Highly Sensitive People

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  • Fatigue & sensory deprivation

    Posted by Celyne on 06/30/2023 at 2:34 am

    Here’s my story…

    As a preteen my behavior changed almost overnight where I would sleep way too much, even during the day, and have an inescapable feeling of sleepiness. There was nothing else wrong with me and I didn’t feel very physically tired except I just knew it felt much better to fall asleep. I also have always had very vivid dreams and had fun tapping into lucidity. Although I have planned to do a sleep study and never have, I do think sleeping a lot can be a trauma response in some people. I was diagnosed with depression at 16 and I felt that SSRI’s would give me energy that seemed more normal. However, eventually I realized that it was just my general mood made my nervous system feel much happier, but I still slept way too much! Psychiatrists would then try giving me benadryl and even Ambien when I told them I would sleep up to 14 hours a day. I’m 21 now and I still sleep this much consistently.

    It’s 4 AM as I’m writing this because I basically slept all day (the sun makes me feel sleepy?) and I just feel so much more energy at night. Maybe these are the effects of using too much devices and artifical lights? Sometimes I enjoy sensory deprivation techniques, I just want complete silence, or I always have a sleeping mask with me. Like, as if I need any more sleep!

    Does anyone else relate?

    John replied 7 months, 1 week ago 6 Members · 13 Replies
  • 13 Replies
  • John

    Moderator
    06/30/2023 at 10:53 am

    Thanks for sharing Celyne. It takes courage to do that. After reading your post, I came back to noticing that you put “sensory deprivation” in the title. That’s really interesting.

    We live in a culture that has little to no understanding of high sensitivity. Elaine wrote her book about 25 years ago, but the topic is still just barely coming into awareness.

    For example, because we are taking in and deeply processing sensory input all the time, we may need to take a half or entire entire day off pretty often – for no other reason than the fact that our nervous systems need a break. Many parents don’t understand this. Schools don’t know about it, etc…. When I was a kid, I used to fake that I was sick every now and then, because I just couldn’t deal. There wasn’t anything wrong with me, I just needed a break. But I didn’t know how to ask for it because HSP wasn’t even identified back then.

    To take it a step further, not only is there nothing wrong with us, but high sensitivity is powerful. It takes some time however to get aquatinted with it and discover how to care for one’s self as a person with highly sensitive physiology. Part of the reason this community exists is to say, “yeah, this is real.”

    I also tell people a lot: highly sensitivity is a product of evolution. It’s not a mistake. It’s found in over 100 species in the animal kingdom.

    So back to your post, I wonder if sleeping a lot might, in part, be a way to manage sensory input in a culture that hasn’t yet recognized the underlying physiology that you’re living with, and is not geared for it? If so, that would make sense to me.

    I agree with you that sleeping could also be a way to try and manage trauma. Maybe also important to mention that teens in general need a lot of sleep to deal with the intense changes they are going through. I hadn’t thought about it before, but perhaps it makes sense that teens who are highly sensitive (including gifted teens) could need considerably more sleep than an average teen.

    One last thing I’ll say is that doctors generally don’t understand that a certain part of the population is born with highly sensitive physiology, that it’s not a problem, and that it doesn’t need to be medicated. The whole topic is just so in the dark. This is why I’m forming a non-profit, going after some grants, and writing a book – because all this needs addressing at the cultural level. Imagine if colleges for example were screening for high sensitivity and providing literature and meetups and even classes on the subject. 🙂

    If you need someone to talk to, this list may be of help: https://hsperson.com/therapists/seeking-an-hsp-knowledgeable-therapist/

    • Georgia

      Member
      12/11/2023 at 7:29 am

      Every day since finding information about HSPs more pieces of my life make total sense. School was exhausting and I frequently begged my mom to stay home. The lights, the lives and emotions of the other kids, the noise. It was all too much for me. I’m worried about my daughter’s transition from an excellent private child center to PUBLIC school (she has another 1.5 years until Kindergarten). I suspect she is also a HSP. I definitely want to learn as much as I can to help myself come out of exhaustion and prepare to do what I need to give her what she needs as she enters the school system. I’m so overwhelmed because private school is so expensive and I can’t afford to stay home with her.

      • John

        Moderator
        12/14/2023 at 3:59 pm

        I used to pretend I was sick as a kid when I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know what I was doing or why, but it was all I had.

        I don’t know if this is helpful Georgia, but I went to both pubic and private schools, and I actually way preferred the public schools.

        I just made another forum post about special classes for HSP children. I’m working on a grant proposal to acquire funding to start creating a curriculum for this.

  • Celyne

    Member
    07/01/2023 at 5:38 pm

    thank you so much for the reply! I agree with a lot of the points you made. I basically always wanted out of school and thought I would do much better on a schedule more personalized. I’m learning a lot from joining this group, I didn’t know there are therapists who focus on this topic & I read that HSPs actually are better functioning without a schedule! makes sense we have the gift to adapt quickly and should be able to use it, somewhere… I hope that I get to learn more about my own physiology soon and tap into my potential. I’m very excited for you and the work you’re doing! ☺

  • Unknown Member

    Deleted User
    07/03/2023 at 3:32 pm

    Hi Celyne. Thanks for sharing what you did. It’s encouraging to me to see younger (I’m assuming you’re on the younger side, anyway) people learning more about HSP and being curious. I imagine my life would have improved a great deal if I had the resources back then that I have now. I’m still grateful for what I have now, though. I didn’t even really know about HSP until I was in my late 30’s and feel I lost a lot of opportunity in my life. I feel really happy that younger people seem to have more resources available to them in the form of at least having more access to information. I didn’t even have access to the internet until I was in my later teens.

    I absolutely relate to what you’re saying. When I was in college, I suddenly started feeling compelled to sleep a lot during the day. I had energy at night and would find myself doing my creative work (drawing/painting/writing) in the late night/early morning hours and suffering through classes which started earlier than 10am. I have never been able to dream lucidly, but I did have horrendous and very realistic nightmares for many years. I also had digestive issues. I sought medical help and there was nothing “wrong” with me. I was later put on medicine for anxiety and depression but it didn’t improve my quality of life much. It kept me alive through the worst of it, though.

    Fast forward to now, in my early 40’s. I can look back and see that I went through a great deal of stress and change and I didn’t adapt well. I didn’t have the support I needed, I suffered through multiple traumas. Now I do have support, I am better educated about what HSP is, the effects of my trauma on my quality of life (which is good now, by the way), I did change my sleep habits and I eat a lot better than I used to. Anyway, I can see how my needs going unmet for so long was really detrimental to my overall well-being.

    Gosh, as I reread this, it sounds like a lot of doom and gloom, which I suppose was the theme of my life from about ages 12-37. What I do know now, for certain, is that there isn’t anything wrong with me. I needed a lot that I didn’t get and it wasn’t my fault. I can say now that my life is better than it has ever been in my 40’s, and I attribute that to many things. Not least of all, finding out I’m HSP and learning what my needs are and making sure they’re met. Healing my trauma and being my own best friend.

    I don’t ever want anyone to experience life as I did previously, but I can say with a lot of certainty, that I’m really happy with who and how I am in the world and being HSP is an absolute gift!

    Oh, lastly, have you ever been in a sensory deprivation tank where you float? I did one of these a few months back and it was a really interesting experience! I had a massage and then did the float tank afterward and I had so many messages and visuals come up for me. I thought it would be uncomfortable, but I found it really peaceful and healing.

    Thanks for sharing your story. 🙂

  • Justin

    Member
    07/27/2023 at 12:26 am

    Thanks for sharing! I definitely, definitely relate to feeling sleepy during the day and energized at night. That actually started when I was in college, and I found I could focus a lot better on homework, projects, and studying late at night. For years I thought of my staying up late as a bad habit or just being a night owl, but like John said, now I’m wondering if it might have something to do with managing sensory input.

    There’s something special to me about the quiet and calm of nighttime when most of the world around me is sleeping. I feel like I can finally hear myself think after struggling a little with that throughout the day over all the noise.

    I’ve always been very curious about sensory deprivation too, although I’ve never tried one of those tanks. That sounds really cool, Melissa! The most sensory deprivation I’ve experienced has been with headphones and earmuffs since my ears are especially sensitive. When I lived with my parents and siblings I had a ridiculous pair of earmuffs that looked like what baggage handlers wear on the tarmac at airports. They helped make life bearable though, so they were absolutely worth the bulk and weight.

    • Joyce

      Member
      07/27/2023 at 11:29 am

      @Justin I relate 100% to what you said about overstimulation during the day. I’ve come to realize that when I work out in the world during the daytime, I come home exhausted and lack the mental/emotional energy to take care of necessary home tasks or other work.
      I’m much better suited to beginning work in the afternoons or evenings so that I can accomplish things I need to do for myself at home and then arrive to my place of employment with the energy to perform as necessary. When I come home after a work at night, I am tired but can go straight to bed at that time.

      Ultimately, my preference is to be self-employed, which I have been for years. I set my own schedule and work from home. At this time, I am self-employed + hold a regular job of which half is required in-person and half allows me to WFH, so my attention is definitely divided and I’m thankful I can work as described above.

      • Justin

        Member
        07/27/2023 at 10:09 pm

        That makes a lot of sense. Having time in the morning to do self-care and home tasks can really make a big difference. I’m able to do that a little depending on the day – my work schedule is a pretty typical 9-5, but I wake up early enough to get a few things done first. I am also very fortunate to be able to WFH almost exclusively, which definitely helps a lot. I wonder how many HSPs would benefit from having that option?

        Self employment is one of my long-term goals too! The last year I’ve been getting more serious about starting my own business in addition to my day job. From what I’ve learned so far, it takes a lot of determination, hard work, and maybe a bit of luck, but it sounds like it will be worth it in the long run. Most companies don’t seem at all friendly to sensitive workers, especially in the US, so making our own safe spaces to work in our own ways is fantastic if we have the option.

        • Joyce

          Member
          07/27/2023 at 10:39 pm

          @Justin I’ve always felt that if you pursue your passion, you will be successful. It becomes a pleasure to work and the enthusiasm one feels for their project will emanate out into the world, sparking joy and interest in others.
          The hardest part is probably transitioning from working for an employer to working 100% for yourself. If one’s financial state requires doing both at once, it can be difficult to squeeze it all in in the same 24 hours you had previously only had to focus in one direction, or to focus at all on the work for someone else when you now have this new and exciting project you’d rather be spending time on.
          I hope you find a way to pursue your dreams!

          • Justin

            Member
            07/27/2023 at 11:28 pm

            Finding the time can definitely be a challenge, especially when you’re determined not to let the new exciting projects take away from what has to be the “main” job. I think that’s a big reason the passion behind it is so important like you said. It takes a lot of perseverance to keep coming back to a project when progress is slow, but it’s a lot easier if it’s something you enjoy doing.

            Thank you so much! I really appreciate that. I hope you’re able to keep pursuing your dreams too!

            • Joyce

              Member
              07/28/2023 at 10:53 pm

              You are very correct in that, Justin.

              And thank you. My passion and current self-employment is creating comfortable and stylish vacation rentals. I currently have one (since 2015) and had a second one which I put my heart and soul into, but had to let go because it was successful in that people loved it, but wasn’t loving me back enough financially. I had a blast with it, though (mid-century modern furnishings in a 1960 house 1 block from Route 66), so that was worth it.

              I have a dream for another property which I am inching my way towards. The pandemic set me back, but I’m not giving up.

              I would enjoy hearing about your (and others’) passion projects if you feel like sharing!

  • Joyce

    Member
    07/28/2023 at 10:57 pm

    Apologies to @Dea Celyne for highjacking your thread. I just realized where this started and veering so far off was not intended. We can take it elsewhere if the OT discussion continues.

    • Justin

      Member
      07/29/2023 at 10:12 pm

      I’ll second that – sorry for getting off track, Celyne! I would love to discuss passion projects more and hear about others’ as well. I haven’t seen a forum thread about that topic yet, so maybe it would make sense to create one?

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