I am making my morning tea when I am overcome by a sound so intense that my instinct is to kill. I try to focus, but before I know it, I am swearing. Screaming. Throwing things. Fighting. I hear it coming from outside, so I throw the door open and dart out. Tracking the sound that is my prey. I see that it is coming from a lawnmower down the street. Seeing it helps. My primitive defenses drop a little when I show my brain that the sound is not a real threat. I go back in, put on my headphones and hum before my music begins to block the sound. Once it gets into my system, it is hard to get it out. As the music begins to soothe me, I cry. Sob, in fact. Only after am I finally able to think again. To begin to make sense of what happened to me. I am getting better at recognizing my process. Before, when I didn’t know sensory information could do this to me, I would spend the entire day screaming and sobbing. Blaming others. Hating myself. Feeling crazy.
Hours later, I am working in my home office when construction begins a few blocks away. The sound of the drills goes right to my brain. I can feel the vibrations in my body, coursing through my veins. My shoulders tense up. I feel nauseous. I stop breathing. The tick has started, but I have quick access to my headphones, so I am able to avoid the explosion. As the music starts to play, I am able to breathe and to let the music soothe me. My nausea subsides. My shoulders relax. I feel relieved that I was able to stop it before it began.
While I’m working, someone knocks on the front door. I freeze. Become paranoid. Frightened. Heart racing, I wait for the sound to happen again. I am still. Quiet. Ready. When I am able to think, I get up and creep my way to the door. Inching around corners, hugging walls, sneaking up on it. I peek out the curtain and see the fertilizing company leaving. They left a note at the door, letting me know they were here.
As I drive to the gym, a car whizzes past me with an engine so loud it startles me. I freeze. Unconsciously, I stop driving. I realize this and pull over. I sob before I am able to think and to continue on my way.
I get into the gym and onto the elliptical. The perfume of the woman next to me creeps its way into my nose. Its synthetic smell goes right to my brain. I try to breathe out of my mouth, but the smell fights its way in. I feel weak and confused. I feel the need to lie down. Recognizing what is happening, I move to another elliptical. Then one of the employees begins to vacuum. I need to move again before the sound gets into my system. I hope no one is watching me. Now on my third elliptical, two people next to me start a conversation, and I can hear them over my music. I leave the gym, deciding that finishing my workout is not worth my sanity. And that moving to a fourth elliptical would make even me feel crazy.
When I get home, my husband is already there. He embraces me and rubs my arms, which hurts my skin. Makes me feel sick and nauseous. So I back away. I see he is affected, so I tell him just not to rub, so he kisses my cheeks. And his stubble leaves hives on my face.
During dinner, I become overwhelmed by our conversation, snap at my husband and leave the room. Fleeing. Once I can think, I realize I don’t know why I left, so I go back. He appears discouraged, which helps me realize my behavior. I apologize, and we kiss and make up, but I feel too nauseous to finish eating. It makes me feel sick when my disorder affects others.
We decide to watch TV, but need to find a show, so my husband surfs through channels. The motion of the moving lights and images gets to me, and I have to look away. I fight off the nausea moving in. Even though I am not looking directly at the TV, I can still see the lights flicker as he clicks through channels, which makes me too disoriented to give him my opinion. He’s left to decide alone.
My husband goes to sleep. I make chamomile tea and do yoga to try to calm my mind and my body enough to fall asleep. So that I am rested enough to face a new day of challenges.