Highly Sensitive People – An Appearance of Anxiety – A Confession!

 

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How frustrating it must be for people who aren’t highly sensitive to watch and try to interpret the behaviours of the highly sensitive!

My husband and I are always having a discussion about when is anxiety really anxiety when it comes to high sensitivity.

To discuss this here lets first define anxiety

A definition I found:-

“a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.”

I would add that when we are anxious we experience physiological changes in our bodies causing us to feel and think in a certain way.

A Story

The other day we took our son aplaca walking.  I knew I was allergic to horses so don’t go horse riding but I thought I would test out alpacas to see if I was ok with them.  I felt pretty good walking them so assumed I had no serious allergy. Then when we went back to the farm to return the alpacas, there was a horse standing between me and the alpaca enclosure! My first thought was “Oh if I get near the horse, it will nullify my alpaca allergy test.”  So I stopped in my tracks and expressed my concern. I didn’t feel I had much time so I knew I would need to send some anxiety signals to people. This is quite simple. I just make my movements jerky and my eyes big. Inside I was as calm as a cucumber but nobody knew! Having deliberately moved 4 paces back from the horse I then calmly suggested to my husband he go and enjoy his cup of tea while I sit in the car.

I often use this anxiety signal trick. I use it when my husband says he is going to clean the bathroom sink with caustic soda! He says it has no smell but he clearly doesn’t have my brain! I have to alert him quickly that there is a problem and get him to take it seriously. My son uses this trick and probably learnt it from me. If a window is open and my son feels a fly may come in, he feels he has very little time to get the desired result of me closing the window. He has to react now and it has to be dramatic. “Oh no, the window – close it!” he squeals at the top of his voice. Or “Just get that crust off my plate!” He knows the crust won’t hurt him but something about it makes him uncomfortable so he has to send a signal.  I know essentially he is calm because two seconds later he is smiling and chatty.

So my secret is out!! Me and my son turn up the drama deliberately to get our needs met. I don’t think this is dishonest though. It comes from a place of desperation, a sense of knowing just how hard it is for us to live in the world with all the sensory stimuli around us. And it saves us lots of explanations and lots of words and lots of time.

So next time you see a highly sensitive person seemingly over-react,  look deep into their soul. Are they really anxious or are they just sending an anxiety signal to get the help they need?

 

Sensory Processing Disorder – There may be no diagnosis but it is Real!

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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!

 

 

 

What do We Do when we feel SO Highly Sensitive?

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We need to find all the the things that resonate with us and clothe ourselves in them:-

Sounds and voices

Textures and fabrics

Smells

Tastes

Light / Colour

But most off all we need to open our hearts to love. When we do this, the things that don’t resonate with us bother us less. We are still aware of them because this is what makes us highly sensitive but connection is power!