There are two items that I have watched lately that I would like to recommend that you watch : One is on BBC iPlayer and it is a documentary for Mental Health Awareness week about Nadiya Hussain and her anxiety and the other is a film called ‘Wonder’ that I watched yesterday, on Netflix.
Nadiya came to prominence as the winner of The Great British Bake Off in 2015 and since then, she has carved herself a TV career both as a presenter and as a guest. She is both beautiful and natural but she famously thanked the Bake Off for opening her world, as she had virtually been a recluse prior to that. As she has made several TV programmes, beyond cookery, I presumed that she had overcome her anxiety but this documentary showed how paralysing it still makes her and the measures that she takes to be able to function , with her anxiety. In this documentary she seeks help for the first real time and we see her working with a counsellor and meeting other sufferers. We follow her along her treatment journey and I loved how open she was about her anxiety and how debilitating she finds it. It was not a preachy documentary, she was as natural as I have seen her in other programmes and this time, we also met her husband to learn how it feels to be the spouse of an anxiety sufferer.
I do not suffer with anxiety, but I know several people close to me who do, and this gave me a useful, non-frightening insight into the condition and how it might feel. I saw with my own eyes how the simple suggestion of Nadiya spontaneously going to London by train, affected her and the relief that she felt when nothing bad happened to her, as she reached Trafalgar Square. I always say that Joshua has trained me to be good at spontaneity and that I do not need to plan my life, but I know people who challenged by that and need to know the plan in order to function.
I selected a film called ‘Wonder’ pretty much by accident, as I had never heard of it and I adored it. It follows a young boy with facial disfigurement, due to Treacher Collins syndrome, and his struggles to fit in at high school after being home-schooled by his mother ( Julia Roberts) He is bullied for the way he looks and of course, he gradually wins friends and wins respect. I was however, most moved by his relationship with his big sister who had wished for a baby brother on her 4th birthday and from when August arrived, she was pushed into the background on the family, always taking second place to her brother who had endless surgical procedures and he took all of their parents’ focus. She also struggled at school and felt guilty for pretending to be an only child, but finds her own way to gain attention from her parents, by taking up drama. I laughed and cried during this film, which is the best way for me to judge a good movie, and it was so well acted too. I urge you to watch it if you have not done already.
I am always fascinated by any programmes that take the sibling’s perspective of living in a family with a child with a disability, as it must be such a difficult role to play and it is sadly a role that nobody plays in our family with Joshua.They seem to be incredibly mature, caring individuals but they can seem to be often emotionally damaged by the experience too. I know that many of the staff who work with children/ young people with learning difficulties, often share that they have a sibling or child with a similar issue, which gives them special empathy in their work. I often wish that Joshua had a brother or sister to look out for him, to defend him and to love him, as he would reward that sibling with so much love and adoration.