HSP Once More

Easter Eve_0078a
Egg hunt for the older kids.

So, been a while. I wasn’t on vacation or anything, just had a really busy, exhausting week. My choir was preparing for our Easter concert; we did a couple of 20th century pieces – Berliner Messe by Arvo Part, and Stabat Mater by Karol Szymanowski – and selections from a Haydn, which was very Haydn indeed. Thursday was Maundy Thursday, the day of the Last Supper, and a day when my church has a service. So our choir rehearsal prior to Friday’s performance had to be on Tuesday. Because of the complexity of two of the pieces we did, we needed two dress rehearsals, so we also had Wednesday night. Saturday, we had our Easter celebration/gathering at my father’s house. There were a lot of us. Over 30, maybe, just family and accessory people (children, spouses, grandchildren, et cetera). That, at least, was a great night.

I was trying to determine a topic for tonight’s post. I figured I’d wrap up the HSP thing.

From hsperson.com:

  • 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

As I’ve mentioned, the highly-sensitive thing is more about physical than mental impacts. Do I get rattled when I have to do a lot in a short amount of time? Sure, on occasion. Depends on how much pressure I’m under, and how direct that pressure is. I don’t think it’s significantly worse than anyone else on average.

  • Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
2013 LaRosa's Balloon Glow
About a mile away; perfect distance.

Short answer, yes. I hear sounds nearly no one else can hear. Lighting and fireworks brought me to tears when I was a kid. The brightness hurt my eyes, and the sound hurt my ears. It wasn’t only frightening, but painful as well. Very sensitive to light. So was my mother. We wouldn’t turn on the lights in the house until it got fairly dark, since we could see just fine. My brother would go behind us turning on lights at dusk, like pretty much anyone else would at that time of day. A little better than a decade ago, I went to a fireworks display in one of the nearby towns. Small area, so we were pretty close to the action. I spent that entire show with my sunglasses on, and my fingers in my ears. It was too painful to do otherwise. Even now, if I get up in the middle of the night, I don’t turn on a light; don’t need to. Everything looks grainy, like high-speed film, which is kinda neat, but I can see well enough. So far, I’ve not stubbed my toe on some random sharp, pointy corner or rogue Lego piece, neither of which I have, but everyone knows they materialize in the dark.

My hearing is sensitive enough that I have a hard time falling asleep if there’s too much noise. During the summer, once I get used to it, I have the sound of my air conditioner to act as a white noise machine. I had to buy a box fan to help during the rest of the year. I have a small radio I use at work to help drown out the myriad noises going on around me – telephone conversations, computers rebooting, printers and fax machines printing, live conversations in the offices along the wall, the scratchy, tinny sound of a radio on very low volume, people standing up quickly from their chairs, it just goes on and on. I do use soft earbuds, and I have my volume turned down low. As low as it can be without being muted. People who speak loudly are difficult for me, especially in confined spaces.

Easter Eve_0156a
I like the way they sparkle, but if those glitter eggs are rough like sandpaper, I can’t hold them for long.

This bullet point doesn’t mention it, but I’m also sensitive to touch. Not really sure how I got through the double-knit polyester 70s, but that stuff feels like sandpaper to me. Nearly everything I own is at least 50% natural fabric of some sort. There are a few pieces I have that aren’t, and many of them are uncomfortable to me. Not all, there are some synthetic fabrics that are quite pleasant, but a lot are not. I can often feel things that others can’t on a surface.

The taste and smell ones, those seem to cause me the most trouble. I’ve always been able to pick out the artificially-sweetened foods and drinks – sucralose, saccharine, sorbitol, aspartame – I could always taste them. I used to chew sugarless gum fairly regularly when I was a kid; that was the only kind my mother would buy for us, because of the whole teeth thing. When I’d gone on my quest for a healthier life and lost about 100 lbs, if I drank any sweetened beverage, it was usually sweetened with Splenda or Equal. I even made desserts with Splenda. Now the taste of those sweeteners has gotten so strong to me, I can barely tolerate them. My mother wound up allergic to them.

Easter Eve_0001a
This neat fruit bunny was quite tasty, though.

I discovered at work that I am violently allergic to some perfumes. I’ve known for a while that some scents bother me – there are air fresheners that give me a nasty headache, for instance – but I’d never experienced such a reaction where my chest started to close up. I couldn’t breathe, and it was just getting worse. For myself, the detergents I use to clean my clothes, my home, and me all tend to have very light or very simple scents to them. My favorite perfume hasn’t caused a reaction yet. I hope it stays that way.

There are foods I’ve never tried, not because I didn’t want to, but because I couldn’t get past the smell. The current Brussels sprouts fad? Still haven’t had any – the smell is overpowering and unappealing. There’s a texture issue, too. Beans, for instance, even when made into a paste, feel, I don’t know, almost like they’re coating my tongue or something. Quite unpleasant. When I was a kid and had to eat them, I swallowed them whole just so I didn’t have to chew. Still begs the question of where the line is between HSP and Asperger’s. From what I’ve seen in descriptions, I do not have Asperger’s. I’ve entertained that notion more than once, but the more I learn, the more I’m convinced I do not.

These are the sorts of things one expects to grow out of. And maybe I have; maybe it’s not as bad as when I was a kid. I like broccoli now, for instance. Still don’t care for cooked carrots or mushy broccoli, and cheesy broccoli is disgusting, but I do intentionally eat the stuff now.

Mom would be so proud.


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


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