I recently texted my husband after being accosted by random strangers in the checkout line at Kohl's. Sounds dramatic doesn't it? Since the last time I visited this department store [a rare occurrence as we just shop there when the boys need jeans], they have moved a gazillion perfume squirters to sample to the waiting queue for check out.
My text went something like this.
Me: I am having a HSP meltdown because two women [one in front of me and one behind me] just sprayed perfume in my general direction. They sprayed it so many times. I can taste it in my mouth! I smell so yucky. I am freaking out! Freaking out!!!!!!
Him: What's a HSP?
[I might have rolled my eyes like a 15 year old at this point]
Back in the minivan, after I removed my sweater [because perfume], chewed gum and drank water and tried to get the taste out of my mouth, texted my women to tell them what happened and then did some venting with my son [who was equally horrified, but less screechy than me], I texted Marc back to tell him that HSP stands for Highly Sensitive Person.
Highly sensitive people are often hyper-in- tune with what is happening around them.
They are often sensitive to sound, sights, smells, touch. I am a big old HSP.
I have always been a highly sensitive creature. Since the beginning of time.
I have memories as a child of hating certain fabrics, the feeling of zippers on my skin, and the seams of socks. I was also very quiet as a child [a giant sponge that absorbed all that was happening around her.] I have always needed time alone.
My HSP-ness looks a bit different now. My requirements are more finely tuned, as I am more in touch with what I need to thrive.
I am so sensitive to smell [more so as a woman of 42, than ever before]. I cannot tolerate fake smells [think Bath and Body works], scented candles, or perfume. The smells elicit a drowning feeling in me. Dramatic right? And I don't do drama. I have a visceral and averse reaction to the smells of Patchouli and Jasmine. Two small companies have lost my business because they put patchouli oil on a product, and in an oil without disclosing it. No thank you please.
I do best with minimal background noise while I am working. While watching television, I ask for the volume to be turned down repetitively. Marc tries to remind me [gently] that the commercials are always louder, but I don't really care. It hurts my ears and makes my head feel like it's going to pop off.
I am still sensitive to what clothes go on my body. I wear mostly cotton, flowy tops. I can't do tight anything. I only purchase certain brands of jeans. Bras with underwire no longer exist in my drawers. I banned them a few years ago, when I made the connection between my mid-day moodiness and feeling like my skin was being jabbed to death. I have two brands of underwear that meet my needs.
I need expansive space in my visual field. Mellow lighting (not florescent) seems to work best for me, but too little light makes my head hurt. I cannot watch violence on screens - as it is too upsetting to me, because I feel it in my body. I tried to go see Hunger Games with my teenage son a few years ago, and I hid under my coat because it was too graphic for me.
I am complete and complex in how I process the outside world.
Big box stores elicit a panic like feeling in my chest [might be the lighting...might be the shiny floors.....might be all the people?] I struggle to be in large crowds. I can now tolerate the mall in small doses, as long as I get a snack and a chill break while I am there. My kids know it's tough for me, so they do some mom caretaking during mall trips. It's really sweet.
I need so much time alone. Space with nothing planned. This is ideal for me. It's how I thrive, feel rested and feel replenished.
I am so highly sensitive.
And hope to never have perfume sprayed in my general direction ever again.