Life with Sensory Processing Disorder

Friday, January 24, 2014

My Perspective on the Battle Over Marijuana Legalization

I keep seeing the battle over marijuana, medical marijuana, decriminalization, and legalization in the news, online, in print, on NPR. As usual, my view is not the popular one. I do not want it legalized or decriminalized. Why? Well, having Sensory Processing Disorder makes me extremely hypersensitive to smells. Marijuana has a very strong odor and it hurts me. It is much worse than the smell of cigarettes, which also causes me pain. I have a neighbor that has an occasional cigarette in their open garage. I have never smelled it surprisingly, but someone can smoke a joint many blocks away and I can smell it intensely. We moved several times to get away from neighbors who smoke marijuana. Now that we bought a house I can smell sometimes in the evening someone within a 2-4 block radius or so smokes it at night. It hits me like a brick wall when I take my dogs outside. I smell it immediately; it hurts my head, my sinuses, makes me dizzy, hurts my ears & throat, makes me want to vomit. I can smell it even before my husband does or even if he can’t. And even though I am outside, it penetrates my clothing and I can smell it on them up to an hour later, even though the person(s) smoking are never seen or anywhere nearby that I can tell.

One might argue that if legalized it can be ingested, yeah, but many are still going to smoke it. And even if it is only legalized for medical use, that means my very close neighbor who has kidney cancer can sign up, get a card, and grow two plants in her back yard and smoke it outside and I will be stuck inside my house, won’t be able to open my windows on warm days, won’t be able to step out to let my dogs go to the bathroom unless I want to get sick. Her second hand smoke may irritate my lungs, give me cancer, hurt my sinuses and there will be nothing I can do to protect my own health and well-being. Dogs have died and gotten extremely ill from ingesting marijuana, so should she accidentally drop part of the plant, a joint/roach, or a leaf blows in my backyard, it could kill my dogs.

I will admit I have tried it myself in my teens and twenties. And I can say from experience it made my anxiety and insomnia a million times worse and did nothing for my pain & SPD issues.

A woman in one of my SPD groups who lives in Colorado has said her family has always relied on public transportation and now that marijuana has been legalized it is smoked openly in public and sometimes even on the bus. While someone may get kicked off the bus or may smoke it right before getting on, they bring with them the horrible smell. She can no longer ride the bus because her 10 year old son has Sensory Processing Disorder and the smell hurts him and he gets sick and has extreme meltdowns. They now have to pay more to take a taxi and she fears they will encounter the same problem and may have to move since they cannot afford a car at this time.

A friend of my husband's with lung problems lives in Washington and has complained of the same thing. He doesn’t own a car, has always taken the bus to his job and around town. But now that pot is widely smoked, drunken young people at night take the bus and sit in the back and smoke pot. They exit before they are caught or thrown off, but the smell lingers and he gets sick and cannot breathe, coughs, and has to take medicine.

So please tell me for those of us who have breathing problems, illnesses, disorders, Autism - why would we ever want this legalized if it is going to hurt us? Many people already are so self-involved, inconsiderate, ignorant, so now they can kill off more brain cells and make others sick too? I have several acquaintances that have husbands that smoke pot like it is air and have done so for 15-20 years or more. They both have that ridiculous Beavis and Butthead huh huh laugh. Neither is very intelligent, has a good job, or really anything to show for their life. They live to smoke. They might argue it is their right. I think they have the right to do whatever it is that makes them happy, if they want to be a brain dead twit, so be it. But when it starts hurting others, making others sick, affecting the well-being and lives of those who value their life, their brain, their health, there lies the problem and my belief that it absolutely should not be legalized because it is not your right to make others sick.

If it can be used to help one medically, then it should be in pill, oil, or another form that will not affect others in any way and dispensed only by a medical doctor. I believe it should not be grown, stored, or sold to anyone other than a person with a medical license.

A person I went to school with is fighting to make medical marijuana legal in our state because she wants to try it on her daughter who suffers horrible seizures. I understand her plight, but once you open that can of worms, you cannot close it. Without strict regulations, it will affect others negatively, even if legalized for medical use only.

For once I am happy I live in a state run by Republicans that are actually pushing to get tougher on pot possession! I know there will come a day when all of it will change and it will be legalized, and honestly I don’t know what the heck I will do, because it could drastically change my life negatively. I already don’t go out much due to my symptoms. I struggle most days just to be pain-free and “normal”. I know how pot directly and indirectly affects me, and it physically hurts & makes me sick.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hypoglycemia

I apologize for the Browser problems, the font size and spacing is appearing funky - it is unintentional, so please bear with me...

I was relieved to read that SPD can lead to Hypoglycemia. I guess that is an odd thing to say, but over the past 5-6 years I have had on again off again issues with low blood sugar. SPD & the stress from it throws off your sugar levels and can lead to Hypoglycemia. It was a relief to find out why this was also happening to me.  Sometimes it is very bad, sometimes is easily corrected. Many times it happens during PMS and is much worse during PMS. I know that if I don’t eat every 3 hours I can have a low blood sugar episode. I will get light headed, dizzy, feel faint, get shaky, have uncontrollable muscle spasms & jerking, get confused, can’t think, get very upset, panic, cry, have heart palpitations, can vomit, sweat, and get overheated. It doesn’t happen regularly, so I never know when to expect it. I can go months without an issue even if I eat poorly, skip a meal, or not eat enough. Many times I will go months without an incident and then BAM! I have one and it is so extremely scary.

When I have a problem, it tends to be hard to correct over the next few days & I will be prone to episodes and it feels like a roller coaster. After an episode I feel like I’ve been run over by a Mack truck. My body will hurt, I will have bad headaches, I feel run down and worn out. I’m so afraid I will have a seizure, which can happen. I’ve had pretty bad Auras. I was told when I have an Aura I should go to the ER and get a monitored injection of Imitrex, but I don’t, since when I used to (many years ago I had to from birth control pills – I had bad reactions to the abundance of Estrogen, experienced super scary mini strokes, horrible Auras, projectile vomiting, and severe migraines) it never helped and only added to my stress.

I had low blood sugar 2 days ago and have been reeling since. It was innocent enough, I woke up, planned on eating breakfast, but the dogs were hungry, needed to go out, then wanted to play. My husband was going to run to the store and get some items for me to cook for us. I ate something small and sugary as a pre-breakfast snack, forgot to eat within a reasonable amount of time, had a sugar crash and there began a bad episode.  Then yesterday and today I felt on the edge and shaky and nearly had several attacks. At times I feel depressed & sorry for myself. Just one more way that having SPD sucks. It isn’t bad enough that my senses are bombarded with so much stimuli, but I have to also have this side effect that makes day to day living even more of a struggle.

The last time I had an episode was in October when my mother-in-law was visiting. It is hard because other people don’t have this issue, don’t understand, and don’t have to eat on a schedule. We were out and actually on our way to a restaurant for lunch, but had gone over 5 hours without eating. I started shaking uncontrollably and thank God I had a tube of glucose in my purse, and thankfully we were in a different vehicle and they didn’t witness my attack. I generally don’t care to share my issues with others. I don’t want to be judged, thought of as less, felt sorry for, or looked at strangely. Plus I am a private person. I don’t like to be talked about or in the spotlight; unless it is for something I have worked hard for and am appreciated for, and even then I like my accolades in small, reserved doses. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

New Browser Issues


My new browser is not supported by Blogger, therefore it is acting funky, giving error messages, and not allowing me to post photos. Not sure what to do at this point, I'm not going to switch or back track to an older version. Hopefully it will publish this post without errors.

Anyway, I am recovering from being sick, we lost a beloved pet, and I am starting a new beading project, so I may not be back for a bit. I "came out" to my mother, I had refrained from telling her about my SPD & AS for many reasons. I found a couple things that have been helping my SPD symptoms and have had some really great "normal" days. I've also had a few frustrating issues Asperger related. I'm sure I'll post about all the above mentioned. Back soon

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Our trip to see Amma


As I mentioned in my last post, the author, Ted Zeff, is a follower of Amma and he mentions her a few times in his below mentioned book along with the healing power of touch & hugs for those with SPD.

We had seen a news piece on Amma; her teachings, message of unconditional love, hugging millions of people around the world and saying prayers for them. It sure sounded cool – someone selflessly going around hugging everyone spreading a message of love & hope. After more research we decided to experience it for ourselves & receive Amma’s Darshan (blessing) since she was going to be only a couple hours away.
We arrived early, received our token, and waited in line for about an hour and a half before being let into a large conference room barefoot. Once inside they had everyone gather and sit on the floor in lotus pose, preparing for Amma’s arrival and the start of a group meditation. My husband and I sat rather close to Amma’s center spot, while my mother, having knee problems, sat further back in a chair. There was a quiet but exciting buzz in the room. Some of her followers are a bit overzealous. Telling us that Mother knows all, sees the future, she will heal all, we will become followers and see her yearly once we receive her love & hug. I will admit I was kind of freaking out thinking what did we get ourselves into, is this some kind of cult? But once Amma entered the room, you could feel such a warm, positive energy, such excitement, and a low vibration. It was strange but neat. Amma radiates a peaceful glow and is very beautiful – pictures do not do her justice. Once she was seated they began the group meditation with a large stretched out Om chanted by all – which was so cool because you could feel this sound, the vibration was so intense, felt like it penetrated your entire body, fingers, toes, hair. Even my husband, who does not have any type of SPD issues, said he felt it quite strongly. It was amazing. So once the meditation was over they have people get in two lines in front of Amma. You kneel and crawl forward as you wait for your turn. My mom again having knee trouble was able to go first in a line for disabled people and she was not required to kneel or crawl, was able to sit in chairs and then stand/bend over for her embrace. I watched as she was hugged and they say Amma may offer extra prayers, hugs, etc if she feels inclined to do so and with my mom she grabbed her a second time and hugged her hard, praying for her. My mom started crying uncontrollably and said it was a very emotional experience for her and she doesn’t know why it made her cry. But it had an impact on her and she still talks about it. I started feeling anxious, not knowing what to expect or how I would feel. Then it was our turn. As we crawled forward, I felt so nervous, wondering will this make me cry like it did my mom? As we hit the front of the line, they take your token and you are guided forward into Amma’s arms. You lie across her lap kind of with your head to the side facing away from her on her shoulder and she wraps her arms firmly around you. In my hand Amma placed a flower, some candy, and hugged me deeply while rocking me and beginning a Hindu prayer I made a note of to remember, so I could look up what it meant later. Now my husband and I shared the same experience during our individual embraces – it felt like a boost of positive energy, and our minds went completely blank – no thoughts, no anxiety, everything went away – sounds, smell, time. At the time it felt as though I went limp in her arms and became a happy blob. I was the only one to receive the prayer I did, I don’t believe she said a prayer out loud for my husband, but said a different one for my mom. When I was home I looked it up and amazingly it applied to me, my situation at the time and a problem I was having.
When she is finished you are guided to the side where you can sit, reflect, recover, before being urged to the back of the room to peruse her store, pray in the empty seats or on the side of the room, to the cafeteria for a Vegetarian lunch with water blessed by Amma, elsewhere to wait for one of her other programs (yoga, meditation, etc.), to watch others being embraced, or to leave if you wish. We visited her store and purchased a few items – a sandalwood mala, prayer card, and I bought a silver OM pendant blessed by Amma. Then we headed to the cafeteria for the lunch, which was impressively good. If I recall correctly, it was Dal, a lentil curry, with rice and vegetables.
Now having SPD, I had some concerns about this entire experience beforehand, one of which was germs – yes, I am a germaphobe and seeing video of Amma’s shoulder completely stained with tears, dirt, oil from many people was alarming, which is why we were one of the first to arrive – I wanted to be one of the first ones in contact with her to avoid germs as much as I could. lol Another concern was the energy of so many people, the noise, the smells. I do recall there being some light scent of incense or sandalwood, but not enough to bother me more than passing irritation. Everyone was instructed to be quiet and meditate or pray while waiting, so it was rather quiet the entire time, I think overall we were there 4 or 5 hours. The energy in the room and from everyone was amazing – it was positive & bright the entire time, without being overstimulating. I would go again to explore the experience more, and in this day and age, who couldn’t use unconditional love, a blessing, prayers, or a hug?! Does it make me want to become a regular follower, no. I am not fond of any type of organized religion, nor do I follow any one particular religious path or leader. But I am a very spiritual person that prays and meditates often. I consider myself open to many teachings and ways, but would consider myself Agnostic.
Anyway, this was a memorable, positive experience. Sometimes, having SPD I back out of plans, hide from overstimulation, but sometimes, I have to remind myself to get out and experience new things even if a little scary; sometimes they are valuable and full of insight.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Book Review & Suggestion



I finished reading The Highly Sensitive Person. I maintain that I did not like this book. It is filled with contradictions, offensive suggestions and stereotypes. Putting on a persona (mask) and trying to be someone else for a while or acting like others is not acceptable, does not make symptoms go away, and it does not allow one to be true to themselves. The author goes on and on about thinking over your past, your symptoms, how you react – as one with SPD (and Asperger’s), I think a lot, I overthink and then think again. How is thinking more going to help? I’ve already thought myself crazy over the years trying to figure out why this was happening to me. Thinking about it more or examining how I feel about it doesn’t help me in the least. I want factual medical info, useful suggestions of things to ease symptoms. Other than explaining that shy is not an acceptable term and is very negative (in which I highly agree - I am not timid or shy, have never felt shy) and reframing SPD as a trait, I did not find this book useful or containing anything helpful and do not recommend it.  
 
 
I have also finished reading The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide, by a different author; Ted Zeff, but meant to accompany the above mentioned book. Again I find the title/HSP term offensive and don’t understand why they don’t use proper terminology. This book I enjoyed and highly recommend. The author describes having SPD from when he was in the 5th grade and seems to know what he is talking about. Right from page 20 and then through the entire book there are suggestions of things to try, things I have tried that have helped to some degree; meditation, visualization, exercise, breathing, diet tips.
One thing I found interesting is the author is a follower of Ammachi, aka Amma, and talks a little about her healing touch. She is a spiritual leader from India, known as the hugging saint a/o Mother and has hugged millions of people across the world. A few years ago my husband, mother, and I went to see her when she was touring the US and was going to be South of Chicago. It was an intriguing experience I’ll share in my next post.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Upside to Sensory Processing Disorder


Believe it or not, there are some positives and benefits to having SPD. Having hypersensitive smell comes in handy when catching fires before they become problematic, detecting gas leaks, smelling food burning right away before it is inedible, knowing immediately when the dog pooped in the kitchen. Music can be felt and not just heard. Being in nature is amazing. I can smell the dirt, water, leaves, and those aren’t overbearing or bothersome. One of my favorite hobbies is nature photography. Seeing & capturing such beauty gives me incredible happiness and I forget about having SPD. Being in nature is the one time my senses give me joy and actually rejuvenate me. I feel as if I absorb the living energy all around and it boosts my sense of wellbeing. Being sensitive to energy is also good because it helps to weed out negative people who drain your life force, or at least you know who to limit your time around if you can’t avoid them. SPD can make meditation an amazing experience. When listening to guided meditation my entire body feels the vibration of the gong and my breath entrains quickly to slow background music. Intuition at times is a bonus; knowing things, dreaming things to come can make me feel comforted. When it comes to love & intimacy all emotions and senses are heightened.
*You can purchase the above SPD ribbon as a sticker or magnet HERE
 



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

~Happy New Year!~



I had the most wonderful Christmas. This year for me wasn’t about the presents, the drama of others, what I don’t have, what I need to do. I took the time & effort to relax and focus on enjoying our first Christmas in this house, loved ones & pets, and the entire day & night. I cooked & ate a good meal, drank some champagne punch, spent quality time with loved ones. I believe it truly was the best holiday I ever had.  I’m hoping the new year will bring many days like this Christmas – one where I can appreciate all that I have, my senses aren’t giving me trouble, and I can spend time with people who love & accept me.