What it's like for a highly-sensitive person...

Americans are (in)sensitive to sensitive people.  Which of the following statements have you said before: suck it up, be a man, put on your big girl panties, stop whining, don't be emo, just get over itman up, grow up, get a life, stop being so sensitive.

In a harsh world it's difficult for sensitive people to no only gain any sympathy, but really have our feelings taken into consideration or valued.  More often than not we are just supposed to "suck it up" and move on with our lives.

I am going to list some examples of how my sensitivity personally affects me and perhaps readers can learn the many hidden facets of high sensitivity.  Maybe you will learn something about yourself or understand your sensitive child or friend a little more.  Remember there is a physiological basis for high sensitivity.  

1.  I have to get at least 8 hours of sleep or physically I am miserable. (Which is why I had to end up quitting my night shift job after month.  Ugh.  What a nightmare).  

2.  It has to be completely dark or I have a very difficult time falling asleep. There also cannot be any noise and trust me, I can hear EVERYthing.  I have class from 8-5 every other Saturday now and I have to start going to bed early on Wed. and getting up earlier so I can adjust by the time Saturday comes.  I have vomited before from lack of sleep.

3.  If something emotional happens I notice it takes longer for it to wear off than others.  Real or fake.  Seeing a highly emotional movie has the same effect so I usually try to avoid them.  Also means the effects of seeing a scary movie stay with me long after everyone else is asleep.  Same thing for sad events and occurrences that happen in the world.

4.  I have a VERY DIFFICULT time not sleeping in my own bed.  Heck, I even have a hard time sleeping in my own bed if conditions aren't "just" right.

5.  I am HIGHLY sensitive to hot or cold.  Especially hot.  I overheat easily so I have to schedule my life around that. I always make sure I have Tylenol with me in case the heat can't be avoided.  

6.  Medication affects me way more than the average person.  My dentist even decreased the amount of Novocain he gave me compared to his other patients.  I am allergic to everything.  If I take a Beynadryl I am jittery and up for hours.  That's one pill.  I can take Nyquil and sleep for 12 hours.  On a positive note, I don't have to take much of anything for it to work.  The downside, normal doses are given to me and I can't take it because when I tell medical people I am sensitive they think I am being whiny and don't pay attention.

7.  Food.  I have to eat something every two hours.  If not, headache.  Tylenol doesn't usually help with a "not eating" headache and it usually last a really long time.  I also have to watch what I eat because I experience high's and low's that really suck.  And no, I am not diabetic.  

8.  Noise.  Hate it.  I like to have one noise source and if there is more than one I can get highly aroused.  And not in a good way.  

9.  Caffeine.  What an ugly monster to a sensitive person.  Magnify the effects it has on a normal person.  Add a little more anxiety, a little more nervousness and a little more anger.  Fun times for all!

10. Hormones.  Where to begin with this one...horrible, painful periods and moods to go with.  Thank God for flaxseed!!

Maybe you can relate to some of these things because you have seen them in yourself.  Maybe you've noticed them in your child or mate.  If so you may want to research it a bit and instead of trying to change us, give us a break. 

It's usually the overbearing Type A, non-sensitive parent that doesn't like the fact their child is sensitive and considers him or her wimpy or whiny.  I am here to tell you that trying to change it will not work.  Children who are highly sensitive are usually extremely sensitive to the energies of other people and even places and many times sensitive children are misdiagnosed with having ADHD.  We are highly sensitive to noise as well and can become overstimulated from noise or want to run away and hide.  This poses another problem because people that aren't extroverted are often looked at as strange, weird and are outcasted from their peers.  

Many times the stress of having to remain "tough" is internalized which in turn creates many physical symptoms for children and adults.  Stomach pain, headaches, nausea, diarrhea, and unexplained illness can be signs of a body under duress and highly sensitive people are more prone to experience these symptoms if they haven't yet found or been allowed an outlet.  At worst, suicide. 

Be aware. Be compassionate.  Be encouraging.  Be kind.


  1. my stepdad told me to not be so sensitive my whole life and it made me feel like being emotional was a bad thing. now i know it's other people's issues that cause them to hide emotion and try to force it on me. so i don't care any more. but someone saying that to me still immediately makes me pissed off. even brian knows it's a tag phrase that will set me off.

    i get hot and sweaty so much that i avoid the outdoors and was always embarrassed about sweat marks all the time. i keep a floor fan next to the bathroom to cool me off after i take a shower while i get ready.

    when i spend time with groups of people i go hide in the bathroom for a little while to calm down because it overloads me completely. i also don't have a lot of friends because their drama drains me and i can't take it.

    medications hardly ever work for me. i end up on high mgs of meds because they plateau out easily. so we aren't twins on that one at all.

    i avoid caffeine except in chocolate. i don't drink soda unless it's caff-free. i try to buy decaf tea bags. it doesn't affect me a ton but i watched my aunt go through caff withdrawal in the hospital and it was appaling watching family sneak her pepsi's like they were crack.

    i used to have morning nausea from getting up early for as long as i could remember. i still get dry heaves if i move around to much after just waking up when it's early. i worry about not getting much sleep when i have kids and how it will mess me up since i get about 10-12 hours now after 3 years of insomnia from effexor xr.

    i finally accepted my issues and my own awesomeness when i did the personality type test and read "please understand me II" and realized i didn't need therapy to fix me. this is who i am and that it's not bad. and now i am proud to be a sensitive and emotional person because i feel things many people never will. and i find more people relate to me and talk to me about difficult stuff without me even prompting them. so as tough as it can be it's still pretty awesome being me.

  2. Oh the sleep thing, is so me. Temp has to be perfect, no noise,(unless its a fan) once Im up, cant go back to sleep.