What is Wrong with Me?
I stand before the metal door and grit my teeth. A woman’s scream comes from the other side. Then an explosion. I take a deep breath and release it slowly. I can do this, I tell myself. I’ve come armed.
I reach into my jacket pocket and pull out my gummy, orange earplugs, stick them in my ears, and open the door. . .
If you’ve ever taken earplugs to a movie theatre, you also might be an HSP–a Highly Sensitive Person.
If perfume gives you a headache, if those bright fluorescent lights in the grocery store make you squint, if flashing images and crowds drain you, you might be an HSP.
Why Am I Different?
Since I was a child, I’ve known I was more sensitive to external stimuli than most people. My mother says that even when I was a baby, she couldn’t take me out to restaurants or stores because I would cry inconsolably.
Now, I manage to buy my groceries without weeping, though I avoid busy shopping times. And I love to eat out, though I prefer quiet restaurants.
I still can’t keep up with my amazing friends who work full-time, run marathons, chair committees, volunteer, all while rearing five children. This used to bother me. Actually, it depressed me. I felt like I was “less than,” or “not enough.” Deficient. Why was I so tired and overwhelmed when I did half the activities of my energetic friends?
Then, when I was thirty-something, I read Elaine Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person, and the light dawned: I had Sensory Processing Sensitivity.
Now I know that as I go through my day, I am more affected by the noise and lights and crowds than the majority of people. I am well aware of a change in the weather, which, unfortunately, gives me a migraine.
On the flip side, I pick up on micro expressions and slight gestures. I can often read friends’ and strangers’ moods. I’m the first to smell smoke when green beans are burning on the stove.
I notice the beauty of small things.
Any other HSP’s out there? How has it affected your life? What little (or big) changes have you made to cope?