If you experience the world the way I do, then you are easily overstimulated. Hunger makes you Hangry, sirens make you cringe and other people’s problems, become your problems. You can read a room, its mood and feel “fight or flight” right away based on your reading. Sometimes you need to turn off completely. Literally shut yourself away under the covers to regroup, turn down the noise and start again. Sometimes the pain of others, literally causes you pain, headaches or tears. When someone asks you to go out after a day or work, you rarely say yes, because you need to go home and decompress and disappear before you can think about another thing. A lot of missed opportunities, a lot of anxiousness, a lot of sadness.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND YOU ARE NOT CRAZY.
You may be a part of a small part of the population that experiences the world in a very unique way. You may be a HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON or HSP and that’s okay. While sometimes this uniqueness causes you to feel like you don’t belong or that something is wrong with you, it’s actually a gift. Once you recognize this gift, you can enable yourself to truly use your sensitivity to your benefit rather than as the detriment it probably has become.
My life without medication is one sensation after another, constant reactions about every little detail of life. It became so overwhelming to me, myself, that I found a therapist and talked out all about my fears of the world. I was depressed for some time and now I am not. But it is still a daily struggle to understanding myself and how I relate to the world as someone who can pick up on the littlest of feelings, details and intuitions.
I am what they call self-aware but it is a hypersensitivity to that awareness and my concept of self and how I interact with others that bears heavily on me. I am constantly dissecting, ruminating, worrying, towards a more perfectness. I could not turn off these thoughts or feelings, even though I did get to talk about them openly once a week. It still didn’t make me a healthy person. In this way, I am an advocate for medication if it cannot be done alone with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and working hard to re-train the brain. I was in Therapy for 2 years before I spoke to a Psychologist about my anxieties and fears of the world. Medication has helped me see the world in a more relaxed and healthy way. I still use my work, my hard training of my mind to overcome some days, but my meds make life livable for me.
For me, being a Highly Sensitive Person, each day was a million onslaughts of emotions and perceptions and thoughts that I could not turn off or put aside. It ruled me and made me want to not be around people for the fear of all the feelings. Now I can walk more peacefully without intense fear and emotion about every single detail around me. I can turn down the thoughts, the pain and the worries of others.
Does any of this sound like you? Are you likely to avoid situations because they are too loud, too overwhelming or too much? Do you retreat into yourself when you “just can’t even?” I know the feeling and you are not alone. I am very much an extrovert. So being highly sensitive isn't necessarily a shy or introverted quality. It is just how some of us have managed to handle the world around us. I am still learning about myself and plan to write much more on the subject.
Reading the books below is helping me not to be angry with myself for having these qualities, rather be thankful that I experience I colorful chaotic world, that I am working to navigate. There's so much to see and feel, I just need to slow down and smell the roses. I also need to not internalize other people's problems. They aren't mine to solve. I feel so deeply for the people in my life that I have a hard time learning of their worries and pains and not making them personal and real for me as well. This causes a lot of sadness and pain and I must learn to use my empathetic tendencies in a healthier way. Being sad for others, does not make that other person NOT SAD. But not being sad for them, doesn't mean I don't care. I can understand and be there, but I must learn to let go of the pains in my heart for those who weep. I also have noticed that a way to soothe myself in this chaotic world has taken shape in my bouts with Trichotillomania which I have blogged about before. It makes sense to need to soothe when handling my environments seems so hard. By understanding that I am an HSP, I feel like I am not alone, I am not crazy, I am aware. And now I can spend less time punishing myself for feeling so out of place and for knowing that I see the world on an intense and deep level.
I am currently reading
The Highly Sensitive Person
by Elaine N. Aron Ph.D.
by Elaine N. Aron Ph.D.
Click picture -> Amazon
I am also reading
Self-Care for the Self-Aware:
A Guide for Highly Sensitive People,
Empaths, Intuitives, and Healers
by Dave Markowitz
Click Picture -> Amazon