Archives for posts with tag: sound sensitive

Early evening, in autumn, golden sunlight filtering through the vertical blinds over the patio door, me fussing a bit, somewhat uneasy, headache-y, annoyed. I am not sipping coffee; it is too late in the day for that, unless I’m planning to be awake all night. This is a fairly noisy time of day, here, even in the relative quiet of my comfortable space. I can nearly always hear the traffic on the commuter thoroughfare 100 yards away (ish).  Today the background noise isn’t in the background at all. Contractors are using power saws, hammers, drills, pry bars, and talking loudly all around the outside of my apartment. The noise is well-beyond what could be considered comfortable without hearing protection.

I came home from work to finish the workday in a quieter space; I’m feeling irritable, a tad stressed, and extremely sound-sensitive. There is no quiet to be had here, and the headache I arrived home with, hoping to feel dissipate quickly upon arrival in this chill safe space, now commands my attention from my lower back, on up across my shoulders, up my neck and over my skull, coming to rest as a sensation of tightness in my head, and teeth clenched, neck aching. I am numb to most of anything else going on just at the moment, wanting only to alleviate the pain in my spine, my neck, my head. My tender heart finds its own way to misery; I kick myself while I’m down, resenting the attention I am giving to my physical pain, when there are tears lurking so near to my eyes, waiting to spill out. I suspect my heart doesn’t quite understand that there’s nothing really wrong, I just hurt, and the noise is hard to bear. I promise myself that once the contractors are gone, I will soak in a long hot Epsom salt bath, then linger in a luxurious shower, indulging myself with the sensuous pleasure to be had in hair washing, and the simple sensations of warm water and lovely scents, listening to music I enjoy. It’s not ‘everything’ – how much ever is? It is, perhaps, enough – and enough will do nicely.

How 'real' is all this stress? What's it really made of?

How ‘real’ is all this stress? What’s it really made of?

So much for a change of perspective! In the moments when I hurt most, the practices that sooth me best can seem subtly out of reach. That’s very frustrating, and sometimes even ‘unreasonably difficult’. The noise is very nearly unbearable, and it is a physical feeling of its own. Hard to describe. Painful. Enraging. It’s quieter now, and later. I’ve taken time for a chat with my traveling partner. Had a bite of dinner. Did what I could to care for this fragile vessel in any way I can…any way that isn’t dependent on quiet, I mean. Quiet is just not available at the moment, even with ear plugs in.

I’ve gotten past the anger, frustration, disappointment, and yes even emotional hurt of getting home to find, instead of a quiet sanctuary, noise. A lot of noise. Irritating, ceaseless… wait… That’s the thing, though, isn’t it? This is the hard part. The part where practice shows off what has been built over time? This isn’t a drill, people!! It’s doesn’t matter what I expect. Preparation helps – but the map is not the world. The plan is not the experience. What I think is not to be confused with what is.  Learning the distinction between acceptance and futility has been a difficult bit of life’s curriculum for me. I hurt so much right now, there is real effort in refusing to yield to anguish, in drawing in line in the behavioral sand, so to speak, and finding the balance between taking care of me devotedly, and simply taking care, graciously, compassionately, understanding with some perspective that we all suffer with things like noise. I still hurt – but I haven’t lashed out at any of the carpenters, or my landlady, or the neighbor’s well-meaning child, or …well… you get my point. There’s no ‘easy’ to this piece of the journey, I do hurt, and the noise is making me just fucking crazy with irritation. I still have choices; focusing on the easy ones and excluding the difficult ones also limits my outcomes.

I take time to do some yoga. I breathe. I meditate with a warm cup of chamomile tea in my hands, warming my fingers and soothing me, enjoying the fragrant steam rising up from the mug.

Perspective matters. What I see is colored by my experience.

Perspective matters. What I see is colored by my experience.

There are moments beyond the noise. I can reach them; there are verbs involved. Not easy? No. Not easy. Still worth it. Still practicing.

There are all sorts of details I could have handled better today – but I handled things well enough, and I’ve taken care of me generally, and done so pretty well. I’ve taken care of the things most needing my attention, and I’ve put off some things that can comfortably wait for me to get to them another time. Success isn’t always obvious, or profitable, or heroic – sometimes it’s measured as ‘enough’. I’m okay with that – and I’m okay right now.

I woke to a noise this morning, after an exceptionally good night’s sleep. The peculiarly loud humming seemed to come from a great distance. The actual volume in decibels of the sound was probably not noteworthy, it only ‘seemed loud’ to me, upon waking – but it was enough to wake me. I woke in a good mood, and began my day with the noise in the background, persistent and strange. It was as I made my coffee that I identified the source of the sound, and in annoyed disbelief I began checking other things…opening doors, listening outside… how could this noise be the damned refrigerator? I check myself, and slow down. It is the refrigerator, and it isn’t that loud; I’m sound sensitive this morning.

Being sound sensitive is just ‘one of the things’ I associate with both my TBI and my PTSD. I’m not in a bad mood, or stressed out at all, but knowing that my level of sound sensitivity is high this morning is something to be mindful of later. For me, sound sensitivity works a bit like an aura might for someone with a seizure disorder; it’s a practical heads up that I may be more easily triggered than I expect, or that I may be easily pushed from order to disorder. I imagine a cartoon farmer, squinting at the sun, “Yep, could be a storm moving in…” I laugh it off and move on with my morning, awake and aware, and prepared to take care of me. Living alone, this is nothing to be alarmed about, or self-conscious over; it is enough to be aware that small moments of irritation may not truly be associated with the things I think I am irritated about in the moment.

It’s difficult to express how being sound sensitive can be a big deal. When I struggle with this particular facet of my experience, it’s as an irresistible force being applied to my consciousness, something with the power to reduce my humanity to a more animal level. Some sounds can aggravate me quickly to the point of weeping… or fury. It’s visceral, and seems inescapable. Ear plugs help – it’s a low tech solution, but actually quite effective. A dark quiet room, ear plugs, meditation…especially effective taken together, without interruption, for an extended period…but what if I am on the bus? Or at work? Or walking through the trees feeling fussy that other walkers are “talking so damned loud”? In public spaces I end up using sheer brute force self-control to get by on, sometimes arriving home with a headache from gritting my teeth to stop myself snarling at people, and melting into tears as soon as the door closes behind me. It’s a physical feeling sort of pain, actual pain, that doesn’t respond to anything at all besides quiet…and meditation. When it is severe, I sometimes find myself wanting to shout at even the people most dear to me, whose laughter is like music in my ears any other time, to please just fucking stop talking/laughing/breathing/moving things around. It hurts my [emotional] heart just to have those feelings about someone I love; on top of the pain of the sound sensitivity itself, the [emotional] pain of needing to distance myself from the sounds of life and love is indescribably unpleasant, and isolating.



This morning I am feeling fortunate – and grateful. Sure, I’m a little sound sensitive, but I slept well, I feel good, and I haven’t treated anyone badly as a result of my condition. I’m smiling. The day begins well, and my coffee is hot and tasty. My toes are cold in the chill of morning, and I see overcast skies that are clearly more of autumn than of summer. Life moves forward, and I enjoy each new opportunity to bring a little more order to my experience, and treat myself better than I understood how to do yesterday. The value of incremental change over time can’t be overstated.

Handing over the keys and putting the artist within in the driver's seat.

Handing over the keys and putting the artist within in the driver’s seat.

I’ve got love on my mind, this morning, and I am filled with inspiration. The long weekend ahead is no coincidence; I am painting this weekend. The first solidly creative weekend since I moved in has already begun, finishing the installation on my west wall (that sounds sort of ‘grand’ – honestly, I just hung some paintings). I love the creative work I do when I am filled with passion and joy (no rude jokes, I’m talking emotions, here!). Over my coffee, I allow my practical and creative sides to collide in a complex internal dialogue ‘about’ canvases, pigments, lighting, composition, theme, and technique…and not at all about any of those things, really.  I will shortly overcome my sound sensitivity…with sound. I rarely paint in silence; today will be filled with music, played loud enough to completely drown out my tinnitus, but not loud enough to piss off the neighbors. I will, however, choose my playlist with great care, today; some frequencies, beats, or vocal qualities will not be a good fit with the sound sensitivity.

Where will the journey take me?

Where will the journey take me?

Today will be filled with light, curtains open to the sky, and no concern about whether the neighbors see me painting –  and dancing; this is my experience, and it is one that is entirely out of reach of anyone else’s judgement, or opinion. Today is a good day to unleash the creative force within. Today is a good day to enjoy the woman in the mirror, doing her thing. Today is a very good day to live in my world. 🙂