Saturday, June 6, 2015

Knowing yourself: warning of sensory overload

Stock photos
As promised, I'm going to dig into more of how a sensory/stress overload actually feels and how I work to stay ahead of them.

I mentioned in my last post that there is a prickly sensation in the back of my neck that is one warning. Another, if I'm paying attention to myself, is that I become less of a generally pleasant person to be around. I may experience feelings of anger that have no apparent trigger. I don't like feeling this way, so I've learned to recognize it most times. If I'm sick, I may need help seeing it. But then, who is pleasant when they're sick?

Trigger factors:

Stress: If a lot of things are a stressing me out, I have to be more mindful.

Heat: Thanks to my MS, heat is a threat. I can't be out in direct high  heat for a very long time. It wears me down fast and leads to other triggers.

Exhaustion: The more tired I am the more at risk I am. It's important to pace myself. But I am a stubborn man at times. It's not easy losing your independence to MS or any other condition.


Snappy disposition: If I'm getting cranky it's a sign.

Dizziness: Vertigo is not my friend. It's a sign that I'm overloaded.

Tilting vision: My view actually tilts on a weird slant to the right and happens with bursts of dizziness.

Extra tremors: The more I'm having, the more careful I need to be, but I have tremors for multiple reasons, so I have to watch for tremors that come with the rest of the issues here.

Rapid breathing: Also comes with an accelerated pulse rate that I can actually feel in my neck.

Loss of coordination: Unable to grasp things properly, dropping things, and extra stumbling beyond what I normally have with MS.

How it feels. I get hot. Really hot. Hot to the touch even. I lose cognitive function and get confused. Nothing I see, feel or hear seems right or makes sense. Fight or flight is being triggered with no physical threat apparent. My only hope is to get somewhere dark and cool.

I use a fan for two purposes. One is temperature and the other is to dull my other senses, like my crazy hearing. White noise from a fan is very helpful. I use the same to sleep at night.

People who suffer from sensory overload have a tough job/responsibility in controlling it before it controls them. In its full grip, it's a blind rage like no other where nothing makes any cognitive sense any more. Everything is closing in on you. Everything; every color, every sound, every sensation on your skin, every light, EVERYTHING.

It takes years to decades to come close to controlling it completely. Some are luckier with it than others, of course. Many never completely control it.

What seems to be a problem out in the public still today, is that this is a real medical condition. It really affects people. Once in a while, I get the chance to educate someone. We can only hope to keep educating and getting the news out that these situations are real.

If you are suffering from sensory disorders, it falls to you to have a home protocol where you can escape and destress.

If your child has a sensory disorder, it falls to you to teach your child how to develop the same home protocols. Fortunately, there are tons of tip sites and assistance growing on the internet every day. I posted links to a couple of sites on my last entry.

Remember, you are not alone. It's real. And there are more of us out there, than most people realize.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Dave. Not being on the spectrum myself, this was informative to me of what your experience is like. Here's a question: what can I and others who want to be compassionate do to make people experiencing a sensory overload more comfortable?

David Wilde said...

What we really need is patience and ways to make an exit plan so we can get to a safe environment. Only put your hands on someone who is hurting him or herself. Keep too many people from crowding in. In most cases, in public, we just need to get out of the way and to safety. Anything you can do to help things quiet down may be appreciated, but it will vary depending on who you are dealing with.