“Social Anorexia”

I’m socially anorexic. I don’t have an eating disorder, but I go for long periods without connecting to others. When I do, I freak out markedly.

In social situations, I feel a loss of control. I hate talking in public. I think constantly of the next social situation I’ll be in, and how awkward, if not depressed, I’ll feel.

Part of me grieves the social removal and pain I struggle from. And part of me is just as used to it. Since I can do fine on my own, I don’t question it.

But I know at the end of each day, I am alone. If I’m not literally alone, I’m alone within my socially-awkward family. I’m not sure which is more difficult. Fortunately I have an awesome furry friend who keeps me company, but an animal can’t talk. Not sure how I’ll get out of these patterns, or if I will. I do beat myself up for it, though.

Please have compassion for our NLD social struggles. We can’t help them, and they’re not our fault. Thanks for listening, everyone. I look forward to your feedback.

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8 Responses to ““Social Anorexia””

  1. Bonnie Says:

    Hannah,
    I have a soon to be 15 year old son that also suffers from NVLD and the same type of feelings you talk about wrestling with that you encounter in social situations. I have know he has had NVLD since very early on probally age 7. He has such a hard time socially and even academically. I just feel so lost as to how I can help him and it seems you have a gift at verbalizing your feelings and can really explain how it feels and is and all the things I am desperately trying to figure out so I can help him be happy, healthy and successful in life.

    See I am a very SUPER outgoing type and seeing him come home and not have any friends and seeing how painful it is for him to try and fit in (just becaus most times) I try to push friends onto him or try to talk for him , I now know is wrong and just not helpful. It just is that we are two very different people and I view being all alone as being lonely then I get all scared he will be lonely and depressed and he will get suicidal, because we have a history of that in my family. I am so scared and I just want some guidance on especially the social component of this disease also like he is in 9th grade and he normally in middle school did his work, it may not havbe been great but he did it. This year its like he has been not turning in homework and he has been slacking yet he says he is doing all he can. Many times he just wants to come home and be away from us and go up to his room and be alone or sleep alot. Is this normal? What can I do to help him. Is me making him come down and spend time with me, his step dad, brother and sister sensor overload? I have so many questions. Sorry. If you can PLEASE help me. Your NVLD is a gift whether you know it or not. You could end up writing books to help parents or doing seminars or being on tv. You just seem so together and able to share your knowledge. Thanks again.

    • hannahcamille Says:

      Hi Bonnie,
      Thanks for your note. Your comments remind me of a friend’s son, who tends to spend lots of time alone. Maybe doing small group activities (that center around his interests) could help him feel more comfortable. It’ll take some trial and error. Don’t worry if some things don’t work out. It sounds like his anxiety level is high. He may need private tutoring in school, and maybe a study group. Hopefully his teachers are encouraging him. He may need new homework strategies–small steps, lots of breaks, extended deadlines, alternatives when tasks are very visual-spatial, more progress conferences. He might really benefit from owning a dog or cat. I don’t know if that’s possible, but it tends to increase confidence, promote responsibility, and reduce social anxiety. I worry that he might be experiencing bullying or other negative treatment from kids at school. Or maybe he feels like he can’t deal with the social stuff due to rejection in the past. Also, he should work on the same bed and wake up times every day. The biological clock can get offset very easily with NLD. Feel free to write again. I’ll try and help. Thanks.

  2. Sera Rivers Says:

    Hello,

    I am the mother of a teenage boy with NLD. I just came across your blog while researching for my next blog topic.

    This post made me so sad. I know how it feels to feel socially awkward. I have NEVER felt like I fit in even though I do not have NLD. I think most people do.

    My son, Indigo, had a hard time getting along with other children when he was growing up and group settings could be disastrous as all the stimulation of noise and people, etc. overwhelmed him. But we learned over the years to cut negative people and people who refused to “get it” out of our lives.

    I pushed Indigo to socialize just as i still push myself to socialize. There are many people out there who celebrate diversity. Perhaps joining a social community in your town like a writing group or reading club or something that you love doing might help you overcome your anxiety.

    My best to you. šŸ™‚

    • hannahcamille Says:

      Hi,
      Thanks for your note and ideas. You’re right–we all have social uncertainty. One problem NLD causes is it shows up in our anxious appearances, v. people without it are usually better at hiding negative emotions. And yes, cutting out negative influences is important. If someone doesn’t get it, then it’s probably good to find other company. Of course, that’s not always possible (i.e., when family doesn’t get it), but we can distance ourselves and limit contact to short visits. I’m working on the community activities. It’s hard where I live, though, because the public transportation isn’t great, but I do have regular contact with people in my work, so that’s helping me on the right track. Fun activities would be good, too.

    • hannahcamille Says:

      Your son is very fortunate to have your loyal support and help in creating positive environments. Congratulations to you for recognizing his difficulties and supporting him as he struggles with serious sensory issues and NLD.

      You make a good point, that doing activities of interest can reduce some of the NLD impacts.

  3. David Sky Says:

    Hello,
    interesting blog. I have NLD/AS/ADHD/HFA. I took an IQ score and got a performance/visual spatial of 100, but verbal was 155. This has been extremely frustrating for me, as I will essentially memorize an entire class and recall disjoint facts with ease, but if a certain type of logic problem is posed, I generally have an extremely difficult time understanding the way to answer the problem. In my personal research, I came across your site. I wanted to see what your experience was like.

    One way that I differ is that even though I am anti-social, I am well able to see and understand social cues. In fact, people have recommended that I become a politician because I can carry myself so well. But my “disorder” is that I feel that a lot of social interaction is time wasting, when I could be learning, reading etc. Hence I shut people out because I see the majority of them as pointless to interact with.

    So from your posts, I see that we both may have this diagnosis, but that we seem to have different experiences. I am interested in knowing if there have been brain scans done of individuals like ourselves that may help me pinpoint why we have different experiences, or if these diagnoses are simply too broad. Also, I am interested in finding out which regions of the brain lack development so that I can exercise them via chess etc.

    Thanks & take care

    sky

    • hannahcamille Says:

      Hi there,
      So interesting to hear about your experiences! Yes, I too find many situations frustrating because my first choice would be alone time doing intellectual things. And because many times the interactions aren’t fulfilling to me, either. Though I do get lonely, too, so it’s a tough, daily challenge. Glad your visual-spatial reasoning helps you read cues. That’s a blessing, and will benefit you as you find activities where other people share your interests, if you wish to do this. And I agree, sometimes the way things are presented in class is so confusing, not because I can’t understand or do the activities, but because there’s too much going on, and/or I need to quietly reflect and re-teach myself the skills.

  4. staticity Says:

    Hi- I’m a 23 year old woman with Nonverbal LD and I understand your feeling and I’m terrified about my own. I have a couple of friends and a boyfriend, but I can’t seem to be around people for more than one or two hours tops. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember. I dropped out of high school when I was fourteen and started using drugs to help. Unfortunately they did help the social aspect, so I used them for several years so that I could be out in the world for more than a couple hours.
    Now I have been off drugs for a couple of years, but the social problem has come back in full force. I can’t hold a job obviously, because I can’t be around people for more than an hour or two with out becoming terrified or just extremely depressed. Has anyone else dealt with this? I really need some help and so far, nothing has helped. I’m hoping that someone with NLD might at least understand the intense sort of social fear.

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