This year I’ve been coming to terms with being a sensitive person. I was always a sensitive person as a kid, as a teenager and as a young adult, but it was never something I was proud of about myself because I never heard anything good about it, I only heard “You’re too sensitive,” “Grow a thicker skin,” and “Don’t be so sensitive.”

Yeah, ok, well why don’t you try not being so tall. Or hairy. Or white. Or black. Or being so pear-shaped, or having such a big nose, or having dimples or tiny teeth. Those are all things I guess you could change by covering up or altering permanently, but it doesn’t change how you were originally built, it just covers it up. And in 30 years, I’ve covered up how sensitive I am at certain points, which just means that all the natural reactions to things that I would have publicly or out loud, I have internalized and held in so other people aren’t bothered by it.

I was talking to a friend today and noticed that we both are pretty ok with being completely ourselves despite other people pointing out to us how ‘different’ and ‘weird’ we are. And also that I have been retroactively rejecting things that people have told me about myself, or labeled me with, or convinced me that I am. I think I am different. But I think everyone is different. And a lot of people don’t accept that, they just try to make their different edges match up to everyone else’s so they can all blend in together and be ‘normal’ in their cookie-cutter existence. I do accept it. I feel like I have no choice but to be myself, and I don’t mind it at all. And I don’t think I have to do what everyone else does or wants me to do just so I can fit in with them.

That’s great if you think I am weird, but you can keep it to yourself. Because even if you told me, first of all, I’ve already heard it. Secondly, just because I am ok with doing exactly what I want to do does not make me weird, it means that I know who I am. And, when you try to tell someone else they are weird, you are also trying to convince yourself you are the normal one, and covering up that you are uncomfortable with other people’s capabilities of saying “Fuck that shit. I don’t need to do that just to appear ‘normal’ to you. I’m going to save time and just do the things that make me happy.” Why don’t you just join my train of thought and stop worrying about jumping through hoops to meet other peoples’ expectations? When you’re on your deathbed, who has to feel the pain of your regrets? Is it all the people who expected you to act a certain way or do certain things? Nope, it’s just you who gets the pleasure of that, you come in this world by yourself and you leave by yourself. You probably won’t feel proud of how normal you were and how well you fit in. But you probably will regret not doing that thing that you always wanted to do but never could because you were a full-time forever mommy/wife, or because none of your friends liked to do that kind of thing and you didn’t want to do it by yourself, or because you didn’t want your straight-laced relatives to judge you.

So anyways, my friend and I were talking about all of this and she says “It’s called Highly Sensitive Persons” and sends me this magical website: The Highly Sensitive Person. I took the Self-Test already knowing the results, and guess what! I’m a highly sensitive person! I checked all but 3 answers. Guess what else! I’m ok with it. Now that I have more perspective than I did when I was a little kid, teenager, young adult, I’m ok with all of this, and excited to learn more about it, and excited there’s nothing wrong with me and that I never had to blame myself for something so innate and so programmed into my existence. And also that so many other people are this way that it’s not even a disorder, it’s a trait. And finally, which I have been working out for a while now, that a lot of the nice things about me that make me who I am, can be attributed to me being a sensitive person. I don’t think that connection was ever made when I was younger.

It feels great to get to know who I am and to start working with it instead of against it. Back when I was “Too Sensitive,” I worked on repressing myself a lot, hiding my feelings, trying not to be vulnerable because I could be hurt, and pretending a lot of shit didn’t bother me when it really did. And then when a string of bad shit happened to people in my life (a bunch of people I knew died over a period of a few years), that method really stopped being effective, and all the built up stress, internalized stuff and grief gradually gave way to depression. Since then I’ve learned a lot about better ways to deal with feelings and emotions and reactions and stress. So I’m still sensitive, but I’m choosing what to be stressed about, and dealing with things more effectively so that I don’t just have to clamp my normal lid over a bunch of sensitive things to hide them from everyone. And it feels really nice to be done worrying about being labeled as weird or people judging me. And if you insist on doing those things: Talk to the butt ’cause the face don’t give a shit.

silverstein

 

springblossoms

Last Friday I was sitting at my desk at work and finishing up my work for the week. Around 6 PM, I my mood changed like the flip of a switch. I’d been feeling good all week, and then all of a sudden I was feeling anxious, isolated and very alone. And I kinda freaked out a little. I spent the next hour and a half trying not to cry, slogging through my work and trying to figure out what happened to feeling good that day.

Somewhere in there, it dawned on me that I have felt the exact same way before. Last year at the beginning of allergy season I felt that way, and the year before that, I spent most spring evening drives home from work desperately wondering what in the fuck was wrong with me after having an otherwise normal day, and before I knew it sometime in the fall or winter I realized it had been a while since that had happened. Last year when I began feeling it again around the middle of March, I assumed it was my over the counter allergy medicine causing terrible side effects, and I got pissed. I set up an appointment with an allergist and had the pleasure of getting a scratch test on my back skin, which resulted in finding out that I am allergic to every (or almost every, can’t remember) pollen they tested me for, including local trees, grasses and weeds. I started using a new OTC allergy medicine and a prescription nasal spray, which worked pretty well for my allergies.

I started getting seasonal allergies about 5 years ago. I had already lived in town for a few years so I was a little disappointed because Juniper is such an unfriendly tree to me as well as most other seasonal allergy sufferers in the area, and there were a bunch in my neighborhood and I think even in my backyard where I lived at the time. I was also disappointed because drinking beer made it worse, and the medicine I started out with said not to use with alcohol, so I had to miss out on the fun or pay for it way too dearly. Boo hoo. I once made the mistake of letting someone convince me that “a little wine” from the art walk wouldn’t be too bad to mix with Benadryl. I was home and in bed at 8 PM that night. So I found out that alcohol, especially certain kinds like microbrews which I had come to enjoy, were not treating me well during allergy season. I also found out that not taking allergy medicine was not an option. Overly sleepy/tired and internally inflamed is not a great way to spend my time.

So back to last Friday, the distinction that I had been feeling good all week is important not only for the contrast to how I started feeling about 6 PM, but also because last summer things were still going poorly despite figuring out a better approach to my allergies and long story short I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder which is also known as clinical depression. The last month and a half have been the best I have felt for about a year, and after struggling for so long through finding the right antidepressant, it’s incredibly frustrating to have something else once again take away the happiness and good feelings that I’d been missing from my life for so long.

I’m very thankful for the perspective that I have from the last two allergy seasons, and the contrast in feeling fine and then very overwhelmed and isolated. It allowed me to connect some dots and realize that something I had kind of theorized for a while was not just a theory – allergies are responsible for that abrupt shift to feeling so negative and upset. I went home and googled something like “allergies depression” and “allergies anxiety” and maybe a few more combinations of those things and thankfully found this site about depression anxiety, which conveniently linked allergies directly to depression anxiety, backed by a published clinical study, and made me feel a whole lot better about my situation. To paraphrase the site, allergens enter your body/bloodstream, trigger an inflammatory immune histamine response, and release substances called cytokines into the brain which causes brain inflammation and subsequently leads to depression anxiety. It also explains that stress as well as gut sensitivities to foods can have similar results and there is a two-way connection between your gut and brain (the “gut brain connection”), and that symptoms can long outlast the toxins, inflammatory substances and gut damage that caused them. It’s actually a really radical site, which insists that depression anxiety is not a mental illness, and is caused by underlying physical problems. I’m not sure what that means in regards to my diagnosis, but I feel it is an avenue worth exploring and also have felt that allergies just had to be connected to my depression, even if only in a minor way. I want to start changing my diet and seeing if there are positive results with an anti-inflammatory diet and other suggestions from this train of thought. I don’t think it could hurt.

If you’re still with me, awesome. It’s important to me to share my experiences with others in the interest of assuring other people they’re not the only ones going through depression, or allergy-caused depression anxiety (which I have not heard much about). If you yourself aren’t afflicted by depression, it’s likely that you know several people who are depressed, whether you’re aware of their affliction or not. Whether it’s a mental illness or caused by underlying physical issues, it’s also important to learn about it, so it’s not so scary, and so we can share information on the topic and find better ways to deal with it and support our friends and family who have to deal with it.

Honestly I’m a little nervous to publish this because:

  • I don’t like being vulnerable and this stuff is a big thing to share
  • I don’t want people to treat me differently after they read this
  • I don’t want people to stop being my friend because my problems are too much for them (I already had a friend kind of disappear on me after he asked me a bunch of questions about my depression. It disappointed me but I guess I don’t need friends who would evaporate over that kind of information)

But, I’m hoping any negative consequences are outweighed by positive ones, like sharing experiences and information with people, increasing understanding about depression and making it less scary. I definitely have more I could share but that’s all I feel like sharing for now.

If you need a pick-me-up after all that, go back to Spring Can Suck It – Pt. 1
Also slightly related is A New Product That Works Wonders

I’ve been thinking about friends a lot lately and have been utilizing them more when I need them recently. Tonight I was thinking about how it is painful for me when my friends, people who I love, don’t get along with each other. I’ve been kind of a loner at times because the people I hang out with are so different and varied that it’s not a continuous group of friends, it’s more individuals and a few people who are friends with each other here and there. It gets kind of weird when my friends know each other but dont like each other, and I have to plan around who likes who and who won’t hang out with someone else instead of just inviting all the people I want to and not worrying about if they get along or not. And I will worry about it if I know there is tension within a hangout event, because I am sensitive. It’s not something I can turn off but it’s something I’m working on not letting it stress me out as much.

Looking back, I’ve noticed a pattern I’ve stuck to with all my friends who don’t get along: I always pick the ones who don’t make me choose sides. I always pick the ones who aren’t possessive and entitled over me, because they let me be my own person instead of wanting me to be their person, the kind of person they would choose for me to be if it were up to them. And I like it when nobody makes me choose because it means I get to keep more friends who I’ve picked because I’m picky and they’ve already passed the test, even if they don’t get along with each other.

I’m not sure if it’s the action of trying to get me to choose their side that drives me away from those certain people, or if it’s more the fact that they’re already not as good of a friend match for me, and the defining moment is when they pressure me to pick sides. I like to think that I am a good enough judge of character that I can decide for myself if I should be friends with someone or not, even if it takes me a while to do that. So it definitely bugs me when someone tries to make that decision for me, because I am my own animal.

stuart

astrofist

Hi. I’ve wanted a blog for years but procrastination has delayed this thing from being a thing for a long time. I think more than anything, this is an online journal, where I can put my thoughts, ideas, projects and art (highbrow? definitely some lowbrow) into the open and maybe some other people will enjoy it, too. Putting things into the open is pretty hard for me to do sometimes, and probably had a lot to do with my procrastination on setting up my blog. At this point I’m not 100% happy with the blog and plan on tweaking it some more, but since it’s here, and I’m here, I figure now is a good time to start using it, even if it isn’t perfect. And waiting for things to be perfect has also been a procrastination factor for me. I feel good that I’ve recently had the motivation to put this thing into thingdom.