All my life my senses have been very oversensitive. My hearing, sense of smell and experiences with touch, pain, light and temperature are particularly troublesome at times. At first I thought these things were just part of the irritability that often accompanies depression and hypomania. I have been diagnosed with BPII, but my mood has been relatively stable for a while now and I’m still having issues.
The sound and smell thing has always been related to intensity – and my intensity dial seems to be stuck on high. When particular things are too loud, too repetitive or have a strong odor I get annoyed. Naturally there are things that everyone finds irritating – but I’m talking about a level of discomfort that makes me want to either scratch my skin off or punch somebody. The anger I feel is hardly ever relative to the stimulus, and also seems to happen with things that others are not that bothered by.
The same goes for my experiences with temperature, light and pain. Extreme temperatures seem to affect me more than others. Living in Asia has highlighted this. The summer time is absolute torture for me. As for light, well that one’s linked to pain. I suffer almost constantly with headaches, and light greatly exacerbates them (photophobia).
The touch thing is what gets to me the most though – and it’s very confusing. It isn’t just limited to certain textures (which drive me absolutely crazy) but also includes physical contact with others. I don’t always have an issue with being touched. If I initiate it or am unsurprised by it then I have zero problem. If, however, I am touched unexpectedly sometimes I become extremely uncomfortable and have to fight not to lash out or recoil. Now I know what you’re thinking – that’s not really a big deal, no one likes strangers touching them without warning. Here’s the thing though, it doesn’t happen that often with strangers. It happens significantly more with people I love, and that is a big deal.
As far back as I can remember this has been a thing. I have memories from childhood of my mother/father/brother/sister trying to hug me or be affectionate, and I can still feel my body tense up and a sense of revulsion arise from the contact. Yet if I initiate it – we’re golden. The same thing still happens today and extends to my friends and boyfriend. It’s painful. I hate myself for feeling this way because I know and see how much it hurts people. Touch is a way to express love and is important. I try so hard to ignore how I feel but it’s so overwhelming sometimes I want to scream.
I have done a little research on sensory sensitivity – and I know that it can be a part of BP. Other things popped up too though – such as ASD, SPD and hypersensitivity due to persistent anxiety. I’m fairly certain that in my case anxiety is the culprit, since it is a huge part of my BP even when my mood is stable. Whatever it is though it’s definitely a wedge between me and those I care about. I’m terrified it will be the reason people give up trying to be close to me.