10 Reasons I LOVE being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

A little word of warning …

The super positive title of this post is going to soon be contradicted by a follow up post about why I HATE being a HSP. But for now, we will focus on what is AWESOME about being sensitive.

#1 – I am very empathetic and feel deeply connected to animals. I feel I can sense their mood and emotional state based on their body language. I also care for people, but animals have a special place in my heart because our World exploits them and takes everything it can without giving back (more on this another time). I see them as pure, innocent and REAL – much like Children before the World intrudes and turns them into self-conscious adults who act their way through life. My dog has helped me through some really tough times, just by being her little doggy self. If I was not a HSP, I wouldn’t appreciate the silent connection that two different species can share. Look how beautiful she is …

Maisie

(She isn’t quite so cute when she eats her own poop)

#2 – I make conscious choices and have very strong morals. If everyone could CARE and FEEL like we HSPs do, this World would not be so very fragmented and screwed up.

#3 – I don’t get distracted with unimportant things like status or owning the latest gadget. I live beyond the shallow. I am able to live DEEPLY and SPIRTIUALLY. I don’t believe in God or Religion, personally. However, I feel there is more to what we think we know based on the physical. I believe in …

#4 – … Nature! I absolutely love how wonderful and perfect Nature is. It grows food for us. It sustains life and gives, gives, gives. Epic Mountains. The Northern Lights. A Star-filled Sky. All the colours of the Rainbow. A Sunset. Snow. The fresh, optimistic feeling you get walking on a Beach and feeling at one with this Planet as your feet sink into the sand. Of course, some people don’t appreciate the Planet like we do and are gradually tearing it to pieces (watch ‘Cowspiracy’ on Netflix). I feel so peaceful in the outdoors and it’s a blessing to be within such an amazing World (despite all the chaos and noise it contains).

#5 – I am not overly reliant on people like many others are. This is largely in part because I am an Introverted HSP. But I think, because of my sensitivity, I appreciate time alone and feel like I really know who I am. While I can feel envious of other, ‘normal’, people – are they really happy if they cannot stand being in their own company? Is it good to rely on lots of people for your own happiness? Is it good to need a lot of external stimuli in order to feel alive? I feel alive and well when I am in my bed or sat in a garden chair reading a new book on my Kindle. It may sound boring to some, but for me it is blissful.

#6 – My intuition. I have learned to trust it, because there were times in my past when I didn’t want to hear the truth and only ended up causing myself greater despair further down the line. Sometimes our intuition will not be telling us something we want to hear, but when it is strong, we need to listen to it and take some time to be with ourselves while we decide upon a plan of action. Doing nothing causes a lot of problems when the voice in our head is screaming for change or an escape. It’s going to keep shouting until we do something.

#7 – My creativity. I write and record music, I can put YouTube videos together. I can be creative in my writing and this is the positive side of the HSP/Introvert coin. Although I sometimes feel like my talents aren’t recognised or respected (or even ‘needed’) in this World, I feel very connected to … something … when I am in the zone of creativity, or even appreciating the works of other people – Film makers, artists, writers, actors and musicians.

#8 – Knowledge and life experience. Through all the hard times I have been through, I feel like if I am a parent one day, I will be able to really help my child find their way through life. It all comes from understanding and accepting yourself – for your talents and your flaws. I also know you cannot be controlling as a parent and you need to allow children to make their own decisions and mistakes. Because mistakes and failures are important in becoming stronger and growing into an adult.

#9 – I feel LOVE stronger and more powerfully than non-HSPs. My Girlfriend is a HSP too, but I mean Love in general. I can suffer the consequences of feeling other emotions very strongly (more on than in the next blog post) but it’s great to feel such strong emotions at times. It is what makes us human and alive. I can be on Cloud 9 (whatever that actually means) and have Bipolar like highs when I am happy and excited. There is nothing that feels better than that.

#10 – Awareness and Survival in my Genes. If this World ever reverts back to us surviving in the Wild (Hunger Games style), I would be a great person to hang around with. Because I can sense changes in mood and the environment and I am careful, so avoid making rash decisions and school-boy errors. We really need some Highly Sensitive Politicians instead of these egotistical, greedy and power-hungry morons.

So…

What do YOU love about being a HSP? Leave a comment and please share this post if you enjoyed it 🙂

~ Alex.

 

 

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How I discovered I was a Highly Sensitive Person.

I first discovered I was a HSP several years ago, when I stumbled upon the World renowned book by Elaine Aron.

I remember it coming up as a book linked to others I was searching for on Introversion, as I had began to realise there were other people like me.

I always knew there was a reason for the way I felt. I just didn’t know what that reason was yet. I thought I’d tell you a bit about my life story … Buckle in. It’s not straight forward or short, but I promise you that it will be an interesting read.

***

I had always been shy as a little dude, thinking about it now. I have some vivid childhood memories, in which I felt scared and alone. Stuck in my imagination, I worried a lot about things that could happen. About things that might go wrong. I will save some of those details for another post I have planned on growing up as a HSP, but I was a happy child, I would say. I had friends, but I was afraid they would leave me. At times, I was afraid I didn’t have enough friends, or didn’t quite fit in. I felt like I would be everyone’s last choice. I felt very unsure of myself when I was on my own.

But the lines became blurred as I grew up. I didn’t know why I was the way I was. At 15, I developed a bad case of Acne and became much more self-aware and lacking in confidence, which I suppose is understandable. No conventional treatments proved to be of any use and I ended up taking a serious, powerful medication called Roaccutane (known as Accutane in The US).

Suddenly, I found myself to be very unstable. I was deeply affected by the side-effects of the drug and I became very emotional. I would cry hard and long … really sobbing, and I would have no idea why. Because, if anything, I should have felt happy that my skin was clearing up and I was looking less like a Pizza.

I had moments of pure rage where I was afraid of myself and the thoughts running through my head. I thought I was going to end up hurting someone, or myself, although I never did. All of this was completely out of the blue for me, and so I was determined Accutane was to blame for my problems with depression and anxiety.

I quit the drug after being on it for 5 months, but my mental (and some physical) struggles persisted.

I spent years obsessing about what the drug had done to me. It was all I really thought about. I would be on forums late at night talking to others who had been negatively affected by the drug. For hours we would try to grasp what sounded like a logical theory of what the drug had done to us. We were desperately seeking a magical supplement or diet that might help us recover our health. Some people tried fasting for 3 weeks. Some people went for colonic irrigation, as if that would reverse all the damage. Others cut nearly every food group out of their diet. All in an attempt to overcome the various issues, like Chronic fatigue, aching joints, dry mouth/dry eyes, low (or no) libido and deep depression.

I myself spent thousands of pounds on different supplements and saw various health specialists. I had numerous blood tests, all of which came back as ‘normal’. I was losing my mind because I just knew that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal. I had gone from being super horny and athletic to someone with no desire for sex at all and I felt very weak, physically (and mentally).

None of the supplements made any difference, by the way. And the forum post, which I started, now has over 1,000,000 views. People there are still confused as to what on earth happened. I haven’t been involved with any of the discussions for a few years, but I did partake in a BBC documentary about Accutane and it’s link to Suicide.

But not for one moment during this time did I consider Accutane might not be the only factor in the struggles I was experiencing as I entered the adult World or work and responsibility. I felt certain that it was the culprit. I would have bet my life on it.

And yet, growing up is hard for nearly everyone and all of this happened during a time of massive change. From Boy to Man. From Student to Employee.

During the years after High School and my treatment with Accutane, I felt totally lost. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. I felt tired – constantly. I had social anxiety and I would get depressed often, though the crying for no reason went away quickly after ending treatment. I became very introverted and split off from my friends and family. I spent most days worrying about what the heck was wrong with me. I also thought about killing myself, a lot. Because the emotional turmoil I was going through every day was too much to bear. I felt numb. Completely and utterly worn out. I felt like the best years of my life had been stolen from me and that my life was over.

***

But as the years went on, I realised Accutane was not to blame for all of my problems. I had always told myself that everything was super perfect – and then I took an awful medication.

But was everything perfect?

Would I really have been all that different if it wasn’t for that drug? I’m not saying Accutane isn’t terrible, because in my experience it absolutely is. There is a strong link with suicide and depression and the creators of the drug will continue to deny so, because they want to make money. Billions of pounds.

But I think part of the reason I fell prey to its effects so strongly is because my body is wired differently to most. I can’t drink coffee, I can’t get away with drinking alcohol and I certainly can’t get away with taking a risky, controversial medication.

So, to sum up, taking Accutane was a bad idea. A mistake. But I believe I would still be struggling now (though perhaps less so) if I hadn’t of taken it, or got Acne in the first place.

Because I have always been Highly Sensitive. I was born this way, baby. And it can be hard to navigate through our World as a HSP. I am still trying to piece things together and find my place.

Anxiety and Depression are common, though. This World can create a lot of suffering and the people in charge of this broken system which encourages sitting down at a computer for 8 hours have a lot to answer for. I no longer feel the need to blame Accutane for everything that is wrong with my life, because I know that sitting in an office all day and commuting through traffic are the current problems I face. I cannot change what has already happened but I can play a part in how I spend my precious hours now.

Acne and a traumatic experience with Accutane certainly were added baggage that I wish I could have avoided. They delayed my discovery and understanding of the HSP and Introverted world, because I thought my emotions could be cured with a super healthy diet, or special supplement. But I know I am capable of being happy, because when I am in my element, I am happy as Larry.

And Larry is a happy guy.

I apologise if this post was a bit depressing. And God knows it was LONG. I said previously that I would be brutally honest and open about some of the things I have gone through and continue to go through.

If you made it this far, I want to say a big Thank you. And if you did make it this far, leave a comment saying ‘Santa Claus’, so I know who the extra awesome ones are.

It took time to understand that I was a HSP, and I think it is very common for people to go down a whole bunch of roads before arriving here. Hopefully in time people will find the answers they seek and realise they don’t need antidepressants, because they are not broken and antidepressants will not change your inherent nature.

Sometimes, we need to take a look around and realise WE are the sane ones. Drugs and other substances can numb your sensitivity, but do you really want to be one of them?

I would love to hear YOUR story. How did you come to understand your own nature as a HSP? I look forward to talking to you in the comments!

~ Alex.

 

 

 

Do you feel like the only HSP in the World?

I know that I can feel very lonely and isolated in my day-to-day life.

Sometimes, I can be feeling quite happy and at ease, but I can also often feel incredibly anxious, paranoid, drained of energy and in need of a big strong hug and a reassuring, ‘It’s okay. Everything will be alright. Just hang in there. You are doing well’.

On the bad days though, when I am stuck at work (in my corporate office job) those hugs and kind words aren’t usually forthcoming.

I can feel very lost, like a child desperately looking for their parent in the School yard. I feel vulnerable, like I’m pretending to be an adult. I am a tall kid, wearing a suit and tie. I am an imposter. ‘Nobody else feels like this …’ I think.

But, as I have previously stated, Dr. Elaine Aron (the expert on this stuff) says that 15-20% of the World’s population are Highly Sensitive. On her website that promotes the film ‘Sensitive The Movie’, there is a claim that 1.4 people are HSPs.

While this claim is obviously an estimate, it’s probably pretty close.

Which can be relieving to know, but also seemingly impossible.

Because you cannot see that people are Highly Sensitive, unless you are very observant or spend a lot of time with them. Most likely though, you are focusing on yourself 90% of the time. And so are the others. Isn’t it funny to think the others probably assume you are an extrovert, or Non-HSP?

Do you know where your work colleagues go for their lunch? Do you notice the other people leaving the office by themselves? Are they heading off to meet a friend or do they just need to get some breathing space? What about that person in the corner of the lunch hall with a book? Maybe they are like you.

P.S. Don’t you hate when someone tries to start a conversation with you when you are reading a book?

“What’cha reading there?”

(*Thinks* GO AWAY)

“Oh, erm … it’s a book about … well, it’s a romance. It’s a lovely little novel about someone getting disciplined by a fella called Christian Grey. It outsold Harry Potter.”

It actually outsold Harry Potter. Oh dear!

So, while you will continue to have days where you feel weak and need picking up, try to keep a rational perspective. Some people are good at blending in with the crowd and go unnoticed. Others are good at acting and go home exhausted afterwards.

There is nothing wrong with being a HSP.

In fact, much of the traits that are a part of being Highly Sensitive are wonderful. Things like honesty, integrity and kindness. Creativity and appreciation for the arts. The lack of desire for superficial material possessions. The spiritual connection to animals and people. Real, deep connections instead of shallow or even ‘fake’ friendships. Thinking about the people in need, instead of just caring about your own desires and stepping over anyone who is in your way.

I don’t mean to make this an ‘Us Vs. Them’ thing. I just want to remind you that this isn’t a curse. And I also don’t want to give the impression that I think everyone who isn’t Highly Sensitive is a heartless, cruel, two-faced bastard. I’m merely saying that HSPs are – in my opinion – never those things.

Thank you for joining me in another post.

I will speak to you again soon. Until then, take care of yourself and remember YOU ARE AWESOME.

~ Alex.

 

Traits of a Highly Sensitive Person.

As this blog has only just started, it makes sense to touch base with the basics of being a HSP.

So, what kind of boxes do you need to tick off in order to establish that you are, in fact, a Highly Sensitive Person?

If you relate to a lot of the below, and would have done if I had of asked the same a year ago (meaning you are not just going through a rough patch), the chances are likely that you are a HSP like me! Welcome to the club if so. Have a badge. (Reminder to self: Get some badges for the people!)

One other note before we begin. I am an introvert. Most HSPs are, but Elaine Aron (who I mentioned in my first post) estimates around 30% to be extroverted. I apologise if some of the below seems directed more towards introverts, but I am speaking from my own experiences.

I also apologise if you think apologise should be spelled with a ‘Z’. You are wrong, my American friends!

Let’s go through a few questions to see if you are officially Highly Sensitive …

P.S. THE LIST IS LONG!

  • Do you startle easily, such as when a loud noise comes on suddenly? (BEEP! BEEP!)
  • When you were younger, were you often regarded as ‘Shy’ or ‘Very Quiet’?
  • Would you struggle to cope under pressure or while being watched? (‘Oh no! My fingers appear to have turned into Jelly .. Let me just try and type that sentence again … Oops. This must be happening because you are WATCHING MY EVERY MOVE!!’)
  • Do you become exhausted if you are unable to get away by yourself for a while?
  • Do you have a deep connection with nature and animals?
  • Do you appreciate art and lean towards creativity?
  • Does an open office look a lot like HELL to you?
  • Do you overthink things and worry more than what might be considered ‘normal’?
  • Do you find yourself overwhelmed with sadness when you hear of bad and tragic news? Is it hard for you to let go of that sadness?
  • Would your ideal day be sitting outside in your garden with a book, as opposed to drinking in a bar full of people or shopping in a Mall?
  • Do other people’s moods affect you? I.e. does their anger make you feel really awkward and uncomfortable?
  • Does small talk just seem like a complete waste of time to you?!
  • Do you often come home from work and retreat to your bedroom, drawing the curtains?
  • Are you very self-aware?
  • Are you unable to tolerate caffeine and other stimulants? Will coffee make you feel anxious and jittery? Does alcohol affect you quickly and leave you feeling a shambles the next day if you have more than a few drinks?
  • Do you get stressed when you are forced to multi-task?
  • Do you try hard to avoid making mistakes?
  • Are you hard on yourself? Perfectionist, much?
  • Is it impossible for you to shut out irritating noises, such as a ticking clock? (TICK, TOCK. TICK, TOCK. ‘Oh, God! It’s counting down the seconds until I cease to exist!’)
  • Do you spend much of your time reflecting on things inside your head instead of looking at the World around you?
  • Do you feel like you are lagging behind everyone else?
  • Do you enjoy quiet and solitude, particularly late at night?
  • Do you sometimes struggle with insomnia and poor sleep?
  • Are you sensitive to hunger? I.e. ‘I am going to commit atrocities if I don’t eat something! It’s been like 3 hours since I ate!!’
  • Does change make you feel uncomfortable and are you slow to adjust to new people and environments?

That’s my list I put together with a bit of thought. I think that just about covers it.

I know some HSPs are sensitive to violent films and TV shows, but I personally enjoy watching horror films and crime shows. Although, perhaps they are more stimulating to me than for those usual folk.

Can you relate to the above? Did I miss anything?

I would love to hear about YOUR experiences as a HSP.

Until we meet again, take care of yourself and dream big.

~ Alex.

 

An introduction to this blog.

Hello to you.

My name is Alex Lay and I am a highly sensitive dude.

Up until a few years ago, I had just assumed I was a bit weird. I knew I was different to most people, but I had no idea there was a label for people like me.

At first, I thought the label sounded very negative. Surely being sensitive is a bad thing … Our World is all about survival of the fittest. If you aren’t strong and resilient, you will fall behind and end up as a failure. You’ve got to do what you can to keep up with the daily grind!

But after giving it some thought, I realised our World is a bit of a mess. Greedy politicians run anti-immigration campaigns and appeal to the small-minded who think ‘Them ruddy immigrants are stealing all our jobs, init’. People compete with their work colleagues in an attempt to gain a small promotion. Men and women cheat on their partners and betray their family’s trust in order to attain short-term satisfaction. Billions of animals are slaughtered and abused in factory farms and slaughterhouses or, arguably worse, at the Yulin Festival in China. Planet Earth continues to be destroyed, while people remain blissfully ignorant and tag along with the crowd like lost sheep.

I could go on …

But let’s just say that some very, very bad things happen. You can’t turn on the news for a few minutes without hearing about another tragic murder or terrorist attack. The news of this week is that an American police officer shot a black man for, well … being black. The guy was getting his vehicle paperwork and the Cop freaked – or else is just very racist and assuming – and unleashed a spray of bullets.

America – mate – you’ve got to tighten up the gun control laws. “But Alex, guns don’t kill people. People kill people”. Yes. You are right. But guns certainly make it very easy, don’t they?

Dr. Elaine Aron first coined the term ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ (or HSP for short). Elaine estimates that 15-20% of people are predisposed to a more active and sensitive nervous system, which results in a tendency to become more easily overwhelmed and stimulated that the rest, coined ‘Non-HSPs’. You cannot decide to become non-sensitive. It is in your physiology. It’s in your blood, man.

I’ve been ever interested in this stuff, because it plays a HUGE part in my life. So huge that I had to hit caps-lock for a moment. I digest everything HSP related I can find, but I have become aware that not many men are talking about this.

Sometimes, you realise you are the one who needs to do what hasn’t yet been done. So I am stepping up to the plate.

Please follow this Blog for further posts. I will aim to write something new at least once a week, and I will be very transparent and open about my appreciation for my own sensitive nature, as well as honest about the struggles I have faced and continue to face as I navigate through this crazy little planet.

I plan to start filming some YouTube videos soon, which I will combine with my posts so watch this space!

Until the next time, take care and dream big.

~ Alex.