Mental Health, mental illness

Highly Sensitive: That’s Me!

sensitive-info-md

Since I was a child, I’ve been called “too sensitive.” As an adult, I feel extremely “sensitive” about being called “sensitive”. I get really upset. But that’s not the only thing I get sensitive about. I can’t (or won’t, and shouldn’t) indulge in certain media – fictional or news – because I get so distressed.

Recently, I learned that this is not necessarily a character flaw. It could be a function of my bipolar disorder.

After learning that other people with bipolar disorder are highly sensitive, I read this article. The information blew my mind. All this time, I’ve been so susceptible to …everything.

Today I was vacuuming, and when I finished and unplugged the cord from the power strip that our router is also plugged into, the internet restarted. This was immediately noticed by my husband who was playing an online game. He was annoyed and frustrated, and I got really upset. I felt terrible; I went quite a while thinking I would cry. He came to the room I was hiding in a little later just to say hi, and I asked if he was still mad at me.

He was confused. He said he was never mad at me, and covered my face with kisses. I felt his annoyance and frustration with the internet and assumed it was aimed at me.

Beyond that, I continued to feel upset and teary even after he explained to me that we were just fine. I was already in such a down place, even though I had been told and rationally understood that everything was okay, I was shaken. I began to yawn – it had been maybe half an hour since he explained to me that we were fine, but I was emotionally worn out and exhausted.

He and I recently discussed why I choose not to watch most TV shows with him. He prefers raunchy comedy, violent action, or intense drama, and all of those things affect me way too much to be found enjoyable. He said, in a sweet and almost joking manner, “Babe, you are just so sensitive!” But perhaps my disorder is the cause.

Now that I know this, I feel like it will be easier to accept and embrace my sensitivity rather than view it as a problem. It can make life harder at times, but it can be okay, too.

I used to attend concerts whenever possible. I love live music, and would come home on a “high” after: unable to sleep, my mind reeling – in a good way. I later thought this was an early sign of my bipolar, perhaps something mania-related. But I wonder if it was also a sign of my sensitivity.

Loud noises (particularly non-preferred ones such as sirens, alarms, and timers) and bright lights bother me. Growing up, adults in my life considered me sensitive and shy.

All of a sudden I feel more normal. I feel like this trait is not necessarily bad. It’s just a part of me. Even if I didn’t have bipolar disorder, the website http://hsperson.com/ claims that this trait is found in 15-20% of people. (I took the test on this page, and scored 21. 14+ is a sign of high sensitivity. My husband scored a 6.)

It’s okay that I choose to avoid certain situations, TV shows, or movies. It’s okay that things affect me differently. It’s okay. I’m okay.

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