Have you ever walked outside after a freshly fallen snow? The shimmering snow blanket makes the whole world feel peaceful, still, silent, and calm. There is actually a scientific reason for this (you can read more about it here: https://www.accuweather.com), but to me, it’s one of my most favorite experiences.
I don’t simply like the quiet. I need it.
I need it just as much as I need water to survive.
Sounds from everyday life that most people ignore are like mini electrical shocks to my system. An abrupt cough from someone nearby can be just as disruptive to me as the sound of a cannon is to neurotypicals. Sounds rip through my nervous system with a rush of adrenaline that keep me on edge and bracing for the next assault.
The constant stream of noise in an increasingly busy world wears me down to exhaustion. I’m left just trying to find a way to cope long enough to seek solace again in silence so I can decompress and heal.
This is my day-to-day life living with Sensory Processing Disorder.
SPD can affect each person who has it differently. (Learn more about SPD here: https://www.webmd.com/children/sensory-processing-disorder#1). For me, sound is one of my most affected senses. While busy and loud environments like malls, social gatherings, and parties are my worst nightmare due to the intensity and abundance of sound, I’m also sensitive to specific noises. For instance, the sound of someone rubbing their hands together causes a physical reaction similar to being grossed out and makes me feel like my skin is crawling.
I often find myself getting anxious about upcoming events or situations I have to attend that I know will cause a reaction and will require extra time alone in order to function normally again.
It is emotionally draining to have to turn down outings with friends in order to attend a work function because you know you can’t do both in the same day without completely falling apart. I’ve lost many friends over the years due to not being able to give what I don’t have when I’m simply trying to survive.
To make matters more complicated, I’ve worked in a call center for the last eight years. Between the multiple conversations and typical office noise, my SPD issues have been at an all-time high. I often have to leave the open-floor plan office space at one hour intervals just to get a little relief. By the end of the day, I’m left feeling like a shell of myself, burnt out, and completely spent. I usually am very withdrawn by this point as a means of self preservation.
All of these things have a way of pushing a person into desperation. I’ve spent countless hours searching the web for coping methods or anything that can help me get through the day. Since every individual is unique, not every coping mechanisms will work for everyone, but here are a few I discovered that work for me:
Removing myself from the sound. This is one of the more obvious ways to avoid sensory overload. Taking a break by going somewhere that is quiet and has dim lighting is a great way to reset yourself enough to continue with your day. I usually take approximately 15 minutes or so and get myself into a hyper-focused or meditative state which allows my nervous system to rest a moment.
Listening to instrumental music. If I’m unable to escape the sources of what’s causing my discomfort, I usually turn on some soothing instrumental music like piano radio on Pandora. This way, I can feel the music without having to over focus on the lyrics which often send my mind spiraling away into emotions or memories.
Using noise reduction earbuds. These have honestly been a life saver for me. I use the dBud brand which can be found here: https://amzn.to/3rCRWHr. These don’t simply reduce noise, but also help the quality of sound reaching your ears. My favorite feature is being able to change how much sound you are blocking by pushing the switch. Most of the time I leave mine on the setting that blocks the least sound so I’m able to acknowledge anyone who needs to speak with me. I’ve switched it to the highest setting before during situations like fire alarm tests.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Neurodiversity