Many people with Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NLD) have a tendency to leave things out of lists and/or not look at the completed lists. I would dare say this is one of my biggest problems.

When I was younger I had the world's most incredible memory for anything not truly important to my life and trivia.

Before the era of easy Internet access I knew I had to rely on my memory and it held my entire calender. I did a lot and remembered everything. Since I have begun relying on Internet calenders, reminders and messages my memory has gotten much worse.

I left some important things out of my post yesterday and would like to put them in here.
I can appear arrogant, angry or indifferent. That was good for a city street face in the 1960's through 1980's but is horrible for a great social life. High school reunions and large family reunions scare me. Nobody gets to see my real personality because I'm too busy thinking about everything I can do wrong. I'm working on that!

Until recently I played with my hair. The strange thing was when it was short I didn't miss it nor did I miss it in public. This wouldn't have been bad but for two things—I know how to split an end and in high school I used to tear out my hair, eyelashes and eyebrows. Fortunately I had so much of all three.

My mother used to tell me that I was my own harshest critic. She was right. I forgive others for everything—but me? I look for a perfection I will never achieve.

I used to stand back and say: "she deserves it more than I do," even when I knew I deserved something. This isn't an attractive or desirable trait and I know it.

I let people take advantage of me. Not because I'm gullible but because I wanted everybody to be happy. I wanted people to have everything and more. OK maybe there is naivety in that. Maybe they will end up with everything and I will end up eating cat food. It hurts to talk about this, and I stopped a long time ago. I think a lot of the feeling that I didn't deserve good things happened because I felt so strange. When I learned about NLD many things changed. Knowledge is true power. I can't stress that enough.

The meltdowns I talked about? We all assumed they were hormonal problems. While I was usually overly polite (because, remember, there were times in my adult life I would go off on store clerks and customer service reps on the phone. No matter how bad the service they never deserved this.

My friend, Rafe, made a color coded chart about me long before the TSA was a glimmer in somebody's eye. "Red" meant "don't go anywhere near her." "Pink" was "you can call her for two minutes," and so it went all the way down to White or "it's safe to see her."

I cringe when I think about this. I will never know how much was hormonal and how much was undiagnosed NLD. Anti-anxiety meds helped somewhat; therapy didn't. Practicing cognitive therapy on myself helped incredibly. I don't blame many of the therapists. They thought the root causes were much more complicated than they turned out to be. But damn when you pay a lot and are a "compliant" patient you expect some aha moments.

I sabatoged every single serious relationship I was in. I would say it's an incredible skill but I hanker for the companionship now. While I see problems in others and give great advice (though I hate to in real life) I have no idea what I did wrong in several of those relationships. So I feel like a phoney.

I have had many friends in my life and still do. Yet I wonder if I was very NLD'ed. Did I hog the conversations? Was I rude? Was I really a good friend? I think I'm a great friend now. But life on the Internet makes me wonder if I'm still selfish.

I can be rudish on the Internet though I really really try to temper that. I first "remembered" that I have problems when I was a "hot personal and politcal blogger" eight years ago. Too many people wanted too much of my time. I think I know how to gracefully leave in person (or so I hope) but on the Internet?  Other people would have loved to have gotten all the emails and links to my blog (sort of like friend requests) I had. They wouldn't have been exhausted. I loved making new friends and I loved the feedback but all I really wanted to do was write. That's not what blogging's about.

People were always emailing me and telling me I was rude if I didn't immediately answer. I didn't know about NLD but I had rudeness on my mind so I would answer immediately to please them. Then messaging began and it became worse. I still answer immediately though I know people will understand. I refused to moderate comments on my blog and people became very angry with me. They didn't understand I needed breaks. I answered all the comments on my blog and since I actually read all the posts that took much time.

I find the Internet to be a busier and more difficult place than real life. I could work in a room with 500 people and be in my glory but the Internet and I feel like we're fighting in The Wild West.

Many NLD'ers don't like change. I love most changes. I never had the problems with transportation that many other NLD'ers have. Many can't take public transport alone. I mastered the New York subway system by the time I was fifteen. I moved to a place far from my comfort zone and don't regret it.

But in one big way I do have problems with change. I'm phobic about seeing new doctors and dentists. In these days of managed care  that can be a big thing. I'm always afraid that doctors and dentists are going to judge me harshly.

I was afraid when I was 26, weighed 125 and was in perfect health so it's a totally irrational fear. At times it makes me laugh because doctors do see sick patients and dentists see patients with much worse teeth!

I understand that phobias go with anxiety and that there should be a root cause. My parents said my childhood dentist was horrible but my sister didn't end up phobic. When I was six a doctor gave me a shot in the tush while I was asleep. She said it wouldn't bother me. I woke up in the middle of the shot screaming. This woman went onto become a child psychiatrist! But somehow I don't think it was traumatic enough to cause a phobia.

Panic attacks go along with anxiety. I distinctly remember my first one. I was seven. It was notebook inspection day and I (rightly) knew that I would have the worst notebook in the class. My teacher was more than a bit crazy. She brought in her not quite deodorized pet skunk one day to class. And Mrs.Lipton wasn't enamored with me as she wanted us to write five full length book reports a week. My parents had gone to see her to tell her that they wouldn't let me write more than one as I loved to read and they didn't want the fun taken out of it.

So I was past the point of being scared. I remember my heart pounding, the room spinning and not understanding a word that any of my friends said to me as I stood online waiting for her to inspect my notebook. I was right to be scared. She yelled and yelled at me for having a notebook that lacked good notes, was written in a horrible handwriting and had doodles of anorexic girls with big hair and dresses that wouldn't be in style for a few years. (I was always ahead of myself!)

This led to a lifetime of panic attacks—something common to many NLD'ers as are messy notebooks.

Talking about messy—I have written about my problems with hoarding. I hope that's behind me as my last hoarding incident was almost 20 years ago but I'm scared that I will relapse when I'm old.

My life is good now and has been since college despite the mood swings. I'm one lucky NLD'er and I know it. Next time I really will talk about my good points!

About the Author

Pia Savage

Pia Savage is a writer, journalist, and former social worker diagnosed with Non Verbal Learning Disorder.

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