Sensory Overload: Why is the world so loud? (plus some fun news)

Thanksgiving was hard. I meditated and tried to get my head in a good place before leaving to go see family, but once we arrived I found it very difficult to be around a larger group of people. The noise and overlapping conversations were so overwhelming that my anxiety shot through the roof. My hands were shaking so badly that food was falling off my fork. When I finally finished eating I retreated to another, quieter room fighting back tears. It was rough but I don’t think anyone noticed. 

As I’ve mentioned before I get overwhelmed pretty easily. I do have ways to cope with it – usually with meditation or by taking a break from the situation – but I felt this instance was particularly difficult. Maybe it was because it was the first time I was around a large group of people since my relapse and starting a new medication.

I’ve always been sensitive to noise. I don’t know why but my coworkers are really loud. When we have all-staff meetings or get-togethers it becomes very boisterous and I find myself in the same situation I was in at Thanksgiving – overwhelmed and fighting back tears.

Does anyone else feel this way? Why does everyone have to be so loud?

This has prompted me to try a new way to cope. I ordered a pair of earplugs that buffer sound instead of blocking it out. I want to find a way to not be overwhelmed while also not completely disengaging. I think in certain situations they might be helpful although I am a little worried about offending people. Maybe with my messy, curly hair, no one will notice that I’m wearing them.

Does anyone have any other suggestions? Do you deal with any sensory sensitivity? How do you cope?

Now my fun news: I found a local shop to sell my artwork. I am taking my flower paintings there after the holidays when they decorate their showroom for spring. I’m really excited about it! It’s always nerve-racking to put yourself out there but at the same time, I’m proud of my work. I’m trying not to get my hopes up but a little extra money would be nice. 

Fellow artists, tell me what you’re up to!

Would you rather feel happy or feel deeply?

It’s easy for me to write this post right now because, at the moment, I feel pretty good. 

Would you rather feel happy or feel deeply? Is one more important than the other?

Happy would be the easy choice, but at times, wouldn’t you want to experience all life has to offer? Good, bad, and painful?

Would intensity matter? Like happiness just wouldn’t be as happy if you didn’t also feel darkness and despair sometimes?

I often get a sort of “high” at work. I love my job. Many days I feel truly happy there and I don’t want that feeling to end. It’s a very welcome feeling in my life right now since I’ve struggled so much in the past few months. During my recent relapse, I even wondered if I would ever work again, but here I am, truly enjoying my job. It’s so wonderful.

What would it be like to have that feeling all the time?

My husband is usually a very calm person, but boy, does he get fired up about politics. I absolutely love that compassionate, do good-er side of him that wants to make the world a better place. What would it be like to never get fired up? Doesn’t it give us a purpose? What if there was nothing to get fired up about?

It’s probably pretty obvious that I feel deeply and tend to be a more complicated person. On my worst days, I yearn for a simpler life, although I’m sure many people can relate to that feeling. Do you ever feel that way?

Most days I would rather feel deeply, although some days I would choose happy because some days are so painful you just want relief. I wonder why I would ever want to feel such pain. 

Are you happy? Do you feel deeply? Is one more important than the other? Is it necessary to feel deeply to truly feel happy? Is it important to have something to get “fired up” about? Do you think about these things or do I just need more to do?

Do you like being depended upon?

We are an animal-loving family. Five cats: Stachey, Sasha, Emmy, Jax, and Nina, and two guinea pigs: Nibbles and Nugget. I love taking care of our pets. I seem to be the one in charge of the guinea pigs. They chirp and chitter when I walk past their cage and give an insistent “wheek! wheek! wheek!” every time they hear me open the door to the fridge. I just think it’s the sweetest thing. I even like cleaning their cage and filling their hay feeder. I just love caring for them. So technically they’re my daughter’s guinea pigs but I still feel like I’m their person.

Our kitties get the run of the house and are truly a part of the family. They get dry food during the day and every night they gather in the kitchen and my husband gives each one a special plate of wet food and treats. My husband is definitely their favorite.

Pets are completely dependent on their humans and I really enjoy that responsibility. In this certain way, I really like being depended upon.

Another way I like being depended upon is that our house is filled with plants. One of my favorite things is to buy sad-looking plants at the grocery store or Costco and nurse them back to health. I’ve even bought half-dead plants at garage sales before. It’s really exciting to me to watch them grow.

You might think this is a weird post because I am a mother. I have the ultimate dependent – a child. I was filled with anxiety when I became a mother thinking I was not nurturing enough for the job. Being a parent is such a heavy responsibility and in the back of my mind, I always think I’m going to fuck it up. Can I trust myself to do it right? So much anxiety…

I love my daughter and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I don’t always like the thought of having a whole other person depending on me. I think a lot of parents actually like that feeling – to know that they are absolutely needed – but for me, it’s kind of scary.

My husband is the most dependable person I know. Not only are we raising our daughter together, but he became more of a caregiver during my health struggles. In this house, we all depend on him. I’ve never actually asked him if he enjoys that role, but maybe I should. He’s always so loving, calm, and patient. 

I hope he can depend on me as well.

How do you feel when you know people/pets/things depend on you? Does it make you anxious? Do you enjoy the responsibility? Do you take pride in it? Is there ever a time when you would rather not be depended upon?

Interesting Toy Shopping — Should I be offended?

My daughter was at her grandpa’s house tonight so my husband and I took advantage of our child-free time to do some holiday shopping. We went to Target and went straight to the toys. Look what we found in the doll aisle:

That’s a Dyson toy vacuum cleaner and a toy shopping cart. My husband and I were a little taken aback.

Should I be offended? Are you offended?

Detachment: Anger vs. Empathy

I have some big questions on my mind.

How do you move past anger when someone has mistreated you? When you realize the people who hurt you are hurting themselves how do you let the anger go and show empathy?

How do you detach yourself from unhealthy situations? I discovered that distance from unhealthy people in my life has done my recovery wonders, but it hasn’t erased the anger – even though I realize the people who mistreated me need help themselves. 

It has been so important for me to focus on my own mental health to be able to be a good mom and help others. I feel detachment and distance are necessary not to derail that crucial self-care. 

But at the same time, how do you encourage others to focus on self-care? I still care about the people who wronged me. I wouldn’t be so angry if I didn’t care, but I wish I could just move on. 

Sometimes my anger tells me I want revenge, but really I just want relief.

I know this is kind of vague, but can you relate? Can you show anger and empathy at the same time? Is detachment necessary or just avoiding the problem? Is a resolution always needed to move on?

(Also, I am currently in therapy to address these and other issues. Even though my blog is an excellent outlet for me, I really recommend therapy for anyone. It really helps to have a sounding board, learn coping techniques, and get an objective viewpoint. If you are considering it, do it.)

Do you have vivid dreams? Do you remember them?

For the past few weeks, I have been having very vivid dreams – several a night even. I wake up in between dreams. It’s leaving me a little disoriented in the morning and gives me an unsettling feeling when I think about it during the day. 

I assume this is due to recent med changes. This isn’t the first time psychotropic medications have disturbed my sleep and dreams. Side effects like this make me feel like my medications are mysterious. I mean really, how do they do that?

My emotions in my dreams are so strong. I often dream of dead relatives. Sometimes I dream about things I really want to say to people – my anger tends to break through sometimes. Other dreams are just random and strange. Sometimes I wake up confused. Did that really happen? Was it really a dream?

I have had mental health issues and med changes that have caused nightmares before. Thankfully, my recent experiences aren’t like that. 

My husband is encouraging me to write my dreams down. I used to keep a dream journal to use as inspiration, but I don’t like the way these dreams are making me feel. Plus sometimes I don’t remember the details. I’m just left with the unsettling feeling of knowing I had a weird dream.

Have you ever experienced this? Do you have vivid dreams? Do you remember your dreams? What are they like?

I’m getting ready for bed at the moment and I’m a little nervous to lie down. 

Good night, FtB. Wish me luck.

That One Teacher

I felt very awkward as a little kid. I had good friends that I ran around with, but I still felt shy and nervous. I grew up in a rural community and was very sheltered. I’ll be honest. I wasn’t always excellent in school. Sometimes I was interested, but a lot of times I wasn’t. 

But there’s always that one teacher – the one that makes you feel special, worthy, and accepted. For me, that was Ms. Murray.

In elementary school, I was placed in the gifted program which Ms. Murray ran. In this program, I was able to pursue the things I loved. I wrote stories. I composed music. I created art, and Ms. Murray was there every step of the way with her neverending encouragement. 

I wasn’t judged – I was understood – and that was something I wasn’t getting at home or in the community. My family made fun of me for being in the gifted program and it hurt.

With Ms. Murray, I could be different and it was actually celebrated. 

By the time I reached middle school, our school district had lost funding and the gifted program was cut. It really put a damper on my outlook and school became a huge chore I was stuck with for several more years until I could escape to college. 

But I never forgot Ms. Murray and the way she made me feel. She made me believe I could do great things and I carried that into adulthood.

So Ms. Murray, if you’re out there, thank you.


Who was your one teacher? I would love to hear your stories.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?

Yesterday was supposed to be a pretty busy day for me – work, a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, a playdate with my daughter and her best friend, and finally a writing workshop later at night. 

But I just crumbled. I ended up spending most of the day at home.

I have always been easily overwhelmed. I don’t know if my mental illness is to blame, or maybe it’s just my temperament, but you can see how it gets in the way of my life.

I try my best to stay organized, thinking it will ease my worries. I carry an old-school planner everywhere I go and write everything down. For some reason, things feel more concrete and official to me if I write them down instead of putting them on my phone. Also, it feels pretty good to write a little checkmark next to the tasks as you complete them, but on the other hand, it feels pretty shitty to look at a packed and cluttered planner knowing you didn’t do anything all day. 

Why does it feel like ambition and anxiety go hand-in-hand? There’s so much I want to do but sometimes it’s pretty clear that I can’t handle it all. Even what some would consider a “normal day” can be too much. 

To be honest, it’s easy to place blame on my mental illness. But whether you have a diagnosis or not, you have to work with what you’ve got, and oh, how I wish I could turn a broken brain into a superpower. I’ve always been ambitious, and I don’t want to just get by or pass for “normal”. I want to stand out but in a good way. How do I harness this nervous energy for good?

When I actually get through a day completing all of my tasks, it’s a huge confidence booster. I still don’t feel 100 percent since my relapse – I’m still sometimes up and down – but I don’t always know when to give myself gentleness and grace or a kick in the butt.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Do you sometimes shut down like me? What do you do to get your motivation back?

How often do you think about death?

Ready for a morbid post?

Life is never boring when you are constantly being observed by an inquisitive seven-year-old. This weekend my daughter asked us, “What’s the closest you’ve ever been to dying?”

I told her about a car accident I was in when I was a teenager. I was a very inexperienced driver – it was the morning after I got my driver’s license. I went around a bend and lost control on black ice. I nearly put my car in the river but a tree stopped me. My car landed mangled and on its side. I escaped through the passenger-side window. I walked away from the accident with very minor injuries but it could have easily been a lot worse. I have a scar on my chin because I was very petite and the seat belt didn’t fit me properly. 

My husband also responded with a car accident.


Kids are curious about everything, but how often do you think about death?

I have to admit, I think about death a lot more often than I used to. Last weekend was my 41st birthday. I don’t think I’m old, but I do find my health struggles very discouraging. Every weekend I sit down and pack out my meds for the following week. There are just that many. I always keep an updated list of my meds in my purse so I have it at every doctor’s appointment. I am simply on too many meds to reliably recite them by memory, and lately, I have had many changes in my meds. It’s hard not to think that I’m too young to be going through this.

The thing is, I’m actually doing a lot better. My ambition and motivation are coming back and I am more engaged with the people around me. Those have always been markers that I’m doing well in my recovery. Thankfully, my kidney functioning is also doing better. I am so grateful that I am finally feeling relief. I am in a good place now. 

When I came off of lithium due to kidney problems I almost immediately went manic, but what goes up must come down, and I eventually landed in some crushing depression. I had suicidal thoughts and they felt different than when I had suicidal thoughts in the past. In the past when I’ve been suicidal, I felt desperate, trapped, but also subdued and sluggish. This time I felt anxious and panicky. I was afraid I would get impulsive and just do it. These thoughts actually caused a physical reaction. I would get hot and my heart would race. I’ve never felt anything like it.

I was honest with my husband and doctor about my suicidal thoughts. It was really hard and I was reluctant, but I was aware that it was a symptom of my mental illness. Thankfully the thoughts were fleeting and they went away after a few med adjustments. 

The past few months have been absolutely grueling both physically and mentally and I think it would have been odd if I didn’t think about death. Not only due to suicidal thoughts but also kidney failure is serious. My grandpa died of kidney failure although he was much, much older than me. 

I want to share a poem I wrote several months back — prior to my most recent health struggles. It always gets a big reaction from my husband every time he reads it, but it happens to be one of my favorite poems that I’ve ever written.


The Conclusion


It’s unforgiving and final –
the conclusion of your story.
You hope to slip into the darkness
unscathed and ready
but your end is unpredictable.

Each day brings you closer to your goodbyes –
if a goodbye can even be said at all.
Your memory lingers at first
but time passes and everyone must move on
without you.

Savor every connection a little more
because your demise is always just around the corner.
Not every finale is grand
but we all end up the same –
crumbling into nothingness.

Say what you need to say
before the silence
and don’t look back
because your countdown
has already begun.


I feel I should end this post with a resource – the suicide and crisis lifeline. If you or a loved one is struggling, you can call or text 988 for help. Feelings are temporary and worthwhile and practical help is available. We are never alone.

Let’s entertain my daughter’s question. If you are comfortable sharing, what’s the closest you’ve ever been to death? How often do you think about death?

Are you patriotic? How do you feel about the military?

I live in the States where people tend to be pretty patriotic. Flags everywhere. Pledge of Allegiance said in schools. National anthem playing at events and at noon on country radio stations, etc.

But that isn’t really me. (Although I do like country music.)

I think there are some great things about living in America, but there are a lot of not-so-great things, too. I really hate the “Arrogant American”, especially the one who has never left the country and doesn’t know anything else. I’ve studied abroad and it opened my eyes. I realized we have a lot to learn.

I’m bringing this up for two reasons. One – Veteran’s Day is Saturday and I’ve never understood why our military is so celebrated. It seems strange to idolize soldiers and celebrate war. Why do we still see modern military campaigns as a sacrifice for our freedom? I just don’t get it. 

When I was younger and knew people joining the military it was because they didn’t know what they wanted to do with their life and the military helps you with college/career training. It wasn’t because they wanted to make the ultimate sacrifice and die for their country.

And two – I was playing around with some new markers on Sunday and made a very vibrant drawing that I can’t stop staring at. It’s kind of mesmerizing. As my husband and I were looking at it, we realized it looked patriotic. It was weird and kind of made us chuckle. It wasn’t intentional. 

Here is the drawing:

I apologize if this post offends anyone, but it’s truly coming from a place of confusion. I would love to hear your viewpoint on why Americans feel the way they do about the military.