Highly Sensitive Person?

Throughout life we are told not to be “too sensitive”, “over dramatic” or “too intense”. Some of us are ridiculed or judged for showing any of these traits. Maybe some of us have a sensitivity that you don’t feel and that’s ok as we are all different, nearly everything in life is a spectrum and our unique traits make us human.

This post is about being highly sensitive and how its ok to be, you can learn how to embrace who you are. The first paragraph is a bit of a intro to my personal thoughts, I will again pop some headers down so you can skip through and choose to read certain parts. Thank you for reading. 

Introduction

I personally felt that those around me made me feel abnormal for feeling so passionate, dramatic and sensitive, I always took things seriously and if someone acted like they didn’t care, especially when opening up, I would feel really alone. In reality I was probably overthinking a lot and each of us have different things that we love. 

I felt as though no one could keep up with my mind, I wouldn’t ever say I’m smart at all but I do spend a large amount of time thinking. Sometimes when I try to let some of these thoughts out people turn their back or get offended because all the words come out wrong. At some points in my life I learnt to not say anything at all. I think a lot of people feel this way!

I feel and think on an extremely deep level and I know I am not alone but I cant understand why those of us who are sensitive are taught to be ashamed. 

I began to only share my thoughts with my parents because everyone else would take it the wrong way and I began to feel guilty talking about myself or things I loved/believed in. I am very thankful to have such lovely parents and now a lovely partner who I feel I can open up to. 

My parents are the most inspirational people I have ever met. I look up to them and they’re the type of people I hope to become one day when I am wise and strong enough. Just a list of a few traits I believe they have; open minded, peaceful, supportive, sensitive, kind, funny, wise, positive, strong and smart. They work so so hard, much harder than anyone else I know, (in my opinion) they each have their own problems and they pushed through and became successful humans. They are constantly underestimated and those around us cant always see how much they do for everyone, how much they have done for me. I hope one day they will know how incredible they are. 

What is HSP?

HSP stands for highly sensitive person, this is a genetic trait that is found in about 15 to 20% of the population, it enables you to feel and think incredibly deeply however can cause you to feel overstimulated and or misunderstood. Elaine Aron is a researcher in high sensitivity and sensory processing sensitivity. It was used in order to keep us safe but due to modern times it has become a burden to some of us due to the vast amount of stimuli that is to be processed so regularly if not all the time. 

Someone with HSP can be either introverted, extroverted or somewhere in-between. While we each feel we may experience some of the signs I will be discussing in my next paragraph, it doesn’t mean you are a HSP, maybe you might even find you have it mildly, however, a HSP will be very likely to feel “too” much and deeply compared to those around them. 

Preston has some fantastic articles and books which I have used to gather some of my information and bullet points in order to help people understand the basics – https://nipreston.com/new/biography/  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201711/24-signs-highly-sensitive-person

Preston has shown some excellent categories which are as followed; 

Sensitivity about oneself

Sensitivity about others

Sensitivity about ones environment

The signs of being HSP

I will be including Preston’s way of categorising these signs as I think it is very easy to understand and follow without missing much!

Sensitivity about oneself –

This is a category that reflects what you may feel in regards to yourself;

  • Trouble letting go of negative thoughts and or emotions
  • Get minor to aggressive physical symptoms in reaction to things that happen during the day eg headaches 
  • Affects eating and sleeping habits in a negative way due to something that has happened during the day
  • Anxiety is very common
  • You are your worst critic and beat yourself up 
  • Rejection is a harsh and scary reality even in minor situations
  • Almost always compares oneself to others and feels very unhappy from these negative social comparisons
  • Anger or resentment about situations in life or in society which seem unjust, aggravating or simply annoying. 

Sensitivity about others-

This category reflects what you may feel and react when it comes to others; 

  • Over worries or thinks about what others are thinking
  • Takes things rather personally 
  • Even if something may seem like “nothing” they feel it is difficult to just “let it go” 
  • Gets and feels hurt easily
  • Usually hides any negative feelings or due to the amount of “drama” in their life they tend to discuss negative emotions with others
  • Even if feedback is meant to be constructive they often don’t take it very well
  • Feels as though people are being judgemental even without lots of evidence  
  • Overreacts to real or perceived slights and provocations 
  • Cant be themselves in group situations
  • Self-conscious in intimate situations (worries about partner’s approval and unreasonably scared of being judged or rejected)

Sensitivity about one’s environment- 

  • Large public crowds or rooms full of people talking, or when too many things are occurring simultaneously are a nightmare
  • Uncomfortable when in and around bright lights, loud sounds, or certain scents
  • Startles easily at sudden noises
  • Easily triggered by violence, violent movies, hates seeing fights or acts of cruelty 
  • Feels unhappy following people’s posts (social media) 

Others- 

  • Functioning with little or no sleep is very hard, more sleep may be needed than the average person due to how intensely they feel
  • Emotional exhaustion is very real, some days can be an emotional roller-coaster, you are able to feel more than a few emotions in one day
  • Hard to move on from previous trauma for example a breakup, an insult or being backstabbed by someone 6 years ago can still linger
  • Navigating new environments can be hard
  •  Conflicts hurt deeply and finds it hard to forgive oneself
  • Doesn’t like to be rushed 
  • Sometimes boundaries are easily crossed due to struggling to say no and instead says yes to things they don’t particular like to do or feel comfortable doing 
  • Requires alone time to recharge
  • Feels misunderstood and lonely, sometimes believes “no one seems to relate to me” this is a trait not a choice
  • Can be introverted 
  • More likely to be emotionally reactive 
  • Prone to anxiety and depression – due to past experiences 
  • Picks up on emotions even if they’re not accurate – moods rub off on you a lot more
  • Fixates on body, tone of voice or facial expressions and then obsessing about it even when told “it didn’t mean anything” taking things too seriously 
  • Can see when someone is lying and it sucks because people don’t always want to feel exposed 
  • Neglects self care, making other peoples problems their own
  • Even if something doesn’t seem serious to you it may be very serious to some one who is highly sensitive 

People are quick to assume something like being a HSP is negative but there are so many reasons that make being highly sensitive worth it! 

The strengths of being a HSP

  • A much deeper level of understanding, a more powerful connection to ones emotions
  • Bonds that are made with other people are loyal and honest – some people take advantage but it’s the risk you take
  • Can read situations and see details others may miss, attention to environment – more likely to notice things such as a stain on the rug or nail colour changes
  • Self aware – deeper thinker, often misjudged as an overthinker and can sometimes lead to worrying about things that cannot be changed
  • Tearing up around other when speaking or listening to something emotional – even if they hide their vulnerable emotions they will relate and once close be a great support
  • Can be great listeners and also great talkers
  • Avoids negative friendships etc due to being taken advantage of so are more likely to know if you’re a good or bad person
  • Creative – negative and positive emotions are felt on a very deep level which can make it easier to appreciate or make art/write/talk
  • Very passionate – looks like overreacting – daydreamer – can put their heart and soul into everything they do so it’s the best and genuine 
  • Uncomfortable with injustice – want to make sure values integrity
  • Sensitive people will often have a deeper connection with animals and nature
  • Would rather do it the right way 
  • Vivid dreams which can enrich the inner world for the HSP’s
  • They’re not all shy and anxious – when the correct environment and needs are met they can thrive

Things that can help you if you believe you may be a HSP- 

Some of the things I will be mentioning may help just about anyone really as they’re essential to even those who don’t identify with being a HSP or having a form of Autism. 

I learnt a few things that I found suited me and my personal life, some of these things I have only just implemented within the last few months but I feel have helped me already! 

My anxiety is much more controlled and I can now see what may trigger any negative behaviours and find ways to reduce it before it even happens. Of course there are moments in life where mental health takes a toll and everyone has to learn how to ensure they are meeting the right requirements in order to achieve their full potential. I still get anxiety, depressive thoughts and many other side affects of being sensitive but I now know that this is not something to be ashamed of but something I must realise and learn how to embrace. There are some days where I am more sleep deprived or I know I have had too much caffeine and I am aware that this may cause negative reactions but I am more aware which enables me to change things about my day to accommodate and to reduce a spiral. 

Taking time out and relaxing/doing something I love is the perfect way to recharge from a draining situation, you may fall into the “but I don’t have time” well that’s an excuse to me. We all fall into that sometimes but if you make excuses like this about things then you were never really going to try to change. Sometimes we just need the push but I know I tend to make that excuse when I need to study or learn something to achieve something and I realised that if I am serious then I will make sure I have time even if it is just for 10 minutes. Imagine how much time you spend on social media, spend 10 minutes of that reading, learning or trying something you’ve always wanted to do instead and you’ll be surprised about how much you can do 🙂  

  1. Ensure you have enough sleep

Of course as you age you’ll find the right amount of sleep that suits you, try and create a sleep schedule to help reduce exhaustion. 

  1. Try and eat a healthier and varied diet

We all fall for fast food sometimes and as a treat that’s ok but try and eat healthier on a regular basis, ensure you are getting the required amount of vitamins and minerals to aid brain development and mood to be much more positive and productive. 

  1.  Schedule time out and recharge time

Sometimes life can be very hectic for anyone, make sure you take time out to recharge especially after intense or known trigger environments for example if you know you have an event you have to attend ensure you have given yourself the time afterwards whether that’s a few hours or days to ensure you are feeling yourself again. 

  1. Taking extra time or space to get things done

This can help reduce the feeling of urgency and stress, I know sometimes this is hard and some things cannot wait so maybe attempt to plan things in advance and try and keep a schedule so you can keep on top of those tasks before they become urgent. Remember to relax and recharge afterwards you deserve it! 

  1. Limit or reduce caffeine 

I know I am a sucker for caffeine, I try and limit myself to a maximum of two caffeinated drinks a day, I got into decaf a lot too as I found hot drinks were very comforting to me but the caffeine made me very shaky and anxious. As individuals we can each handle different levels of caffeine so try and find your happy amount 🙂

  1. Reduce bright lighting 

I for one hate bright lights, I opt for warm lighting and if possible I wear tinted glasses with yellow lenses to just reduce the brightness a bit to make it more comfortable. 

  1. Pick off-peak times to do things

I am not a fan of doing shopping, too many colours and people, however I know that certain times of the day mean its less crowded and I’m less likely to feel the pressure. So try and find out what times are less congested or maybe your shops or events you like to attend have special times to help you. 

  1. Surround yourself with a positive and natural environment 

Sensitive people are more likely to be drawn to nature and animals, a nice peaceful walk or quiet place can be perfect for you if you feel a bit overwhelmed or need to recharge. Don’t be ashamed if you don’t want to go to that party and you’d rather go for a walk and read a book or listen to some music, its ok to be yourself and embrace your hobbies and lifestyle as long as it doesn’t hurt others or yourself. 

  1. Surround yourself around positivity 

I struggled with this myself, I was around negative people and situations almost daily. I was obsessed with social media and gained very negative relationships with the negative people around me which isn’t healthy! I now avoid people who I know have a certain negative outlook which of course we all go through and if you want to talk I will always be happy to listen. But sometimes we need to avoid the worlds negativity because I myself found I was becoming very negative and I hated bringing others down! I find peoples emotions rub off on me massively so if I am around lots of negative people I then become negative so instead I reduced the time I spend with the negative people and I left many platforms of social media. Even just simply reducing the amount of time you spend on social media can help you massively. 

  1. Lastly remember your worth

You are enough and you are worth it, overthinking is so easy and its ok. Remember you’re a deep and passionate thinker and you are very emotional and sensitive. If someone says you are “too sensitive/overreacting” or “you need to toughen up” or “stop taking it personally” or even the dreaded “why are you worrying, just forget about it” then I advice you tell this person to leave you alone haha…or maybe the more adult approach, attempt to teach them or advise them why those statements aren’t fair for people who are highly sensitive. Your emotions are worth the time, you are highly sensitive and kind and I know it may cause upset but you have to remember it’s a great thing being sensitive. People without this trait wont know quite how it feels to feel so deeply and that’s ok because one person at a time we can help everyone understand that we’re all different but we are all worthy. 

I would love to hear what your thoughts and experiences are with being, knowing or learning about what a HSP is. Of course there are way more aspects to this trait so I am sorry if I missed things or you believe other things 🙂 I would like to hear your opinions! Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to try and understand those who are highly sensitive, you may even find out something new about yourself and learning is the best gift of all. ❤ 

URL for the image: https://graymattercounseling.com/10-signs-you-might-be-a-highly-sensitive-person/

Sensory issues

In this post I will be discussing sensory issues; a quick disclaimer is that this post will be more focused on what I have witnessed and what I also live with. There will always be individuality and some of us will not experience the same sensory problems but that’s ok, we are all unique. I also want to apologise about how long this will be, there’s so much more that I could mention but this post will already be a sensory overload to some haha…I’m actually really sorry! -I have included headers so you can skip around a bit 🙂 

WHAT ARE THE SENSES? 

What is the definition of “sensory”? “The definition of sensory is something that has to do with the senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, or hearing. An example of sensory used as an adjective is a sensory event, such as the smelling of flowers. YourDictionary.” I took this straight from a generic dictionary webpage. For us with a form of ASD we tend to have a heightened or over sensitive sensory system, “Sensory Integration Dysfunction”, this is very common and it can affect each of us mildly to severely and can cause emotional outbursts and much more. 

We see the world very differently compared to a neurotypical human and sometimes it can be very frustrating, uncomfortable, frightening or in some lucky cases, fascinating and calming. I find that I myself and many others I have spoken to, have difficulties with movement and coordination which comes across as clumsiness.  “Sensory Integration Dysfunction” is when there are problems with the integration of the sensory system for example there are issues receiving, organising and or filtering and making any sense out of sensory information.

The various systems in our bodies that are included for the integration of senses are the vestibular system or the inner ear balance, this responds to movement and gravity. When this is affected sometimes its hard for the body to understand when it is stationary or moving and the speed of movement. 

The five senses which are; sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste. 

Lastly the proprioceptive system which is the system that works with muscle contraction in response to incoming information, an example of proprioception is being able to throw something without having to look at the throwing arm directly or being able to know what surface you’re standing on without actually looking down. I could go into even more detail about all of this but I think its enough for this purpose really. 🙂 

Some basic examples of sensory issues that most people are known to suffer with are; issues with bright or flickering lights, scratchy clothes, loud and certain frequencies of noise, textures or food and materials, strong smells. 

MY MAIN SENSORY PROBLEMS-

I am a highly sensitive person, I will go into HSP a bit better in a future post as this is also a very relevant to a lot of people. I have many problems surrounding my sensory system and I wish to share some with you and maybe some people can gain a better understanding what some sensory problems may look like for someone who is highly sensitive Asperger’s. I am not including the whole picture as there’s so much more to explain but this post is already so long I’m sorry! 

A quick reminder, we can become withdrawn easily if we are put in situations that affect our sensory issues so please have that in mind when it comes to loved ones or anyone you may suspect to have sensory problems. 

First is sight, for me sight is a rather big one, I get a lot of side effects from my issues. I will get a migraine most weeks and I tend to feel motion sick at least once a day. I am very sensitive to light, bright light gives me headaches/migraines, burns and causes me to feel faint. I take medication to reduce the affects of migraines when they do happen and I often reduce my exposure to certain types of light with different types of glasses with special lenses (a lot of people have this problem). I normally have issues with a sudden exposure to a bright light (made worse if I am in the dark to begin with for example a flash light or sunlight behind trees) or being in florescent light\blue light. Any bright colours, flashing lights or busy patterns can make me dizzy, disorientated and motion sick, for example the blinds in some offices tend to make me feel a bit nauseous. Patterns, lines or words that are too close together or are too busy for my eyes to focus on. Even some suit shirts with lines or patterns can have the same disorientating affect. 

When I walk into a room I will often focus on small details such as the exit, the coffee stain on the floor, the curtains not being symmetrical and so on. I am much more likely to see details much quicker, sometimes those details are very helpful and sometimes they’re pointless to most people but not to me. 

Smell, I don’t have too many issues with this other than over powering smells such as certain perfumes, cleaning products, plastics and candles make me feel a bit nauseous or may cause headaches. 

Taste and texture of food is a large one for me, I have lots of issues with foods such as jelly and eggs. Anything with a slimy texture can turn my stomach and cause me to gag, feel nauseous or panic. I have always separated my food out on a plate, no two things could touch however, I have gotten slightly better now and even include basic sauces but I still don’t enjoy too many textures on one plate. This can make me gag and feel very uncomfortable. I dislike strong flavours so I will often go for the plain and basic option if there is one, I also have no problem eating the same foods regularly as long as they don’t change. 

Touch; there are only a few textures I really dislike such as velvet, rough wool, tags, crumbs on a seat or bed, sand in shoes etc. Most of these textures can make me physically sick but thankfully I don’t come across these problems very often as they are common hates for those without sensory problems too. I do however, LOVE smooth and soft textures, I will rub my face on fluffy pillows and touch book covers all day, I feel physically calm when I hug a stuffed animal toy or even better have some cuddles with my dog or pet rabbit. I really struggle with holding hands or touching skin to skin with people other than my partner; due to working in a company where I tend to meet new people I had to learn to suppress the urge to whine when I had to shake hands with someone. Its not about the person, its about the contact, so please don’t think I am being rude if I don’t shake your hand. Long cuddles or handshakes/holding (with anyone other than my partner) makes me writhe, if I am under stress or feeling over loaded I will be even less tolerant. Pain doesn’t affect me as much in some ways, I have a high pain tolerance to certain pain for example the dentist and getting tattoos  don’t really phase me but I am very sensitive to the heat and the cold. 

Hearing; this is a big sensory problem for me in most cases, I really love quiet and calm environments and every time I am in a horrible sensory overloaded environment I regret leaving my safe little quiet one.  Loud or surprising noises such as balloons and fireworks can make anyone jump however, I have hypersensitive hearing to certain frequencies so sometimes certain noises such as a firework or electrical appliance/lighting can make it feel like you’ve just pushed a needle in my ear which makes the experience so painful and unbearable. Loud music or chatting can make me feel very anxious and dizzy, I don’t go clubbing anymore and sometimes even small gatherings with rowdy people can make me feel very uncomfortable and struggle with focusing or providing adequate attention to those present. I tend to hear things that others don’t or others may struggle to hear, I will hear a tap dripping or the oven go off from the other side of the house, I can hear the quiet beep of a thermometer or the buzzing of lights in a busy office. 

SENSORY OVERLOADS – 

Sensory overloads are really common and many of us suffer them regularly, it happens when one or more of the senses are over-stimulated from the environment. An example may be, busy streets, lots of information, media etc. I am very lucky to have the job, the parents and the partner I do! My workplace is incredibly understanding and I know if I needed anything or asked for support they would do everything they can and I am so grateful. My parents and partner are the same, I know I can count on them, I need to learn how to accept support and care from those around me. 

Too many things going on can also cause sensory overloads, parties, large gatherings and many other events are a real challenge for someone like me. If I am in a good place in my life (emotionally, mentally) or have had an adequate amount of sleep then I will be able to handle the situation much better but sounds and sight may affect my ability to focus. A busy, chatty office is not ideal especially if I am having a tough time personally. Sometimes my issues with focusing or staying on task can seem a bit rude but I honestly don’t mean it, its either have a blank confused Morgan or have a crying hunched over in a corner rocking Morgan. Something like a hum or tapping may seem like nothing to you but to me it’s a hoard of mopeds racing past you or a bunch of fireworks going off in a bathroom one by one while you stand in the middle…I even avoid most movies especially if they’re action or thrillers; the images are moving too fast, the sound is too loud, there’s too much blood which can all cause a sensory overload. Even just hearing the theme song for the famous casualty show makes me have an anxiety attack. It feels like everything is trying to get you and you cant run away, the pain is so intense and overwhelming the only thing you can do is shut down, cry or stim.  Those with a form of Autism are not the only ones who can experience sensory overloads, there are plenty of other conditions that also have sensory overloads regularly. 

END NOTES-

Are there any positives to being sensitive and having heightened senses? Yes, there’s plenty of positives to being like this. For starters I can hear frequencies that others cannot, I will notice small details (highly detail orientated) and problems much quicker and easier. I can find wally very quickly and solving puzzles and problems come naturally and easily to me haha. I pay attention to the details and the whole pictures fits into place a lot easier. We are more likely to notice details than the neurotypical mind which makes us great for certain jobs and careers but of course again we are all very different, so some of us may be detail orientated and others will have traits that will suit them better for other roles. 

To some people sensory problems seem silly and I have had many people roll their eyes or tell me to get on with it but to me these sensory issues can cause trauma, sickness, anxiety and even prevent me from doing my daily tasks. This isn’t something we can just “get over”, sometimes we never find coping mechanisms to deal with our problems and instead we avoid. Don’t push someone to eat something or do something that makes them feel uncomfortable including those who don’t appear to have a form of Autism, you don’t know how they feel and it could be much stronger than how you feel about it. Give each other time, space and care so that we can all grow and learn how to cope together, I find that I am learning how to live more comfortably all the time and I know others have had similar growth. Each of us feel differently and you must remember that something that may not bother you could bother someone else. What you find easy may not be easy for us or others. I try to be mindful but I know its hard sometimes so just try your best and that’s all that matters 🙂 

Unsure who made this short comic but it felt very relatable 🙂