Thursday, March 10, 2011

We are highly sensitive people around here.

My sister sent me a link to a self-test which determines whether you and/or your child might be a "Highly Sensitive Person."  She was surprised to find that her son fit into a lot of the categories and thought perhaps Finn might as well, given what she knows about him.

I don't know about Finn (some of the questions really do require a child with some sort of language communication), but Mr. F. and I scored quite high (22 and 17 respectively).

These statements pretty much define my life:

  • I get rattled when I have a lot to do in a short amount of time.
  • I am annoyed when people try to get me to do too many things at once.
  • I become unpleasantly aroused when a lot is going on around me.
  • Being very hungry creates a strong reaction in me, disrupting my concentration or mood.
  • Changes in my life shake me up.
  • I find it unpleasant to have a lot going on at once.
  • When I must compete or be observed while performing a task, I become so nervous or shaky that I do much worse than I would otherwise.
  • I make it a high priority to arrange my life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations.

In some sense, this is highly illuminating.  I wouldn't have necessarily labeled myself as "highly-sensitive" nor would I picked the above attributes as key points to being highly sensitive.

I still am sort of surprised to find that other people do not get bothered by busy agendas when I actively strive to make my life as stress-free as humanly possible.  For example, I follow a blog of a woman I knew in graduate school who is currently renovating her first house.  Reading about all the work she does in the course of a night or a weekend stresses me out.  I think, "where does she find the time and energy?  I don't think I could undertake such a large endeavor."  I mean, I probably could undertake something large like that.....but I would have to seriously talk myself into it.  And then I would have to map out in my mind how it would go and how I would cope, etc. 

I have a hard time volunteering at church for the same reason.  People sign up left and right while I am mentally going through all the implications of what said service means:  "I could bring dinner, but that means I would have to cook double of what we are having, and do I have enough ingredients?  Or will I have to make another trip to the store?  And would they even like what we are having?  Not everyone is as fascinated by beans as we are.  And then I have to cook while Finn is at his craziest.  I guess I could wear him in the Ergo and hope for the best.  But then I need to go to the store and buy plastic containers to bring the food in, because we have discarded all of ours, and I don't want them or us worrying about returning them. etc. etc."  Seriously.  This is my whole mental process.  And by the end of it, I am so overwhelmed that I just forgo.  Or, the opportunity has passed once I have convinced myself that it would be manageable.  I guess other people don't have this problem, and it blows my mind.

The same goes for traveling.  I have not visited my sisters since having Finn.  And it isn't because I don't want to.  I do!  The problem is having a child that doesn't sleep well and who, like his parents, is a highly-sensitive person and so doesn't deal well with change.  I start thinking about where everyone is going to sleep and the logistics of nursing Finn at night without the normal familiar set-up of rocking chair right next to crib and the potential horrible aftermath of trying to get him to sleep in a foreign environment...... and my brain overloads and I want to crawl in my bed and hibernate until I recover.  

I used to think that I was just lazier than the average person.  It is somewhat comforting to know that I just over think and stress about a situation more than just the average person.  But only somewhat.


Anonymous said...

I am but a mere 8.

(with a 22 and 17 for parents finn is toast.... just saying)

come visit anyway :)

Jaimee said...

There is an entire book you can read on this subject (The Highly Sensitive Child), which I highly recommend before Finn reaches the age where other kids are actively in his space. Giving him the tools necessary to protect himself is vital. Now, my child is on the other end: high energy, high intensity, sensory seeking. These 2 types of kiddos don't mix well and it has lead to many a playgroup mishap. Learning about all this now will be such a benefit to you! I highly recommend Raising Your Spirited Child as well. Sensitivity is one of the major spirited categories so there are some great tips in there, too, and it will good to read about the opposite type of child to better prepare for said interactions. :)

Washington Hills said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! Not to ever encourage you to NOT visit your sister, but you have a right to be nervous with a baby in a new place. The first night in a new place for anyone under the age of three (at least my kids) is HORRIBLE. Having said that, it is usually worth it, AND they do seem to snap out of it the next day when they realize that they are still there, wink.

As always, happy reading for me on your blog. I love that other people can verify that what I'm feeling isn't completely off the wall.

Kristina said...

Amen to all of the above. I hate it when my idea of how something should go doesn't happen. That being said, kids are teaching me to go with the flow (i've kicked and screamed the whole way ). I'd like to see how I would score on that test in different seasons of my life...hmmmm.


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