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To be so embarrassed and feel tired of being the way I am?

(217 Posts)
VioletBam Sun 31-Jul-16 03:08:57

I've always had difficulties recognising people and have also always had problems with getting lost.

I can't recognise people that I know. Recently I discovered this condition was "an actual thing" called prosopagnosia. Most people call it Face Blindness.

I am not VERY bad with it...I know my own family for instance. But if I see for of my children's teachers outside the confines of their classroom, then I won't know them from Adam.

All my life I have had situations where people would just start talking to me...and I'd have no idea who they were.

Sometimes they'd say things like "Don't you know me?" or "It's X! From Y!" and get annoyed.

Well it's just happened again. I'm in Australia and it's day here. I was walking down a street which is long and eventually leads to my own. There had been a procession in the village...and DD and I were returning.

A woman was walking behind us...she smiled and caught up with DD and I and said "Do you take the short cut or go the long way?"

And I looked blankly at her and said "I usually go the long way or I get lost...but how do you know where I'm going?"

Then DD said "Mum! It's Emily's Mum!"

Emily is DD's friend...she lives on our street...three doors up. I have this woman's number...she has been round to my house to collect her DD. I've met her husband. I've met this woman about 30 times since we moved in a year ago.

I decided to be open and said "I have face blindness" and she just laughed and carried on chatting.

Does she now think I'm a weirdo or rude?

It's happened SO often. I also get lost all the time. And can't recognise our car or the cars of other people I should do.

I'm sick of it!

Pikette Sun 31-Jul-16 03:15:54

You poor thing this sounds like a horrible condition to live with.

I'm sure she was fine as you said she carried on chatting so she can't have been too bothered by it.

I'm guessing you would have already looked into this but are there any treatments you can try to try and help?

VioletBam Sun 31-Jul-16 03:21:20

Thank you Pikette. There is no treatment no...because it's only recently something that's been widely recognised, people who have it are usually amazed to discover that they've been living this way and that it's not normal.

I was relieved that it had a name but there's no way to make it better.

Now that I know I have it, I try to recognise something strong about a new or very strong eye colour...accent or voice...but a lot of people are sort of bland to me.

I find watching films hard as to me, the men in particular often look the same!

SaltyMyDear Sun 31-Jul-16 03:21:58

I know what you mean!

I also have it, but not badly. And it's horrible.

I now just smile at everyone in case I know them blush

And when someone talks to me just keep the conversation very general. Because I have no idea who they are.

Train your family to help you, if they're with you. Tell your daughter to say 'hi Emily's mum' or anything about Emily.....

It's really horrible and if I had a magic wand I'd certainly get rid of it.

VioletBam Sun 31-Jul-16 03:22:01

I get anxious about public transport and going to places alone as I get lost so much. Just feeling a bit sorry for myself today!

SaltyMyDear Sun 31-Jul-16 03:27:56

Yes to watching films!

All white men do look the same. smile

I think the worst mistake I've made was first day of a new job when I didn't recognise my manager who had interviewed me and I introduced myself to him blush. That job didn't last very long.....

Even worse then movies are new jobs. In my last job there were about 100 people in the office, of whom 50 were Asian (Indian) men. And I couldn't tell them apart at all. They literally all looked the same. Again another job that didn't last long..... In fact in that job, for the first time ever, I told my boss I had this problem. Still didn't stop the job going tits up.

Sativa Sun 31-Jul-16 03:31:43

I have this too & it can make me feel a bit panicky thinking "do I know this person/where do I know them from ?" I have to know someone's face really well to feel sure that it's them & it's always a major personal triumph when I recognise somebody that isn't so familiar to me!

When my work colleagues dressed up in wigs it took me ages to work out who was who! It's the same if someone wears a hat or changes their hairstyle. I don't think I can register actual facial features - I tend to notice their clothes or overall shape more. This has led to some classic cringeworthy moments but I'm not sure if it'll ever get better shock

VioletBam Sun 31-Jul-16 03:33:31

Apparently it's 2% of the population...which is one in fifty! That's a lot isn't it? Loads of us bumbling about in confusion!

Sativa Sun 31-Jul-16 03:39:09

That is quite high - imagine all the people we've walked past in total oblivion !

EverySongbirdSays Sun 31-Jul-16 03:51:29

I have heard of Face Blindness and often thought how terrifying and disorientating it must be flowers

KoalaDownUnder Sun 31-Jul-16 04:10:47

You poor thing. It's bloody awful.

I have the same problem, but not to the same degree, or perhaps just not as broadly. I'm okay with directions (but not great), but I have face blindness.

I once introduced myself to a guy at a party at my own house, and it turned out to be someone I'd known for 20 years. He was shock.

And I don't enjoy watching fast-paced movies with lots of characters, because it's exhausting having to concentrate so hard. Eg All men in suits look the same.

Sympathies. flowers

Mov1ngOn Sun 31-Jul-16 04:22:25

Yup. I had to ask another mum which was my kid at a ballet show as they all looked different with their hair in a bun.

My daughter tells me at school who people are and I've mentioned it to the school mums I chat to. However the problem is with those I've had a passing conversation or starting to get to know as I don't remember them next time.

It's so very hard. Film wise Amazon Prime will show characters on the screen when you pause. Haven't worked out yet if that's just for their own content (tried with a kids thing!)

LeftyLucy Sun 31-Jul-16 04:26:23

I have this too, to a lesser extent though. I was in a bizarre situation with fecking Prince Charles and I though I better be nice to this man in case he's an important client as he was wearing a suit that was clearly very expensive. He's pretty distinctive, not just generic bloke. 😳

Hopeless with people in films too.

aurynne Sun 31-Jul-16 04:30:51

That's me too! Both with faces and directions. My life has improved since I tell people I have face blindness, as I used to find people really took offence at me not recognising them.

I also find I am not that bad at recognising people if I see them in the same context, but sometimes I will not recognise someone I've known for years if I see them in a different place/context.

There are also "types of faces" which I usually lump together and as a result sometimes I will think a particular person is another one. This has caused a number of extremely embarrassing situations. But I take it with humour! Other people have a "more identifiable" kind of face and I find it easier to remember it, for some reason.

I wouldn't say it's "terrifying" though, it is just a problem because it is a problem for other people. I am as a result very forgiving when people do not remember my face or name and I always repeat my name when I see people struggling.

DotForShort Sun 31-Jul-16 04:40:33

I have a mild version of face blindness. It is sometimes easier for me to recognise people by their voices than their faces. My mother is much more severely affected. She can walk past friends she has known for years without recognising them.

The late Oliver Sacks wrote a fascinating essay a few years ago about his own experiences of face blindness. His case was particularly acute. He describes situations such as not recognising his assistant, a woman he had worked with daily for many years, when he saw her in an unexpected context. He also had real difficulty orienting himself. He once went for a walk and became hopelessly lost, unable to find his house for hours. Only when his landlord called out to him did he realise that he was on his street and had walked past his house several times without knowing it.

To me it is some consolation to know that many people share this neurological quirk. When I was younger, I thought my mother and I were the only ones. But we are not alone! smile

Atenco Sun 31-Jul-16 04:40:43

I have the same problem, though I don't get lost so much, but it is horrible and I'm sure I would have a lot more friends if it weren't for this problem. People must think me soo rude at times

SaltyMyDear Sun 31-Jul-16 04:45:45

Yes to people finding me rude and not having many friends. That's the but I hate.

Janecc Sun 31-Jul-16 05:38:42

These stories are so sad. Please tell people. I'm useless with names, usually pretty good with faces. It's not a dirty secret. It's what makes you you. I would have thought owning this neurological trait could also give you confidence to have and trust friends and not upset others.

abbinobb Sun 31-Jul-16 05:47:05

I can't recognise people (unless they're close family) if they're somewhere other than they usually would be. Eg at work sometimes colleagues come in early without their uniforms on, I'll serve them and have no idea who they are until they speak to me.
I thought that 3 different people at work were the same person because they've got the same hair, until one of them said "oh x will be in soon" cue weird conversation "whose x?" (I was new and I'm shit with names) then when he walked in "oh I thought he was you"

abbinobb Sun 31-Jul-16 05:49:25

And yes to getting lost, I got lost walking to the shop a couple of minutes away from my boyfriends house (I had been there and to the shops loads)I was lost for nearly 2 hours. It was boiling hot and I was really pregnant so I was getting really stressed out but it was embarrassing.

karmapolice97 Sun 31-Jul-16 05:54:32

Sorry to hear you are struggling with this. I know nothing about it, but recently listened to an interview on radio 4 about it so I think it is becoming more widely recognised. I think that interview suggested it could be hereditary as the lady was discussing strategies and helping her DC? Will see if I can find a link.

Must be really hard. I agree with putting it out there, even if it feels awkward it might really help? Or get your DC trained to tell people too?

I also have this problem, and I think that telling people is definitely the right think to do. No one is perfect and I'm sure a lot more people struggle with this then we appreciate.

I tell all new colleagues that in absolutely terrible with names/faces out of context for exactly this reason. In the office we all wear clear ID badges so I tend not to offend too many people, but the colleagues I get on best with are the only black lady and the only Japanese one - and I know it's because they're the only two I ever approach where I'm confident of their identity!

Before now I've panicked when I've not recognised my own husband after we were both at home and he decided to go upstairs and have a shave!
While we don't have kids yet I'm absolutely terrified that I won't be able to recognise any that we do have.

Oblomov16 Sun 31-Jul-16 05:59:11

I have it too, only very mildly. I feel very sorry for you.
A health professional commented on it and I was really offended, but then I realised I do actually have it.
I often embarrass myself. I was at a party and asked someone their name thinking I hadn't met them before. She was very offended because I'd been out to dinner with her, as part of a big group, the week before.

ChaChaChaCh4nges Sun 31-Jul-16 05:59:43

As someone who doesn't have face blindness, I would much rather you tell me upfront (and presumably tell me repeatedly because you won't remember my face so won't know that you've told me before!). I wouldn't judge you, or think you a freak, or in fact acsribe any negative values. But I would be a little bit hurt at seemingly being ignored by you if I didn't know.

karmapolice97 Sun 31-Jul-16 06:00:37 this was it. Link to the radio programme is in this article. Up to 1:50 people thought to suffer to some degree.

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