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!