Inside Depression

A figure walks away from the camera into the fog on a wooden path through treesIt’s been a rough spring. The clouds won’t quit. They’re damping down my everything. I replaced my SAD light bulb, but my light meter showed no change. So I waived my no-new-charges credit card policy just this once, and bought a new light, only to get the same readings. So much for the light meter. But whether the light is too weak or my SAD is too strong, I don’t need a meter to tell me it isn’t enough.

I keep up with housework, just. Since I mostly work from home, I don’t have to shower, get dressed, or go out in public. That helps. But I am impatient with my cat, snarky on social media, and racked with anxiety after the 15th of every month. Will I make the rent?? I stop buying groceries, make do with what I have on hand. It is dispiriting not to be able to afford something as basic as food. So far, things have always come together in the nick of time, but this month, I don’t see how that could happen.

I still have a part-time job, a holdover from my previous profession. Though the circumstances are about as good as a job of its type could possibly get, the contrast with my new work, which hardly seems like work at all, has made it clear just how much I hate that job, have hated it for years. It pays about 3/4 of my rent, so I can’t afford to give it up. And yet I can’t get myself to go in, putting it off until right before payday, then having to work all my hours over a short period.

Meanwhile, my business has fallen off. I’m not sure if this is due to changes in my advertising venue, or the advent of competition in a niche I previously had pretty much to myself, but most of my business these days is with previous clients. Which is gratifying in its own way, but it’s not enough to pay the bills. Why does an urgent need for self-promotion always rear its toothy head when I feel least able to put myself on display and take risks?

Not that I am completely defeated by challenges. HSP overwhelm is an emotional reaction, not true information about my abilities, I remind myself. I apply objective measures: It’s really huge that I am able to pay all of my bills each month, without adding anything to my credit card debt, for the first time in years. I have even been able to move some of the highest interest debt to lower interest cards. In the big picture, I am right on course in my long range plan.

I respond to emotional needs with common sense problem-solving. To fend off monthly funk and fear, I started tithing a percentage of every dollar earned straight to savings. This would be a great response to overspending. Unfortunately, the current problem is underearning.

I can’t seem to get much emotional mileage out of reality-checking and practical measures. They are lost in the shadow of the doldrums of today, which loom so much larger than the distant unknowable future. Depression takes the spark out of your plug. When the sun is out, to think is to act. When it’s not, the chasm between the two is impassable. All I want to do is nothing.

I have some major projects on my list. As you might imagine, they are well and truly stalled. Any tenuous flicker of interest that manages to penetrate the fog is swiftly extinguished by oversized expectations. But I’m getting past that a little, nurturing those tiny flames by not feeding them too much too soon. “Just do one thing,” I whisper to myself. And I do, and maybe a few days later, I do one more thing. After awhile, I am almost surprised when the progress is visible.

But no boost lasts long, not when another day dawns and it’s as overcast as the one before. I fear sunny weather may never kick in. We have summers like that sometimes. I’m in a holding pattern, and it’s getting really old.

SensitiveType on Facebook

My brain is abuzz with all of the things I read and see that I want to share with you. The backlog is getting too huge to ever catch up, though, so I set up a Facebook page where I can post things that don’t make it into a SensitiveType blog post. Check it out (there’s also a link in the right sidebar).
A screenshot of the SensitiveType Facebook page

Working Title

I haven’t written much about my short-lived summer job. I meant to, but it got shuttled to the back burner by the premiere of Sensitive: The Untold Story, and other more time-sensitive topics, and by the time that was over, it was old news.

Two Roads Diverged

A sign that reads "You don't have to be crazy to work here. We'll train you."I felt a certain empathy for my boss and her issues, but eventually concluded they were impacting my life to an unacceptable degree. I was so proud of myself for figuring out that I needed to make a change before the need became urgent. This time, I’ll find another job first, I thought.

However, she must’ve sensed it, because she blew up out of nowhere over something trivial, and abruptly I was out of a job without a replacement income. The time since has been nerve-wracking. Each month, it has been a miracle that I managed to pay my rent. I’m pretty pissed at her. I was a good employee, and I deserved better.

Then I learned that she was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness two weeks after I left. I was shocked and saddened, of course, and I hope she survives. But I can see how very much that is a part of her path, and I can also see that I don’t need to go down that path with her, which would’ve been a lot harder to avoid if I was still working for her. Interesting timing, isn’t it? Continue reading

HSPersona non grata

I am troubled by the dress code for attendance at the premiere of Sensitive: The Untold Story tonight. Yes, you read right, there’s a “business casual” dress code to attend a movie. We were informed in the same email that audience members might be filmed for the live stream.

Regular readers will remember what a revelation it was when I realized I could dress like myself at a new job. “Business casual” is exactly the standard that had kept my best-loved clothes in the closet (literally). We’re not talking studded g-strings and nipple pasties* here, just a little more color and individuality than “business casual” generally encompasses.

I made something I was particularly proud of recently, and was planning to wear it in celebration as I attended a film about my kind. I still plan to wear it, and being in San Francisco, it will probably be fine, despite the creeping Marinism**. But the unlooked for transformation of my act of self-sharing into an act of defiance takes all the joy out of it.
peacock at the gate 350x230
Coupled with the location that is not friendly to public transit, I am feeling less and less welcome at this event, and am really wondering if it is meant for me at all. I can understand the desire to put the best face on high sensory processing sensitivity at its coming out party. But how are HSPs who don’t fit the definition of “professional” supposed to feel when they are asked to put on a false front for the livestream-viewing public, as if their real selves are somehow too undesireable to be associated with the film? Wasn’t the whole point of this film to promote HSPs being who they are? Or was it?

This will be my first experience in a room full of mostly HSPs. In fact, this will be my first experience interacting in person with anyone who self-identifies as an HSP. Regular readers will know that a previous attempt at virtual interaction with other HSPs did not go so well. I have no idea what to expect, and I’m attending alone. Frankly, I’m scared.


* Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but scanty outfits would obviously be inconsiderate attire for an HSP event, as they would cause everyone else in the room to feel cold.

** Marin County, home to Elaine Aron, is known for being one of the most affluent and least racially diverse counties in the greater San Francisco Bay area.

Sensitive Type

Elaine Aron, as my HSP readers may know, is the leading researcher on high sensory processing sensitivity. A year or so ago she took a look at the advancement of awareness about HSPS and decided it “wasn’t happening fast enough.” I imagine she would like to retire, but wants to ensure that the research and education is carried on.

The result was a film, Sensitive, The Untold Story, which premieres in San Francisco in September. You can see the trailer here, and buy tickets here.

Many different colored hand prints in a swirling patternI initially watched the development of this project with some trepidation, since public perception of me and every other HSP may be shaped by it for years to come. I am deeply grateful to Elaine Aron for the research that changed my life, but media savviness is not her strongest suit. However, many other people, including HSP Alanis Morissette have participated in this project (of course, with HSPs, it would be highly collaborative), so at this point, I am just curious to see what they have come up with.

I was touched by the trailer. Continue reading

Turn, Turn, Turn

A Graph showing a sharp dropMuch has happened since I last posted. My first month in my new consulting career was pretty good. My second month was slower, but I figured there would be ups and downs at the beginning. However, when I had zero clients in month three, I realized I’d drastically overestimated demand, or else drastically underestimated how much promotion I’d need to do. Before I had time to figure out which, my tottering finances crashed. Continue reading

By George, I think she’s got it!

3 years ago, I sat down in the middle of my life and refused to budge until I figured out why it wasn’t working.

I have learned a lot about myself since then.

I have learned that I am an introvert
(“No way!”
“Way!”)

I have learned that I’m an HSP, and what that is. These days, I think of myself as a “deep engager.” I’m not sure how much of that is introvert, how much is HSPS, and how much is my unique personality, but wherever it comes from, it’s a good description.

These days, I think of myself as a “deep engager.”

This improved self-understanding has allowed me to acknowledge without shame or apology that the following characteristics in a job make me miserable:

Continue reading