Choosing to click onto this page may mean that the title resonates with yourself or someone close to you. Have you realised, or think that you could be, a HSP? Were you often called too shy or too sensitive?
Before I begin I want to give a special thanks to Elaine N Aaron and her book “The Highly Sensitive Person – How to Survive and Thrive when the World Overwhelms You.”
Elaine’s book made me realise that there is nothing wrong with who I am. I was often made to think that there was and maybe this was because HSPs are in the minority. Approximately only 20% of the population are HSPs.
As a result I’m learning to live with, and love who I am. I was so impressed with Elaine’s book that I passed my copy on and bought another for a friend. If your interested in reading an overview of the book click here;
It took me nearly 50 years to realise that I’m a Highly Sensitive Person and I want to share my sensitive traits to see if you could be too.
If you have other sensitive traits please feel free to share them in the comments below.
Whenever I tried to wear clothing with acrylic fibres they always made me itch like crazy. Even woollen garments would effect me sometimes. This meant that during wintertime I wore jumpers made from cotton, polyester or nylon.
I even threw away a hat which I didn’t realise was fifty percent acrylic when I bought it. No wonder it made me itch and brought out a rash of spots on my forehead where it touched my skin.
I’ve always been sensitive to perfume and its caused itching and a red rash at times. I need to use gentle moisturisers, body washes and cleansers which do not include perfume because I want to avoid this reaction.
Recently I stopped using hair mouse and have found that red marks and sores which regularly appeared no longer occur. They would appeared on my neck, cheeks and the top of my back because this is where my hair touched my skin.
This is something which I have always found challenging and I have many examples of how noise effects me;
When someone tries to talk to me and there is background noise like a television or a washing machine, I find that I can’t concentrate on what is being said to me. Therefore I have to mute the television or close the door to shut out the washing machine noise so that I can pay attention.
I’ve even been known to remove a clock from a room because its ticking was sending me nuts.
Studying as a child I required complete silence and would shut myself away in the quietest room in the house to avoid distractions. My worst memory of studying was for my A Levels. Our next door neighbours decided to re-pave their driveway for the weeks up to and including my A Level exams. As a result I struggled to concentrate and this was the first time that I didn’t achieve the exam results I wanted. I only scraped through but in my mock A-Levels I sailed through.
When I re-married and moved in with my husband I didn’t realise how noisy the neighbours attached to us were. The noises included the parents screaming and shouting at each other, the boys running around shouting rather than talking, and the dog chasing after them barking. The walls were so thin and living next to them proved to be a great challenge.
HSP’s are also known to struggle with the constant low levels of machine noise within their working environments.
When I was younger going to shopping centres made me think that I suffered from a form of claustrophobia. So many people around me would make me feel disorientated and dizzy. I can now see that I was just overwhelmed by too many people being around me and sensitive to all of their emotions.
I much prefer where there are less people around if I have a choice. Places like a quiet beach or a beautiful forest. Being with nature always makes me feel calm and happy.
In the last few years I have realised how important alone time is to me. I am fortunate to be in a relationship with a loving and caring husband but I still need alone time. My me time includes walks on my own, meditating, reading, yoga or writing in the office. Alone time is extremely important to me because it reduces my over arousal. Otherwise I may end up getting tetchy and arguing about something unimportant.
Problems dealing with crowds leads me onto how social situations effect me. Here are some examples;
I went to a Bruce Springstein concert with my husband because he is a big fan. It was my first concert and I admit that it wasn’t my kind of music.
Halfway through the concert I felt that just didn’t want to be there anymore. I felt very guilty but I asked my husband if I could leave for the second half while insisting he stayed and enjoyed the rest. Now that I know that I am HSP it makes sense that I was simply overwhelmed by the whole situation. Clearly concerts are no longer for me.
Jobs and training
New jobs which require inductions and training with a crowd of people I don’t know have posed a challenge for me. A one to one method of training is more my style.
Parties and nights out
The thought of going to a party or a night out with lots of people I don’t know is my idea of hell. I will avoid such situations as much as possible.
Going out occasionally with people I am close too is ok but if its busy, loud and crowded I am sad to say that I often need a drink or three to get through it. The alcohol dulls my sensitivities. When I have been is a situation like this I need a quiet day afterwards to recover.
As mentioned I have used alcohol to dampen my sensitivities to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
Colleagues always called me shy and quiet at work until I would go out with them for an evening with drinks. Afterwards my colleagues never called me quiet and shy again. Its unfortunate that it took this for them to begin to warm to me.
I also used to perform better at sports like pool and ten pin bowling after a drink. This was probably due to no longer worrying about other people around who might be watching me.
I’m pleased to say that I hardly ever drink nowadays preferring a herbal tea instead.
Low Self Esteem
I definitely have low self esteem when it comes to partner relationships. I have often felt lucky if anyone has wanted me at all, especially with the added complication of a mastectomy after my divorce.
It is said that HSPs tend to feel more insecure. I can relate to this and feel that these insecurities may have been heightened by the subsequent events caused by the death of my brother before I was born.
Light is a strange one for me because I am very short sighted and struggle to see in the dark. My pupils are naturally large due to short sightedness and because of this they don’t seem to enlarge any further in the dark.
I have read that a lot of HSPs wear glasses.
Problems I have encountered with regards light include;
A good example comes from a trip to the cinema with my husband and his two children. We entered after the lights had already dimmed. My husband and his children went off to find seats while I just stood there frozen in space. I couldn’t see a thing so I just didn’t move.
Fortunately my husband realised I hadn’t followed and came back to find me. He had to lead me by my hand to my seat. It was an upsetting experience for me and I even shed a few tears. Yet another situation where I became overwhelmed.
My poor eyesight also means that I struggle with the new energy efficient light bulbs which are everywhere nowadays. They never seem to produce enough light for me and this causes me to constantly strain my eyes. At home I have extra lighting.
Even though I need extra light to see, at the other extreme I cannot sleep with lights on. I find that even the light from a smoke alarm can disturb me.
I have tried sleeping masks to resolve this but because I have a small head I cannot find one that fits securely enough. This means that light still gets through around my nose and the bottom of my eyes.
A good example of this problem comes from a bad experience staying at a holiday park. Our accommodation was right next door to the car park which had lights on all through the night. Unfortunately the curtains in our accommodation were so thin that the lights shone through. This meant a poor nights sleep for me and lack of sleep makes me feel more overwhelmed.
I am very sensitive to smell but I do wonder if this is a heightened sense due to my poor eyesight.
I find strong odours hard to stomach and these smells include cleaning materials, smoke, and body odours.
I’ve read that HSPs are known to have problems with strong chemical odours. As a result I’m starting to replace my cleaning chemicals with more natural alternatives. These include Bicarbonate of Soda which can be used to clean bathrooms, remove baked on food, clean ovens, and mop floors when mixed with warm water.
When I was very small I experienced regular bouts of pneumonia until we had central heating installed. Showing an obvious sensitivity towards cold.
As a result in the past I have leaned towards holidays in warmer climes. No skiing holidays for me!
Apart from when I have my menopausal hot flashes I tend to be the first to feel the cold.
I easily pick up colds and bugs from people I come into contact with. Even just brief contact with someone who has an illness, such as a cold or stomach bug and I tend to end up with it too.
I seem to have a very weak immune system but this has been heightened due to my health problems. In particular my inability to digest food properly because I cannot take in the goodness I need from my food no matter how healthy I eat.
Drugs / Medications
Strong reactions from drugs seems to be the norm for me. Hence the reason for following more natural alternatives with herbalism.
I have been left with both physical and mental long term side effects due to the chemical drugs I have been given. These side effects continue to be very difficult to deal with but I’m happy to say that I do get some relief from herbal preparations.
The chemical drugs that I was given seem to have ended up causing me more problems in the long term than the illness they were prescribed for. It didn’t help that sometimes I was given drugs that I never needed.
Food sensitivities have been a huge problem for a very long time now. I tried so many different options to help but nothing worked. It turns out this is because cancer treatment many years ago has effected my ability to digest food.
Food leads me onto hunger. When I feel the need to eat I have to eat there and then otherwise I become weak and shaky.
It is said that once over aroused HSPs may not notice this hunger. When I think about setting my mind to do something, like decorating a room, I can relate to this. Once I’m in the zone I don’t stop until the task is completed and often forget to eat or drink in the process.
I am very sensitive to sugar. A good example of this is when I used to drink Lucozade Energy. The doctor told me that having an energy drink would help me with the side effects of my constant diarrhoea.
The problem was it would make me very hyperactive, silly, and giggly. At work when I opened the Lucozade my colleagues would laughingly say “oh no here she goes again.” My stepdaughter even called it my “loopy juice”.
It did help me get through work days but now I realise this was not a good option for me. Afterwards I would crash and shake which made the world overwhelm me even more.
It got to the stage that I was drinking the Lucozade Energy every work day just to be able to get through them. I weaned myself off eventually but firstly downgraded the sugar content by drinking coke instead.
Nowadays I use more natural alternatives such as honey in my smoothies and stevia in my herbal teas.
Another of my HSP traits is the effect that music has on me. I was a lover of Rock music and found that playing this type of music would get me in the mood for a night out or generally put me in a good mood. Slow sad songs always had the opposite effect tending to make me feel down.
As I grow older I appreciate both slow and fast music. Embracing my spiritual side I now find meditation music calming and relaxing, especially when it includes the sounds of the sea or a babbling river.
Singing along to songs also lightens my mood. I’m sure that anyone within hearing range would prefer that I didn’t though! I remember having a go at karaoke on holiday in Corfu once and made the mistake of chosing “Its my party and I will cry if I want to” by Lesley Gore.
Its a high pitched song but unfortunately through a microphone my voice sounds pretty deep. People were laughing and sticking their fingers in their ears. Some were even taking videos of my so called performance because they though it was so funny. So you definitely won’t be seeing me anytime soon on X Factor! At least I made people laugh and smile.
Others Moods and Emotions
Other peoples moods and emotions have always deeply affected me. Now I clearly see this as yet another HSP trait.
When I am with someone who is happy then this feeling rubs off on me, likewise if they are miserable I feel sad too.
Due to various illnesses and subsequent digestion problems its understandable that I get mentally and physically exhausted quicker than others. At times I can’t even have a conversation with anyone. If I try to have a conversation when I’m tired I “zone out” because I am mentally too exhausted.
Exhaustion is also said to be a HSP trait so this trait is obviously intensified further due to my illnesses.
I have read that HSPs have a more sensitive nervous system. This explains why a soft touch, a kiss, or even a smile can take my breath away. The first time I met my present husband he gave me a small squeeze around my waist and I melted.
There are drawbacks to this sensitivity though because a HSP can be slow to warm up, distracted by a sound, put off by people nearby, and even totally put off by being touched roughly.
Sounds like me! If I’m touched roughly I no longer want to “play” and I won’t consider sexual intercourse if there is someone else staying in the house.
Lower Pain Threshold
HSPs are also said to have a lower pain threshold and to bruise more easily. I certainly agree with the bruising because it is vary rare that I am not bruised somewhere on my body, especially on my legs.
Do any of these traits sound familiar? If they do the good news is that you are definitely not alone. In fact certain aspects of being a HSP are very special.
Take care of yourself.
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