Discovering you are a highly-sensitive person and living with it

When I was growing up, I think I was like most kids. I was playful, hate studying, and make my parents mad. As I got older, I became more reserved, afraid of getting into trouble, and especially dislike rowdiness, but I didn’t think anything was wrong.

Then I reached my late teens and young adulthood. This is the time in your life when you start to take on more responsibilities and have more obligations. With that, it’s also when I realized that I don’t tolerate stress very well and have the tendency to snap at people once I’m over the edge.

When I reached my late-twenties, I started my first full-time job after graduating. Back then, I somewhat knew I don’t tolerate stress very well. So I told my supervisor and boss. He told me stress tolerance can be built up. One of the way was through exercise. I did that. There were periods of my life when I was going for runs and weight-lifting almost every other day until I actually hurt my joints.

However, I didn’t notice any major changes to how I react to stressors. I could barely function when the stress level is too high. I still snap at people when I get stressed up but not over the edge yet. Tiredness affects me pretty badly too. In those cases, I would throw tantrums when things don’t go my way. It became clear to me that hunger also affected me badly. I will feel very restless, irritable and get very impatient. Whining was one of my outlets. It was during this time, my friends told me to manage my emotion as I’m not a kid anymore.

I started to think something is seriously wrong with me but I didn’t do anything about it. I went on with my life as it is.

Life turned for the worse

My life turned for the worse when my boss at my new job kept commenting and scolding me about my inefficiency, my lack of stress tolerance, and generally messiness of how I do things.

Of course, it didn’t take long for me to slip into depression. I lost interest in almost everything else in my life and stopped sleeping properly. I gained weight. At the same time, I was blaming myself for being such a weakling. I even told myself that I was a worthless fuck.

It went on for a month when something in me clicked and I knew something had to be done. So I seek help from professionals. It was obvious that the company culture isn’t suitable for me and I didn’t want to be fired because of another screw up. I quit my job as I prefer to end things on my own terms.

Discovering the term, Highly-Sensitive Person

I took a long month break from full-time work. During that time, I spent quite a fair amount of my waking hours googling until I came across the term, Highly-Sensitive Person. I read the description and did the self-test here.

Lightbulbs started going off in my head. I finally understood who I am.

Now, the moment you discover you are a highly-sensitive person, you actually feel liberated. It was like you achieved nirvana. All the things you have experienced can finally be attributed to something. In a way, you actually feel empowered and now you can start taking charge of your life.

Living as a highly-sensitive Person

From where I am, being highly-sensitive is like a bullshit excuse, especially if you are a guy. People would think you are not mature enough and suggest that you didn’t face enough adversity. Well, at least that’s how I perceived those judgmental looks and comments I get. Some may just call you effeminate because of how bitchy you can get when your emotions overwhelms you. To be clear, that’s my extrapolated thinking as no one ever called me that. At least not straight to my face.

From time to time, I have to consciously make sure I’m aware of how I’m feeling about my environment so that I don’t snap at people without warning. I also make people aware of my sensitivities as most highly-sensitive person don’t tolerate certain smells, changes to their routines, being swarmed with work, and hearing certain noises. But in some cases, your situation remains unchanged because people just aren’t convinced that being highly-sensitive is a thing. You will have to figure out another way out as there are always alternative solutions.

Despite the cons of being highly-sensitive, it has its upsides and it’s up to you to turn your sensitivities to your advantage. You can now start designing your life so you can do your work better, live a happier life, and stop blaming yourself. You need to treat yourself better because it’s not your fault.

Helpful guides and articles

To help my fellow highly-sensitive people, I found a couple of articles online written by people for those who are highly-sensitive.

Angel Chernoff published 10 Life-changing Tips for Highly-Sensitive People that helps you to change your mindset and your lifestyle.

An article by Melissa on Why Highly-Sensitive People Need Minimalism is helpful. I fully agree with that because I discovered minimalism separately during my month long break from work. I stopped feeling so overwhelmed by my environment once I started getting rid of stuff and be more focused with where I direct my energy.

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