It’s been a few months since I was introduced to the concept of high sensory processing sensitivity. I recognized the amplified physical senses in myself immediately. Issues with noise and other environmental stressors come up constantly. I was already well aware that I experienced these things more intensely than other people (or as I thought of it, that other people were, somehow, unfathomably oblivious to them).
However, it seems like my understanding of the broader implications of being an HSP is not developing much. In fact, it feels quite stagnant. I think this is because I haven’t met any self-identified HSPs, so I don’t know what that looks like. All I have to go on is my internal experience, and you can’t really compare your inside to someone else’s outside. I don’t even know what I look like from the outside! My internal Pattern Maker is frustrated with so little to go on.
I’ve been contrasting the process of understanding myself as an HSP to the process I went through when I first realized I was clinically depressed. That was 15 years ago, so maybe my memory is faulty, but I could swear I was able to recognize other depressives in my current and past life, as well as depressive musicians, artists and writers, almost as soon as I grasped what depression was. Maybe that’s because the realization came out of a friend’s suicide, so I first identified depression by looking at someone else’s outside.
I’ve noticed that people tend to gravitate towards others who are like them – this was certainly true of me during my depressed years. Looking back, I could see that almost everyone I engaged with for any length of time was an untreated depressive, just like I was. So I assume I’ll also find a lot of HSPs in my history. But so far, I haven’t had any “aha!” moments about current or past relationships.
Part of this may be my ongoing confusion about what’s an HSP trait vs. a trait of introversion. I still haven’t found a good self-test for introversion that isn’t all muddled up with HSP characteristics. If you know of one, I’d be very grateful if you’d post it in a comment or email me a link.
One thing I did notice when I watched several YouTube videos made by HSPs is something I think of as “the processing pause.” It isn’t really a pause in the sense of a delay. It’s more like a stoppage of time. The HSPs make direct and unbroken eye contact with the camera, and focus intensely, as if they’re looking within and looking out at the same time, internally evoking the feeling they want to communicate, holding onto that emotional state with an almost physical effort, and at the same time minutely examining their listeners for signs, as they metamorphosize the utterly personal and private into something conveyable. It’s a kind of simultaneous translation of the soul.
This is entirely familiar. I think I first became conscious of it decades ago, when I was writing poetry (which requires a lot more transformation than informational types of writing). I just wish I could be sure whether this is an HSP or an introvert thing (sigh).
I’m finding it hard to make new HSP friends. There are a couple of HSP Meetup groups in my area, but they rarely meet. Most of the online forums I’ve located have been inactive for years, or are a lot larger than I’d like. So for now, I’m still an HSP without a face.