Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My s#@% is Highly Sensitive!

Yesterday, as I was enjoying a leisurely trip to the urgent care center with the Grinch, a.k.a. my youngest daughter, who was sporting a very high fever and some suspicious lesions on her throat, I did something very, very naughty.  Something strictly at odds with my moral code.  Let's just keep this tidbit of information between us.  

I ripped a page out of the November 2012 issue of "O" Magazine and shoved it in my purse.  

My oldest daughter looked at me quizzically and said, "Mama, why are you tearing that out?"  

"Because it's very, very important to me. Shhhh...."  Real nice, right?

I will not be held responsible for my actions.  Spending four days nursing a tiny, mean person and cleaning up said person's vomit is enough to push any good citizen to the edge.  If you don't believe me, just try it (come over right now.)

The reason behind my evildoing is that I was instantly so overcome with emotion while reading this article that I had to have it.   Has that ever happened to you?  You read something and it's like a lightening bolt shoots down from the heavens and you know, "That's about me!"

The article, "How Thin Is Your Skin?" is adapted from The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine Aron, PhD, who has been studying highly sensitive people for more than twenty years.  You may be thinking, "Great! Just what we need, another diagnosis."  And you are right.  We live in a world that is flush with psychiatric illnesses and medications.  But, HSP is not a disorder because it affects too many people.  Between 15% and 20% of the population have this highly sensitive personality trait.  Do you?

Take a peak at the questionnaire Dr. Aron has developed to indicate whether or not a person may be considered highly sensitive.   I will confess that I could absolutely identify with all but one of these indicators.  In other words, my shit is highly sensitive.

According to Dr. Aron, and many others in the field of psychiatry, HSPs are keenly aware of the world around them because they process sensory input more deeply than the rest of the population.  Imagine your brain is a sieve that has larger holes than the next guy's.  This means that HSPs need to consciously create downtime for themselves to catch a break from all the sensory overload.  

I have been unconsciously doing just this for as long as I can remember, but there is a certain amount of shame that accompanies being that person.  Don't pull out your violins; I am happier with myself than I have ever been and honestly wouldn't change a thing.  But, at a young age I knew that my desire for peace and quiet was not the norm for other kids.  Certain sounds and textures set my teeth on edge.  Too many people talking loudly or at the same time makes me crazy.  I even quit Jazzercise because all those "party screams" and count downs made me want to shimmy my ass out the door.  When my sweet children bombard me with questions, I feel like a cornered rat. Just try taking away my alone time and I will choke somebody. And house guests?  Just the thought of one makes my blood pressure rise (but you know I love you). 

For a long time, I believed that this made me selfish, lazy, or weak minded.  At the age of 34, I really do know that none of these describe me.  You see, it's actually really smart to figure out what you need to live happy and do it.  When I take care of my kooky brain, I am able to appreciate and love the people around me to the best of my ability; especially my HSP child, who needs a whole lot of patience and compassion. Taking care of me makes me the best possible mom, friend, and wife.  

My husband knows and accepts all of my quirks and God love him for it.  He is a talker. He is loud.  He needs very little sleep or downtime to live.  We could not be more different, yet he loves me just as I am and only teases me about it a little.  And he does not snap at me when I ask him to turn down "Around the Horn" for the umpteenth time.  Thanks for the patience, Babe, and for not trying to change me. 

Are you an HSP?  Do you know one?  I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

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