Sometime in my mid-30’s I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment for the very first time. I found out I was an ISFJ (Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) personality. It would be the first time I would fully understand that I was an introvert and what an introvert exactly was. The definition that stuck most with me was that introverts recharge or regain energy by having quiet, alone time and extroverts recharge or gain energy by being with people. And further that the introvert required three times the amount of alone time to the amount of people time they had. This made me realize that I really did need my down time to recharge and stay healthy. It also made me understand why I would sometimes feel so very drained if I had too much social interaction and not enough alone time to balance it out.
I really became fascinated by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment and started to read a whole lot about not only ISFJ’s but all of the different personalities. It really put a lot of pieces in place as to why people were the way they are and why some people get along better than others. Reading about the ISFJ personality also put a lot of pieces in place as to why I was the way I was and how I shouldn’t try to fit myself into a role that went against those personality traits. It was the beginning of me learning to listen to my gut.
Then, a couple of years ago, when I was 40 my sister sent me a link on my Facebook page to a self test for something called an HSP, a Highly Sensitive Person. You can find the link here. I went through the questions on the self test and holy wow, I said yes to pretty much all of them to one degree or another. This was a huge puzzle piece to helping me cope with being me.
Reading about being an HSP suddenly made a lot of things clear. It is why I have to sometimes wear sunglasses in places like Walmart or Superstore where the lights are glaring bright and there is so much for the eyes to take in …both in product and people. It is why when I worked in an office I needed to turn off the fluorescent lights in my space and bring my own lamp in for more natural lighting. It is why when I had a job meeting people all day, every day I became drained. It is why I can shut down when the vacuum is turned on. It is also why I was wearing sunglasses when I gave birth to my daughter. (I was brought in by ambulance and as soon as we got to the hospital the overhead lights glared into my eyes and the sunglasses went on). It is why I can’t tolerate violent or horror movies. It is why I despise surround sound. The examples really just go on and on.
Being an HSP isn’t all bad. Because of it I am very detailed oriented and that has been a huge asset many, many times over. However, the down side is that because I take in so many details I get overstimulated easily which can cause me to shut down. I find I am especially sensitive when my adrenal fatigue is worse. I am also definitely more sensitive in the morning. It’s like I suddenly develop Spidey senses but not for the good.
Having a child as an HSP mother is also a challenge. I am really lucky to have a pretty great girl. She is caring, considerate and mostly well-behaved. However, it is still challenging when I have too many things going on in my head. For example, when getting ready to go somewhere I seem to almost always go into meltdown mode simply from trying to prepare from the to do list in my head and constantly being interrupted by my daughter and/or husband. And they aren’t doing anything wrong. It’s like my head will just suddenly short-circuit because I have too many things spinning around my head in a short amount of time with the pressure of the deadline of trying to get out the door.
These past couple of weeks when I have been setting up my husbands Etsy shop, starting my blog and attempting to work towards setting up my own Etsy shop bring back my HSP right smack in front of me. Each day I have faced challenges as I try to focus on something so I can complete the task (because having too many loose ends left hanging gets to me, too) while still being there for my daughter and my husband. My husband can understand “give me five minutes” … my daughter, not so much (really, what can you expect from a three year old?). And I have noticed that as I try to take more time she is starting to have meltdowns. This part is going to be a work in progress. I think we will have to set up a better schedule and better communication, too. Today she had a play date with my Mom (so cute, they adore each other and have loads of fun) so I was able to get a couple hours to myself to complete some tasks. It was a huge help. I think I may need to schedule more of those, too.
I have also noticed HSP qualities in my daughter. She seems to notice a lot of details. You can’t really get much past her. She also can’t bear loud noises. If my husband turns his saw on she runs into the house with her hands over her ears. The same happens when I turn on the blender or food processor. And she was covering her ears when my Mom had her foot bath on. I know young children can be sensitive to noise as it is so I will have to keep watch. At least if she is a Highly Sensitive Person I can help her understand what it means and how to cope. Just knowing what it means to be an HSP has helped me immensely. I can identify why my energy is draining and try to either avoid those situations that trigger it or prepare as best I can when I know they are going to happen. At least I know why it’s happening.