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MartyrGirl

Highly Sensitive Person : Too Sensitive To Cope With Life

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Are there any other Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) out there with depression? What are your experiences? How can you cope with overstimulation?

Just recently, I found out that I am a HSP. No wonder that I broke down. I was working too hard, not getting enough sleep and constantly overstimulated. I was too hard on myself. I thought, everyone suffered from sounds that are too loud, light that is too bright, smells that are too intense, clothing that is in any way too tight or too rough-textured, and that the others can just cope with life better. However, I started asking the people around me, "Does the ringing of that bell also cause you pain, physical discomfort, and does it completely stress you out?" Then people said, "No, I like the sound of it."

That means, I really do experience sensory stimulation completely different than other people. I thought, I was inadequate and the world just was a torture chamber. My whole life, I believed that there was no way out of being overwhelmed. That I didn't deserve peace ad quiet and a happy life. And I also believed, people would percieve things the same way as me, e.g. noise as intolerable, and that they would be noisy in spite of my discomfort. Now I know that for them "noise" was just a normal sound. So they actually didn't laugh out loud in order to cause me discomfort. Nobody knew I suffered so much from loud noise of any kind.

Looking back, it is no surprise that I have suffered from depressive episodes since my adolescence. But now, I want to take my high sensitivity serious and not expose myself to too much stimulation, if I can avoid it. It is a gift and a curse. But my therapist said I should learn to see it as a gift.

I figured out so far that at least it helps me express myself in an artistic, creative way, since I can observe details very well.

15 to 20% of the population are supposed to be HSPs. In such an overstimulating world, I think it is really hard for us HSPs not to develop burn-out and depression.

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Hi MartyrGirl,

I think being a HSP is a gift so I agree with your therapist. I read a couple of books about it. You probably have too. I am in the same boat.

What helps me the most is thinking of my brain in a whole new way. My brain works 24/7 to keep me alive and healthy. Even while I sleep it is carefully regulating my heartbeat, blood pressure, breathing, body temperature, digestion and so many other things. My survival is always #1 on its to-do list. For my brain my survival is its highest priority. So in a very real sense, my brain is literally my best friend in life. Its always there for me.

But it is small, weighing just 3 pounds. It is like an infant in many ways. It is very sensitive. Throughout my life, my brain has made me #1. At the same time, I have put its health and well-being at the very bottom of my to-do list. For my whole life, other things were more important than my poor little brain. I forced a lot of perfectionist goals on the poor little thing: "Make me the ideal son to my parents!" "Make me the ideal student and hard worker and success!" "Make me the ideal friend and companion!" "Make me the ideal strong person and the ideal smart person." So many unrealistic ideals I placed on my brain's poor shoulders! So many. And so many perfectionist goals others tried to force on my brain too. So sad.

Not only that, but I myself and others forced all kinds of artificial senses of life-or-death urgency on my brain in non life-or-death situations and stressed it out. Now I am learning to love my brain, love it the way a mother loves a particularly dear infant. From now on, as much as I can, I make my brain #1 in my life with everything else being second or third or fourth. That means protecting my brain from sounds that are too loud or lights that are too bright. It also means protecting it from people whose value system is detrimental to my little brain's health. I feel that I owe no apology for this. My brain is good to me and I want to be good to it.

I think the fact you are a HSP is a blessing and a gift. Take care of your sensitive brain. It is sweet and good to you. Especially when it is suffering from depression, it can help a lot to love one's brain a lot, a whole lot. The brain is amazing. It is not an all-knowing, all-seeing, all powerful being, but it is amazing. It never makes mistakes on purpose. It never wakes up in the morning and thinks: "Today I will make a HUGE mistake." It deserves a lot of admiration, and understanding and love. At least that is what I think in my own fallible and humble opinion.

I wish you all the very best in getting the joy of life back and your recovery from depression. Depression is a cruel and brutal illness. All good things to you!!!

:flowers:

Edited by Epictetus

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Interesting. I'd never heard that term before, to my recollection. I identified with much of what you described, so I did some looking around and found that I have MANY of the traits of a Highly Sensitive Person. My husband calls me an "emotional sponge" to my environment, for one example. I always felt like I was too sensitive and just... weak. It's comforting to know I'm not alone, not weak, and not any "less" for it. Thank you for bringing the topic up.

I can't help you with the coping, unfortunately. I confess I'm not very good at it.

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Psychologist Elaine N. Aron has written several books on the subject:

"The Highly Sensitive Person"

"The Highly Sensitive Person in Love"

being two of the most popular I think.

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I've read those books by Dr. Aron and I also highly recommend them. I'd say I'm an HSP though I've never had a therapist confirm that.

There's another good book called "Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight" by Sharon Heller. It's more about being sensory defensive which is slightly different but for me personally it seems that being an HSP and having some sensory issues are intertwined and can exacerbate each other, even more so if I'm also feeling depressed. Sort of like a chain reaction.

Accepting that you are sensitive and that it's perfectly ok to be that way is important and so hard to do sometimes. Especially when our society is so focused on the importance of being "tough", extroverted and moving a million miles an hour.

HSP, introvert, and sensory defensive are not exactly interchangeable terms but for me at least I've found these traits to "work" together in how I relate to the world.

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I've never been diagnosed officially but my therapist says I'm highly sensitive. I tend to overreact to things and becuase I was bullied when I was younger I'm paranoid also so I will always be hurt by what someone says even if it's not meant to be mean. There are times when everything seems like its coming at you all at once, but personally I enjoy j-pop and I'll listen to that because it's so upbeat and happy. Or I'll do anything (other than what I used to do, cut) to stop the world for a little bit. Have you ever tried meditation or visual imagery cds, I was shown this while I was in the hospital and it really does make you relaxed and helps you focus on something other than everything bombarding you all at once.

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Thanks everyone for your replies!

I ordered Dr. Arons books now from Amazon and I also got a CD with instructions on a body-scan based on MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) by Jon Kabat-Zinn. I do want to meditate regularly, but I can't get out of bed in the morning... Then at night I'm too tired, and during the day I'm busy with other things.

But meditation is supposed to be really helpful to calm the senses. When I start working again, I want to keep taking sensory breaks in between. My therapist suggested I do the body-scan. According to one book that I have read, it is supposed to be helpful to focus more on inner stimuli of the body as opposed to outer stimuli to avoid overstimulation.

I also read that HSPs are more sensitive to criticism and as children are more sensitive to tension within the family. I come from a dysfunctional family, so it is no wonder that I was very sensitive to the conflicts between my parents, my parents' divorce, and my mom's ongoing criticism towards me and that I took everything personally. HSPs are supposed to be very aware of other people's feelings. With me, this is definately the case. Then I tried to adapt as best as I could to other people's expectations, which I perceived very accurately. In order to please everyone around me, I gave up my perception of my own body. In this way, I didn't feel my needs and I wasn't aware of my boundaries. Only if somebody severely violated them, I noticed it afterwards, and then I snapped at the person. Or if I was totally overwhelmed and overstimulated, I freaked out.

Thanks, Epictetus, for your mentioning of treating the brain in a loving way, like an infant! One author (Georg Parlow from Vienna, Austria) also suggests that it is helpful to treat our extremely sensitive nervous system like the body of an infant.

Anyway, I have just been discharged from a 10-week long inpatient treatment program. And I made a firm resolve to treat myself in a loving way, to take care of myself, and to learn to see my high sensitivity as a gift.

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I've known I was a HSP since Ms. Aron's book came out. I think I bought one of the first copies. I also suffer from severe clinical depression. I'm sorry to be so negative, but I don't see this extreme sensitivity as a gift, but more of a curse. My friends and family are finally learning to be more patient with me, but none of them understand, and that makes my life that much more difficult. I can't travel anymore because I won't sleep, even with medication. No matter what I've done in the morning, by mid-afternoon, my mind starts to shut down and I need quiet. I'm happy for those of you who are able to see this as a gift, and wish I could do the same!

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I am very much HSP. The only way I know how to cope with overstimulation is to completely isolate when I am not at work. My husband listens to music through headphones, and I avoid noise when I am at home. Being around my cats helps too, they are very soothing.

I have zero social life and I am fine with that. I work, get groceries and prescriptions, and occasionally eat out. I have to limit my world a great deal to be able to cope with it. There's work, Food Lion, Target, and a few restaurants I like. I won't go during busy times though...I hate the noise!

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I'm very much so HSP and those books were on my to do list on to buy. I get headaches anytime it rains, I hate bright lights, if the music is up too loud I'll get very annoyed and stressed out. I get very emotional easily, and I'm affected by my environment. Now I'm starting to notice how I'm affected by perfumes, and I have to wear body spray's that's not quite intense. My senses are sensitive and I pick up on peoples moods and than it starts affecting me. I've only heard about it last year and I'm still finding out more and more about it. Believe these are books that I should probably purchase soon, cause it's always been affecting my life.

You're not alone MartyrGirl, hang in there! :hugs:

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Oh, bright lights. Another torment. The lights at my workplace are so bright, they make me feel overheated. By the end of the week, I am so completely overstimulated that I sleep for 12 - 13 hours and still don't feel rested when I wake up.

I will have adequate light to read by at home, but not more than that.

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I'm definitely a highly sensitive person too in every way: to criticism, smells, aesthetics, people's tone of voice, facial expressions, anything and everything! Didn't realise it was a condition in itself, but definitely sums me up!

It's great that you have seen the positives in it. I've realised because of it I am extremely empathetic to others (unless I'm upset with them) and very intuitive and can read people so well, my instincts are always right in every situation (even though I don't usually follow them) and have had many strange telepathic experiences that seem more than just coincidences.

Do you have bad anxiety too?

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It's good to know that I am not alone!

Makemesmile, yes, I also have anxiety about anything and everything. I'm in a constant state of tension because of my high sensitivity. Every little thing completely stresses me out. When I travel, I have loose motion one week before the trip because of the anxiety and stress. Then of course I can't sleep days before and during the trip. When I travel with other people, I get on everyone's nerves because I freak out about everything.

I'm still working on seeing the positive side of being an HSP...

Just today I read on the internet that many people gifted with high intelligence are HSPs...

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Does anyone else have the trick I do for knowing when the phone is about to ring? It's like I can sense a noise about to happen, and I look at the phone...then a couple of seconds later, it rings.

It's kinda freaky, to be honest. I have a phone phobia because I hate the ringing sound. Doesn't matter what ringtone I pick, I just don't like being startled.

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It's really limiting me....being highly sensitive, but I've found a quiet community to live in, a job that suits me fairly well, and a nice house in the woods. I don't like being highly sensitive, but I try to accept it and enjoy the small pleasures in my life.

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I wish more therapists were open about HSPs. They just seem to "ignore" at lot of times. I know for sure that I am sensitive to sounds. I don't like loud music, and if a telephone keeps ringing and no one is answering it, I get irritated. At work, everyone thought I just liked to be on the phones because I kept answering them. But in truth I would try to answer it fast, because I just hated the ringing, yet people could let that phone ring 50 times and not be bothered by it. Smells,  I also was tested for tone aptitude and I scored high on it. Which makes sense, because I can hear people's tone of voice in a heartbeat and am very influenced by that.

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On 7/18/2013 at 9:59 AM, MartyrGirl said:
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Are there any other Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) out there with depression? What are your experiences? How can you cope with overstimulation?

Just recently, I found out that I am a HSP. No wonder that I broke down. I was working too hard, not getting enough sleep and constantly overstimulated. I was too hard on myself. I thought, everyone suffered from sounds that are too loud, light that is too bright, smells that are too intense, clothing that is in any way too tight or too rough-textured, and that the others can just cope with life better. However, I started asking the people around me, "Does the ringing of that bell also cause you pain, physical discomfort, and does it completely stress you out?" Then people said, "No, I like the sound of it."

That means, I really do experience sensory stimulation completely different than other people. I thought, I was inadequate and the world just was a torture chamber. My whole life, I believed that there was no way out of being overwhelmed. That I didn't deserve peace ad quiet and a happy life. And I also believed, people would percieve things the same way as me, e.g. noise as intolerable, and that they would be noisy in spite of my discomfort. Now I know that for them "noise" was just a normal sound. So they actually didn't laugh out loud in order to cause me discomfort. Nobody knew I suffered so much from loud noise of any kind.

Looking back, it is no surprise that I have suffered from depressive episodes since my adolescence. But now, I want to take my high sensitivity serious and not expose myself to too much stimulation, if I can avoid it. It is a gift and a curse. But my therapist said I should learn to see it as a gift.

I figured out so far that at least it helps me express myself in an artistic, creative way, since I can observe details very well.

15 to 20% of the population are supposed to be HSPs. In such an overstimulating world, I think it is really hard for us HSPs not to develop burn-out and depression.

I am an HSP and I am generally shy and depressed. There are some benefits to being shy like you said. You're more creative and expressive of yourself and you perceive things differently.

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