Time Perception Disorder.
I have it.
I am autistic and it is part of the package (many autistics experience this, so my neurologist says).
I have no concept of time. One minute feels the same as one hour. Intellectually, I know that time has passed, but I don’t know how much.
I don’t know what time feels like.
Time moves separate from me, there is no connection. I can look at the clock and see that an hour has gone by or five minutes or whatever, but it all feels the same. This makes it really hard when I have to go somewhere or when I have a deadline. I do keep a timer at my workstation at home so I can set it when I am in a time crunch or when time is important.
Otherwise, time just does not hold much significance to me. I work until I am finished. I take a break until I feel rested. I don’t set an alarm to wake in the morning although I sometimes ask my husband to wake me when he gets up. Usually I just wake on my own without any help. I am definitely not a clock watcher.
Some people spend their entire lives trying to get out from under the clock. I have never been there. I never needed that escape.
My own research indicates that this “time perception disorder,” if you will (I don’t know what else to call it), tends to accompany certain conditions such as neurological disorders, autism, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s, and mental health issues like depression and bi polar disorder. Also, it seems that some people experience this intermittently while others have it all the time.
I fall into the latter group and I’ve had it my entire life. I have no perception of time.
It seems to go hand in hand with temporal issues and cognitive function that has gone a little haywire. I do have some cognitive issues; verbal processing is a biggie for me.
Also, all my memories are the same in feeling and experience – like an old photograph. Apparently, this is unusual as well. People say they have “vivid memories, like it was yesterday.” I don’t. All my memories look and feel the same – agewise. A memory from something that just now happened feels the same as a memory from something in my childhood.
Death and hurtful events don’t upset me like they do most people. When I experience them they almost instantly become familiar – like I have experienced them long ago. I am almost accustomed to them so they don’t throw me off like they do many people. That is because time is not relevant to me – it simply is not there.
There isn’t much out there, much information on this. In fact, some people think it isn’t even real. This causes problems because people who don’t have the condition just expect me to be able to process time like a “normal” person – they don’t understand the struggle I have with it. When I don’t perform as the expect me to, in regard to my time perception, they get very upset. Most are not aware that this is a very real condition. Some would say time perception disorder is debilitating, but the debilitating part is in the fact that people who don’t experience it don’t understand, don’t try to understand, and don’t believe it is real.
So is it real? You bet it is! I am living proof. However, if you know someone who experiences this – and they do not have a neurological or psychiatric condition – you may want to have them get checked out since it does not seem to travel alone.
I am not a doctor, but I do have the condition. Yes, it’s a real thing – very, very real.