Thursday, February 26, 2009

You Down With HSP? (Yeah, You Know Me)

Once I actually bought a book called "The Highly Sensitive Person." It might as well have been called "You're Quite the Asshole." 251 pages detailing people who are easily overwhelmed by stimuli, people who are overly affected by other people's moods, people who are easily startled. In other words: people who ask the manager at Pasta Pomodoro to turn down that god-awful music because they don't amore it... People who make their friend duct tape a new baby blanket to the kitchen window so she can spend the night on her couch without the INS-glare of the street light outside... People who call the cops on the old lady across the street because that stupid white dog with the weepy brown eyes won't stop yapping and yes I know it would have been nice to ask her first like a good neighbor but what am I, fucking State Farm? No, no I am not, and the cops are there for a reason, god how I hate confrontation. I am a Highly Sensitive Person, HSP for short, or, if you prefer: an ASS (Ack! Stop [the {motherfucking}] Stimuli!).
I inherited my HSPness from my dad. I grew up climbing over the carseat into the way, way back of his 1972 International Scout, a book of matches in hand, with the explicit instructions not to sit back down until I had located the source of that rattle and wedged the matches into the crevice to make it stop, make it stop, oh for the love of god, make it stop! My father now wears a hearing aid. Dad, do you need a refill on your juice? I ask each week when he comes over for dinner. No, I haven't seen that movie yet, he might reply, what's it about? Depending on my mood I sometimes make it up, a plot, something to do with a falcon and a farm, fuhfuh mmm, kah plahst, numnumaghhh, you know. Yeah. From across the room my cell phone sometimes emits a high-pitched sigh of interference, the ghost in the machine whispering to the toaster, a secret that we are not supposed to hear, and my dad and I look at each other. Did you hear that? I ask. God, yes, he says, turning down his hearing aid, I heard that. I hate that.
This is my birthright, to spend my life consumed by the brightness of the numbers on my clock radio. Bryan says I sleep with my eyes open. He also tells me to stop giving people the stink eye at movie theaters, on airplanes, in restaurants. He says my muscle to pissiness ratio is way off, and something tells me he doesn't always have my back when people are talking too loudly. Why must people talk so loudly?
Apparently I have the hearing of a teenager, which might make me feel good if I aspired to be a teenager which I don't, what with the way benzoyl peroxide bleaches a perfectly good towel. Used as a deterrant for loitering teens in Britain, this high-pitched tone is such that only people under the age of 25 can hear it. I am 11 years older, but I can hear it, and something tells me that my dad, at 66, will be able to hear it, too. Check it out to see if you are also an asshole, like me:

Train Horn

Of course if you also hear a small voice telling you to burn down the school and break into all the lockers then you're not just an asshole, you're a dick. And crazy. And not very sensitive at all.

Now sshhhh. I'm trying to think over here.

25 comments:

Ms. Molly said...

I heard it! I really didn't think I was going to but should have known better since I hear everything at work, and that is both a curse and a blessing. My dog got a strange look on her face and tilted her head at the computer when I played it.

Shannon said...

Sweet mother of God...I may suffer from HSP, nice to put some initials on the "problem" I am easily annoyed by the sheer volume others use to simply portray a thought, ecspecially on an airplane, I have a sweet move I use, the turn and stare, it has been known to garner a few moments of silence. I am often told I speak too softly, that people can barely hear me and why do I mumble? IT IS CALLED BEING CONSIDERATE A-HOLES!!
Thank you for addressing this, I cannot wait to tell my husband!

Jen said...

That totally made me laugh because I do the same thing with the "stinkeye". Muscle to pissiness ratio....love it!!!! And I'm totally sensitive to everything. I have to put the blanket over my head to sleep if Alex is watching tv. The light bothers me. :-P

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

This has been a big campaign of mine over the past couple of years-- to de-sensitize myself. Because, as you are well aware, being Highly Sensitive is codeword for Highly Obnoxious. It's actually amazing how much progress I've made in just a few years. Whenever something is bothering me that I know FOR A FACT does not bother most normal people, instead of giving into the bother, I take a deep breath, bite my lip, and push through it. It's actually really worked and I am happy to say that I am now a considerably less obnoxious person than I was in 2005. :)

And yeah... I can hear it.

Ameya said...

Heh. My counselor in high school made me read that book, and it's pretty much my biography. WHY is the world so LOUD?! And BRIGHT?! Just make me whiney, miserable and stressed out, I'm pretty sure.

amy b.s. said...

oh, i feel as though you are speaking about me! my husband also says he often times does not have my back for the things i think are just disrespectful. and they are. he's just immune or something. i too may make my husband read this one just to prove that i am not the only one in the world that speaks too softly (thank you shannon), apparently mumbles and thinks, in general, most people around me are quite rude.

Kwana said...

I'm afraid to press the button. I know I'm so down with HSP. I cover the clock on the tv at night now and turn my cell over from the light and yeah, shut that dog up. Uh Oh. It has a name and letters.

(In)Sanity Gal said...

I can hear it, although I'm 28, so maybe I'm not past the threshold yet. Dear god my ears are ringing. That was awful. I've never thought of myself as an HSP, but I do have some of those annoyances. The thing that irritates me the most are chewing noises. Chewing noises make me fantasize about killing people. Even sometimes when they're chewing with their mouths closed. Sometimes I can STILL hear that annoying noise.

Heather, paperfollies.typepad.com said...

All this time I thought I was an HSP, but now I find out I'm not....now if my husband would only go brush his teeth and reapply deoderant, for the love of God! (And as soon as I played it, my son, with his earphones in, glanced up and said ~ what's that noise!)

Jules said...

I heard it, but I am the surly sort so that doesn't surprise me. I'm always full of righteous indignation.

hmrubes said...

Thank you! I thought I was just a bitch. Now I'm a bitch with HSP. I've been known to wake up in the middle of the night and unplug every single appliance to find the source of a high-pitched buzzing sound. It turned out to the be toaster. My fiance has also informed me that he does not have my back if I choose to confront a noisemaker.

Lolo said...

I still hold a grudge against my fiance for not agreeing to put in quadruple paned windows in our bedroom. So, when the neighbors dogs bark their empty heads off at 6:30 in the morning, on the weekends, I just punch him in the kidneys and then shove my head under the pillow.

The new Vizio that we put in our bedroom? I had to put black electrical tape over the logo because the freaking thing glooooows in its shutdown mode and I've been woken up the light from said glow. I have one of those sleepmasks but I hate the feel of it on my skin. Sigh.

I also have such a low pain threshold that it takes three syringes of block to numb my finger enough for stitches. The crapbag in the ER thought I was faking and waited until I was looking away to jab a needle in my finger. My head spun around about three times as I shouted "OOOOOOOOOOOOW, I FELT that you ... mmmph!"

So to sum up, I'm not delicate but I am sensitive and I feel your pain. Also, my children have evidently inherited this trait which makes for fun times, let me tell ya. "Noooooooo, I can't wear those socks. Those socks have rough things that rub my tooooooes until they BLEEEEED."

Anonymous said...

someone once told me that i was a high maintenance girl pretending to be low maintenance. What??? There is a very narrow window in life when everything is acceptable. that's all.

didn't hear it by the way - being 38 stinks.

Vanessa said...

Aaaah! I kind of hate you for making me listen to that. I am 28, so only 3 years past the cut-off mark, but still, I guess I'm proud of my little chimp-like ears. Though I'm not the type to loiter in front of Clare's or Hot Topic.
I never thought I was highly sensitive, but maybe I'm wrong. They should have that sound at Dunkin Donuts instead. And some sort of siren call at my gym.

Weitzell4 said...

I heard it, and I'm 38. I didn't know there was a name for what I have! Looks like I have plenty of good company.

Clementine said...

dear god I've never associated more strongly with any post on any blog more than this one. And sweet baby jesus did that noise hurt (I'm 33).

My ex-husband used to refer to my "baby ears," as in "cover your baby ears, I'm turning the cuisinart on." Noise is hard-wired into my head, and too much makes my brain feel like it's going to explode. So yes, I'm down with HSP. totally.

Susie said...

Oh crap. I too am driven absolutely to the edge by rattles and squeaks and a room full of loud people makes me want to stuff my ears with cotton. At least now I know there are cool people like me out there. We should all sit in a circle and give each other the stinkeye.

monkey said...

i developed this when i was pregnant. i used to make bryan turn the tv down if i was in bed so that it was barely audible. i would LOSE.MY.MIND. if i could hear the television. he's a nightowl so he took to watching foreign films with the sound off once i went to bed.
damn....he must really love me.

beachbungalow8 said...

oh, god. I'm an ASS too it seems. And the worst of it really is that it's inherited. My daughter has it too.

sally kate said...

o! I am totally HSP! Is this the chic new name for sensory integration disorder?

My idea of hell is the state fair: all those horrible food smells, people brushing up against me, everything moving, and that God-awful LOUD music. Who enjoys that?

On the bright side, I've read it is associated with intelligence.

Melanie said...

Yep, I relate to Clementine. I relate strongly to this post. I relate strongly to a lot of your posts, so that does not surprise me! I'm 45, heard the noise. Dear God. I just got out of the hospital, where there is no peace and quiet to be had. I was a nervous wreck and working on a pretty good "stink eye" myself! Home now, working on calming my nerves and literally trying not to feel the noise. So odd how some of us have this trouble!

Patois said...

Dear God, woman, you have got me howling here.

I am Trish Marie said...

This is me completely! I am constantly complaining that I cannot sleep, because of all of the noise/light/wrong temperature. Generally, I am met with a shrug and look that clearly says I am the only on that hears or is bothered by said noise/light/temperature. I hate going to the movies, mostly because I can't even watch the movie with all of the racket everyone is making in the theater! And? Don't even get me started about change rattling in the center console of my car while I am driving.

Creme de la Mode said...

I heard it. And my sleeping cat leapt up and went apeshit.

Regardez Moi said...

i heard it. it was horrible - i had to pause it right away b/c it gave me a headache. my sense of smell is even better - which i think works to my disadvantage as the city i live in is STINKY.