Daily Archives: September 12, 2012

Flash in the Pan – a Hat Trick

Red is doing a weekly Flash Fiction challenge, Flash in the Pan  over at her place Momma’s Money Matters.   I am as always a little behind so here’s three for one – a hat trick. Be sure to check out the Flash in the Pan page at M3 for more prompts, to read others, and … Continue reading

Always the same title.. long time no post :D

..which actually is a good thing, seen how my thoughts aren´t so much concentrating on all the mental stuff 😀

Yes, I have been doing quite well over the last months. Ups and downs, sometimes, but nothing unbearable, actually. In addition, I discovered something new about myself, which isn´t that new really. I am a Highly Sensitive Person, in short, HSP. The definition has apparently been around since the 80ies, which makes me wonder why I haven´t happened on it before, seen how I do spend quite some time analyzing the state of my mental health usually. 

The good thing is, being a HSP is not an illness, but a feature 😀. The bad news: not being an illness, there is no cure. 

I have posted links to the definitions and questionnaires regarding HS all over my FB and other blog pages, so no need to go into it again here. Suffice to say that I recognize myself in every single issue pointed out. And quite a few of them have been rather eye-opening about a lot of problems I thought were only mine, or of other, ehm, challenged people like me. Nope. We aren´t crazy, we aren´t out of our heads, we just perceive stuff in a more intense way and react to it also more intensely. Very often, with pain, anguish and panic. 

On Friday, I have an appointment with my psychiatrist. Originally, this was because I was considering going back on the SSRI medication. Now, I am not so sure any more. I am still certain that if I reach a determinate level of anguish and insomnia, there are only the meds to make a halfway “normal” life possible.. but right now, I am realizing that when I avoid over-stimulation of any kind, I am quite happy and also don´t sleep to bad. The problem is, that there are days, even weeks, where it is possible to avoid the impact of too many stimuli on my sensitive body and mind, but others, where for work or other reason it simply isn´t.

And overstimulation can be anything – traveling, singing in a concert, going out with friends, having guests – nearly never things which I actually dislike or find difficult to do, but whenever there is a lot of time in my day where I am exposed to other people, sounds, visual impressions, odors, feelings, and other “signals” and emotions, without at least the same amount of time to “decompress”, i.e. nearly completely isolated, I get stressed. Meaning, my heart races, my body sweats, my GI tract reacts doing unpleasant things, I can´t sleep, I eat too much and unhealthy stuff at that. Mathematical. 

I already knew these mechanisms.. but ascribed them to a problem of MY brain chemistry, which still might be true, but it is something built in, and can be, hopefully, if not resolved at least improved, with a different attitude towards the high sensitivity. If, until now, I knew I would be an useless wreck for a few days after a work trip, but not why, I now know that this is the consequence of biochemical reactions caused by a constant stress my body and mind were under in the days where I was “forced” to be confronted with  nearly constant over stimulation. (What I call over-stimulation for a non-HS person would not mean anything, but for me it is for example having to eat at least two meals a day with other people, spending time on public transportation or in cars with more than one person, listening to a lot of different people talk, being in rooms with more than 2 people, being exposed to loud or continuous sounds, strong lights, unusual odours and colours. There is more, but that is the most usual).

I am not yet sure what exactly I can do to minimize this – renouncing the work trips is not an option right now, it is how I earn my living and also necessary to do the work I like. I have though started a part time job near home, which is wonderfully boring, meaning that I come home after 3 or 4 hours working there in the mornings not completely exhausted or overwhelmed like in many other occasions, but rather relaxed. 

One of the “funny” things about us HSPs is that we do exhaust easily when stimulated.. but also, we often search for the new, the exciting, the interesting and the fascinating. Insulating oneself in one´s home  isn´t really an option for most of us for our whole lives, even if a lot of us actually prefer working from home, or in “familiar” and quiet circumstances. 

So, the question is how to manage my “outings” into the world in a way that they don´t damage my health, and cause me an off-time of days afterwards. The main issue will certainly be to dose excitement and relaxation cautiously. For example, a ride on a crowded train for a few hours should be followed by a dinner on my own, early bed and (maybe with medicinal help) a sound night of sleep. If I have to hold a seminar for a whole day, I should at least try to not eat lunch with the participants, as unfriendly that might seem. That one hour for myself, in my room, or outside in a garden or park, could be the difference from being completely exhausted and feeling sick at the end of the day, or simple, normal tiredness after exertion. I have always WANTED to do that, but felt guilty for my “unsocial behaviour” and therefore usually didn´t, fearing how it could be interpreted. Now that I know that it is something my body and mind require, things might be different. I don´t know. But it is certainly worth a try.

During the psychiatrist appointment I will bring up the following issues: 

– High Sensitivity: does he know about it, and does he have ideas on how to make life easier with it?

– My doubts about me being actually bipolar. Analyzing the mood swings over the last years, I can clearly see they have been caused every time by things/people/events which made it impossible for me to take enough “down time” for myself and “hide” from outside stimuli/worries. 

– Possible alternatives to constant medication. Over the last weeks I have clearly seen that I can thrive quite well with a regimen of healthy food, enough physical exercise and balanced exposition to outside stimuli. There is need though for some solution for those periods where that is not possible, and I still need to function. Sleeping meds for the night.. and what could I take during the day in order to lower the strength of the impact of outside stimuli on my senses, and my reaction to them? Beta blockers do work sometimes, but mostly they lower my blood pressure so much that I can´t function any more. Which other temporary meds are there?

A full program 😀. I am curious what he will say.. I am very happy with the idea of not being SICK but simply differently wired, but he might see things differently. I need to decide what to do if he reacts refusing what I say and simply wanting to put me back on regular medication. 

We´ll see. One step at a time. Still, I feel I am on the right road!

Crowded

That’s how I feel most of the time.

Crowded.

By everything, myself, my kid, my life, the world.

It’s like I have no elbow room, everywhere I love I am bumping into something, getting no personal space whatsoever.

In mildest form it is irritating and makes me grumpy.

At its most extreme, it makes me panic, like there is a bag over my head and I can’t breathe and I get terrified.

Mostly I am just tired.

Tired of six bottles of pills every month, 8 pills a day, just to function, especially when it’s a lottery every day on how functional I will be.

I am tired of all the responsibility being on me, while her sperm donor gets to walk away scot free without consequences.

((Which is just indicative of my moodiness, because 99% of the time I’d be thrilled to take on all the responsibility for her if he’d just sign away his rights for good.)

I am tired of cats knocking my stuff over and climbing on me and trying to sleep on my head. (Yet at night I can barely get to sleep with a purring kitty next to me.)

I am sick of having to be up and out the door in the morning, being sociable, when my brain and personality don’t wake up til afternoon. (But if I don’t have anything to do and am stuck at home all day, I go stir crazy.)

I guess what I am tired of most is..

Well, me.

Myself.

I think I crowd myself with all my imbalances and issues.

To me, that’s like the ultimate step in leaving a state of denial and owning up to your own faults.

My counselor says I am choosing to focus on my faults rather than give myself credit for all that I have accomplished in spite of it all.

What she doesn’t understand is that my mother was the travel agent for guilt trips. The woman programmed me so well, I don’t know if I can be deprogrammed. She still holds a grudge because I chose to walk to my first day of kindergarten with the dog, rather than let her take me and hold my hand.

It’s hard to let yourself off the hook when your own mother keeps you that hook year after year after year.

And every time you attempt to let the guilt go and lighten up on yourself, someone is there to remind you of every fuck up you’ve ever made and keeping making, even if so called fuck ups are a by product of your mental disorders.

That’s not me absolving myself, I take responsibility for all my poor choices, but even a court recognizes extenuating circumstances and duress as things that affect competency. There have been times in my life when I was barely lucid, let alone competent.

Of course, the mainstream without mental disorders doesn’t understand or feel empathy for such things because, ya know, mood disorders and anxiety aren’t legit illnesses. (I hear this daily from Kenny, and I just want to punch him in the face, and have told him as much.)

I guess I have gotten a little off track, I got a phone call, and my train of thought is wonky.

I need to get a shower. When did something so basic as showering become such a chore? Showers used to be relaxing. Now it’s just one more task I have to complete.

Maybe I am just on overload.

Maybe I am just lazy, as my family has surmised.

Which considering my sister is 33 years old and still lives off our mom is a hoot.

I have my own place and am doing everything in my power to take care of my kid and make a better life for us.

But my mom would never give me credit for that, not with her golden child (ie; the one who is needy and dependent) involved. Not jealousy, just fact. Had I been the needy dependent one, I’d be the golden child.

Who knew a parent would punish you for being independent.

Least my dad is finally proud of me, only took 39 years.

Maybe one day I can be proud of myself without feeling conceited and boastful.

I’m sure my mom will be there to crush that with some guilt trip of years ago.

She still makes references to my poor choice of breeding with and marrying the donor.

Sure he was a mistake.

But without him I wouldn’t have Spook and I would live thru a thousand humiliations and heartbreaks for her.

Blah.

I really need Focalin to kep my focus on track, I am all over the place her.

You get the gist.

I feel crowded by life.

I feel like I can’t breathe at times.

Enter depression and panic.

Then enter a mood swing which changes it all.

Only for the mood to swing again and put my right back into the dark place.

Rinse, lather, repeat.

Not a real illness indeed.