For as long as I can remember I have been a very emotional person, always crying at movies, welling up over a sad passage in a book. Only in the last few years have I known that this has a name (because we live in a society that loves to label), hyper-sensitivity.
I heard of the name after stumbling upon a Facebook post from an account called “Esprit Science Metaphysiques” and felt intrigued. The article started off by asking a series of questions like :
Do you feel very strongly other peoples emotions?
Do you often experience emotional overflow?
Do you hate people lying to you?
Do you feel overtaken in crowds?
Are you frequently very tired?
Do you feel particularly affected by bad news on the TV?
After having answered yes in my head to most of these, I continued reading the article more eagerly. Further along into the read I noticed that my heightened emotional awareness was linked to several other characteristics that I knew I had but had never thought relevant to sensitivity, creativeness and need for solitude. As things clicked in to place I began identifying with this notion of hyper-sensitivity. Being able to put a name to it allowed me to research it more. Google led me to many interesting internet sites explaining the numerous different ways of experiencing the ordeal, and recognizing the symptoms. Reassurance dawned on me when I realized that I couldn’t be the only person in the world suffering from this if so many people are bothering to write about it. Coming away with this information felt great to begin with as I could begin ti explain so many past (over)reactions and present feelings. People had put it down to being over-dramatic and soppy or a wuss, but now I could tell them the reality of it. Now that I had the label I went about trying to find the cure. Some way to stop the tears and the fatigue, and to protect myself from negativity. I kept feeding these thoughts for a while, maybe a month or two, leaving them on the back burner of my brain, simmering away.
As time passed nothing changed, I still cried at “About Time”, I still felt severely tired out from work (at the time I was a sales assistant in a luxury department store and the amount of negative energy in there was cray-zay), and I still got so sad and distressed with news on the TV. I must admit that I was kinda disappointed, I had hoped that I could learn to miraculously hide things more, not to be such an easy read, not to be so embarassable in public. A past of being bullied at school for being too sensitive, being called a “cry-baby”, had not helped my self-esteem and made me feel pretty negatively about my singularity. From then on in public I had tried to hide it, avoiding situations in which it might arise, making swift exits just as I felt tears come on.
Seeing as no change had happened I sort of gave up and forgot about it, sulking for a few days and going on with life as usual. One day after my failed attempts at losing my feelings, my boyfriend and I were watching a film, I think it was “The theory of everything” and as usual I was tearing up at a sad scene, and I said to him “I’m sorry for crying again” , he turned to me and replied “Don’t be so stupid, there’s no need to be sorry!”. I dried up the waterworks and we continued to watch the film. A few days later and I was with my best friend (and colleague) and we were both at work, I had just finished up with a particularly rude and draining client. I was so fed up and down, quite an ugly mess. I mentioned that I was so over being so fragile and she said “don’t be ridiculous, sensitivity isn’t a bad thing, never apologize for that!”. We chatted some more, slagged off the client to make me feel a bit better for a bit and then got on with more work.
Two separate people that I held very close to my heart, had both in the space of a few days told me that I didn’t need to excuse my sensitivity. Maybe they were on to something, so I decided to roll with it. The next few times I was in a delicate situation I didn’t apologize. Nobody said anything, it was possible they hadn’t noticed anything, it was possible that they had but didn’t think anything of it. What if I wasn’t being judged after all? Had I made it all up in my head? It felt so good to just not try to control it, let it flow.
A year or so later, acceptance has meant that I now consider it an integral and important part of who I am. It has become a definite strength. Being in tune with my emotions has introduced me to a different way of living and respecting my own feelings. Experiencing life through sensations opens the door to so many other new notions; intuition; empathy and social awareness being just a few.
It is estimated that nearly 20% of people present the basic characteristics of hyper-sensitivity. These people often spend most of their lives ignoring that they belong to this little privileged group, seeing the world differently with a more open heart, but also a more vulnerable one. Our senses can be a weakness but I see them to be a gift. I can see things that others don’t, feel special things, have a more varied reality.
It can be difficult to adapt to a world that is too noisy, full of un-empathetic people not taking you into account, but if you can manage to make it a strength you are already on the path to so much more.