Sunday, 15 November 2015

Navel Gazing and Other Things

I am probably a highly sensitive person.  That should really be put in capitals it is now a way of describing someone who is, well, highly sensitive and while it's not particularly a scientific diagnoses because mental health is as much art as it is science, and diagnosing someone with a condition involves some subjectiveness as opposed to saying yes, this blood test and this cell count show that you have X.  When I was a teacher I was always very interested in personality traits, in finding how to best meet the needs of different types or to work with types different from your own.  I found this interesting as a parent too, having the task of raising a child who had some unique challenges.  Now, I mainly have only myself and my cat to ponder.  While she is thriving now, Matty was suffering in her previous situation and had lost a drastic amount of weight and fur.  That seems pretty sensitive to me.

Digression: It's somewhat contentious but the oft used Myers-Briggs personality test, based on the work of Carl Jung, organises people into sixteen  Introvert/Extrovert types and I have consistently tested as INFJ over the years.   HSPs are more likely to be introverts but not all introverts are HSPs.

My own weight is stable and hair intact, thankfully, but I am one of those people inclined to gain weight when under stress.  I am a stress eater and I believe it is because I find I can sort of numb myself with food, both my body and my mind.  I am prone to generalised anxiety which is fortunately not as debilitating as it is for some people though I do take medication for it to allow me to function.  I also meditate and use lots of self talk strategies.  I was born this way, anxious my whole life as my mother clearly describes, in my responses to the world as a baby and a child.  The world is a very stimulating place and I am easily overstimulated in many ways.  Sometimes I didn't realise it, because there were situations that were considered normal, which I  just had to get on with and I found ways of coping.  Also, although I score highly on a test for HSPs (Highly Sensitive Persons) not every option on the list is a trigger for me and some are more so than others. All HSPs are their own personal mix.  I do not mind crowds most of the time and as most of you know, I can get up on a stage and perform.  I find I can feel lost in a crowd and I like that, but I dislike a crowd that I am expected to interact with, such as a large gathering of people or party.   If I am on a stage I can somehow mentally turn the audience into one person and in some situations the darkness and lighting are such that the audience is close to invisible.

 I dislike noise and even music I really enjoy can be too much at some times.  On the other hand I might turn it up loudly and dance around the room and the noise of children busily playing has never bothered me.  I have no tolerance for screaming randomly though.   Sudden loud noises such as an accelerating motorcycle or the Snowbirds (Canada's air demonstration squadron) who come to the Comox Valley a few times each year to practice, can make me want to curl up in a ball or make me fighting angry.  They literally trigger the fight or flight response in me.  Bright colours in abundance, while I may enjoy them periodically, make me feel tired after awhile.  That is a newer discovery which was difficult to figure out because I do like colour.  There are many qualifiers to my love of colour, as any of my blog readers know by now and I have an increasing passion for taupe and grey.  I always did like mud.

I am also very sensitive to the emotions of others and have always described myself as a sponge.  The nastiest thing I ever said to my ex husband when we were approaching divorce was that he was like a Dementor from Harry Potter and he sucked all the joy out of a room.  It could be argued that he did, but I was also definitely extremely sensitive to his moods. 

The flip side of all this sensitivity is that I have a very rich inner life, a strong response and connection to artistic and creative things, and I am very empathetic.  I prefer to define myself by these positives but understanding that being extra sensitive is just a way that some people are and I am one of those people, that is is just another way to be and not wrong or defective, is part of my journey of healing after a toxic relationship.

Just like any introvert, I am doing most of this healing alone, in a quiet place, me and my highly sensitive cat.  Somewhat anxiously but coping, I face a couple of weeks of appointments, obligations and the need to call a plumber.  I hate making phone calls.  Much deep breathing is required here, but I will do it all and cross it all off the list.  Already I am looking forward to it all being over.

                                       Matty in the Morning Sun


  1. We share some important traits (e.g., heightened sensitivity) which is probably why we're good friends. Nice to learn more about you.

    1. I think we felt a fairly quick sort of comfort zone with each other when we were in Vancouver. And you even tolerated my touchy-feely tendencies. I pat people I like. xo

  2. Does Matty ever jump down?
    I have always been described as "supersensitive" which I interpreted as a negative. Anyway, it was and is correct. Unlike you I have many crowd noise issues. I couldn't be a teacher with all those kids...arggh!
    I too react to bright colours, but do manage to live in amongst them.
    Pattern and print are very stimulating but I enjoy them.
    I think I yearn for greys when I'm more tired.
    And I definitely think you should chew reeds when meditating! (Re my blog post)
    Xo Jazzy Jack PS Still waiting for the blah blah blah post ;-D

    1. I refuse to let being very sensitive be a negative thing. A challenge sometimes, yes, but challenges keep us from stagnating. I only seem to be tolerant of noisy children and not noisy adults. I could not stand the staff room when I was a teacher. Too much talk that I couldn't process. Maybe it matters whether or not I feel I must process it or can make it background noise.
      I think my colour preferences go with the seasons and I wear more colour when it is sunny and the light stronger so it sort of bleaches them out visually. In the softer light of the non-summer seasons, I want to wear the neutrals of my environment. I love patterns but cannot seem to wear them. I always feel like I am a walking-talking table cloth.
      Aren't all of my posts a blah blah blah post? xoxo

  3. One of my cats is a sensitive, rather needy creature - she drives us mad but we love her, quirks and all! I suppose we are all a blend of all manner of traits which can be helpful and beneficial in some respects, and limiting or problematic in others. We work with what we've got!
    PS. If that's the nastiest thing you ever said to your ex, you were very restrained! xxx

  4. I collect words as some collect birds, Shawna, and two of today's phrases must go into the scrapbook: "I always did like mud," and "...feel like I am a walking-talking table cloth." What very sensitive and evocative descriptions of one's reaction to muted colors and patterns!

  5. I think I am similar in terms of the heightened sensitivity- sometimes I wished I didn't feel so much but then I am grateful at other times!x


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