It’s Wednesday. That means it is one of the two nights I intend to write here, like it or not. It was something I missed in my life, something I felt I needed to do to provide some balance, some stability. The hardest thing about this is coming up with a topic in the first place. Once I have one, then it’s staying on topic. The later it gets, the harder it is. I couldn’t decide if I would continue what I was talking about on Saturday, either the highly-sensitive part or the INTP part; that indecisiveness kept me from even sitting down to write until 8:30. Been up since ten ’til 4 this morning, so I’m getting tired. Making it even more difficult to stay on topic. Obviously.

HSP Susan CainThe whole HSP, or Highly-Sensitive Person thing has been shuffling around in the back of my head for a couple weeks. It’s grabbed my attention, and it won’t let go. The way my mind works, it takes a while for things to be thoroughly tasted, tested, tried, trashed, recovered, recycled, revised, and finally, reluctantly, released, tethered tenuously to the potential of retraction.

What that means is with ideas requiring careful consideration, the first thing out of my mouth isn’t necessarily my final word. In fact, it often isn’t. The rest, the multiple polysyllabic alliterations, that  just amused me.

I could have written much more on the topic this past Saturday. In fact, I had. I was closing in on 2,000 words, which is significantly longer than I like. I had to cut it off somewhere. Unsatisfying ending, but it ended. So where do I pick it up? I thought I’d go with a clearer definition of what a Highly-Sensitive Person is. Just a simple definition isn’t what I want to do, though; I want to color it through my own experiences. Makes more sense to me that way, and it does what I want to do, which is show how it may be different for someone.

So what is an HSP?*

From hsperson.com, Dr. Elaine Aron’s page dedicated to the books she’s written on the subject:

  • Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  • Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  • Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  • Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  • Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  • Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  • Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  • When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy

I’m going to worry about the first point right now.

Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?

2013 LaRosa's Balloon Glow
Far enough away, they’re pretty. Coney Island (Cincinnati), July 2013

As I mentioned Saturday, fireworks and thunderstorms used to make me cry. Not because I was scared, but because I was in pain. I’ve not had too much trouble with thunderstorms since college, partly because I met one of my closest friends during a thunderstorm, changing the memories I associated with them (much better), and partly because I am no longer in the Valley in my city. That particular area seems to magnify the thunder and lightning. I thought I was just imagining things until I met others who’d grown up in that same area. It wasn’t uncommon for thunder to rattle the windows, or even crack it now and again. I don’t know if it’s the configuration of the geography that makes the difference, but that’s the only thing I can guess. I was just relieved to find I wasn’t the only one who noticed that.

Even now, at an age where some of my peers have enough hearing loss to need assistance, and others close to it, I still am very sensitive to loud sounds of any type. Some are worse than others. High-pitched, short pitches bother me and if loud enough, hurt. Low bass, constant, unrelenting, leads me to anger, and even rage. Really, rage. When I reach that point, I have a couple of choices – play my own noise loudly and bother my ears, but lose the rage, or leave. The latter is rarely a viable option when this becomes an issue. Fortunately, I’ve discovered my new earbuds, which act as noise-cancelling ear plugs. Not completely, nor would I want them to, but they do cut down the noises at the extremes, the ones that bother me most, and allow me to turn up whatever I’m listening to without hurting myself. It’s a passive-aggressive sort of thing, but so far, it’s not been all that frequent lately. Summer is coming, though; that’s likely to change.

I have a small radio I listen to at work. It also happens to be an mp3 player. I don’t have the patience to load up songs on it; I really bought it because of the tuner, and the built-in battery. I also would have accepted something that can be plugged in, but also portable. Lasts about eight hours on a charge, so I am charging it every day I’m at work. I need it. Where I sit, there’s a reception desk and a place where sales people like to hang out. I also sit near a few muckity-mucks, and people tend to congregate outside of their doors. And there’s a person with a radio with a shrill overtone that just crawls right up my back. Without my earbuds, I get stressed. I don’t have it all that loud – just enough to help me drown out the outside noises that throw me off. I can still hear conversations, and I can hear my phone; they’re just less of an annoyance. Of course, the fact that I have the volume turned to one or two ticks above mute, that probably helps. Much louder and there is aural pain. I had a secondhand iPod a while back. I couldn’t handle wearing the earbuds in my ears. Even at the lowest, it was too loud to be comfortable; it still hurt.

I am still very sensitive to bright lights. I have a pair of sunglasses with orange lenses. Not amber, not yellow, orange. They are best ones to really help me to see in the sun, or on brightly-overcast days. Without them, I get the sharp knife into my head through my eyes. Seriously, it hurts my eyes. Sitting too close to fireworks hurts – not just the noise, but the brightness of the explosion. Nearly all of my clothes are at least a percentage of natural fabric, simply because many of the synthetic ones bother me in some way or other, to the point of distraction. I’ve no idea how I made it through the double-knit polyester days of the 70s. And smells? I can smell perfume when no one else can. That’s good and bad; I’ve been able to make some positive use of that, although because of it, I could never be a nurse. Too much poop. Makes me nauseous.


Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?

Well, yes, I am.


*A HSP? An HSP? I dunno. Either works. I’m going to read it as the letters, so an HSP makes more sense. Unless I change my mind. It could happen.

Part One – HSP
Part Two
 – HSP and Stuff
Part Three – HSP Once More
Part Four – More Fun with HSP


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