspraxia.

My report was very conclusive:
 ‘He demonstrated great difficulties with coordinating gross motor skills, fine motor skills, balance, visual-motor skills and sensory processing. These significantly impact on his ability to participate in a range of daily living activities including self-care, productivity at home, work and leisure.’

This brought home to me that there is too much dyspraxia-associated anxiety in my life. My assessor told me that many people with dyspraxia experience anxiety because of their problems coping with a world which doesn’t allow for their needs. The NHS website confirms the link between dyspraxia and mental health conditions.

Many practical aspects of life make me very anxious. One example is that my hands don’t work as well as they should. They have no physical defects; the problem is that they won’t necessarily go where I want them to. And when they finally reach the right position, they don’t usually do what I tell them. This means that I can’t properly undertake physical activities such as sport and DIY. If I have to try them, I get very scared.

Some years ago a group of us at work volunteered to paint the inside of a community hall. I still cringe at my pathetic efforts to put the paint in the right place. The warden of the hall was very patient with us but I kept getting things wrong. Luckily my colleagues were much more capable than me. and overpainted my mistakes.My poor practical skills have led to my house becoming a mess. Family and friends have helped me but the mess still remains. I don’t always maintain the improvements they’ve introduced.

I know that I should try some DIY, and there are no doubt many instructional videos on YouTube. I know that people just ‘have a go’ at difficult things and succeed, but I can’t persuade myself to even try. The consequences could be worse than the situation is now.And that’s why my house is in such a horrible state. I am ashamed of it and worry about what people will think if they come in.

My anxiety makes it virtually impossible to ring up tradespeople to get them to do jobs. I know they will ask me questions I don’t know the answer to. Typically for a dyspraxic, I find it difficult to answer sudden unexpected questions. However, I recently had a positive experience with one of the on-line trades sites. That is progress.I would be interested to know how other people cope with their lack of practical skills.

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  1. I am useless at any practical stuff. My father was a mechanical engineer and was always bemused when I just couldn’t work out how to take something apart or put something together. I think also as a woman my spatial processing is not as good as most men’s, I always have to have the map facing the same direction that I am going in for instance. My approach is ask someone else to do it to save all the frustration (and quite often swearing) when I can’t fathom it out. I, like you, have skills which I am better at and I think it’s best to concentrate on those and get help with the others.

  2. Great article. I recognise a lot of what you have described in my daughter who gets very stressed by her inability to do physical activities that others her age take for granted. Doesn’t do much for your self-esteem to always be the person that no one in the entire school year wants to partner with for PE and games.

  3. Hi there. I feel my anxiety was cumulative but very very much fed by inner unfirgiveness and huge rage. My whole world was a ball of anger and unforgiveness to others; in my workd where my job just meant I was not fast enough,; I gave up many jobs and eventually worked alone. I believe this for so long due to my Dyspraxia mot being diagnosed (bit like you) until I finally went private @ 58. That’s just only 2 months ago.
    My anxiety remains now that all this anger & unforgiveness; towards myself has basically melted away. My old job as a nurse was totally wrong for me: and I always had big pockets as an Agency RGN :
    one for the drug keys that sometimes went home with & another for volumes of notes on each patient! Boy; was I conscientious and boy did I struggle with huge workloads & with no idea what on earth was wrong my anxiety levels were high
    As was my use of alcohol to unwind after work!
    Now it is my anxiety only
    and I feel such joy and gratitude to be free from so much anger. It us my deep gratitude that now helps my anxiety to finally chip by chip soothe it away by trying to be kind and PATIENT with myself & Others. It’s undoing decades of it as just a learnt response in me that
    I’m now going to work on..
    Slowly & patiently as I can.
    Mine is to do with stress and trying to go faster than I am able &
    Re-doing my whole life
    Around all the aspects that made me so exhausted:
    Ie driving…leads to exhaustion…leads to great anxiety in me….leads to needing a good huge glass of wine.. leads to even more anxious depression.
    I will try now to get physio to learn to Enjoy exercise for 1st time in my life…
    Thank the Lord for knowing now what was so “wrong with me”!! The relief is an indescribable mix of feelings from suppressed self- rage all these years.
    I’m now able to laugh again.. mainly at myself..not nastily as I used to but with far more self-compassion.
    Also I don’t feel the same towards all the bullies who I felt were better me…as I feel equal to everyone now. A Diagnosis is a Great leveller for years of low self esteem. That starts to melt away also.


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Ian was diagnosed with dyspraxia in 2018, aged 57. He was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder a few years earlier. Ian lives in Croydon in south London and works as a civil servant
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