Oversensitive, you say.

Oversensitive. Hypersensitive. Words reverberate in my mind. Echoing from my core.

Oversensitive. Hypersensitive. Easily set off. Weak. Fragile. Immature. Pathetic. The cacophony grows. A swirl of degradation berating my soul.

One word from you lets loose the damn of pent up insults. All the words of days gone by. The flood waters carry me away to the dark cave in which I lose myself.

But this time, I fight. I will not sit in the acidic words that burn away my worth. I question these words.

Am I pathetic? What does that even mean? Evoking pity? Well that’s true. But why is that my problem. If others pity me I cannot control that. Nor do I need to pity myself. Am I pathetic? Yes, and that’s ok.

Am I immature? Do I not behave appropriately for my age? Of course I don’t act my age. Never have I felt nor acted my age. I am simultaneously ancient and childlike. I have learned and experienced much in what may be perceived as a young life. I can carry on with those much older than myself as peers. Yet I relate so well to preteens and teens. I feel for them and feel with them. Some days, in my core, I feel like I’m still a teenager. Others I feel like a small, scared child. Still others I feel ancient. Am I immature? No. I may not always act the way expected of someone my age, but I do not lack maturity.

Am I fragile? Do I break easily? I’m sure it seems that way. I fall to pieces far more often than most people I know. I meltdown on a regular basis over things that may seem inconsequential to others. Yet what they never see is how much builds up before I break. The onslaught of noise from the moment I wake to the moment I find rest. Noise that grinds away at mind until I am raw and bleeding. They don’t feel the searing pain filling my abdomen from the growths that bind my organs to one another. The constant thrum of pain that never leaves. The bursts of world shaking agony that tear through my body. They don’t know the effort I must I exert in each conversation to understand their words and meanings, to make my own words, to control my body and reactions to be palatable. By the time I break, I’ve already fought through so much. The one seemingly inconsequential thing that sets me off is really just the final stressor becoming one thing too many. Am I fragile? No, I am durable. Enduring the weight of so much before falling apart, yet always coming back together to make it through another day.

Am I weak? Do I lack power or strength? Physically? Mentally? Socially? Or when I call myself weak am I referring to something more? This pervasive concern is not about how much weight I can lift or how far I  can run. The fear and shame that creeps through my veins is more abstract. That I, as a person, am weak. That my mind is weak. That my soul is weak. That my essence is weak. Yet is there a basis for this fear? Socially, yes, as a disabled woman, I lack power. Interpersonally, I struggle with social norms and thus lose power in interactions. But does that matter? Do I need to exert power and strength over others? Mentally, I am not weak, though I often feel that way. I have survived so much and continue to push forward. I exert power over myself to keep going. My meltdowns and instability may be seen by others as weakness, but I know that in those moments, I am still strong. Allowing release when I have held it together for so long is not due to a lack of strength. Am I weak? No, I am strong.

Am I oversensitive? Hypersensitive? Easily set off? Yes. I am far more sensitive than most people, even though I have fought this for so long. I experience the world so intensely. My senses, my mind, take in so much. Sometimes, I become overwhelmed by it all. Sometimes, I cannot control my reaction to this overwhelm. While it is unpleasant to experience sensory overload, is this hypersensitivity to my environment a bad thing? When I smell something good, I feel it to my core. A happy smell can lift my spirits. A warm smell can bring me comfort. The scents of the world can alter and shape my inner landscape in beautiful ways. I can hear so many sounds all at once and hear such small sounds. While that can be overwhelming, it also allows me to hear things that others can’t. Tactile sensations may often cause pain due to sensitivity, but this extra sensitivity allows me to get joy down to my core from good sensations.

I experience my emotions intensely. When I become angry, there is no mildly angry, just not angry or so angry that I’m shaking and having difficultly speaking. When I am sad, I feel it with all of me. My face grows heavy. A weight settles in among my lungs. My stomach forms a knot with my diaphragm that twists and squirms. Yet when I am happy, I feel I could fly as my arms flap and my feet bounce, trying to launch me skyward. When I look at my husband, I am overcome with love that leaves me speechless and warms my core and spreads to my every limb. I may feel the bad things more intensely, but I also feel the good so much more.

Yes, I am oversensitive, hypersensitive, easily set off. I experience the world intensely and express myself intensely and that is nothing to be ashamed of.