Sensory Wise, I’m Gone

Explaining sensory overload from my point of view.

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Deep breath in, deep breath out

I look up from my phone to see if it is safe. It seems okay, then the sound comes back.

The loudness of the room and the constant moving around and the number of people it’s overwhelming. All systems have shifted into fight, flight, or freeze. 

It’s time to make a choice! 

What am I going to do? 

Come on think! 

What are my options??

  1. Fight. Well, that’s not socially acceptable. I can’t just go into a fit of rage and start going to town on people.
  2. Flight. Okay, doable. What time is it? Will I be quiet enough? Will it interrupt the flow? Will someone try to stop me? Okay, as of right now, the best option. 
  3. Freeze. How bad am I doing? What time is it? How much longer do I have? Can I smile through and answer questions or is it an emergency that I need to escape?

Sensory overload is exactly what it sounds like, it’s your senses being overloaded so much it causes you to panic. 

It is linked to mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, autism, PTSD, fibromyalgia, and MS or multiple sclerosis. 

It can come at any moment and usually without warning. Some have learned what usually triggers it and try to avoid it. But what if the person can’t avoid it?

What if their trigger is traffic? Yeah, if they avoid certain times it’s doable, but what about an accident at a random time? Should they get off an exit and wait until it blows over before getting back on? Yeah, they could, but now they have to deal with the pit stop, how many people will be in there? Will it be loud? How long until they can get out of traffic if they keep going?

Now the anxiety is setting in. 

Now we are back full circle to flight or freeze. 

But now we have another option fade out.

Fade out is the best way to call it because that’s what happens.

Fade out is when I shut down, no sound comes in and it’s almost as if my vision has disappeared and I am blind to the outside world. I see nothing and all I hear is the internal dialogue of my thinking to try to figure out what to do. I am spiraling, down the rabbit hole I go, and I keep falling. 

Then it’s as if I am underwater and someone is calling my name. It’s so distant sounding and muffled, but the more it’s called the more I resurface. 

When I finally come to, it’s as I was just waking up from a scary dream where I feel like my soul just reentered my body and I reverse mitosis back to being one person and not a shell and wandering soul too focused on what to do next to realize it’s abandoning my shell of a body.

 A smile and “Yea?” are easy deters that satisfy the person. I mean I have ADHD, it’s part of the whole thing to zone out and hyperfocus.

But what’s the difference?

Hyperfocus means I’m interested in the topic or activity.

Dissociation from sensory overload means I have descended to another plane of existence and will return after my lunch break come back at 12:30. 

I usually flight. 

Is it healthy to do this? Probably. Sometimes you just need to getaway.  

Honestly, it depends on what is happening and what triggered it.

If it is just, “yo it’s loud in here.” I might just get up and leave to take a short walk to the vending machines and then the bathroom.

If it is like 30 alarms going off with danger and warning flashing behind my eyes, that’s when the anxiety sets in. This is when my body is telling me to vault over any obstacle in my way and GO!

So what triggers me, I’m claustrophobic. Loud rooms make the room feel so much smaller than it is, but also like it’s shrinking in on me. Too much moving around in a room makes me panic because my ADHD focuses on it and it makes my brain nervous. I’m talking people constantly coming in and out of a room or the same person like they keep forgetting something but don’t know what, so they leave and come back and repeat eight times in a minute.