Do you ever feel invisible because of the learning challenges you have? Or because of the emotions, you have trouble expressing? Or maybe you feel like no one understands you because it’s hard for you to explain what it’s like to be you?
I’m here to share with you my experiences in these areas and let you know that you’re not the only one who has these feelings or emotions.
I have and sometimes still feel invisible especially because my learning challenges aren’t obvious all the time. I also feel this way because of my chronic migraine condition especially since I’ve gotten good at hiding them.
I’ve improved at some of the challenges that I used to experience in social situations so these aren’t obvious anymore. With that being said there is more I have to work on because I still struggle sometimes with social problems.
I struggle when people in my spiritual community comment on my learning disability which minimizes it. Like when I was trying to explain my challenges with math they said they have the same even though they’re neurotypical. Or like but you can drive cant you? Another one is that I’m my mom’s daughter.
Yes, I have challenges with doing mental math, understanding abstract concepts, and managing my budget. I have to use a calculator to check my math and a pencil and paper to add numbers more quickly. My family helps me understand abstract concepts like math, politics, and managing my finances.
I also sometimes feel like a screw-up because I have made many mistakes in my life but I’m starting to realize that everyone makes mistakes. And I need to not beat myself up so much when I make mistakes because that doesn’t help me or anyone around me.
I tend to be too harsh on myself when I make mistakes. I’m trying to remind myself that I’m not the only one who has made that mistake before which does help because then I’m not alone.
At least I’m and my challenges are not invisible or minimized by my family and friends.
Also, you are not alone in the challenges that you have in social areas like work, dating, or school.
I had many challenges when I was in school because I was still discovering more about myself, NLD, and how it felt to have it.
I didn’t date in college because I wasn’t sure I could trust any men outside of my close family and friends because of my childhood trauma. I’m still learning how to date now.
I was working through being homesick and the emotions from the two traumas. But I got through it eventually because I would cry while was running. I didn’t care who would see or hear me cry.
I was dealing with my migraines too which was challenging I didn’t know that they were serious until I graduated and hadn’t stopped. And I had them nonstop in college except for when I needed to sleep.
That’s still true sometimes and has been for the last 11 weeks. I need to get rid of them. Or at least minimize them somehow. Because I’m a completely different person when I have them. I can very frustrated, agitated, and on edge easily.
Okay enough about me let’s look at articles from other NVLDers.
This quote is from an article about “What is Neurodiversity?” and what it feels like to be diagnosed. Here’s Wanda Deschamps’ who is a Founder & Principal at Liberty Co and has autism.
“I Was 46 When I Discovered I was Autistic. Suddenly My Life Made Sense. My difficulties fitting in, my problems at work, and my divorce all made sense when, at 46, I discovered I had autism. Better Late Than Never.
I‘m 10 years old, away at my first sleepover camp. The rest of the girls in my cabin are trying to put together a skit for the camp‘s variety show, and I can see that it isn‘t going to come together the way they imagine. I have a sixth sense about these things like I‘m on the outside looking in when I‘m supposed to be part of something. I want to speak up and tell them how to fix it, but I‘ve learned that being a know-it-all does not make me popular.
There was always something about me that most people considered different. As a kid, I didn‘t enjoy sitcoms or skip rope like other girls my age. I wasn‘t comfortable hugging friends, but I did love listening to discussions about politics. I‘ve always been talkative and inquisitive, which wore out the patience of my friends and sometimes even the adults around me. My Grade 4 report summarized my social deficiencies with improvement needs. I stuck out, but I gradually learned to be less conspicuous.
It wasn‘t until I turned 46 that I learned my uniqueness has a name: autism.
That was over three years ago. My diagnosis was like discovering a piece of my brain, picking it up, putting it in place, and feeling whole for the first time. This was also like receiving the key to unlocking my life and living for the first time—according to my values, principles, beliefs, and choices instead of being weighed down by the expectations and assumptions of others. What I‘ve found out since is that there are a significant number of others like me—individuals who weren‘t identified as having autism until midlife. And for reasons that are still coming to light, many of them are women.”
I can empathize with Wanda because I had the same reaction when I was diagnosed with NLD in college. I was relieved that I finally had an answer to why so many things in my life were and would be challenging for me in my life. At the same time I was like great what do I do now with this new knowledge? And I didn’t know the answer until I used my accommodations more and did more research about NLD to help myself, family, friends and professors in college.
The next article is titled “Very Grand Emotions: How Autistics and Neurotypicals Experience Emotions Differently” By Terra Vance written on March 23, 2019
“Characterizations of Autistic people often reflect a profile of a stoic, unfeeling, emotionless automaton. Many times, the only emotion ascribed to autistics, especially by the lay writers who populate the dustbin of Amazon Kindle’s self-published section, is explosive anger.
This is an accusation which has often been leveled against me, usually much to my confusion. One notable example was a social media post I was tagged into about infant circumcision. The journal article in the post was absolute quack science. It was emotionally manipulative, purposefully misleading, and rife with untruths and ethical violations.
So, instead of responding to the topic, I talked about the lack of veracity and the void of research ethics from the authors of the journal article. If a debate were happening, my friends deserved to have accurate, factual information to make such an important decision.
Immediately, everyone in the discussion assumed I had coldly taken a position in favor of routine infant circumcision. It was intense. I was accused of intellectualizing to preserve a personal preference (I hadn’t stated or even considered a personal preference), of not having a conscience, of “supporting genital mutilation,” and other atrocious attributes and thoughts.
The more I attempted to reason, the worse the situation became and the more convinced people were about my terrible personality and empty heart. Explaining was regarded as manipulation, being combative, and again… having no feelings. I lost friends over that conversation. I didn’t realize I was speaking a different language. I didn’t realize that my emotional experience was different from theirs. None of us did.
This was one of many similar instances in my life. I have historically walked away from such situations feeling devastated, angry, confused, and frankly, like everyone else was delusional. They felt the same way about me.
My “massive ego” is almost always a part of the charges in these discussions, parallel to the narrative that I am emotionless. What most bothered me was that no one was understanding how deeply I did feel.”
I can empathize with Terra because I had a similar experience in college. It was in one of my sociology classes and I didn’t know until later when I got feedback from my professor, that sometimes I would go off topic when I would contribute to the conversation in class. I did this unknowingly and this was because of NLD. I was still learning more about it at that time and how it affected me and my college life.
The last article is titled “Very Grand Emotions: How Autistics and Neurotypicals Experience Emotions Differently” from Psych Central.
“The reason is because if someone complimented me on work I was doing, then I would feel they were implying that I was Laboring in the interest of self-promotion or validation-seeking. These aren’t spoken values, but something we feel innately. This is how I Labor with other autistics. We correct each other. We offer what expertise and insight we can to sharpen the other’s Work, to add volume and clarity to the other’s Love song. My new friend and I have already joked that we won’t be sending each other birthday cards or holiday gifts. We don’t ever talk about clothes, or the weather, or even ask each other, “How was your day?” To us, these details are things we will offer up if it’s relevant. If the other doesn’t address something adequately enough, we tell them directly, “I still want to talk about that thing you didn’t respond to with enough focus.” We do sometimes talk about family, health, and our personal emotions, those secondary feelings most people experience as primary emotions.”
I can relate to the quote from the last article because sometimes it’s hard for me to accept compliments on my work. But I’m working on that. I hope that this blog helped you not feel alone in your feelings and emotions as a neurodivergent.
I am one of the Project Social Ambassadors. I have a full time job where I work for a small non profit, The Unity Center in San Diego. I wear many hats at this job, mainly in the tech, social media and administrative assistant areas. I also have five podcasts and a side tutoring tech freelance business. On top of all this I have chronic migraines.Share your own story