I'm not broken!

by Melissa

For years I have wondered what is wrong with me. Everything could be fine and then in an instant I have wanted to scream, fight, run or just disappear. I thought I was bipolar or maybe I was just a bad person. It wasn't until I was in my 30s that a friend who was studying psychology made the casual remark that I was "sooo an HSP" I asked her what she meant and she said I was a "Highly Sensitive Person" I had never heard of such a thing, but it set me on a path of self discovery that I will always be grateful for.

When I was a young child my family would often look at me with confusion because I would hide in small spaces and cry or shout when I got overwhelmed. As I became a teenager, I could fly into a rage by the sound of my family eating at the dinner table. I felt like I had a hair trigger, and anything could set me off. I would rather be electrocuted than touch velvet or a cotton ball. I couldn't stand sitting in a crowded theater and watching a movie.

As an adult I learned that when my house was spotless, I got along better with my spouse and children. If I turned on the radio then the sound of my family eating didn't make me want to throw my plate across the room and run away forever. I started to develop coping methods, but I didn't know I why. I thought I was just neurotic.

Pregnancy was very difficult for me. All of my senses became heightened. I could smell garlic seeping out of people's pores and it made me vomit. Every little noise drove me crazy. Flashing Christmas lights made me feel like screaming. I began to have episodic breakdowns and I tried to explain how badly I just wanted to be alone, but there was another person INSIDE of me wiggling. I felt out of place in my own body and I wanted to stop existing. I just couldn't stand the constant sensory overload.

I often feel guilty because I see that my family is walking on egg shells. They don't know what is going to set me off. If my husband kisses me, will I reject him because I can't stand the smell of his breath? If my son wants to ask me for a glass of milk will I respond with an exasperated sigh because I am already battling with the sound of the television, the vent from the stove, and the smells of dinner cooking? Will something they say or do be the straw that breaks the camel's back and cause me to retreat to bed for the rest of the afternoon?

I hate the burden that I place on my family. It isn't their fault and I constantly battle the thought that maybe they would be better off without me. I am not suicidal. I don't want to harm myself, but there are definite times when I wish I could just unzip my overstimulated body and step outside of myself for a bit of peace and quiet. I wish I could turn off my senses or at lest turn them all way down so that I can focus on the people I love and show then what is in my heart. I wish they could see how much I love them and that my life is so much better with them in it, even though I get overwhelmed by their presence at times.

I am learning to be gentle with myself... To be kind and accepting instead of judgmental and accusing. I have discovered that Yoga is my best friend, and that there are times when my SPD is actually a gift. I recognize things that others don't. In the right environment, I can enjoy sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings that most people can't even identify. I can communicate what I am experiencing to the people closest to me without freaking out or running away, and they won't judge me. If I let my husband in to the quiet place I retreat to inside of myself and tell him what is bothering me, he won't cause further chaos, because he loves me and wants to make life easier for me.

It has taken me 10 years to get to this point, and I still have my bad days, but I want to encourage others who may be experiencing something similar that life can get more manageable and you are not broken. You are beautiful!

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