Wednesday, February 09, 2022

A Life of Noise Sensitivity and Feeling Like I was BORN Overstimulated

Sometimes I have a feeling that I was actually born overwhelmed (or "overstimulated"), as it were. 

It seems like as far as back as I can remember I was always very hesitant to get involved in anything that made noise or in anything that had "flashy moving colors" or anything like that. At the same time, it seemed like I always wanted to do very "adult" things when I was a young kid... even though my mother was always "strongly encouraging" (read: "Forcing") me to get out there and do things that allegedly "healthy" kids were supposed to do. 

But I just didn't want to; it felt like having my head inside a garbage grinder or a drum that somebody was randomly beating on.

When I look back at many of my moments of great anxiety and terror, I can also clearly recall that most of them involved something that was very loud and in my face and made me feel like I just was going to explode if they continued. And it was on occasions like that represented pretty much the only times I remember the words "don't mind him, he's just too sensitive!" actually coming out of my mother's mouth.

If course, they were far more of a criticism and excuse than any kind of supportiveness of my sensitivity.

My maternal grandfather thought I would be interested in seeing the trains, so we'd walk down to the nearby rail line. I did love looking at the trains... as long as they were just parked. When they were actually passing by, I wanted to be several hundred yards away!

I just wanted things around me to be quiet; soft.

Of course, they never were... except when I'd ride my bicycle out into the nearby woods to be with myself and nature.

Ironically, I ended up working at my dad's bottle cap factory when I was in my teens... one of the noisiest environments you could possibly imagine. Think of the sound of a cascade of metal bottle caps raining onto a resonant hard surface, and you get the idea. I wore earplugs and gradually adjusted to the dull roar because about $8 an hour was a LOT of money in 1974, and when you were just a 14-year old kid!

Noise has an interesting effect on my system... it doesn't matter what the source is, it feels like it is slowly sucking the life force out of my very being. That can even be applied to ostensibly "enjoyable" noise like rock concerts, or even loud car stereos.

Needless to say, I never went through a "headbanger music" phase!

I still go to great lengths to avoid noisy situations, and turn down many invitations if I get the sense that they will be very loud. My preferred noise level is to sit somewhere with no human-made sounds, just listening to the sound of waves and wind rustling the leaves of the trees.

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