NLD, Spatial Confusion, Stress, Anguish

My high school over-valued sports.  If someone wasn’t good at competitive sports, they didn’t matter.  Kids with coordination troubles were made fun of K-12, which is one reason I eventually dropped out.  Even going to a gym can be a tough experience.  I didn’t grow up playing sports.  My university’s sports complex was a very daunting place for me, a non-athlete, to visit.  The different facilities’ varying hours really confused me, as did finding them.  I felt stupid as I walked around trying to follow the signs.  It was one of those times when a simple task was made near-impossible because of NLD.  I was already stressed–I take on too much–so I couldn’t totally focus.  I just really wanted to try working out.  It’s spring, and I need the stress relief, but I had the distinct sense I didn’t fit into the gym setting.  I want to return, but need to get over my embarrassment first.

I’ll return at a different time in the hopes of not seeing the same staff.  I felt embarrassed in the locker room, and very self-conscious, like a teenager.  A health club would be a little easier, but I have to do what’s within my student budget.  I felt so embarrassed getting lost.  I wish people wouldn’t act like it was dumb to get lost.  Visual-spatial disorientation is a truly hard thing.  We aren’t ignoring our surroundings.  We just see things differently.  It’s so hard having NLD.  I wish people would have compassion.  In this case, no one reacted in mean ways, but I just felt so alone.  I was the only confused one in a place where everyone else was so comfortable.  I wanted to go somewhere and cry, I was so stressed out, but I really wanted to get some exercise.  However, I have to return when the rooms are open.  It was hard just going into the gym building.  With no logic, I thought, if I can get here, I can exercise, but it was not the case today.  Another day, hopefully, it will be, and I won’t feel so overwhelmed by NLD, and people’s reactions to it.  Oh my goodness.

I sometimes think people’s reactions are harder to deal with than NLD.  When home, I still have visual-spatial confusion (i.e., not seeing things right in front of me, forgetting where I put something, trouble getting everything together before I leave, trouble fitting everything in my bags, et cetera), but nowhere near the stress I feel when out advocating for myself.


5 Responses to “NLD, Spatial Confusion, Stress, Anguish”

  1. Zoe Says:

    Hi Hannah I am in college and I have NVLD. I chose to go to a very small college with a very small campus to help diminish the visual-spatial problems of navigating the campus. I like to workout in the gym and I find it helps a lot with stress relief. I go in the very early morning as soon as the gym opens because I am sensitive to sound and the gym gets loud when it is crowded. In the mornings there are few people in the gym and near silence. If you can remember how you got to the gym last time, then it may help you to write out instructions of how to get to the gym. Keep the instructions some place you will remember and bring them with you next time you go. Also you can probably look up the hours that the facilities are open online. If you keep a day planner, you can schedule gym time into your daily or weekly schedule. That’s what I do.
    I get stressed going to the gym when I have to think about what to pack in my gym bag and remember where I left my gym clothes. So I keep everything that I take with me to the gym in a bag, so when I am ready to go to the gym, I just grab my bag of gym stuff. When I get back from the gym I put clean clothes and my water bottle in the bag for next time. I do the same thing for my classes. I keep a bag with all my notebooks, pencils and textbooks in it. It is a big bag and heavy, and I know it is a waste of energy to carry all my books around with me all the time, even if I don’t need them that particular day, but that way I never forget to bring something or lose one of my textbooks. Most people don’t realize how NVLD makes even the simplest tasks so much more difficult.

  2. Me2 Says:

    Reading what the 2 of you just wrote is like reading a page from my own diary. I am also not an athlete and gyms daunt me. I just tried joining a new gym after years of gym-hatred. I constantly get lost in the gym and prefer to go when there are less people. I lost my combination lock the other day and if I ever take things out of my bag to use it for something else (like going away on a business trip) I end up forgetting something the next time. I have tremendous anxiety packing and very often do not see things that are directly in front of me. I learned to play it off humorously around people, but recently I worked in a restaurant and my co-workers seriously thought I was an airhead because of the troubles I had on the job locating things and remembering things that were spoken or done in front of me. At the time, none of them knew I had a graduate degree. I’m not an idiot. I just have these problems and it is comforting to see that maybe I’m not so abnormal if others have the exact same feelings as me. It can be so frustrating at times. I’ve never been diagnosed with non-verbal learning disability but I strongly identify with the things you are saying here. Thank you for sharing.

    • hannahcamille Says:

      Sounds like you have visual-spatial learning challenges, if not NLD, but were not diagnosed. Glad you found this blog–your comments sound very much like what I go through. I don’t feel totally comfortable in gyms, either, and all the stuff one has to bring provokes anxiety, as does maintaining physical balance–I too am not an athlete. As you point out, sadly, so many don’t understand. And like you, I, despite my advanced education and intellectual skills, get misjudged all the time, too. People also tend to act like I don’t exist. Yes, so frustrating!

  3. Clementine Says:

    My high school placed a huge emphasis on athletics. I attempted soccer, softball, and swimming as a youth, but my apparent lack of ability led me to quit each activity. I enjoy swimming for recreation and cheering for my favorite sports teams, but I do not enjoy competitive sports. The recording of scores and plays blatantly proves my ineffectiveness. It’s never fun to be the worst player on a team. Now I tend to engage in physical activities that you can appreciate at a variety of skill levels. I enjoy hiking, mountain biking, swimming, and skiing.

    I don’t really like gyms. The sounds, machines, and athletes are daunting. However, I usually go when it’s not crowded and only do activities that are within my skill level. Still, exercising can be a stressful experience. I often get lost in the gym because it is a multi-story building with rooms on various floors and wings. I try to keep all the things I need in my gym bag. The other day I left my combination lock on a locker so I had to buy a new lock which I left on a locker again (luckily I remembered and was able to go back and grab it before the gym closed). I planned to swim and remembered my swimsuit, but forgot my flip-flops. I now just keep my flip-flops in my gym bag. For me, the best part of the gym is the sauna. I find it relaxing and like to read while working up a sweat.

    Whenever I change purses, I tend to forget to transfer all my personal items. Usually, I just use the same bag, but sometime it is fun to go out and use a small, cute bag. I often forget my wallet and keys. When I forget lip gloss or hand lotion I feel very irritated by my lips’ and skin’s dryness.

    At work, I may forget to bring an important document to a meeting because I brought the wrong folder or notebook. My coworkers and friends often try to make suggestions, but they don’t understand how challenging it is for me to organize things. Organization is an overwhelming and stressful activity for me. It requires a lot of thought and concerted effort.

    I’m glad to learn the phrase “visual-spatial confusion” because it describes not seeing something that is literally right in front of me. It is very frustrating when I “lose” an item. It’s always a relief when I look at a place for the second or third time and finally “see” it. Other people don’t seem to comprehend how I can’t “see” things like that. When I “lose” things, the best thing I can do is to try to slow down and revisit all the places I’ve already tried. When I get anxious about it, searching is a lost cause.

    Thank you for starting this blog. It’s both supportive and cathartic.

    • hannahcamille Says:

      I so agree with much of what you write. I too dislike competitive sports, but enjoy regular exercise in activities that I’ve found work well. Like you I enjoy swimming, but find it tough to remember all the swimming supplies. I’ve forgotten things like towels, and have had accessories stolen in locker rooms. Still the activity is a wonderful one. Though I feel we with visual-spatial challenges should be given discounts on locker rentals! Like you, I also find it difficult to stock my going-away bags. And I’ve found that people without these difficulties, unless they know what it’s like, don’t really get it. Sigh. I feel irritated without my mainstay accessories, too. One, as you mention, is lip gloss or balm.

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