man screaming at younger man

this is how the world feels

Last night, at 1:45AM after 367 days of owning an iPhone I finally figured how to set up a hotspot. It was late and I thought I would do it in the morning. Morning came and I had forgotten everything I taught myself the night before. I taught myself something else last night. Damn if I remember what.

 Don't tell me not to be anxious. I try. My hold on an increasingly technical world is so tenuous it takes everything I have not to hide in a corner and give up. I don't because that would be giving up on life and I like living too much.

 I used to know a man who had both a wife and an assistant to walk after him and clean his literal and figurative messes. I don't have that luxury. Nonverbal learning disorder (NLD) is a messy disorder you never outgrow. There's always some new problem to conquer; new messes to clean up. I'm good at the clean up but too much of my life is wasted figuring out how my own personal huge oil spills should be cleaned. BP's problems were nothing compared to the holes I can dig.

I have to weigh everything carefully. Is making my iPhone into a hotspot worth the time it will take me? Is that time better served doing something else? Something fun maybe? Or should I focus on learning all the things I can't do and save fun for when I'm 80? Not a choice especially since I wouldn't make it to 80. 

(On the other hand I wrote an entire grad school ethics final in 45 minutes from the time I opened the word processor to when I closed it. I got a 100; most everybody else barely passed. They took days to write it. As an undergrad I was one of three women and three undergrads in my major. My papers were copied and passed to the class. I was offered nine credits and a small stipend to go to grad school. I turned it down. My father wanted to kill me. Such is the craziness of NLD. I try not to think about how I could have been a "pioneer" in urban development—a field I love.)

 I have spent entire days changing passwords on both my laptop and iPhone after upgrades. I have horrible manual dexterity and probably should have a phone with buttons but....

 My personal blog, Courting Destiny, was the highest (Technorati) ranked baby boomer blog for several years, very well-known, and both loved and hated. People expected great things out of me. I disappointed them. Do you understand that sentence? It's not I whom I cared about but disappointing others. So I'm a people-pleaser and therefore not a strong person. (Said with sarcasm.) Yet when people have such high expectations it's difficult not to care.

 I was horrible at all technical aspects. Wordpress and all other blogging platforms were much more difficult then. My blog literally exploded on me and I couldn't put the pieces back together correctly. I couldn't figure out how to bring it to the next level and monetize it——assuming the pieces were put back together. Apparently making money on a blog is much more important than content—or so I have been told by a blogger who successfully monetizes his blog.

Thing is just to live my life I have to be one of the strongest people I know. But not in the ways that's going to have people cheering or saying "isn't she amazing?"

 When I see articles like these, the too adorably named The Fourteen Habits of Highly Miserable People; and 13 things mentally strong people avoid ,I want to scream and shout: "try living in my shoes for a week. My problems can't be solved so easily."

 It's important to know a few things about me: I have never given up and never will. Learning what's important to focus on and what to drop are the truly important parts of not giving up as it really  means "not giving up on living."

 When I become depressed I let myself sulk for awhile then I do anything to get myself out of the depression. Being with good friends and laughing is the easiest way and I'm an easy laugh.

 Nonverbal learning disorder (NLD) isn't a condition you outgrow. You learn to live with it. If you're very lucky and I am, you're articulate, quicker than most when it comes to processing much intellectual information. And you don't just survive but live a richly embroidered life.

 One of the articles (and both have melded into one "feel good, hate people who don't live up to perfection" mess in my head) says not to be afraid of economic loss. Excuse me? Did the author forget that there was and for many people still is the greatest recession since the Great Depression? That for many of us it happened in our 50's and 60's? For various reasons we either lost jobs or lost money or both. And the housing market still hasn't truly recovered. Many baby boomers will never have the old age we envisioned. To dwell on it is wrong. To not think about alternate ways to make money, and/or how to live in reduced circumstances would be criminal. And sometimes a person can't help but think of the life that was supposed to be.

 When I first learned about NLD I searched for help. Had I gotten help when I begged for it I might have done things much differently. I wasn't looking for therapy. I was looking for tangible answers. I wanted to know what to do to make my life as great as possible. Instead I found a few articles saying I was probably suicidal and incapable of analytical thoughts. Ha? That's not the me I and the world knows. That's not my parents daughter. That's not the problem solver I'm known to be.

 (My inability to do technical things or to monetize my blog are separate problems––and the later might just be my personality as some of my best blogging friends who are incredible writers can't monetize their blogs either. ) I do believe my life was easier when I was in my 20's through 40's. I'm not sure if that's because it was easier for me to learn new things and/or the world was less tech—oriented. Maybe my brain—power is dwindling. I spend way too much time thinking about dementia.

I'm 99.9% sure that had I known about NLD then I would have been able to formulate a plan and wouldn't have walked away from some awesome careers because I burned out and had no idea why. Then again I probably wouldn't be writing a book and that has been my dream since I could read.

 I want to stress some important points the articles I linked to and the three versions of this post I wrote led me to understand:

 The people who work with NLD refuse to work with true adults. After all, we're all suicidal and incapable of rational thought. This is their collective belief, not mine.

 The professionals who should be helping us have instead assigned us to positions in these articles.

 They have. Not me. Not most people I know with NLD.

 The professionals both infantilize us and stigmatize us.

 They refuse to help us. And lets get real––some laugh at me for having opinions that differ from theirs. Excuse me for having been an adult since the 1970's. I lost my way when I first learned about NLD. I should have trusted my gut.

 Few people are going to help adults with NLD. It's our responsibility to first help ourselves live a good life and then help others.

 Finding our way can be more difficult for us than the general public. Let me state again: We have to know what to focus on and what we should give up trying to learn. Let's never confuse that with the people described in those articles. That's not giving up. That's admiting to ourselves we can't do everything.

 I dare you to find one person in this universe who can do everything perfectly or even half—perfectly. Bet you Einstein couldn't tie his shoes, all the time, when he was an adult. And nobody told him he was going to fail at life because he couldn't do that one simple chore.

 

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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