Sensory Processing Issues and Neurodivergence

Or Why I Need Superman’s Fortress of Solitude

Me over the past two weeks

Last week was a lot for my introverted, ADHD/ASD-riddled ass. There was work  (and not being settled into my new routine), a new student trainer ( who’s super religious), multiple appointments in unfamiliar places, and a 5-year-old’s birthday party. As if all that wasn’t enough, I went to church because apparently, I’m a fucking glutton for punishment. By Monday morning, I wanted nothing more than to pull a Superman and retreat to my Fortress of Solitude. Unfortunately, that’s not an option because a) I don’t have a Fortress of Solitude and b) I had to work since I have this insane need to eat food and sleep indoors and they don’t just hand that shit out the corner; you gotta pay for it. I know capitalism sucks for everyone but–like everything else–it sucks even harder when you live with sensory processing issues and neurodivergence.

This Shit Is a Lot

For as long as I can remember, I get overwhelmed by crowds, chaotic situations, and new experiences. A few years ago, I was at BeerFest with a former flame. I was having a decent time–as good a time as I could have surrounded by strangers, anyway. Things were fine until it started to rain and everyone crowded under the tents. It quickly became more than I could handle and I had to get the fuck out. I was on a mission and didn’t give a shit if everyone else kept up or not. I just had to get away from all those people. And, that’s just one example. That kind of shit happens to me. Like, a lot. It wasn’t until I did some research that I figured out that sensory processing issues and neurodivergence are a big part of why I’m like this.

Sensory Processing Issues and Neurodivergence: A Match Made In Hell?

As I delved into the weirdness that is neurodivergence, we learned about something called Sensory Processing Disorder. I was already pretty sure I had issues with auditory processing but the larger sensory stuff was new. For me, my issues are a combination of both auditory and more general sensory things. Being in close proximity to a shitload of people triggers my auditory challenges, which are about chaotic noises. Volume doesn’t bother me but a bunch of people talking all at once? Fuck that noise. My brain keeps trying to sort it all out and the fact that it isn’t really possible doesn’t matter. That’s just the start of it because I also have a thing about being touched.

My touch issue doesn’t rise to the level of a phobia, but it’s… not great. I can handle being touched if I know it’s coming. Like, if someone wants to hug me and they ask, it’s okay. Not great, but okay. The random jostling like you get in a crowd, though? Oh my god, that sucks. Worse, people don’t even have to make contact. I can tell if you’re in my bubble. I think this is due to something called proprioception. It’s a sort of sixth sense that everyone has and helps with spatial awareness. With me, though, the shit’s in overdrive. So, being in a crowd is pretty much hell for me.

Sometimes, You Do What You Gotta Do

While I wasn’t in any crowds last week, every single one of my sensory processing issues was triggered. And, it was fucking exhausting. I know you weird-ass extroverted types won’t get this, but all that social contact just drained me. And, there really wasn’t a period where I could recharge. It was just one thing after another, after another, after another. And, there really wasn’t anything I could’ve blown off–well, maybe church but my granddaughter only turn 5 once–and it all just piled up. I swear I was more tired Monday morning than I am on a normal Friday afternoon.

The Options Are Limited

As I said in the opening paragraph, the whole Fortress of Solitude isn’t a viable option–for the above-mentioned reasons and also Superman is a dick and I don’t want to emulate him in any way–but there has to be a way to isolate and recuperate after such a fuckton of social stress. There are days when I’d love to find a cave in the mountains and hermitize myself but, like my Fortress of Solitude idea, goddamn capitalism makes that hard. I guess I could pull a John the Baptist, getting by on locusts and honey, but I like a little more fucking variety in my diet.

Another option is a sensory deprivation tank. I have to say the idea of floating in total isolation–no noise, no touching, no goddamn people demanding shit of me–is incredibly appealing. The interesting thing is that, until I was doing the research for this post (yes, I research this shit. I’m not some fucking QAnut, you know), I didn’t know that was an option. Isolation tanks are large and expensive and they take a shit ton of salt and water–like 1000 lbs of salt and a couple of hundred gallons of water. I just don’t have the fucking room for all that. But, I found out that a wellness spa nearby offers float therapy. Score!

Splendid Isolation? Sounds Like Fucking Heaven To Me

Weeks like the past one make me appreciate the genius of the late Warren Zevon. In his song, Splendid Isolation, he said:

Don’t want to wake up with no one beside me
Don’t want to take up with nobody new
Don’t want nobody coming by without calling first
Don’t want nothing to do with you

It might hurt some neurotypical, extroverted feelings to hear that, but it sounds like heaven to me.