Imagine with me, if you will, having the dial on your senses turned up. What would that be like?
You’re sitting in a café, enjoying the texture of a pastry, feeling each layer flake with a delicate crunch. The raspberry filling is deliciously intense, sweet and tart, the little seeds being pressed and popped against your teeth as you chew. Suddenly, you hear a robbery going on in the convenience store across the street, so you call the cops. Not wanting the robber to get away before the police get there, you look over in order to see the perpetrator’s face. It’s covered, but you notice the unique tiny birthmark on their neck that could help identify them. The criminal hears the sound of sirens and runs, but the smell of their body wash is so unique that you use it to follow their escape route. You can hear the sound of their sneakers hitting the asphalt and splashing through puddles, as well as their breath becoming heavy and labored. When they’re finally captured, you can feel the vibrations in the air when they lie, the fear making them tense up. Hearing the hard squeeze of their increased heart rate confirms it, and they are successfully taken into custody. Just another day in the life of the highly-sensitive.
Is that something like what you were thinking? That would be really cool, but here’s how it actually goes (at least, for me).
You’re sitting in a café, shading your eyes from the overly-bright fluorescent lighting, feeling like a sledgehammer is beating into your skull. You’re trying to enjoy your pastry, knowing it should taste good, but you’re sensitive today and the raspberry is overwhelming. The flavor is mixed with the chemical taste of perfume wafting off of the old lady a few seats over, and the pungent tuna salad they’re making in preparation for the lunch rush. They put onions in it today. You put your pastry down half-eaten, nausea replacing your hunger. The café is crowded, the cacophony of intermingling voices, banging of kitchenware, and loudly repetitive music join in a pace that makes you tight chested and anxious. Sirens blare as they come down the street, making your migraine worse. You stand to leave, but people push you back, jamming shoulders and elbows against you, trying to get a better look at the scene across the street. A bruised, bone-deep pain lingers in each spot touched, though you swear they barely even bumped you. Finally escaping, you trudge home, close the blinds, text your friends to cancel the fun plans you had…again, and climb into bed. Just another day in the life of over-sensitivity.
I wrote this today because I’ve seen some really rude and ignorant comments recently on Twitter that bothered me. People who have never felt these things can’t possibly know what it’s like, and those who have may not be able to explain. Personally, if I’m having a day where I feel like this, I don’t like to explain myself because I know many people don’t understand it and will feel like I’m just being whiny. I’ve been called every name in the book, sneered at for being “weak” or “thin-skinned” and “wanting attention” by family and strangers alike. If you see a post/tweet that makes it seem like someone is being overly sensitive, ignore it and move on to read other things. Block them, unfollow them, or whatever you have to do, but don’t berate them for what they’re feeling. Sure, they could be exaggerating for pity, but I promise, most of us don’t want that kind of attention. Either way, what does it matter to you? Is it really so important that you have to call them out or insult them?
Bottom line, be kind.