I think of myself as a relatively insensitive person. That is, I am resilient and I let a lot of things just slide off me like teflon*. However, there are some things, sensory things, that just drive me batty. For example, here I am sitting in the studio (it’s my friend’s work space that she lets me use when it’s empty so I can have some privacy and uninterrupted work time). I realize that I am feeling tense, and that the source of my tension is music coming in through the wall that is shared with a auto-body shop next door. Although it would probably have to be blasting in there for me to be able to hear it, It’s not overly loud in here– I can recognize the songs though I can’t necessarily hear all the words. And it’s not the type music I hate — it sounds like a top 40s radio station. Yet, there is something about it; the tone? the background-ness of it? The bass? That was causing me low-grade distress.
Sometimes, when I sit in the home office I share with my husband, he’ll have something playing in the background. He likes to listen to music while he works. I can’t handle it, not even if it’s on the very lowest volume. I simply can’t focus on whatever is in front of me. It’s different if I’m in a coffee shop or a library or a mall– places where there is a relatively uniform amount of ambient noise and familiar sounds. But at home at night with the kids sleeping, and the only other noise being the one on his computer– it’s so distracting.
ADD is often associated with sensitivity disorders. I hesitate to call my irritation a disorder, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if it’s linked to the ADD.
My solution to this problem is to pull out a set of headphones and turn on an online white noise app. His music, assuming it’s quiet enough, disappears, and I am in a Zone of My Own. Really, it’s like being transported. I think it’s even better for me than medication. I’ve had very poor sleep for the past couple of nights (partly work, partly Netflix), which carries with it it’s own level of stress. Add that to the tension I get from background music, and my stress level goes from a 2 to a 5 without my even being aware of it until I’m suffering from the symptoms. Just now, I put on the white noise app (with a pink noise app playing on top of it for good measure) and as soon as the sound started coming out of the speakers, I felt a huge sense of relief. It’s like my head had been in a bind and I did not even realize it until it came off. I was all clenched up, but wasn’t even aware of the need to relax. It’s a crazy sensation, but very satisfying.
When the bothersome background noise is done, I can turn off the white noise and get a secondary sense of relief from that.
Here are some other things I am sensitive about: I hate fans blowing on me. I don’t mind them too much if they’re the swivel kind, but I can’t stand the constant breeze on any one part of my body. I’d rather be sweaty than have a fan pointed directly at me. On the subject of fans, I hate the way they make the light pulsate, depending on where they are positioned. I once worked in an office where the ceiling fan was positioned under the pot lights and directly above my desk. Also, it was a windowless space I shared with about 7 other people– all of whom really really needed that fan. Of course, I had to concede, but I always worried that I’d have a seizure. I hate having my stomach touched. It actually makes me recoil, even if it’s my kids doing it. That particular sensitivity started around the time of my last pregnancy, so maybe there is a physiological aspect to it.
On the other hand, I love to run fabrics between my fingers, just for the feel. Love having my hair brushed– even though it’s quit tangly, it never hurts. I dislike shoes and love to feel the ground under my feet. Sensitivity, I suppose, goes both ways.
Here is a link to my favorite online noise generator. I am not getting compensated in any way for this endorsement. Just passing along a good tip.
*In no other way would I compare myself to teflon. I no longer own any more teflon or nonstick cookware except for my beloved waffle iron, and that’s on it’s way out too.
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