Posted in Article, Non-fiction

I’m highly sensitive – are you?

I am a volunteer at a Danish online project for vulnerable young people.Here I’ve been a chat counsellor, and I blog about my experiences depression when I was a teenager and how I recovered. I recently began to tell about my experience as being a highly sensitive person and how I tackle my everyday life.I asked at Mastodon if anyone would be interested in a translated blog post about HSP, and here it is 😊

I’m a highly sensitive person – are you?

Years ago, I stumbled across the book The Highly Sensitive Personby Elaine N. Aron and suddenly a lot of pieces fell into place. Most of my life I have felt wrong and different, and I have often thought “what on Earth is wrong with me?”. Nothing, it turned out, I’m just highly sensitive.

What does it mean to be highly sensitive?

“Highly sensitive person (HSP) describes persons who are born with a nerve system extra responsive to outer and inner stimuli of any kind. At the same time, a highly sensitive person processes these stimuli deeper and more nuanced than non-highly sensitive persons.

HSP is genetic and inherited, and being highly sensitive comes with both challenges and advantages. Highly Sensitive Persons are often creative,empathic, gifted and has a huge inner world with many thoughts and big feelings. It also provides a risk of being overstimulated and burned out if you don’t learn to deal with your sensitivity and set boundaries, or if the surroundings don’t accept those boundaries.”

(sources: “Sensitiv Mor” [Sensitive Mother] by Stinemaria Mollie Jensen and Danish HSP union, HSP Foreningen.)

How am I highly sensitive?

I’m not a psychology or scientist, I can only tell about my own experience of being sensitive.

I get filled up with impression faster than most, e.g. sounds, many people or temperatures. I reach my saturation point fast, the point where I’m completely overstimulated. It feels like I’ve been on a festival for a week. All my senses are smashed, I’m tired, unfocused and can’t function. I can’t think clear, can’t make choices or evaluate a situation. My body simply can’t take more inputs, it needs rest to recover.

When I’m completely overstimulated, the best for me is to enter a cool,quiet room with low lighting e.g. with the curtains down. Sometimes I’ve changed into pyjamas because tight clothes are too much. The best is if I can lay down in a soft bed and take a short nap. That way I give all my senses and my brain a break. When my body has rested and recharged a bit, I’m ready again. Not on full scale, maybe I’m a bit tired,depending on how hard the obstacles have been, but I can function again.

How has it helped me to know my own sensitivity?

Before I learned about my sensitivity I tried to push myself without letting myself have the breaks and the rest that I actually needed. Often, I got way too overstimulated and had to use days to get back on track. And when the body is worn out, the mental health is walking a thin line and trips way too easy. It has brought me a lot of tears and anxiety attacks.

My sensitivity is really affected by my average health and state of mind.If I’m stressed or don’t get enough sleep, I’m extra sensitive and needs more breaks. If I’m rested and happy, I can take way more before getting overstimulated.

It has been a great help to learn about the term HSP. Suddenly a lot made sense. I’ve always been told I’m too sensitive and it made me feel wrong. Now I know, there’s nothing wrong with me and I know how to take care of myself and give myself the best terms.I’ve found a lot of the positive aspects of being highly sensitive too.

Are you highly sensitive?

I fyou don’t know whether you’re highly sensitive or not, but would like to know, it’s easy to find out. It’s not a diagnose or a disease, and it doesn’t require an expert’s opinion. In fact, it doesn’t matter what others mean or judge you to be, the only thing that matters, are how you feel. It’s about you and your experience.

Elaine N. Aron has developed a series of questions, to test if you are highly sensitive.

You can find them at her website right here:

I hope you’ve learned a bit about being highly sensitive. Maybe you’re sensitive yourself, or maybe you know someone who are. It is said that about 20 % of all people are highly sensitive.