View Full Version : How can you explain sensory overload to friends ?


stef
07-03-16, 02:35 AM
How can you explain, that something is just "too much" , to people who are very active ?

We went to listen to jazz music in a bar last night, they had this idea just yesterday. i said i didn't really want to go, wow they took it badly ( because they thought it would be fun and I like music),

so i forced myself to go of course and well of course i am " out of spoons" today.
we had to take a bus to get there and then walk through this busy area and it was just " all wrong".

at dinner I was trying so hard to explain that it wasn't that I didn't want to go, I " wanted to want to", but it was just overwhelming, and they really did not understand. They are both very outgoing and social, and in a very nice, genuine way.

I'm so tired of hiding this. I just don't know what to do anymore. It's not getting better, its like my resistance is wearing thin. And these are longtime friends.
and then during dinner she is showing me all these pictures of a trip and tour she was on and i just kept thinking, enviously, how? how could you even do that??? and you got back just yesterday, and are out tonight?

aeon
07-03-16, 04:31 AM
I would explain to them that I am sensitive...less number and less degree of stimulation/activity is needed to reach a point where I need to rest and recharge.

And I would say my ability to do something or not isnít a matter of how I feel about it, or a show of how much I want to or not...but a way I need to take care of myself so I do not get overstressed and shut down.

And stef, I am that way. So I hear you, sister. :grouphug:

Hugs,
Ian

Fuzzy12
07-03-16, 05:43 AM
I can relate. With Some things (like socialising) even though I enjoy them for a while I just can't take too much of them befor i burn out and need some quiet time. At the same time, I know that I can be fairly unrelenting and judgmental when it concerns activities that I'm crazy about and can't get enough of.

And some of us have fewer spoons to begin with. Maybe you could find an example that they can relate to better.

If nothing else (because it sounds like your friend is one of those people with never ending enwrgy) the example of a 5 course meal on a full stomach might work. You enjoy the first 3 courses because you are still hungry and you love the food. The last two courses might be equally good in quality and taste but you must can't eat them anymore because you are too full from the previous courses.

Hm...I think that makes sense but I could be wrong..:lol:

Little Missy
07-03-16, 05:52 AM
I have never been able to explain it to anyone. And I have tried, I just don't try to anymore. And the people I thought were friends were mean to me about it so I just don't bother with them anymore.
I do rather admire those that can handle it but I will never be one of them. And yes, there are so many music venues I'd love to hear but not with a crowd.

C15H25N3O
07-03-16, 07:52 AM
You could ask your friends to make another evening only to go out and enjoy music.

I think it is easier to ask for something to get or keep myself into a social-flow than to self-explain.

Is there really a need to explain endurance and question your activity?

If your goal is a better endurance in social activity you must exercise it in a comfortable level.

If there is a need then explain it with drinking wine. You enjoy two glasses but not two bottles.

It is no shame not to be as active or drink as much as others ...

... but it can be exercised to drink someone under the table.

Enjoy your memory.

Unmanagable
07-03-16, 10:05 AM
I sometimes share that I simply have to be extremely mindful of how I spend my energies and attention every minute of every day, no further explanation needed.

I used to attempt to keep up with the peeps I was most drawn to and enjoyed, but I can't hang like that any longer. It damn near killed me trying.

Keeping up appearances, for whatever reason, be it work or play, wasn't worth losing my health.

When I'm unable to immerse myself in the high energy events, I try to make it a point to somehow socialize with the same folks in more user friendly ways for me.

Even if it's just sporadically getting in touch via bookface, a quick phone call or text, dropping a note in snail mail, on their windshield, desk, etc., or some small attempt at maintaining friendly contact.

I lost some "friends" along the way, but shift happens. I also found a few more mellow acquaintances to fill in the gaps.

Corina86
07-03-16, 11:53 AM
Just say that you don't like being noisy crowded places for too long. And invite your friends out in places you like: parks, picnics, camping trips etc. This way you get both to show your friends that you enjoy their company and to show them what kind of activities you're more comfortable doing with them. They'll understand that not everybody likes everything. But if they really like the bars and clubs and all those other things you can't stand, your friendship won't last too long though. Eventually, you'll need people around you who enjoy similar things as you.

spunky84
07-03-16, 04:00 PM
Thank you for posting this! While I don't have any friends :lol: It's still difficult trying to explain to my husband why I try to avoid certain situations and why I honestly just can't handle it.

I hope your friends are able to at least try to understand, even if they can't fully.

stef
07-03-16, 04:07 PM
thanks everyone for the replies :)

sarahsweets
07-04-16, 03:09 AM
Tell them its like listening to the radio turned up and instead of listening to one station, its like its on scan, constantly changing channels and crackling and hissing as it changes.

Cyllya
07-04-16, 03:51 AM
I've got a couple of my friends who mostly understand. They don't really get it, completely, but that's probably inevitable. They try to be accommodating, which is what counts.

I haven't used this yet, but I've been considering a plan to indicate my current level of overload with a 1-to-10 scale, i.e.
1 means I'm perfectly okay, 5 means I'm starting to get a little stressed but still having fun, 10 means I am two seconds away from trying to murder you with my fingernails. (You have to tell the people the system ahead of time, when you're not overloaded. Then, when the overload is happening, you just have to say a number instead of a complex description.)

Here's an abridged version of how I tried to explain it before. This is from an essay intended for the benefit of people who have hypersensitivity themselves (and don't know it), but it might work for explaining to other people too. (Full text here (http://cyllyathoughts.blogspot.com/2015/06/about-sensory-issues.html), if you're interested.)

"Sensory issues" is sort of a purposefully vague catch-all term for any problems someone might have from the way their neurology processes their physiological senses.

[Regarding hypersensitivity:] There are two key aspects:

How uncomfortable is the input?
There are some things that normal folks can ignore or that they even find pleasant but that are very annoying to me. Things that most other people find really annoying might be really painful for me.

How much input is "too much"?

Imagine everyone has some kind of psychological bucket, and every sight, sound, taste, smell, texture, motion, physical pain, temperature perception, feeling of having to use the bathroom, et cetera that you experience adds a little bit of water to your bucket. The more intense the sensation, the more water is added, even if it's not an unpleasant sensation. Rest and relaxation will empty your bucket. People like me have a smaller bucket.

Some kind of Bad Thing happens for anyone whose bucket starts to overflow, but that's not a common concern for typical adults. However, hypersensitive people like me should constantly manage our buckets. How much water is in it now? How much water will certain activities add? Which activities can I afford to do before my next rest opportunity? Am I okay with having to get the amount of rest that a certain activity will require?

When I get overloaded, I mostly have cognitive or emotional problems. (Fatigued or sleepy, increasingly scatterbrained, anxious or grouchy, eventually angry.) However, I've heard of other people having problems like vision issues or blacking out.

If they can't get their minds around sensory issues, you might try framing it in terms of being an introvert, highly sensitive person, or "homebody," or having different preferences. If they won't accept any of those concepts either, they might be a lost cause.... Just remember, they're supposed to be your friends, not your employers. It's good to try to explain it, but they shouldn't have to understand it. You shouldn't need to give them a deep understanding of your neurological issues so that they'll give you permission to decline a leisure activity that you'll find exhausting.

Speaking of HSP, I also wonder if you might find some info on this on the HSP newsletter archives (http://hsperson.com/comfort-zone/email-newsletters/).

stef
07-09-16, 03:17 AM
I got a nice text from my friend yesterday asking if i was ok and shes looking forward to meeting up tonight.
They aren't a lost cause at all, weve been friends for over 20 years. its just that they are so different in this aspect of their lives and then Ii never really said anything about this, myself. just went on with "secretly dreading draining outings". ( as i have since iwas a young child ).

Im glad i said something before i had a screechy meltdown someday, which was inevitable. i like the radio analogy a lot. what i really need to explain is that im not just stuck in my ways , or unwilling to do new things.

Mercurial
07-09-16, 04:19 AM
Firstly, I would like to introduce myself as a new member, could not find the Intro thread.
So glad I found this forum, this post is a sentiment that is so recurrent in my life.

I have drawn on every minuta and reverence to excuse myself from these socially akward situations.

I simply tell the person I have a scheduled medical appointment that suddenly opened up.
Most folks are polite and leave it at that, However some are more inquisitive.

My response is simply "having migraines" most folks can relate.
So frustrating not being able to make a simple lunch date for the next day.
My thoughts are with you:)

Sincerly
Mercurial

EuropeanADHD
07-09-16, 07:32 AM
Tell them its like listening to the radio turned up and instead of listening to one station, its like its on scan, constantly changing channels and crackling and hissing as it changes.

Interesting comparison since, as much as I love radio (I listen it on my cell phone), I find it difficult to stay at one station too long. I tend to switch every few minutes looking for a better channel.

anonymouslyadd
07-09-16, 12:51 PM
I got a nice text from my friend yesterday asking if i was ok and shes looking forward to meeting up tonight.
They aren't a lost cause at all, weve been friends for over 20 years. its just that they are so different in this aspect of their lives and then Ii never really said anything about this, myself. just went on with "secretly dreading draining outings". ( as i have since iwas a young child ).

Im glad i said something before i had a screechy meltdown someday, which was inevitable. i like the radio analogy a lot. what i really need to explain is that im not just stuck in my ways , or unwilling to do new things.
I feel the difficulty of this for you. You want to make people happy but can not handle the overstimulation. It sounds like they enjoy doing things impulsively and changing it up quick. I think we need a plan and then have to stick to that plan.

They need to put in more effort to understand you and not pressure you into doing things you cannot do. My former roommate is pushy, and I realized that I'm susceptible to suggestion despite my best interests. :( It's not good for me to be around these people.

I hope this is resolved in a way that suits your best interests. How can you be in an easier position to say "no" and give yourself a way out if necessary?

stef
07-24-16, 02:26 AM
Yes they're impulsive plan changers :) or they will have a " great idea" , but not until the afternoon before we meet up.
But I never said anything! so it wasnt ever an issue that they werent making an effort.

TheFitFatty
07-24-16, 04:42 AM
I had this trouble this weekend with a "friend." They live 3 hours away from us, so a pretty long drive. They have an 11 year old girl and an 8 year old boy.

I have a 4.5 year old son and an almost 3 year old daughter. They're (in my opinion) fairly normal kids, in that after a 3 hour long drive they needed some fresh air and a run around. At one point both of them were jumping at me for something (I can't remember what now), while the "friend" was saying something to me about something, and I said no a couple of times to the kids (to be fair, I wasn't really able to focus at first on what the kids were asking as it was just too much noise and my default answer in this case is always no) and then, when the noise started to make sense I did what the kids asked (again, it was probably 'can I have a juice' not 'can I jump off a roof').

Friend called me out on it later, says I "always" do this which is why my son is so undisciplined, etc. That I need to learn to say no. She then proceeded to spend the rest of the evening telling my son no for me.

I tried to explain what its like for me when there's too much noise, or too much going on at once and how hard it is for me to focus. She just ignored it and said it's because I'm lazy with discipline.

People who don't have it, don't get it.

Fuzzy12
07-24-16, 04:43 AM
How condescending. :eek:

TheFitFatty
07-24-16, 04:44 AM
How condescending. :eek:

I've actually spent the last 2 days in tears about it. I thought she was a good friend. Now I doubt I'll ever speak to her again.

nina3264
08-08-16, 06:28 PM
I feel you on this topic. I have resorted to scheduling "me time" and I have to try my best to actually stick to it. It's hard to make plans in advance with friends because I never know how I will be feeling energetically when we meet up. I end up feeling guilty when "overstimulated Nina" shows to avoid being flaky. Recently, I don't even try to explain it to friends. I've started to say, "I have plans" if it impedes on my scheduled "me time". And if they absolutely need to make plans in advance I'll make sure to schedule some sort of down time right before.....so I can get my head on straight before meeting up.

Ugh....super annoying that I have to go through all this planning just so I'm able to connect with people. One the reasons I've grown accustomed to being a loner most of the time with a few close friends :/

Lunacie
08-08-16, 07:08 PM
I had this trouble this weekend with a "friend." They live 3 hours away from us, so a pretty long drive. They have an 11 year old girl and an 8 year old boy.

I have a 4.5 year old son and an almost 3 year old daughter. They're (in my opinion) fairly normal kids, in that after a 3 hour long drive they needed some fresh air and a run around. At one point both of them were jumping at me for something (I can't remember what now), while the "friend" was saying something to me about something, and I said no a couple of times to the kids (to be fair, I wasn't really able to focus at first on what the kids were asking as it was just too much noise and my default answer in this case is always no) and then, when the noise started to make sense I did what the kids asked (again, it was probably 'can I have a juice' not 'can I jump off a roof').

Friend called me out on it later, says I "always" do this which is why my son is so undisciplined, etc. That I need to learn to say no. She then proceeded to spend the rest of the evening telling my son no for me.

I tried to explain what its like for me when there's too much noise, or too much going on at once and how hard it is for me to focus. She just ignored it and said it's because I'm lazy with discipline.

People who don't have it, don't get it.

If my daughter interrupted me when I was talking or listening to someone else, I'd tell her "Just a minute."

Then I'd let the person finish what they were saying or I'd finish what I was saying and I'd stop and ask my daughter what she wanted.

One thing at a time, worked for both of us.

My grandkids weren't always so good about waiting, but it still worked better than I've seen so many times where parents simply ignore the child who just keeps repeating "Mom Mom Mom Mom" and getting louder and louder.

DJ Bill
08-08-16, 09:49 PM
I realized I just can't handle a constant noise level where I cannot hold a conversation without shouting the other night...A buddy insisted on lighting up the area we were working with the headlights off his mower and I was trying to do something where he and I were giving directions to each other....and I just couldn't do it wit the extra noise and glare, without getting all flustered and upset. He also tends to listen to loud music on road trips and I'd like to talk, and cannot with the music up so loud which has always bugged me.
I never understood the overstimulation thing was an adhd thing until I read about it since I was diagnosed...but I always have had to turn the radio off when someone else was in the car with me. And too many inputs at once have always shut me down.

How the heck can I get him to understand that it isn't just a character defect, that it is part of the ADD brain to do this??.I have no idea. He is convinced that I have an addiction and an addicts mind, but a LOT of what I do is add based, I am finding out. Sure it could be partly addiction based but .......that doesn't mean ADD isn't at the root of it all.

TheFitFatty
08-09-16, 02:35 AM
If my daughter interrupted me when I was talking or listening to someone else, I'd tell her "Just a minute."

Then I'd let the person finish what they were saying or I'd finish what I was saying and I'd stop and ask my daughter what she wanted.

One thing at a time, worked for both of us.

My grandkids weren't always so good about waiting, but it still worked better than I've seen so many times where parents simply ignore the child who just keeps repeating "Mom Mom Mom Mom" and getting louder and louder.

Generally that's what I do. Especially if I know they just want to tell me something. In this case I knew they were asking for something and it was both at the same time (4 &2) after a long car ride.
But thanks.

TheFitFatty
08-09-16, 02:38 AM
If my daughter interrupted me when I was talking or listening to someone else, I'd tell her "Just a minute."

Then I'd let the person finish what they were saying or I'd finish what I was saying and I'd stop and ask my daughter what she wanted.

One thing at a time, worked for both of us.

My grandkids weren't always so good about waiting, but it still worked better than I've seen so many times where parents simply ignore the child who just keeps repeating "Mom Mom Mom Mom" and getting louder and louder.

Also I should say my kids aren't undisciplined. They're actually really good, well behaved kids. The ex-friend is very much a "they should be seen and not heard" type, which simply doesn't work for me. However, I've always been happy to let her parent her way, and me my way.

My issue was actually her blowing off my explanations of what overstimulated feels like and dismissing my ADHD as "in my head" (which she said later).

Lunacie
08-09-16, 09:40 AM
Also I should say my kids aren't undisciplined. They're actually really good, well behaved kids. The ex-friend is very much a "they should be seen and not heard" type, which simply doesn't work for me. However, I've always been happy to let her parent her way, and me my way.

My issue was actually her blowing off my explanations of what overstimulated feels like and dismissing my ADHD as "in my head" (which she said later).

In your shoes, I don't know which would bug me more, her saying ADHD is not real or that I'm a crappy parent.

Either way, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be spending much time with that person.

And I'm pretty sure I would have gone off on her for taking over parenting my child(ren) when I was right there.



You know how when we're kids and our parents do something we think is "mean" and we say to ourselves "I won't do that to MY kids when I grow up"?

A couple of those things I really did bring forward into being a parent myself. :lol: Like helping my kid learn to make choices for herself, and showing her that respect goes both ways.

DJ Bill
08-09-16, 10:30 AM
My issue was actually her blowing off my explanations of what overstimulated feels like and dismissing my ADHD as "in my head" (which she said later).

That's sorta the problem I have with my buddy. He keeps saying it's cause I am an addict...and it will go away once I work all the steps thoroughly.

It's a chicken and egg thing with him...

Joker_Girl
08-27-16, 01:34 AM
Omg to me it is like if you go in a crowded place and all these people talking, it is a constant roar, and you have to try to ignore it and not be listening to 20 different conversations at once, feeling like you want to die, trying to think of a way to escape, hoping it doesn't turn into some kind of panic attack where everything is closing in on you.
All these people moving around, all this stuff going on, all these different colors, you feel like your head is going to explode. If something is neon colored, sparkly, or there's a puppy, forget about it because I'm done for. Squirrel! Squirrel! Shiny! Eek!

Greyhound1
08-27-16, 02:00 AM
I think nearly drowning is a very similar experience. Maybe your friends can relate to that.

After about 3 or 4 minutes under water without a breath; they would completely get it.:)

stef
08-30-16, 12:01 PM
When this happens it's like everything is reeling but not an actual drowning feeling.
Im very happy this didnt occur during my vacation!