Sensory Overload

Posted: June 3, 2014 in Life-thingies
Tags: , , , , ,

I have previously mentioned here on the blog that I have Asperger’s syndrome. It means I have some challenges,but luckily not too many. One challenge though is sensory overload. It happens once in a while, but I’m mostly susceptible when I’m tired, stressed or over-worked. It happened this weekend.

What actually happens? Well imagine all your senses overreacting. Every sound is so loud it seems your head will split, every touch makes your skin burn, every smell completely fills your nose and mouth so you want to gag, colors seem so bright your eyes water. All this and more, all at the same time. My head just can’t process all the information it’s given and that results in it giving up.

When it happened this weekend, I wasn’t at home like I usually am. At home I have a safe-space, at home I can completely control the sensory input, but this was not at home. This was halfway across the country with about 30 other people around. Since I couldn’t control a lot of the things that were setting me off, I decided to try and focus on one task. I would write exactly what was going on. I had never tried that before and I didn’t even know if it was possible, but I gave it a shot. Here follows what is written in shaky letters in my notebook:

I’m sitting on the floor, my legs sticking straight out. The floor is made of wood and it is lacquered. It feels like it’s sticking to my skin.

I don’t like it.

My back is pushed firmly against the wall. It’s cold and smooth. The chill seeps through my shirt into my spine.

I like it.

I’m tucked into the corner as far as I can go. This room is on the top floor so the wall slopes on one side. It means I won’t fit all the way in the corner.

I don’t like it.

My socks are black and feel like they’re strangling my feet.

I don’t like it.

I pull them off with a strangled whimper. I feel air on my toes.

I like it.

Shirt over my head. Pants kicked off.

My phone is playing brown noise as loud as it will go. I feel the sound-waves as they pass through me. If I could only reach out, I could touch them. Bend them.

But I can’t reach out, my hands are busy.

One is drumming away on the floor, my thigh, chest, scalp. An endless war-drum pounding, always syncopated, always on the beat. The other is feverishly writing. Working hard to keep up with my mind, failing. There is no time to stop and fix jumbled letters or spelling errors.

If I stop I break, if I stop I break, if I stop I break, if I stop I break, if I stop I break!

I’m afraid that if I stop writing, I’ll stop thinking, I’ll break down completely, I won’t be able to regain control. So I write, anything I can think of. Anything, everything.

I flail.


Don’t lose control. Come on, just keep writing! I can feel it slipping. It’s too much.

Too much, too much, too much!

Inaudible words start escaping my mouth. Closer to guttural snarls than actual words. I have no idea what they are. I am going to have to stop writing now.

It didn’t work.

 That is what a breakdown feels like to me. I honestly don’t remember much of it. I never do. All I remember is just that it feels like there is way too much of everything.

  1. Merlin Emrys says:

    Yeah, this is a lot of what they’re like for me, too. Hi from Reddit.


  2. Paul says:

    I’m so sorry for you, while I haven’t experienced this and have never met you I guess the only consolation I can give is that while life dealt you this unfair hand and gives you the bad days like this, you still manage to make the day of people halfway around the world, just knowing that you exist helps remind me why I love humanity and your mix of wit and and talented story telling has helped me out of really dark times in the past. You know I think you’re great and it honestly saddens me that you have to live with this hardship.

    Here’s hoping it doesn’t trigger again anytime soon.


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