What Is An HSP?
As the name suggests, it is a person with a higher than average level of sensitivity. They process more information about their environment and they process it more deeply. There is more detail on this site about HSP if you feel the need to dive deeper yourself.
I've always had a rich and complex "inner life" -- thoughts and feelings buzzing around my head. The activity within my head can be so vivid and all-consuming that I don't hear people who are talking directly to me. I can phase out of a conversation (even a one-on-one) as my inner thoughts take over.
I've also always struggled with my mood. In fact, before I discovered HSP, I seriously wondered if I was bipolar. My mood, motivation and attention goes in bursts of intense activity and excitement, to total lack of interest and depression. The fact is, that the smallest thing could derail my run of motivation: an off-hand comment from someone, a news item, a social media post. Something would set my inner world whirring and I would be stuck, pulled down a rabbit hole which is difficult to get out of.
There are times when a comment that someone made to me several years ago will resurface in my mind and I'll start going over how it felt, what I could have said, etc. I might even start to get angry with myself for not saying certain things. How crazy is that?
The only way that I ever found to cope with this a little better, was to have a series of routines that I could fall back on. I still have my early morning routine that keeps me going.
As well as this, I have a real problem with busy and crowded places.
Shopping centres are a terrible place!
If we need to go shopping as a family, I am always wanting to get there early and be leaving before it gets busy. I just find it exhausting.
I don't like new places - I have no desire to 'see the world', I used to faint at school when we did dissections in biology, I can't watch anything medical on TV, I feel sick when people talk about things like giving blood, I get emotional at music and films (brought to tears quite often).
Up until this last year, I've thought that there was something wrong. Especially as a guy! Telling people that you cried when the dad left in the movie Interstellar was a definite No-No!
But then, I came across the articles on HSP.
What Was It Like?
Typically, when I read though the personality traits and other people's experiences, I felt a lump in my throat. This was it! This was me! There was a reason and it wasn't something fatal or debilitating.
In fact, it was something that explained a lot and - most importantly to me - it was something that justified my life choices: pursuing a creative life, embracing my need to create and viewing my inner world as special and relevant.
I didn't have to feel guilty about not being an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer or... well.
I now KNEW that I was meant to be an artist.
It's not just a WANT, it's like I was purpose-built for it.
Not Just A Relief
Discovering the I'm probably an HSP has been a relief, but it has also been more than that. Knowing that this is the way I work has meant that I can recognise why certain things are happening -- like getting derailed by a comment. It doesn't' make the comment any less emotional, but it does mean that I can intercept and derail the derailing.
It's like I've been given permission to embrace the way I feel and react. To use it to my advantage. It IS a relief and the world is beautiful, perhaps for the very first time in my life.