Increasing sound sensitivity - & a sketch of my life - I'm scared
I am just finding out about this. Please excuse the language - I am not a native English speaker.
I've been diagnosed with AD(H)S. I also had other typical problems like late or no development of certain social skills, problems interacting with peers and authority.
I always knew that this was because of something I used to call "information overflow". Processing the auditive takes so much time that I rarely get to processing the visual - gestures and facial expression. Additionally, I often fail to dismiss surrounding sounds and visual impressions. It seems to me that I hear and see more details than most people and of course I need long to process this large amount of information - so there is no time left to see the whole. I have always been very noise and colour sensitive.
During late puberty I used to numb myself with drugs and short, mainly sexual relationships (I was pretty at the time, it was easy). That felt good in the beginning but totally went wrong, I managed to calm down, stayed away from drugs and most people I knew at the time. After some recovery time I started paying more attention to me and my feelings. I did what felt good and soon started to feel better (yep, I overcame depression there). This means I decided that there is no reason to do all the things 'normal' people do if they don't feel good for me. So I avoided frightening sounds, crowds and anything else that made me flinch 1
. I found some coping methods 2
.I started learning a lot as I felt I had missed much and soon overtook most of my peers. I have a high ability for abstraction. Nearly all of my current friends are 4 to 5 years older and almost finished with university studies (of mathematics or physics) or work as scientific assistants, whereas I am just in my first year. I love the city at night, do my shopping as late and stay at the library as long as possible. However much I try to practice social skills, there seems to be a boundary I will never cross because of information I miss. I have problems with eye contact and expressing feelings. As social interaction is exhausting to me, I prefer to stay alone or with one to two people (mainly at the library). Don't get me wrong, if there are just few people around me I am very
empathetic, I can also deal with eye contact. I also have long friendships (well, but never long relationships).
I know that among researchers autism is seen as a feature everybody has more or less, and I know I am above average. But it all seems to derive from the "information overflow" I defined years ago, and this is not autistic (also because I am empathetic and understand things like irony I am not that autistic) but more about a problem with sensory procession. A diagnosis wouldn't mean much to me and wouldn't help me. It seems to me that my sensitivity, especially for sound, is increasing. It scares me as it slowly really limits my actions. Sounds can make me anxious for an hour, raise my heart rate in a second and stress me during the whole day.
Currently, I am very overwhelmed.1
It means I avoid parties, demonstrations, pubs, crowded lectures, etc. I hate to walk through the city by day without headphones on and I often discover anxiety when noises frighten me. I hate certain sounds (like people cleaning their nose, certain dialects) or if they use certain words (quasi, trivial, there are many). Sometimes I get really angry because of that, but I never show. I also hate if they repeat themselves to make their point of view clear or if they use many unnecessary words, if they scream or use certain ways of leading a conversation. I flinch at their words or at unexpected sounds (closing doors, the dish washer, a key in the lock, ...) and often leave situations even if it had nothing to do with me (like if I overhear conversations in the tram or am at the theatre). I get very annoyed by certain music and love very complex experimental melodic death metal. I also hate certain smells like alcohol and weed but like others like sweat or fish. I hate if the shade of a colour is - to me - slightly 'wrong', proportions seem to be wrong or an artwork is not harmonic (harmony is not defined by symmetry). I didn't mention everything.2
Meditating, listening to music, drawing, reading, solving science-related riddles. I've been doing all of this excessively. I always felt that I see and hear more details than most people. This led to bad social skills and a lot of academic knowledge. Noise sensitivity increased during the last weeks/months a lot and it slowly frightens me - read 1.