The hardest part about having Sensory Processing Disorder is never knowing when sensory overload might occur. There are certain environments I know will create anxiety and stress for me, and I avoid them as much as I can. But there are other times when a whirlwind of sensory input might assault me suddenly and without warning. The result is a seemingly random meltdown (at least to innocent bystanders, or to my mother who usually gets frantic text messages from me).
When I get overwhelmed, my brain immediately goes into survival mode. If I have no control over the bombarding stimuli, then my heart races at full panic mode until I’m able to escape. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself that there’s no real threat, or that the sounds wouldn’t bother a “normal” person. It still hurts. I guess my brain has a mind of its own.
I recently discovered that if I get involved in a project, like drawing or painting, I can cope with a LOT more sensory input than usual. My focus is so intense when I draw that the world just melts away…along with my anxiety, doubt and pain.
Imagine this: every sound in your room is amplified by 1000 times. Included are sounds you might not otherwise notice, like the refrigerator running, the furnace coming off and on, a dog barking, your neighbors working in the yard and a TV mumbling from another room in the house. Each sound swirls around together into a nonsensical mess and then bombards you with an intensity and vibrancy that it makes you feel delirious. You don’t just hear the sounds, you FEEL them at a very physical and emotional level. Then you become so confused you find it impossible to think straight.
I drew this picture while I was experiencing sensory overload to try and give you an idea of how it makes me feel.
If you have SPD, or know someone who does, and you’ve discovered activities or tricks that help you cope during a meltdown, please leave me a comment. Thanks!
Art posted on www.jenniferleighallison.com and my social networks are ©Copyright Jennifer Allison. They should not be used without prior written permission.