When I was a teenager, there were many moments when I didn’t understand myself and I was noticing how much I differ from my friends. I wouldn’t get why small things hurt me so much, why I cared so deeply and why I understood and saw things much more complex in situations that were very simple for others. I can get a headache and feel anxious when different smells mix together, I get distressed when I hear more than one source of music and I haven’t seen a single horror film in my life. I get scared quite easily. Funny noises, shadows in the dark and I am turning on my light to check if everything is good.
And at that time I thought… I am a teenager. Not only naturally my hormones are going crazy, but I was also on hormonal treatment. I thought I will grow out of it. I will grow my thick skin. Finally, I will be an adult and all these small things won’t bother me. Fifteen years later I know I couldn’t be more wrong.
If you tell me a story about a tragic accident I will see it in my head like a documentary film. With details, emotions, smells and light. My senses are so sharp, that if there is too much happening, I will have an anxiety attack. My heart will beat much too fast, I will have a problem to breathe normally and I will get little blinking of light in my eyes. And if you are going to tell me to calm down, even with my best effort it won’t help, because it is not happening only in my head. My whole nervous system is going crazy. And I need to cut all stimuli and try to reset the system. Now I know, that I am like that. I know what to do to help myself and a milestone here was when one day I just googled:
Why do I feel too much?
And one of the first results that popped up was hsperson.com run by Elaine Aron a psychologist, who says that high sensitivity is not a newly discovered trait, but definitely one that is misunderstood. Just when you enter the website she asks you these few questions.
Is this you?
- Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
- Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
- Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
- Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
- Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
- Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
- Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
- When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?
I was reading these questions and answering yes to all of them. Then I took an online test and it also showed that for sure I am highly sensitive. And there are many people, who will tell you, that you have to toughen up and not be such a crybaby, but you can’t change the way you feel. You can only do your best to react better to these feelings. To not feel like having a constant meltdown it helps to:
- cut all the toxic relationships, in which you don’t feel loved, safe and appreciated. They are the strongest fuel for your anxiety.
- choose wisely, where you meet friends, what you do in your free time. Build as many positive emotions as possible.
- learn how to say no to things, people, events, that you know will make you feel distressed.
- don’t be afraid of looking for a perfect job – we spend too much time at work to struggle there with bad emotions. Maybe the job itself is too stressy, maybe your boss or colleagues are nasty – change them. You deserve a nice atmosphere to work.
- find out what helps you when you feel overwhelmed – someone will need to walk around, another person will prefer to sit down and relax for a moment. Drink water, hug someone and if it is possible – go away from what made you feel this way.
And remember that you are great – just the way you are!