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Overwhelmed? That’s Me

Thanks to Shawna for saving my post! This got deleted somehow, but those of you who are subscribed via email may have already received it (like Shawna). For the rest of you, I’m so relieved these thoughts were saved. Maybe you can relate. Here you go!

I had another breakdown this week. After driving 16 hours straight from Minnesota to Colorado, I walked into our house, said, “Yuck!” then crashed into bed. The house was a disaster. Before we left for Christmas break, Tim and I had the stomach flu which left me on the couch for three days. This was followed by frantic packing and caring for Jack who caught the bug from us. I imagined leaving the house clean and fresh, but when I came home it was dirty, cluttered and stale.

So, on Thursday I rolled up my sleeves and went to work. I unpacked our suitcases, did the dishes, washed two loads of laundry, put away the laundry, made lunch, nursed the baby four times, changed four poopy diapers, rearranged some furniture, cleaned the floors, cooked chili for dinner, put the kids to bed and had a melt down when Jack asked me to cuddle with him.

I was empty.

Completely exhausted. I had nothing left in me and just wanted to stare into space for an hour. I did not want to have to think or be stimulated in any way. Overwhelmed doesn’t even touch it. My precious son wanted to cuddle and I just couldn’t. I tried to convince him to go back to bed, but his eyes said to me, “I need physical touch. I need love.” He wasn’t trying to manipulate me, he was communicating to me a genuine need.

And I couldn’t give it to him.

Pained because I couldn’t fulfill my son’s needs, I got frustrated with myself and with him. Instead of being empathetic I became forceful. Tim walked in as I was struggling with Jack and while he took him to bed, I sat in my chair and cried.

It’s too much, I said. I have too much to do and not enough energy to do it. It’s not fair!

I felt lousy.

Today, I am still recovering. I have no energy to do anything, but reading and prayer sounds nice. While journaling, I felt the reminding prod to pick up this book I’ve been meaning to reread. The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron. I’ve read maybe 12 pages and I feel the desire to share this with you. I am a Highly Sensitive Person. An HSP, if you will. In Aron’s quiz, I answered yes to 19 of the 22 questions. The world overwhelms me. I could feel horrible about this, like something is wrong with me, but this line stood out to me, on page xiii:

“there is something very right with you and me.”

God made me highly sensitive. I walk into a room and may not notice the color of the walls or what you’re wearing, but I will see if you’re sad. I pick up on both the sighs and the giggles. I highly empathize with you and want to connect.

I don’t express my opinions much because I don’t want to hurt another’s feelings. And if they feel bad then I feel bad for them.

I am easily stimulated. I don’t like loud music or crowds. Concerts overwhelm me (unless I get to sit in my own seat and just listen). New experiences wear me out. I tire easily. I hate commercials because they’re loud and fast and jump too quickly from one subject to the next. If I’m around people for long periods of time, I probably won’t talk much and will probably check out socially.

My favorite activity is to read. Alone. With something yummy to eat or drink.

Writing this I feel like I’m complaining or even doing something wrong, as though there is something wrong with me, but I reject those feelings as lies within me. I am not wrong. I’m trying to understand me and I want to share me with you. Because maybe you’ll relate. Maybe you’ll understand me. And maybe we can learn how to cope with this loud, busy, over-stimulating world together.

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11 thoughts on “Overwhelmed? That’s Me

  1. Being pregnant has put “bold print” on some of my sensitivities. Things I thought I could handle… just can’t at all any more. I too wrestle with feeling like there is something wrong with me. I can’t live up to the standards and expectations that other people have for me. On my good days I see this as a way to learn about God’s tremendous grace for me. That I don’t have to live up to standards for Him. On bad days, I crumble in tears feeling shameful and broken.

    I am thankful that I have friends, like you(!), who understand and relate. And also, who is willing to share. Thanks Leah. Love you.

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  2. I too am easily over-stimulated — one who has had to deal with a hypervigilant temperament all my life. I would be honored to be included in your HSP circle so as you say we can encourage one another… Vincent

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    • Thank you, Vincent. It is encouraging to know there are fellow HSPs out there. I am still working through understanding myself, so I appreciate your encouragement.

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  3. Hi Leah – this is powerful! God is going to use this to change lives! There are so many highly sensitive people in the world who, until they realize their sensitivity is a beautiful gift from God, feel like there is something wrong with them. I am so thankful I came across your blog… you are a beautiful mama!!! Thank you for sharing your heart so open and transparently! Blessings!

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    • Thanks, Krissy! I am definitely a work in progress and God is faithful. I don’t know how to emphasize this enough. He is faithful. Thank you for your words of encouragement. I checked out your blog and am not following it. 🙂 Thanks for finding me.

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  4. Pingback: When I Felt Like I Was Too Different | The Toothless Grin

  5. Pingback: How I am rising above shame (and the winner of Fight Back with Joy) | The Toothless Grin

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