Life with Sensory Processing Disorder

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What Does SPD feel like?

Since SPD affects everyone differently and not all are bothered by each sense, I would imagine it varies greatly. I can only speak for myself and considering I am affected by most of the senses to some degree, I will present a picture of a severe day for me…
 Imagine you are in a small room filled shoulder-to-shoulder with people. The room is painted the color you most despise, for me that would be bright red. Everyone is wearing red clothes. The room is brightly lit and there is a hot spotlight on you with a strobe light flashing non-stop. The heat is on full blast and there is no fresh air. Imagine extremely loud rap music playing, someone is complaining loudly non-stop, there is a baby screaming in the background. Someone else is speaking in another language. Your spouse is asking you questions but you can’t quite hear what they are saying. You can’t move and people keep bumping into you. Someone tickles you. Someone is in your face talking to you and they haven’t brushed their teeth in a year. Another person nearby hasn’t showered in ages. Someone else has bathed in a bottle of your grandmother’s worst perfume. Someone else vomits next to you, while someone else has diarrhea. A spider is crawling up your leg inside your pants slowly. Someone is holding a large clock to your ear and all you can hear is tick, tick, tick but you still feel the bass from the loud music and hear jumbled voices of those around you talking a mile a minute. Your bladder is full and you have to go to the bathroom but you can’t leave the room. Suddenly everyone starts poking you while a nearby TV screen flashes cartoons at full volume. Someone starts yelling on a loud speaker. The person next to you starts smoking 8 cigarettes all at once and blows the smoke in your face.
This is what a trip to the grocery store on a bad day seems like for me. I’m not able to focus, there are loud noises all around, people smell horrible, I feel closed in, nauseous, and get overheated quickly. The air feels heavy, stale, sick. Someone bumps into me and I instantly feel rage and want to punch them. A smoker walks by and I want to vomit. My eyes hurt, my sinuses feel stuffy, I feel dizzy and hot. I will go home and seek out a dark room to lie down in to recover. I feel exhausted, headachy, as though my personal space has been invaded & violated. I’ll feel dirty, tired, achy, and very irritable.

At this point (once home) any noise will make me cover my ears and cry. Any touch or texture outside of soft loose clothing and my bed will feel like needles or knives. Any smell will make me feel as if my head will explode and I can vomit. The presence of anyone will feel as if I am smothered and have no air to breathe. Once I am overstimulated it will take some time in dark, cool, and quiet to get back to normal where I can tolerate smaller amounts of sensory stimuli – like low volume TV, the dogs playing, our birds singing, my husband talking to me, the phone ringing and even then I will need quiet alone time at regular intervals so I don’t get overloaded or sick.


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