Now it makes sense!

I, too, discovered that I have sensory processing issues late in life, at the age of 28. By that time, I'd been in and out of treatment for depression, anxiety and eating disorders for 12 years...all the by-product of feeling like a "freak" in my own skin and not knowing how to relate to the world around me in a consistent way. Because I never had any difficulties learning as a child and because being getting the input I craved was fairly easy when I was young, no one noticed anything was wrong. I drove my parents crazy - would put on 20 outfits a day because nothing felt right, I refused to walk in my house for almost a year and insisted on somersaulting instead, I swam, did gymnastics and played soccer year-round, I would cry at the drop of a hat, I absorbed everything around me but especially the emotions of others, I loved hugs and climbing in my dad's lap, I ran circles around the house, bit my nails voraciously, and bounced my legs constantly.


As I grew older, I started to realize that my friends/peers were not longer doing the things I was and I felt very aware of how different I was. My sensitivities to how other people felt went from overdrive to out-of-control just as my peers' emotions were going crazy because we were pre-teens. I tried to hide my need for movement, tried to pretend I didn't like hugs any more either and that I loved to sit and watch TV, and that tried to convince myself that I didn't care how ALL the outcasts felt at every given moment. It makes sense now, looking back, how things played out and the transition between "normalcy" and living in dysfunctional hell happened very quickly. In my early teens, my sensitivities to textures/fabrics translated quickly into an obsession with body image (nothing felt right against my skin translated into "I'm too fat"), me bouncing my legs and wanting to move became an obsession with exercise and burning calories. On some level, I think I wanted to stay "small" because it was safer as a child - if I was a child, running and playing and big HUGS would still be ok. But I also realized that as I lost weight, my sensitivity to the world around me quieted a bit. When you're starving, basic functions is all your body is concerned with. I had no energy, I was depressed, I spun into the starvation mindset that fuels the most irrational of eating disordered thoughts, I didn't want to live at times... but the other option was unbearable, too. I couldn't live inside my own skin if I was "fat" and I didn't have to live in my own skin if I was very, very thin.
Bulimia took over and I lived out a mess of anorexic/bulimic behaviors for a very long time. As I would eat more and gain more weight, I couldn't think clearly, I would "spin" in my thoughts and feelings and was easily overwhelmed by everything. So I would relapse and things would become "simpler" again. I TRIED SO HARD to get better. Everyone in my life was frustrated with me for a very long time which only added to the self-hatred. I didn't understand, either, why I couldn't stop...why I "didn't want to" stop.

In my last residential treatment for the eating disorder, one of the therapists working there suggested I go for a sensory evaluation. I gladly went and was diagnosed immediately with sensory processing disorder. I was beyond blessed to have found incredible providers that were willing to take a break from their usual work with small children to work with an adult with an eating disorder - none of us knew what was going on or what exactly to expect but we paved a pretty cool road together and I'm eternally grateful. I'm doing really, really well now - far better than I ever imagined I would.

The book "Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight" by Dr. Sharon Heller was a huge help to me! You should definitely check it out!! It's never too late to get help. There are some really great people out there if you're lucky enough to find them. Good luck!!!

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