SPD explained ME to ME!

by Ter

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!


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Dec 13, 2011
by: Anonymous

Thanks, I too have always felt different. I've been accused of having a bad heart many times over, instead of others seeing that I might just have a problem. Thanks.

Oct 12, 2009
by: Anonymous

Foot-tapping, leg-shaking, sniffling, any kind of chewing noises, gum popping, snoring, drum sticks striking basically any surface other than a drum or cymbal (especially most practice pads), bad singing, the Geonosian spoken language in Star Wars, acoustic guitar squeaks. Any one of these things triggers a sudden, extreme anger in me even though I know none of these things make sense for me to be angry about. The worst part is that barely anybody takes it seriously even though it is a serious problem.

One morning in high school I was exposed to some of these stimuli for almost an hour with no respite, and at the end of that I was praying that God would kill me quickly to keep the body count to one. Fortunately, I was able to recover my composure after about three hours of limited exposure, a visit with my favorite teacher, and my favorite class that year. The only thing that makes me think this might not be SPD is that I haven't always been like this; it started in late 6th grade or early 7th. I am now an 18-year-old college freshman and have been dealing with this ever since.

Apr 29, 2009
certainly not alone. ME is Me..
by: Anonymous

Housewife, mom age 32 (5 1/2yr old son w SPD, stayed 22 dys in NICU loose floppy muscle tone, arched back, refused to be held/fed had to be fed with a nose tube) At 3 yrs, ran up/hugged me full own his own. Daydreamer, disassociates I would stare happily at a blank wall/spot on the carpet when I was past my stimulation/comfort point.

Classic Over Achiever= straight A's. Moody/hormonal/too sensitive when ppl didn't understand me. Poly cystic ovaries don't help any of that. Overly ticklish to the point of peeing my pants til about 12 yrs old if ppl didn't back off!

Weak body, klutz, can't skate, bike riding I couldn't master til 6th grade, loves tip toes, can't dance finding rhythm hard to grasp. Typing/math hard to learn. Depression? No, I don't think that was it, treatments never worked; rarely felt sad in any way.

I have a Dawn Simulator (specialty alarm clock/lamp) to help me wake & full spectrum lighting for helping mood/sleep/waking/energy lvl.

Its the 1st time in my life sleeping is reasonable. Eating, toilet issues improved w stable sleeping. By age 5, I was awake before dawn & awake after 12PM. I love to talk fast, read books/computer and very creative w crafts/art.

Panic disorder? Never believed it nor did meds work. I get anxiety attacks w hyperventilation. It takes extreme causes, death or witness to bloody car accident. TV drives me up a wall, can't handle watching the news. No, horror films unless cheesy. Around age 20, a friend noticed changed my hair style 37 times in under an hour.

I was just chatting/sitting on floor w friends. I replied Bored when asked why. (ALWAYS sit cross legged even on top of chairs or I fidget, tap feet, mess w hands/hair) It takes so much extra control to sit still in a chair. I can't get comfortable even if still & relaxed. No hair in front of ears touching me, must be pulled behind. Startle easy, hate to be tapped on shoulder w/o auditory warning. Jumpy, near heart attack response if boo from a dark hallway w someone jumping out at me (evil sis) take over 20 min for heartrate to calm.

Tags in clothes:BAD as a kid! Hate bras, pantyhose. I love bare feet all the time. Love weight of heavy blankets/big body pillow/or prefer bed against wall (son does too, both of us are light sensitive, jumpy at sounds unknown, still cursing at the huge tree that fell yesterday bouncing like an earthquake a few times) Fingernail biter til 20, still chew on chapped lips/digs in ear when no one is looking. Never really had bf.

Things from my childhood haunt my dreams. I don't mean trauma/horrid things. I mean lame stuff like answering a ques. aloud in 6th grade sci class I got wrong. No AR or OCD for me. I see genetic pattern with my parents. It all makes sense now. I love being ME and now I don't feel guilty for it.

Apr 12, 2009
I know how you feel!
by: Anonymous

I really know where you coming from as Ive just been through the same thing! Ive just found out most of the things that have bothered me most my life are due to SPD. (the worst one being not being able to stand people eating loudly and chewing gum) I hate it so much it makes me angry and even hurts my ears!

This is the main thing Ive lived with since childhood that made me think I must be mental! If I am with certain people who are eating I need to put ear plugs in, and having to be in close contact with people chewing gum loudly can reduce me to tears (so can hearing a distorted radio/tv through a wall or from another room).

I used to cry myself to sleep as a child if I could hear the tv when I was trying to sleep and my parents wouldn't turn it down. A few days ago I decided to look it up on the net knowing I might still not find out or that the first thing I read may not be the right one and after going to a few sites and not feeling Ive found an answer I clicked on a site about SPD in children (not expecting to be successful) and was amazed when not only that problem came up (explained to a tee) but loads of other things (some bothered me more as a child while some things I still have problems with and others Ive not really thought too much about but are still listed (like having to sleep in total darkness with ear plugs in and the sheets wrapped tightly round me and waring belts ect very tight).

It also explained why sometimes I think Im talking normal but people don't seem to understand or hear me and I cant always get my words out properly. I also now know why I don't like the feel of some material on my skin and loads of other things. I also worry alot (about nothing most the time) and over the years have come to the conclusion that I was just some depressed loony! I now know I am not and it feels great knowing I am not the only one and to know what is causing it.

Many thanks in helping me realize I am not the only one that feels the same way!

Apr 04, 2009
Thank you
by: Ter

Thank you for the advice and support. I wish you well on your journey and hope we can all figure this out!

Apr 04, 2009
My son's SPD explained me to me as well
by: Anonymous

We are not alone in this. I found out how much sensory problems I have. As I did therapies with my son, guess what, I improved as well. It was amazing. I can tolerate so much more now and I don't feel like a freak anymore. I even joke about it at work. I am on medication for ADD as well on a VERY low dose of focalin XR which helps tremendously. A higher dose and it's WAY too much. I find it helps a lot. I also find Magnesium and B6 supplements help. Most of all the occupational therapies are of great help. I helped my son and myself and don't feel like an odd ball.

It's funny but I have also worked extremely hard all my life and always overcompensated for my weirdness that I hid. Thanks for the post, it's nice to find other adults like me. I am 40 years old and my son is 7 so if I can improve my symptoms at my age, I'm sure you can too. Good luck.

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