Are You Overly Sensitive?
Do other people tell you that you’re overly sensitive? Or do you think that you are?
I know that was one of my dad’s big things when I was a kid. I was always being told to stop being so sensitive.
But how can you?
You are what you are.
Sensitivity and ADHD
Being overly sensitive (or hypersensitive) is not considered a disorder by mental health professionals, but it does often occur in people with ADHD.
And it’s not always a bad thing, either.
Being hypersensitive can help you pick up on other’s feelings or emotions quicker than others can, and can also help you take the temperature, so to speak, of the room when you walk in.
- Have you ever walked into a room and felt that there was something off, or something going on – sort of an undercurrent? That’s your hypersensitivity at work.
So why do those of us with ADHD – who have been gifted so much already – also get hypersensitivity?
Being extra sensitive is not confined to our emotions, although that’s what most of us think of when we hear the term.
It can also mean being hypersensitive in almost any of our senses. We can be sensitive to:
- Noise and sounds in general
- Touch, such as another person touching you
- Feel, like the feeling of certain fabrics
- Information overload – too much stimulation or information coming at you
I can remember my son Andy talking about being distracted by the buzzing of the florescent lights in school, and neither he nor his dad can stand the feel of certain fabrics, like velvet.
Interestingly, people who are hypersensitive are also likely to suffer more from eczema, asthma, and allergies. And it also explains why I feel pain whenever anyone I love is physically hurt. Weird.
The Connection to ADHD
The thoughts behind the connection between being overly sensitive and ADHD is that because of our ADHD, we are already highly sensitive by nature.
Think about it: in a way, being highly sensitive also means that we notice and pick up on more than others without ADHD. That also explains distraction, lack of focus, and inattention.
Also, those of us with ADHD have poor filtering mechanisms. We have a hard time filtering out what’s around us, and sometimes we struggle with filtering our thoughts and the things we say.
Hypersensitivity fits right in with that.
The Good News
Just as with many of our other ADHD “friends”, we can learn to work with and adapt to the challenges that hypersensitivity brings, and even to see it in a positive light.
Being a sensitive person isn’t all bad. You’re likely to be kinder and more sympathetic to others, and to recognize when someone is uncomfortable or could use a friend.
As for coping with sensitivity, here are some ideas:
- Learn to adapt when you can. My noise canceling headphones are life savers!
- Anticipate times when you might be overwhelmed and take what action you can. For instance, if social situations are too much, step outside for some air, or take extra time in the ladies room if that helps.
- Learn some coping mechanisms, such as breathing exercises, that can help you calm down.
- Recognize that self care is especially important. You’re likely to be more sensitive if you’re tired or just not feeling yourself.
- Take quiet time for yourself, and make it a must. It’s not selfish, it’s important.
- As much as you can, eliminate or minimize time with people who criticize or call you out for your sensitivity.
And finally, try to see your extra sensitive side as just one more unique and wonderful thing about you