Sensory Overload and Neurodivergence

How I’m handling the past couple of weeks

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how life was overwhelming me. Unfortunately, things really haven’t gotten any better since then. Like, this past Sunday, I went to church which was a mistake because the children collected a “noisy offering”, i.e. coins dropped into little metal buckets. That was bad enough, but then they wanted to do a goddamn group selfie. I don’t understand selfies and honestly find them fucking ridiculous. I mean, why do I need to be in every goddamn picture I take? It’s not like people are dying to see me. Really, I should have stayed home–or better yet, found a cave where I could hide for about a week because it was almost more than I could take. If that sounds extreme, I’m guessing you’re neurotypical,but hiding out is a common response to sensory overload for people dealing with neurodivergence.

It’s Called a “Comfort Zone” for a Reason

The thing is, most neurotypical people don’t understand how much time we NDs spend outside our comfort zone. Or, the effect that has on our energy, our sanity, hell, our general well-being. I usually spend the vast majority of my days in situations that are not “relaxing”. Every day, shit, every moment, is a continual risk-benefit analysis where I weigh the advantages of social interaction against my energy reserves and level of frustration to see if I can handle a few more minutes before bailing on that shit. Of course, bailing isn’t always an option. Sometimes, I find myself in situations where bailing could result in hurt feelings or a loss of income or it’s just not physically possible. That means I’m stuck on top of everything else. And, it fucking sucks.

Sensory Overload and Neurodivergence: It’s Cumulative

The best case scenario for this shit would be if everything reset at the end of the day and I woke up with a clean slate. But that isn’t how it works, especially when the shit comes at as fast and fucking furious as it has lately. I’ve spent the past two weeks dealing with medical appointments for Parker, a shit ton of changes at work, and a fuckton of socialization. All this was topped off by finding out my 85-year-old mom–whose respiratory system is feeling the weight of those years–has pneumonia. And I’m fucking relieved it’s just pneumonia and not COVID-induced pneumonia. And, as if all that’s not enough, it’s fall. Now, I love this season, but it fucks with my sinuses. Hard. I just can’t seem to catch a goddamned break and it’s wearing me down.

I Need a Little Monotony Right About Now.

The kind–and amount–of shit I’m dealing with lately is one of the reasons NDs fucking crave sameness. It’s a known quantity and known quantities can be planned for. And, sameness is key when dealing with the sensory overload that comes with neurodivergence. For me, it’s is especially important during periods like the past two weeks. They’ve felt like a non-stop shitstorm for me and some boring-ass monotony could help me get back on an even keel. Sure, my keel isn’t all that even on a good day. I mean, the term is defined as “regular and well-balanced and not likely to change suddenly”. Those words do not describe me. The bottom line is something’s got to give or I’m going to melt down or snap or fucking go catatonic.

A Week in the Woods? Yes, Please. A Cave? Probably Not.

The way shit has been piling up on me lately, I really do need a week where I’m cut off from all human contact. Just to get a little breathing space, you know? I feel like I’m constantly on the verge of punching someone in the throat. And, it doesn’t necessarily have to be some shit weasel who’s pissed me off. My particular combination of ADHD and ASD has gifted me with a potent mix of emotional dysregulation and extremely poor impulse control which can make things a little scary. So yeah, some time in the woods would be a good thing. It probably won’t be in a cave, though. Caves don’t have wifi and I’m not giving that up.

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