Overly sensitive, as well as under sensitive.

by Marie
(USA)

Hi, I've had a wide and odd variety of behaviors and symptoms ever since I was a child. I do have Tourette's Syndrome (which I've been told has somewhat of a link to SPD) and I've also been diagnosed as being Bipolar. Unfortunately... none of these things really explain the things that have plagued me most in life.


As an infant, my mom said that I couldn't stand to be touched, and that growing up I was very much a loner and a tad-bit anti-social. She said I couldn't stand to be touched at all, I refused to let her touch my hair, and that even the slightest touch would irritate me and often anger me. Even as an adult now, if someone touches me it inspires deep anger and fear and often outright aggression.

While sensitive to shallow touches, I enjoyed inoculations as a child and would often shove sewing needles through my skin and crave things like acupuncture... and I'll use induced pain as an antidote to other types of physical pain. (Smashing my fingers when I'm having joint pain in them, beating my head against the wall, cutting my face, pinching myself until I bleed, punching myself.)

My entire life I've experienced pre-syncope and dizziness/extreme nausea/diarrhea. I would frequently smell things that weren't really there, which would result in me becoming violently ill and dizzy. I would also have an exaggerated reaction to smells that were there... also becoming ill and having to sleep off the symptoms. I would also have exaggerated responses to things that I would taste, hear, or see.

For example, I'm really sensitive to noises. Something as simple as someone speaking can give me the feeling that everyone in the room is talking over each other and like there are many things going on when in fact.. its usually just one person talking quite casually. I become extremely confused and even angry when this happens. I have a hard time focusing on the specific noises or words that someone is saying... and can't follow a conversation. Also... when someone speaks... I can look right at their face, hear them loud and clear, and not comprehend the words coming out of their mouth... I don't mean that I can't understand the sentences... but I simply can't recall the words in my own mind as their being said. If you said cookie and asked me to repeat it, I could not repeat it. I have always had to have people repeat things to me as many as 10 times before I could understand what they were saying... and many people think I'm not listening to them.

For some reason, I also have a bizarre reaction to certain words with strong 'L' sounds in them. Like "seagull", "walrus", "fellate", etc... Sometimes these words make me angry and almost feel painful when I hear them... and other times they make me laugh uncontrollably. =( Also... I might taste something that I was not allergic to... and it would cause me to become violently ill because its almost like my brain can't comprehend the flavor. Its very odd. Other times I would look at something and the colors or images might seem to confuse me and I may have a hard time comprehending what I'm seeing. This tends to end in a very seasick-type feeling that has resulted in vomiting if I don't quickly stop looking at the image.

My most evident issue seems to be with touch. I can only wear short sleeve shirts and pants. I can only wear my hair in a ponytail, and can't stand the feeling of a loose ponytail or my hair against my own shoulders. I can only wear soft, thin materials. I also cannot wear anything but flip-flops or go barefoot. I lived in west virginia for 5 years... and would even refuse to put on long sleeves and regular shoes to go out in the snow and would simply tolerate the icy cold snow on my feet. The feeling of a sweater on my skin can actually make me angry and I have a very difficult time controlling the resulting aggression. I can't stand to have my face touched. I have a very difficult time washing it... and I absolutely refuse to wear makeup at all.

I was also extremely difficult to potty train. I didn't stop wetting the bed until I was 12. I peed overtly frequently and still do even today. Everytime I would stay at someone else's house I would wet the bed and I still do this as an adult. I could NOT stay at another person's house through the whole night as a child and I still find sleeping somewhere other than my typical designated spot causes unbearable anxiety that seems to be completely unrelated to the comfort of where I'm sleeping. And speaking of sleeping... Some nights I'll require no more than two hours of sleep... while most other nights I'll sleep in excess of 16 hours or better.

I've had a very bizarre life and I'm insanely misunderstood. My reactions to things are mostly considered nit-picky by most... but its not just a matter of personal preference or obsessions... These things have plagued me my entire life and what I was wondering was... Are some or all of these things related to SPD at all? I've tried for a decade to figure out what makes me like I am... but I've always just come off as being different. If it's not related to SPD, do you know of anything that it could be related to... or anyone/anywhere who could help me figure out what is plaguing me?

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Nov 11, 2009
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Hope this helps
by: Kristina

Hope this helps

I'm Biploar and have Tourette Syndrome. I've always felt I see the world a little differently than everyone else, almost like I'm "on the outside looking in?... So it's a relief to read about your similar experiences.

The anger is classic Tourette (I use the mood stabilizer Lamictal to dampen it) and so is the evasion to touch. I go barefoot most of the year, and can never wear wool, or anything other than 100% soft cotton. Labels or seams are a nightmare too. I've heard the border between Tourette and Asberger is very blurry on this subject, but most of those I've talked to experience some version of it. But since you feel it so intensely, it may have something to do with SPD.

I had the exact same thing as you with the needles, I used to "sew" on my fingertips (without thread) And I don't wear makeup either, the feeling of putting something on my face like that is sickening. I can barely use moisturiser on my hands, never on my face. I think this is SPD.

It can be almost impossible to focus on a conversation or a book I'm reading if someone in the other end of the room is speaking, even whispering. I can get angry at no reason when having a normal conversation, just because the other person's voice is suddenly grating and hurting my ears. High pitched noises are like needles piercing my ears. It's like I can't filter out what I hear, everything comes crashing in. I've been told that's my ADD, but maybe it's really SPD?

Smells are a real issue too but I don't feel as severe as you do. Though I have a distinct love for some chemical smells (ozone, sulphur) I gag when I smell onions, and can't go into a pharmacy because of the smell. This is probably TS, as severe like/dislike of smells is a strong symptom of Autism/Asberger as well as Tourette.

Have you heard of Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome? I was diagnosed with that because just like you I can function fine on 1 hour of sleep one night and need to sleep for 16 hours another. Or I 'jump over' a night or two and sleep for 24 hours straight. I thought that was just me being Bipolar...

I can sit across from someone, I can see their lips move, but it's like I zone out and all I hear is white noise. And just like you, they think I'm simply not listening. I've thought this was ADD, but it's possible it's SPD. Your reaction with words reminds me of a lecture I attended, by a man called Mister Tourette (Pelle Sandstrak). He reacts to certain words, movements, in his own unique way, and have teached himself to understand and function with/around it http://www.pellesandstrak.com/in-english.html

If you want to know if what you have are normal Tourette/Bipolar behaviour, this is the only good Bipolar/Depression chat I know of. It's members are Bipolar, ADD/ADHD, OCD, and/or Tourette and it's all ages and all kinds of people. It's definitely possible some of them know a thing or two about SPD. http://www.mixednuts.net/

I hope I was of some help.
Kristina (Norway)

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