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What is it then?

kshandra pointed to this quote about depression.

Interesting. Everyone seems to be agreeing with it, but it's not all that similar to how I experience what I've called depression.

What I've called chronic depression includes a tendency to become...easily overstimulated. Sensory stimuli start feeling like sandpaper on my nerves, and I have to retreat into simplicity. If there's no way to physically retreat, I withdraw from what's going on around me.

I like intense sensations and feelings but I tend not to seek out as many such experiences as most other people I know. A little goes a long way. That's why I've tended to call it depression: because I feel like it limits me from living what's commonly considered "a full life" and because it looks like withdrawl. Also, because I've occasionally experienced its lifting along with the sense "Oh, so that is what it's like to feel normal; that's why other people can keep going so much longer than I usually can."

At the same time, I am suspicious of the standard notion of "a full life"; I think aspects of it are way too narrow and superficial and don't leave room for contemplation.

So if my "easily overstimulated" state of mind doesn't count as mild depression, what should it be called?

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
dawnd
May. 25th, 2002 01:34 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I'd say possibly that you are a) very introverted (Meyers Briggs definition thereof), and/or b) "A sensitive child"--there are many folks who are easily overstimulated. It's discussed at length in books on your "spririted child"--the new euphemism for the "difficult" child. ;^) One of the possible markers (there are 7 or 8 big ones) that makes for a "spririted" child is this sort of sensitivity. It will often manifest in kids who won't wear long pants, who have to have all-cotton clothes, who have to have the tags cut out of their shirts or they won't wear them, etc. These same kids can also be totally overwhelmed with other sorts of stimuli--aural, energetic, visual, etc. It varies from person to person, but I don't think it's a sign of "depression" (unless you used to be different, and now you've changed). In the Introverts group we talked about High Gain and Low Gain people--some people are just more sensitive, and that's how they are. Regarding how to deal with it, if it's causing you distress--can you reduce the stimuli in other areas, especially when you know something stimulating is coming up in the social realm that you don't want to miss?

Best to you!
firecat
May. 25th, 2002 03:05 pm (UTC)
Good thoughts
Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if I had a mild version of the "sensitivity" thing.

Yes, I can prep for a special occasion. Insofar as there is distress, it's got to do with occasionally getting into snits where I compare myself to others and thinking there is something wrong with me because I don't want to be out partying all the time. :-)
femmediva
May. 25th, 2002 04:53 pm (UTC)
There is a book you may find interesting : The Highly Sensitive Person- by- well, it's in one of my boxes not yet unpacked and I can't recall the author's name offhand. I also feel the depression described in the link you included in your post and find the "sensitivity" dovetails along, and sometimes leads to, further depression.
firecat
May. 25th, 2002 06:01 pm (UTC)
Heya!
Thanks for the suggestion! I'll check it out.

For those following along, here is a link to the book's page on Amazon. It's by Elaine Aron.

Have you found any special tricks for combating the sensitive/depressed dovetail?
femmediva
May. 26th, 2002 03:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Heya!
I'm glad you found the book. I think, for me anyway, the key is feeling in control of my environment. Which isn't always possible, unfortunately. I really try and keep my home a sanctuary, which is pretty easy for me to do since I live alone. I just feel too "keyed in" to the world sometimes, and much to perceptive for my own good. I'll play loud music often when doing a non-thinking activity like cleaning the house, but I need total silence in order to do any office work. Even having the radio or tv on in the other room distracts me... I just can't filter it out.

On the other hand, I've found that too much silent time alone is no good for me either :-/
I've got a lot of "noise" in my head and it seems to go into overdrive if I'm alone with just my own thoughts for company for too long. So, I try and strike a balance- fortunately I have several friends who don't "overwhelm", and just spending time in their company (in person, phone conversation, anything) seems to be the best medicine for me. Along with trying to avoid people/situations that press those buttons for me.

I was just using noise as one type of example.. basically, I get overwhelmed easily, and for me this can lead to depression.


This is inspiring me to dig out that book and read it again :-)
firecat
May. 26th, 2002 04:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Heya!
The business about too much noise AND too much silence being a problem, I can relate to that.

I don't need to control my whole environment so much, but I prefer to feel I have an escape from an environment that might become overwhelming.

And the need to escape sometimes comes on pretty fast.
cjsmith
May. 27th, 2002 11:57 pm (UTC)
Re: Heya!
I was going to recommend this, but I see it's been done. :-)

One thing that disappointed me about that book is that it did not seem to offer any methods of coping. The book insists that this trait is neither negative nor positive, simply neutral; but in today's world, surrounded by mostly non-HSPs, I find this trait in myself to be something almost like a handicap. Suggestions for coping strategies would have been really great to read.

Maybe I should dig out the book again. I might have missed something.
firecat
May. 28th, 2002 08:17 am (UTC)
Re: Heya!
Hey! It's interesting that you identify as HSP...I really enjoyed reading your entries recently about flight school, and seeing how excited you were. I had an experience like that recently too -- and like you, it was pretty much removed from the rest of my life. I wonder whether there is a connection between HSP and needing a quiet regular life and wanting sometimes to go outside your regular life and do something adventuresome.

I did read that criticism of the book in one of the Amazon reviews.

The trait has been neutral for me at some points in my life. At other points I've felt it was a handicap. I'm feeling that way right now. So yeah, coping strategies...
cjsmith
May. 30th, 2002 04:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Heya!
I wonder whether there is a connection between HSP and needing a quiet regular life and wanting sometimes to go outside your regular life and do something adventuresome.

That's an interesting thought. I've been mulling it over for a day or so and it does seem to make sense. I don't know that I need a quiet regular life, although I do need quiet time. (I don't think I get enough of that right now.) But I definitely have a need for adventuresome bits as well.

The trait has been neutral for me at some points in my life. At other points I've felt it was a handicap.

One of the exercises in the book asks the reader to think back to a time when the trait was a definite asset. I read that book years ago and I still haven't come up with such a time. (pout.)
firecat
May. 30th, 2002 06:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Heya!
One of the exercises in the book asks the reader to think back to a time when the trait was a definite asset. I read that book years ago and I still haven't come up with such a time. (pout.)

I can think of lots of benefits. Lets me concentrate in quiet rather than going out of my gourd with boredom. Lets me experience sensory input really keenly.
femery
May. 27th, 2002 11:10 am (UTC)
I too have boughts of great depression and since menopause, am hypersensitive. I have a couple of things I do that have helped me surf the positive of this condition is to accept that feeling so much has brought me both sides of the coin .... Life is more beautiful as well as more sad. It may not be everyone's way, but it is mine.

The other great help is to look to my strength when I find I am being sucked in by my black hole of depression.

There are so many ways people think of strength.

A couple of months ago, there was an issue all about strength that Oprah put out. I know .... kind of mainstream. Any who, there is so much thought provoking stuff in there. There are interviews of people with such serious conditions, health issues, death and loss, accepting they have an incurable illness, famous people, etc., along with narative discussions by professional health care/psycological cridentials.

Studying how I am strong, and where I find my strength has helped me see that if I'm seriously being responsible for myself, and doing good self-parenting, my depressions and sensitivities can be strong coping tools. That while I cannot be in denial or dismiss the fact that I must manage the downside decent into self-destructive behavior, I can also surf the positive parts of any cycles of depression, sadness, need for solitude, etc., and find a strength to work through the lessons life is giving me at the moment and come out evolving and growing.

So, my way may not look pretty to anyone, I might be battered, bloodied, overwhelmed by my hyper-sensitive feelings, and crawling over the finish line, but I am there, and it took a tremendous amount of strength that I own to get there!

Then I remember, I always grow and learn more working with serious difficulties and situations than the easy ones.

So .... what does strength look like to you? I would love to know your ideas.

Diane
firecat
May. 27th, 2002 09:47 pm (UTC)
So .... what does strength look like to you?

I agree with you -- strength is persisting.

For me, it's also not caring too much what other people think about me. (And that's a bit I'm feeling weak on right now.)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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