We are hypersensitive. That’s not a secret. This sensitivity can be psychological – we feel stronger, and it’s hard for us to manage those emotions. We respond to insults and to praise with a mountain of feeling. We take things to heart. It can also be physical – some light frequencies are blinding, smells are painful and sounds just drown us. We each have our sensory battles, but the triumphs are huge – some textures are just heavenly, jumping up and down makes our day all better, and sitting in a tight space makes us feel safe. The immersion in books is very real, and so is our immersion in nature. I think that FMS and ME/CFS are another facets of just that.
Sure, they have an onset. Something did happen to start them. And they make sensory issues worse. But I think they are a special kind of sensory overload, another way for our body to tell us that something is wrong, that something on the outside is bothering us. We already had an over-developed sensory experience. It is no wonder that some traumatic experience gave it another push, and set FMS or CFS in motion. A painful knee joint might tell us that our shoes are too loose, or too tight, or just uncomfortable. A brain fog might start because of bright lights, an over-crowded room or because we simply didn’t notice we were thirsty. Fatigue can tell us that something is bothering our sleep, or that we are cold.
Sensory sensitivities might be an important facet of giftedness.
Many artists and scientific geniuses were neurodivergent, and hypersensitive to their environment: Van Gough, and his world view as seen in his painting, Isaac Newton, that thought out-of-the-box to define the law of gravity, Einstein, Andy Warhol. A unique point of view of the world, and relationship to sensory experiences, is famously apparent. Sensory sensitivities might be an important facet of giftedness.
Yes, being diagnosed with FMS or ME/CFS gives us another label, another thing to consider. But is it really another label? Is it really something new to us? I think not. We learn from childhood to adapt ourselves to our sensory needs. We don’t always succeed. Sensory overload happens, and for people with FMS and ME/CFS, it happens constantly and persistently. My advice is simple: know your triggers. Adjust your life to avoid them. Experiment with different sleep durations, until you find the right one. Try different shoes. Try new sensory toys. Wear the scents that you like. And remember – sensory issues are also a blessing. They are a proof of how much connected we are to the world and to nature. They are proof of our creativity. They are part of who we are, even if sometimes they are just too much.
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5. Robertson, A. E., & Simmons, D. R. (2012). The Relationship between Sensory Sensitivity and Autistic Traits in the General Population. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43(4), 775–784. doi: 10.1007/s10803-012-1608-7