Thank you very much to today’s NHM Reader who has shared some of her experience to benefit others.
NHM Reader’s Experience: Sensory-processing sensitivity (SPS)
I am a mum of three kids and in the past few years have been really struggling to cope with their moods and the noise they make. I have now worked out why I have been feeling as I have and thought I’d share this with you because it might help others, too.
All three of my kids were very much wanted and planned and we were so happy when each of them was born. What I didn’t anticipate though was how much their noise and physical demands were going to challenge me. It got worse over the years and in the end I felt I was in a constant state of anger and that I never fully calmed down – I went from 0 to 100 in 2 seconds over very small things.
By now, even happy noises from children other than my own put me on edge immediately. I was very unhappy about this and shed many a tear in the evenings – and in the daytime because I had also got so very emotional – and complained to my poor husband. He tried to help but couldn’t really understand.
I researched many conditions that could explain just how I felt. Stress, depression, various phobias, even autism in female adults, but none of it really described how I felt. Until I came across “sensory-processing sensitivity” (SPS for short). People who are affected are called “highly sensitive persons”; their brains can’t filter out all the different stimuli that enter during a day and as a consequence they can feel greatly overwhelmed while the brain tries to deal with it all.
I have never been very good in noisy, crowded situations, I can’t stand the heat and I don’t like bright sunlight in my face. I also very much need my own personal space and I had started to make a connection between how these situations made me feel and how being with children made me feel.
And now it all makes perfect sense.
Before we had the children, I would either avoid situations that I found stressful (I have never been to a concert in my life and avoid going into busy town centres as much as possible) or I would have time to give my brain a break afterwards. When you have kids, that is often impossible and so the stimuli build up and up, leading to the feeling over overwhelm and even anger.
SPS is not an illness but rather a personality trait but just knowing why I feel that way has made my life much easier. I am still at the beginning of my own journey but I now try limit the amount of noise I subject myself to by, for example, wearing ear defenders at home even when it is not particularly noisy or taking five minutes in a quiet room when I have just sat in the car with the kids for half an hour, to give my brain that break it needs.
There is some useful information on the internet and, now that I know what to search for, I have found many blogs by affected parents. Not all have the same triggers as me, as all senses can be affected, but if any readers feel they are struggling with noises, lights, smells, crowds, etc or are otherwise very emotional I suggest they google SPS and highly sensitive persons.
If anyone feels the description of SPS fits them I would also be very happy to be contacted to exchange thoughts and ideas of how to cope with it. (please drop me an email at NorthHantsMum@gmail.com and I will forward it to the lovely lady who wrote this post).