Today I needed to book an appointment for my son to see a dietician. When I realised that I had to go to floor 10 – the top floor of our local hospital – I broke down into tears.
Last time I had to go to the top floor of the hospital I used the stairs because I don’t like lifts. As my husband and son needed to use the lift I asked someone to accompany me but I didn’t feel they understood my anxiety which made me feel worse.
And what was my anxiety that day? Was it the about light? Was it about the colour? Was it the echo of people’s feet and voices down the stairwell? Was it the feel of the cold hard walls? Was it the feeling of turning round and round too often for my brain?
Or was it all of these mixed together and compacted into one big package of extreme sensory overload?
I think it was and this is why the memory of this day made me cry.
I wanted a way out so I asked my son how he felt about going back to the hospital? I was secretly hoping for an “I’m not going back to that place!” but instead he said “Oh yes, I think it will be fine.” Now I was on my own. I couldn’t phone up the hospital and say that my son had anxiety and needed help. I would have to own my anxiety.
After much procrastination I took the bull by the horns and phoned the dietician back and said those liberating words “I have a processing problem.” I explained I didn’t like lifts or stairs. The dietician was fine about this, even though I detected faint surprise in her voice! She simply said she would refer us to the community dietician who could visit us at home or a GP’s surgery
I felt 10 feet tall. I had faced my greatest fear and admitted my greatest need. I didn’t feel silly. After all who can say how the brain of another person makes them feel when they are on the 10th floor of a building? Who? Nobody.
So next time you don’t want to look silly and admit your greatest need, remember not to use anyone else as an excuse, to be brave and stand up for the hidden no-diagnosis condition which is Sensory Processing Disorder!