It’s difficult for me to blog. Not because I’m out of words or thoughts——if that would ever happen, I couldn’t begin to imagine my life.
Not even because blogging has changed so much since I was a serious blogger——2004 to 2007; but because learning about nonverbal learning disorder (NLD) has done the opposite of what it should have done. It’s made me fearful and self—conscious.
A few weeks ago I went to a blogging conference in Nashville. I joined The Women of Midlife Boulevard awhile ago and know many of the women through the internet.
Since I began using airline miles I became used to taking two planes to get almost anywhere——even when I lived in New York. “Changing in Atlanta” has become as familiar to me as “changing in Jamaica” was when I was a teenager and the Long Island Railroad hadn’t been electrified.
I have also become used to traveling in adverse weather. But the Thursday I went to Nashville was adverse to the extreme. I was totally nauseous by the time I got to the Nashville airport. The cabdriver who told me had never driven in ice before didn’t help.
“No don’t turn the wheel in a 360. Go softly and don’t fight the ice. Like you’re caught in a riptide and….”
Right, I who don’t drive was giving advice to a cabdriver in a landlocked state and he came from a landlocked country.
By the time we got to the Opryland resort I was exhausted. It was a long walk to the room——somehow walking with my four wheel suitcase felt heavy.
The next day there was a cocktail party. Before I knew about NLD I would have never wondered: “Am I dressed wrong?”
( I didn’t bring the clothes I had planned to bring but clothes for cold weather not realizing that the dome over the hotel would make it completely temperature controlled. I could move into the resort but not the room.)
I would have followed the directions perfectly but ended up on the wrong floor as I did. The hotel has giant maps all over the place; better than that they have workers who stand around and guide you. But not to the right floor!
I have a mild case of prosopagnosia (face blindness.) It’s never stopped me from doing anything–none of my problems have.
It’s just since I learned about NLD and have gotten older that I have felt like a victim, at times, rather than just another girl on the IRT.
But now that I have learned about NLD and wasn’t able to get help I have spent a lot of time wondering if people think I’m weird.
The next morning seminars–very good ones began early. Am I getting anything from the talk or do I just think I have?
I did very well in college and grad school; got outstanding evaluations at work——but, you know, people are nice. I’m really dumb—the little professor the NLD literature talks about who can’t comprehend anything but can speak well.
People hate me. They have to hate me. What do I have to bring to the table? (I spent most of my life not thinking like this. It’s unfair to learn about NLD and not get help. There is no help for adults with NLD. There is one scholarly piece of literatures that basically says we’re zilches with no insight into anything. I have always been known for being insightful.)
Most of my problems are spatial and organizational so of course I brought a new iPad without the keyboard to the conference itself. When everybody else was finished doing something I hadn’t even begun. The seminar on Twitter was particularly hard.
My gait was off. I had the NLD face——the one that looks miserable when really I’m happy or content or something.
This blog chronicles a life well lived. My blog at Psychology Today describes my life with NLD.
I think they both touch on how hard I am on myself. I don’t even have being bullied past junior high as an excuse. In college I was “exceptionally popular.” Here’s a small true story that sums me up, I think.
My first couple of weeks at college I couldn’t believe how popular I was. Ten adorable boys were giving me little presents. Of course it turned out to be one boy; I wasn’t cognizant of my face blindness before this incident. And I chalked it off to anxiety.
I thought all my problems were due to anxiety. While I taught myself body language because it was a fad when I was in my 20’s I didn’t realize that it was one of my problems.
I knew I could never make a good secretary so I found entry level jobs that fit me better. Except that I would transpose numbers and other things.
I accidentally stumbled into a thirteen year career when I was in my 20’s as a paralegal then paralegal manager.
Often I could do no wrong and was the best dressed, best liked and best employee in the ——and at one point I worked with 500 people on a floor. I had gradually gotten to know everyone so I learned how to recognize people and how to compensate for my other problems.
Oh but it all sounds so simple and if you were suffering why didn’t you seek out therapy? It wasn’t simple; I was constantly in therapy but when the wrong problems are addressed….
The wrong problems were addressed even after I felt as if I were breaking down and went to a psychiatrist who immediately saw that I had learning disabilities and sent me for testing.
The tester basically told me that I couldn’t do anything right.
“You mean I shouldn’t be able to put my shoes on and then take the crosstown bus by myself.”
“Exactly.” He was very impressed that I saw how dumb I was.
“Well why can I manage a project with 250 employees?”
“You shouldn’t be able to. You shouldn’t be able to do anything right.”
I walked out at that point and went back to the psychiatrist who sent me for the testing. I was seeing two psychiatrists at that point. (It was just before the managed care era.) Neither of them wanted to discuss the testing. Neither of them realized how important it was to me to truly understand what was wrong with me. I was 37. Young enough to do anything and I knew it.
I asked to be sent to Rusk Institute for rehab. Before the Internet era it was the only rehab place I knew of. They both laughed.
I have read enough to understand why they couldn’t send me. I was high functioning and ultra——aware that things were wrong with me.
I should have gotten the help I deserved and wanted. This summer will be a milestone birthday. One where most people lay back. I have only just begun.
And I’m going to the next BAM conference. I really did enjoy myself. I hope I will have a book to sell.
But please make it someplace where I can take one big jet from Myrtle Beach to get to. I’m so tired of little jets that make me want to puke!
Actually I might have been getting sick. In November I began dieting as I gained an incredible amount of weight in the past few years. First month–starved myself and lost three pounds; second month–three pounds; third month–a draw; fourth month I gained two pounds.
So I cheated like crazy this past month yet I have lost at least six pounds since coming home and it’s not even the stomach flu! I finally have my metabolism back.
Maybe I need to take two tiny jets in one day in horrible weather more often. And now that I can get from one end of Atlanta/Hatfield to the other in under ten minutes without getting lost—maybe that means something profound.
Maybe it did take courage to go to the conference. I wouldn’t know as I come from a family that let me go the city by myself when I was very young; wanted me to go away to college; didn’t object when I went to Europe for an indefinite time period when I was 20; and so on. But I always knew that I had a safe harbor to return to.
Now I’m my own safe harbor–and it’s a damn good one!