SPD explained ME to ME!
I'm a 23 year old female and all of my life I spent being overly emotional, stressed, always feeling like I'm different, wrong or just not able to understand the world as I "should". Most recently, I gave into the idea that I'm just prone to depression. I even told my mom: "This is how the world is for me. I'm just not able to be as happy as everyone else. No matter how I try to ignore them, the little things are always HUGE for me." This broke my mom's heart... and seeing her be so distraught over MY unhappiness made me feel even worse, although I had no energy or understanding of how to "fix my problems".
Last week mom called and said she read an article about SPD in a magazine. She explained it very simply, skimming the symptoms like: always fidgeting, bothered by clothes and light touch, sleeping with multiple heavy blankets, loves to touch and be touched, lethargic, low self-esteem, learning to "hide" emotions, difficulty remembering what is said to you, impatience, cries easily, plagued by fears/phobias... among MANY others on the checklist that apply to me now and as a child.
As mom explained it on the phone, I had an overwhelming rush of calmness. It was like, although I knew basically nothing about SPD, the monster I've lived with for my entire conscious memory suddenly had a name. And the best part was that it was no longer a monster but merely a part of myself I had never had the means to understand and accept. Simply putting a name to this proved to me that I am not a freak...something I have never been able to see as a possibility. I always, always knew I was different but didn't know how to explain it or reach out--much less deal with it.
I'm not depressed after all! (When I went to talk to a professional, I was throwing the towel in the air saying "ok, I'm depressed" even though it sounded like a cop-out to me. When she told me that "I'd be fine. I have it all figured out already." To me, that just reconfirmed my freak label.) But not only am I not depressed, I am not just angry, I'm not simply anti-social or anxious in social settings... I don't have to think I'm mean or that I "don't fit in". One week of knowing about SPD and I wake up happier, with a clear head... happier and more clear than I have ever woken up before. Exhaling is finally effective. Maybe I can, for the first time ever, learn to actually relax.
As a child, I displayed many signs of SPD: I always rocked on the back two legs of the chair. I gave up meat at age 11 because I HATED the texture in my mouth. I refused to wear anything other than tight stretch pants for a whole year. Although I wanted it, it was impossible for me to have a "best friend" because I always felt as though I didn't understand my peers and vice versa. I was WAY too concerned with what they thought (or what I THOUGHT they thought). I threw temper tantrums, usually over insignificant things. When mom did my hair, I ripped it out because it felt "wrong". I've always demanded hugs. Angered by tickling. I feel textures in my mouth when nothing is there. Afraid of the dark. Easily startled. In constant motion (earning the nickname "Rocket"). And so much more--the more I think of my youth, the more it makes sense now that I know of SPD.
I learned to hide my feelings very well. My little sister always had close friends, had a genuine smile on her face and seemed happy. I was SO jealous of her, and, in moments of self-weakness, sometimes still am. My earliest memory of feeling different is at about age 8. I spent the next 10 years creating my own world in my head, pretending everything is okay even though I knew I was very different. Outwardly, nobody would know I felt this
way. I became too good at fooling everyone that I even fooled myself. I was on Honor Roll and Student Council for 7 years, the captain of 2 Varsity sports, Homecoming Queen and voted Most Likely to Succeed. "How could anything be wrong with me?" I started to think. I must be just fine. Then came college...
I left that sanctuary, the familiarity of home. I knew what to expect (& how I handled situations) for SO long and in one four hour drive, it was all gone for me. As mom and dad pulled away, I leaned against the window and cried, feeling a hole in myself. This was my transition from a child who subconsciously hid SPD to an adult living with (but not knowing) SPD.
College was a mess. I had zero self-esteem. My energy plummeted. I had no motivation to do anything other than leave. But, being the stubborn person I am...I was leaving with a degree. And I did. Three painful, lonely and excruciatingly long years later, I got my Bachelor's Degree. (3 years is record time but I didn't have any pride. I just wanted out of this foreign environment with too much constant stimulation.)
Those years were riddled with more self-doubt, self-loathing and confusion that I ever thought one person could deal with. Each day I wanted to cry but didn't allow myself to. Once again, I told myself that "I was just different". I would never be as happy as anyone else. I pitied myself but didn't want anyone else to pity me. I prepared myself for a ho-hum, so-so life. I didn't see that I was worth more, that maybe--just maybe--there was a light at the end of this abysmal tunnel. This low self-esteem is what led to a (verbally and emotionally) abusive relationship.
The tell-tale signs of Adult SPD that I live with on a daily basis are: tense and fidgeting, restlessness (of the mind), I live in a constant state of worry, always fearing something (I have SO many phobias). Sometimes I talk too fast and too loud but other times it takes my words a long time to go from my head to my mouth. I'm lethargic (can't even devote 10 minutes to stretching because it seems too big a task) yet have difficulty settling down at day's end. I'm very bad at understanding non-verbal language. I'm impatient, easily frustrated and have trouble relating to peers. I feel trapped in my own world: over stimulated by things that other people simply brush off. Basically, I dwell. I still dwell on things from 15 years ago...things that made me feel bad, ashamed, etc. I can't seem to let it go and cut myself some slack.
Mom reading that magazine article last week was the best thing that could have happened. One week--and no self-treatment yet-- I no longer resign to the "fact" that I am destined for a so-so life. I see the light at the end of that tunnel now. It's dim but I see it! I see my current relationship for the bliss it truly is. I see my self-worth more, I feel this weird thing in the bottom of my belly--this thing called self-confidence. I don't WORRY so much about what random people think of me but am rather concerned with what I (and my loved ones) think. ONE WEEK!
I can't wait to find therapies that help me diminish the affects SPD puts on my daily life. I'm excited to bounce on a therapy ball and even indulge in a massage from time to time. I now know the day is coming when I am able to control or forget all of my irrational fears, phobias, and feeling bad about everything. I want to relax and just feel better. I will, for the first time in my life, consider myself 100% worth it.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this site. Each of us has our unique story and can learn and grow from each other. I am SO happy to know there's support out there. Let's get this under control together!