Tag Archives: Highly Sensitive Person

Can there be a more positive “sensitive” term for HSP’s?

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Once I was ‘diagnosed’ as an HSP, it provided me with answers for physical problems that the medical community shrugged at and went “you’re just unlucky”.  Even doctors used the term ‘sensitive’ to describe my iffy immune system and intolerance to medication, totally unaware of the concept of an HSP.  I never doubted that this was who I was, but when I started talking about it to friends and family I came up against a huge stumbling block.  ”Sensitive.” While the word ‘sensitive’ is great as a technical description, there is a lot of stigma attached to it.

‘Sensitive’ is often associated with discomfort and pain – sensitive teeth, sensitive stomach and sensitive skin.  Looking at definitions online, ‘sensitive’ conjures up images of someone taking offence easily, being too serious, overly emotional, readily affected, neurotic, highly strung, difficult, over dramatic; in essence, someone weak and irritating.  Do a search on Google images and the prevailing image is someone looking pained or wan, with their arms shielding their head.

Even those closest to me would often say ‘but you aren’t really sensitive’, clearly with a definite picture mind.  It seems that sensitive people aren’t allowed to be sarcastic or snarky or like loud music! I also have quite a few friends who are HSP’s but it’s the label that puts them off from exploring it.  If I hadn’t had such concrete, medical proof of being an HSP, I’d be like that too.

The term ‘sensitive’ doesn’t empower the people who need it most, the people like me who don’t naturally fit into the expected role of a ‘sensitive’ person.   In fact, I am the product of a world where sensitivity was seen as weakness or failure; where pre-HSP, I had to cultivate a shell to protect myself from a world that was too harsh for me to cope with, even though I didn’t know why.

Some people seem to find peace with their sensitivity and are able to grow and evolve regardless of the negative connotations, but I am not really that kind of person … and there are others out there like me too.  How can I live life openly as an HSP when the term ‘sensitive’ is so restrictive?

In the past, HSP’s were the shamans; the people who created the plans of action, whose instincts and insight protected the community.  Our sensitivity was regarded not only as beneficial for society, but essential for its existence.  Now, the world is harsh and aggressive; it’s a vicious cycle where people are becoming more desensitized to it, continually requiring more stimulation which doesn’t bode well for HSPs!

However, whether you are an ‘open’ sensitive who is comfortable with who you are or like me, sensitivity doesn’t mean weakness.   HSP’s have an inner strength and continue to be intuitive and compassionate regardless of the harshness of the world.

So, do we reclaim the word ‘sensitive’ forcing the world to see us in a new light?  Or do we find a better term, if so… what is it?

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This is me, an HSP with neuralgia. Yippee

When I first became sick I decided to set up a website.  At that point I thought that I’d get better, every doctor that I saw said that I was young and that I’d recover from the Post Herpetic Neuralgia (nerve damage as a result of shingles), but as the years went on I didn’t.  The website grew e-cobwebs and while I wrote a lot, I could not bear to read it back and face my reality in black and white.  I would simply turn the page or close the document and try and get through the next moment.

The years passed and I went from being certain that I’d get better with a positive outlook; to hopeful that I’d get better because the doctors still said so; to being so frantic that I *had* to get better with an almost obsessive passion.  My slow road of acceptance of having neuralgia as a permanent companion started after a weekend of tears when I started to entertain the idea that I might not get better – and I decided to see a counsellor.  So for the last two years I have been trying to come to terms with the fact that I might not get better. There is no new treatment in sight and to quote my former pain specialist that other than my existing treatment it is best ‘to leave well alone’.

Now I am finally learning that having nerve damage and the resulting chronic pain isn’t something to be ashamed of.  I used to struggle to be and act ‘normal’ which didn’t help me nor fool the genuine people around me.  I still feel betrayed and angry about the illness, but hiding it doesn’t help which is why I wanted to start writing about this.  Maybe it’ll help someone else.

In the course of the counselling, I have also learnt that I am an HSP – a Highly Sensitive Person.  It is pretty much what it says on the tin.  I am sensitive to lots of things, medication, smells, certain foods, bright sunlight and have a sensitive immune system, which is probably why I ended up being sick.   It also goes hand in hand with my introversion.  Something that is continually talked about is being ‘overstimulated’ that the world is often too loud, too bright, too noisy and intense to concentrate.  As an HSP, I am more sensitive to pain, so an already chronically painful condition feels intolerable and the regular medication often comes with horrible side effects, leading to a delicate balance between the pain and medication.  There are benefits of being an HSP, greater concentration, creativity, intuition, being able to notice the small things and the emotions of other people  Essentially, what it boils down to is that some people were the hunter gatherers and went off after woolly mammoths, others stayed at home, worked on the small details of the society and became the shamans and leaders.

So in an attempt to fully accept who I have become and what I am now as a ‘sick’ person, but also as an HSP, I am waking up the blog, dusting off the cobwebs and chasing away the spiders.

Hello, I’m Nicola and I am an HSP who suffers from chronic pain.

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