People I don’t know ask me this question all the time. I assure them I am in fact OK, but they don’t believe me, and then they look at me funny. I wish there was something I could do to get the focus off my NLD symptoms and on my abilities instead. Or less on NLD and more on my abilities.
Archive for April, 2010
NLD makes conflicts, as one would expect, way more complicated. Conflicts are tough enough, I imagine, without NLD.
Here are some ways NLD makes conflicts, at least the ones I’ve been in, harder:
-I misread many facial expressions, as well as body language.
-I always think of the best comments and points after I’ve talked to someone.
-I have trouble rearranging things in my head.
-I’m sensitive to criticism.
-I don’t trust myself to respond to people’s comments.
-I have very few people who I know will absolutely come to my aide when I feel the challenges of a conflict.
-Growing up, I had no guidance from my parents, particularly on emotional issues.
And so I get very confused many times.
Back when I was in college, a female friend asked me to join her on a weekend road trip. We drove a few hours away to see her family. The family assumed, and she didn’t object to this, that me and this young woman were in a relationship. Through the whole weekend, I started noticing that the family was acting weird around us, and then the friend explained why, and started laughing. I did not find this funny, as I only thought of her as a friend. She was more and more scary–very clingy, and when the weekend was finally over, I didn’t talk to her again.
Which is kind of funny, because now the man I was interested in ignores me.
My point is that had I not had NLD, I’m sure I would have seen that this friend was “interested” sooner. The problem is, I can’t tell. I can’t figure out if someone likes me or doesn’t. It’s a subtle process, plus I was very lonely growing up, so my sense of social situations is seriously distorted. I have much to figure out still.
I enjoy not being in a relationship, but I also miss not having a person to share an affectionate bond with. Sometimes I think people think that we with NLD (and related conditions) are not interested in relationships, and it’s not true. We want to explore relationships. In my case, I need a large amount of alone time, but I enjoy my friends. I particularly love writing to them, and reading their delightful paragraphs that they send in return. I feel from writing what someone without an LD like this might feel from a conversation. And writing is a wonderful conversation. Yet on holidays, I wish I had a person with me to help me survive family gatherings. It could be a sister, best friend, or boyfriend–it doesn’t matter. Just so I would register as semi-normal on the days that the normal-police come out in great volume. If you’ve ever tried being single at a family gathering, it’s an emotional challenge. I am without children, but I have a dog. I find my dog relentless, so I’m not sure I could deal with a child, unless I had an SO who was understanding of my NLD issues. Yet I love seeing happy kids. And I’d be sad if I never get to at least be an aunt. I wonder, though, about our society finding fault against socially-awkward mothers. I think it does. My socially-challenged mom got brushed aside. She is very avoidant, and doesn’t like kids, though.
The above is a term an old friend used when I was into a person who did not share my interest. The same thing happened recently. (Not super-recently, but within recent memory.) I met someone through a common activity who I couldn’t help feeling drawn to, from the first time we saw each other. I’m at the age where there’s steady pressure to be married and have children. Neither change has happened in my life, but I see it all around me. This young man seemed to have some qualities that (what I think of as) a good dad would have. I was probably also falling for Freud’s issues–wanting a parent figure in a significant other. The feelings were not shared, or even revealed. I saw him recently by chance. It was not the hoping-to-run-into-him narrative that I imagined. Instead, he looked cowardly and walked away. This person is older than me, but I think relationship-phobic. A minor sense of ouch ensued as I walked away. It’s hard to meet people. When you have NLD, it’s really hard. The challenge does not stop. At some point, one reaches an age where everyone else is dating someone. Which is why I’m so glad Lady Gaga is saying it’s fine to be single. I love listening to her. Some days in the mornings, I have an “I need to listen to Lady Gaga” feeling, so I lose myself in the songs–which describe things I’ve never done, like dancing at clubs–while I do housework.
For as long as I can remember–ever since my first health lesson in school–I have lived off health information. I love medical terms, the features of conditions, symptoms, and precautions. If I didn’t have such trouble in math and math-based science, I would have gone into something medical. Unfortunately me and chemistry didn’t hit it off. But I can’t get enough health-related reading. And I go through obsessions. I once read, in Marcia Rubenstein’s “NLD Superstars” (this is a short title; the real title is longer) that many kids with NLD are very into health-monitoring. When I mentioned to my therapist that I’m sort of obsessed with health, she nodded, I think in agreement. I think reading about health distracts me from depressing subjects (like long-term unemployment despite many talents). It also gives me a sense of control over my medical issues, which helps me to deal with having NLD plus a chronic, well-treated condition. I’m sure I’ll return to the health topic many times. It’s fun.
My whole family is like 90% socially awkward. I dread family get-togethers. I don’t usually feel included in the conversations, and the activities are almost never things I enjoy. If I am included in the conversations, I am put on the spot. Summer’s coming up, and this means some relatives will travel here. I’m not really that pleased about the schedule-cluttering. My summer is busy enough between volunteer work, internships (both working at home on projects and needing to get places for shorter-term projects, as well) and summer school. All too soon, I will be a grad student, and in the work-study program. Family events are hard because I don’t get to leave when I want to. I have to wait for someone to drive me. I’m also on medicine that makes me tired, so I don’t like being out too late. Nor will I have time to travel and visit relatives. My dog is my first priority.
I am so bad at letting go of bad experiences. When people say “move on,” NLD makes it really hard to figure out how to do this. Thankfully my therapist helps me with some of the nonveral-behavior translation, but I can’t help feeling a) like something of a stranger to my feelings, and b) as though I can’t separate myself from some of the really strong emotions. It’s a funky paradox which sometimes results in inertia, or a still sense of negativity. Part of this comes from living most of my life depressed. I grew out of the worst stuff, and my medicine is very successful in stopping the depressed feelings. Yet like an addict, I still have the mood disorder, and it causes me to over-tolerate poisonous feelings. NLD is a master of fixation, so I also “fixate on the negative.” With the help of my therapist, I’ve gotten much more positively-focused, but I have so much emotional work to do still. I need to somehow use the NLD’s tenancity to welcome in acceptance of who I am, and to recognize how important my individual talents are.
I am very proud of activists who take up the NLD-and-related-conditions cause. I hope to do more in this vein. The world needs each of us to. Our society at present does not think accurately about the spectrum. I hope that by writing about my experiences, I can help change this. More people need to talk about what it’s really like to live with these conditions. I don’t live near much support, so I know how important the online discussions are.
How have I let go in the past, one could reasonably ask? One thing that’s worked for me: comparing the dwelled-on experience to a negative stimulus that’s really gross, such as an infestation. That got me to stop constantly thinking about a traumatic experience, finally. We with NLD have to get very good at going on from the bad things, because we have more difficult lives, which means learning to relax is also essential.
At first I didn’t want to relax. I was too uptight to even consider it, but now I’m working really hard taking small steps, such as drinking mason jars full of tea, so I can give my system a good chance of ridding the toxins. This is ongoing. Keep up the good work, and don’t give up.
I’ve tried many strategies to search for work. As I’ve said before, there’s a ton of roulette in the NLD spectrum job search process. I’ve been to about 50 interviews, mostly for paid positions, but also some volunteer. Though I continue to look for actual positions, I now market myself as a research and writing project specialist. I do this primarily by sending out emails with my resume (that took me several hours to rewrite).
I have plenty of work now, but it’s all unpaid, in the academic sector, where I help professors with their research. I love locating sources and use bibliographic software to ease the hair-splitting mechanical hell of creating a reference list. The software helps, but I’m still training myself to be a better computer user. So I have the unpaid stuff happening, but it really ebbs and flows. It totally lacks structure, and usually it’s only one project that I do, then I have to find other ones.
Freelancing is tough to manage time-wise. While I’ll work with it, what I want is a regular pay check and a permanent position. I deserve these opportunities, but so far all I find are unpaid things.
Ever since I was a kid, I’d just plain worry about my homework and put it off. It didn’t matter if I understood (many times I did except for math), because I just felt so consumed by general worries. Today I got asked to do an interview for another unpaid opportunity.
This time I didn’t agree to do the interview right away. Instead I asked the supervisor to please describe the position. What I said (through email) is below. Feel free to adapt it to your employment-searching needs (this gives me an excuse to check email, as it were). First, do your own introduction, then proceed:
I am hoping to find out the following:
Is this internship more on the “frontlines” or more “behind-the-scenes”?
I ask because I have a specific learning disability called [use the best words for how you see your diagnosis]. Someone meeting me will likely see signs of it [add your own words]. Despite this different external appearance, I have found that I do excellent applied work [briefly list your skill areas–research; editing; writing; et cetera]. I understand that the duties of many internships are more along the lines of being a hostess, receptionist or go-to person. If these skills are what the internship would be centered on, than I probably would not be the best fit, but if it is more applied work, then I would welcome the honor of seeing about possible next steps. Thank you in advance for your time and attention.
I am grateful for this word. I’ve been looking around for a term that would summarize the nonverbal communication troubles, which are indicative of NLD (or a related condition like AS). “Dyssemia” accomplishes this need. As I read over the dyseemia checklists, I saw myself as a struggling child, and now as a young adult. I’m going to use “dyssemia” in my self-introductions now.
My speech prosody makes saying certain things really tough, so I’ll need to get used to pronouncing this word. To this end, a phrase I’ve been having trouble saying lately is “gross motor skills.” My voice catches on words and phrases here and there. It’s hard, but I’m trying to train myself to smile more. I don’t want to smirk, but if I can manage to smile, it looks less gloomy and grim.
This disorder is a constant set of challenges. I’m sighing right now. I have struggles within myself, and then other people struggle to understand me in a best-case. Worst-case is when someone doesn’t even try to understand. Having said this, I recently realized something very useful: when strangers see me, they see the contradiction between my motor skills and verbal skills, and not knowing me or my history, they don’t know what to think.
I hope more people can learn about NLD and similar problems so we don’t have to feel misunderstood as much. We have much to contribute to society and the world if we and those around us encourage our strengths while helping us deal with our weaknesses as needed.