This post might be long and rambly, but I want to share in case there are other people going through the same thing.
I’ve always been a sensitive person. I was a happy kid, but I also worried about a lot of things. I was afraid of storms. I had night terrors. I went through a stage where I was convinced I had cancer. I was easily influenced by the moods of those around me and found it very easy to sympathize with other people. People constantly told me I was too sensitive. I got teased when I was 8 years old because I thought a piece of classical music was so beautiful I cried. I didn’t like wearing layers or shoes that made me aware of my toes.
About 9 months ago my mom sent me an article and said, “This sounds like you.” The article includes a link to a questionnaire for parents who think their child may be highly sensitive. My mother said most of them fit me as a child. Here’s a link to the article. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/wellbeing/health-advice/highly-sensitive-people/
The more I thought about it the more I noticed and remembered things that fit into this list. I’ve always hate a lot of textures (styrofoam, some upholstery, paper towels, just to name a few). I’m very sensitive to smell. I get motion sickness easily–like I can only swing for a few minutes before my stomach hurts. Lights are often uncomfortably bright to me, especially in places like grocery stores. I don’t handle change well; it causes me a lot of stress. I am a people pleaser; I prefer to be at home and don’t enjoy crowds.
I also realized that it seems to be getting worse as I get older. I need a lot of time to prepare myself to be around people and a lot of time to relax after. More sounds, smells, and textures are bothering me. Some days it’s really difficult to not let another person’s mood dictate mine. I startle more at loud noises and I drop things more often. I get extremely irritated if there are too many sounds going on at once–for instance if a TV is on and someone is playing music. Most changes are difficult. It takes me a long time to get comfortable when I lie down to go to sleep, and I have trouble falling/staying asleep. I get agitated if someone talks to me when I’m doing anything that requires concentration. If I get distracted from simple things like getting out of my car to walk into a store, it’s pretty likely I’ll lock my keys in the car or forget my wallet. A lot of the time the world feels like too much–too much noise, too many smells, too much movement, too much to think about at once.
I am aware of Sensory Processing Disorder. I work with kids with autism so I made a point to learn as much about it as possible. For some reason I didn’t think about myself when I was reading about/learning about SPD even though a lot of it fits. I kind of just assumed I was being a baby about stuff or that I was just an irritable person.
The past month or so my sensitivities have been getting worse, particularly the sensory ones. Going over the speed bumps in my neighborhood aggravates me, even when I go slowly. My body is uncomfortable no matter how I lay in bed at night. I crave the sensation of being squeezed. Someone in my life uses a vaporizer and the sound of it makes me want to scream. I can’t stand to wear anything but skirts or pants with elastic waists and if I get a wrinkle in my sock I have to take my shoe off to fix it immediately. It feels disgusting to touch anything that isn’t cold and smooth if my hands are wet. I could go on and on.
Most information about Sensory Processing Disorder (which is not yet a recognized medical diagnosis) is geared towards kids. I guess that might be because people haven’t been paying attention to it for very long. I don’t know who I would see to be diagnosed. And I haven’t really read anything about it getting worse as a person gets older. I know Occupational Therapy is one option for treatment, but I don’t know if my insurance will cover it. And actually, I have some other things I need to take care of health-wise and money-wise that are more important right now.
So anyway, I got 2 books used on Amazon: The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron and Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight by Sharon Heller. I am going to learn what I can from those. I’m also going to work on getting my house clean and less cluttered. It seems like I’m more sensitive when I feel crowded, and the messiness makes me feel crowded.
Anyway, maybe there will be someone out there who can relate to this. I’ll post updates as I learn more.