gratisography. used with permission
Source: gratisography. used with permission

I feel cheated because many people still refuse to understand: "My daughter had NLD (nonverbal learning disorder.)* It was treated at school. Now she's fine."

I don't know if that's a true statement or not as I didn't know I had problems when I was in school. I was treated as a very bright girl who was very lazy.

I suspect other problems will pop up because that's the type of disorder NLD is. NLD isn't one or even ten learning disorders but many. No matter how "fine" she seems there will always be an unknown hill to navigate. That's one reason anxiety is usually concurrent with NLD. Depression is common. So are other neurological and "emotional" problems. Just trying to deal with NLD can cause "emotional/mental" problems.

Always remember that NLD can affect everything from spatial, organizational, executive functioning, social and cognitive problems. Most people don't have every problem. I have included graphs from a presentation. I don't agree with much of it but will discuss that another time.

There is no definitive criteria for diagnosing NLD but a substantial difference between verbal and performance IQ is often the standard.

I have always been highly superior verbally; math however....I'm one of the NLD'ers who can't spell; most of us are supposed to be great at spelling, and faking reading comprehension because we're not supposed to get metaphors or analogies plus much more. I was born spewing metaphors.

But I feel cheated because the person making the statement, that began this post, is also saying that I shouldn't complain. NLD isn't a life long disorder. Ha!

I feel cheated because I let my driver's ed teacher win when he told everyone I came to school stoned, and thus threw me out of driver's ed. I doubt I had smoked pot more than twice at that point, and should have made a fuss. But I was scared. So I never learned to drive, and now for various reasons it's too late.

I feel cheated because on the outside I had everything: Looks, obvious intelligence, a sense of humor I was too scared to use so I used it on myself.

I feel cheated because nobody bothered to tell me, except my mother and who listens to their mother when young?,  that everybody makes mistakes. That the only way you can grow is by trying, and failing sometimes. I thought any mistake was a horrible thing, and I should be punished.  So I punished myself constantly and horribly.

I feel cheated because my dreams reached further than the moon and the stars, and I didn't dare reach that far.

I feel cheated because I'm not young.

And I'm finally good enough to maybe make my dreams come true. But will I have the time? And the energy?

How do I know that dementia isn't waiting round the corner?

I can't do all those brain quizzes and exercises that are supposed to keep your brain sharp or make it stronger. And so many people my age think I'm inventing excuses. So not true.

I feel cheated because I tried so hard to understand what was wrong. And instead of helping me comprehend my problems the testing psychologist told me how incapable I am. How people like me shouldn't be on their own.

Despite the fact that at 38 I had been successfully living on my own for sometime. Despite the fact that at 38 I was young, and malleable enough to have the life I dreamed about. I needed guidance and encouragement.

I feel cheated because I thought I was good enough to be a starter wife, and not good enough to be a permanent wife. Or mother.

And now I see the joy long time spouses often bring each other, and the pure joy grandchildren do, and I think how I mistrusted myself to raise even one child.

Nobody ever said that life's fair, and I, of all people, never expected it to be.

 I have a good life. Some would say a great one; I say it on alternate Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

I loved my long extended youth. I wasn't afraid to have fun or do outrageous things within limits because---well if I was a passenger on a motorcycle which I never would have been, I would have worn a helmet. And a bulletproof vest just because....I had a very safe rebellion. Actually that's debatable.

I would have loved to have understood that all those men looking at me were waiting for me to make a move. That failure with men is an important part of life. Not everybody I desired had to fall in love with me.

 When I dated I often felt as if I were choking to death. I didn't understand it was just me aiming too low, or not aiming at all, and not understanding that looks, wit, and sex appeal were just the beginning. Or not important at all. Goodness is. OK wit too.

There was so much I didn't understand. I did understand that my family wasn't the problem; it was something within me. And that something was neurological not mental. Yet I dared not believe that.

Little by little I figured out what my true problems were. A friend met a woman who has NLD when I was a month from 57. It clicked immediately.  Yet I had far to go. I needed to mourn the me that never was but I wouldn't let myself.

 By the time I figured much out, I sold my apartment at the exact wrong time (recession truly beginning), bought a house at the exact wrong time; my realtor, I realized immediately, was trying to curry favor with the selling realtor.

Though I love my house I should have walked away when my bid wasn't accepted. My realtor said my first bid was on the money but she didn't go to bat for me.

I let myself be taken advantage of because I still felt that I didn't deserve good or great things.

 People thought me very strong and decisive, really I was a people pleaser who couldn't please anybody. I verged between taking forever to make a decision, and making snap decisions.

Moving to South Carolina turned out to be one of the best things I ever did. Away from the frenzy of Manhattan I found peace.

I no longer feel cheated because, for the first time in my life, I feel deserving. I just hope hope hope hope it's not too late.

I understand that my story isn't the inspirational one everyone loves to read. A feel-great ending after tragic beginnings and multitude-of-problems middle that the much better-than-me heroines overcomes.

But it's my story and all I can tell is my truth. NLD is a lifelong disorder that always comes back with different problems. The only "cure" is self-knowledge, knowledge about NLD, a willingness to seek help and to tell the therapist: "No, my surface problems are a manifestation of the deeper ones."

I suggest that every adult with NLD learn cognitive and behavioral therapies. Learn to advocate for yourself. Not just in school or in work but in life. You know yourself best.

*I'm not advocating using the coach who I don't know but the articles are good in gaining knowledge about NLD. The presentation shows NLD from another side.

Please read my blog Courting Destiny. It's my literary side.

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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