Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hypersensitivity: Conceptions of Borderline Personality Disorder - Part 4

Criteria 5 of the latest list from John G. Gunderson. Taking a deeper look into this one was the original reason I wanted to get into these conceptions more thoroughly. Along the way, in even a few days, my own perception of what this means to me has evolved.

- Hypersensitivity, meaning an unusual sensitivity to nonverbal communication. Gunderson notes that this can be confused with distortion if practitioners are not careful (somewhat similar to Herman's statement that, while survivors of intense long-term trauma may have unrealistic notions of the power realities of the situation they were in, their notions are likely to be closer to reality than the therapist might think)

Hm. I’m wary of this because I don’t want to confuse it with distortion. So I found a couple of definitions that seem pretty accurate to me.

1.) Hypersensitivity (also called hypersensitivity reaction) - Hypersensitivity reactions require a pre-sensitized (immune) state of the host.  

-       This definition refers to the immune system, but I think it fits with the mental state of the Borderline Personality as well. We are pre-sensitized to the emotions projected from ourselves and from the world, making the additional pressure compound even more.

2.) Being hypersensitive could be described as being allergic to life. For the highly sensitive person (HSP) a seemingly ordinary day can be overwhelming. Even the most subtle of stimulants a person encounters on a daily basis can be over-stimulating. Energies associated with touch, noise, scent, light, etc. are often too quickly or deeply absorbed by the HSP. As a result, the HSP may become mentally confused, emotionally upset, and/or physically uncomfortable. Hypersensitivity is also associated with a heightened sense of awareness and intuition. This makes being a HSP or empath a two-way street.

For me, hypersensitivity comes most often in social interactions. Too many voices, too much noise, too many people, too close. Voices volleying back and force. The crush of noise pressing inside my head, filling my mind and making it frantic, reaching for the quiet. Bodies sharing my space, not leaving me enough room, not enough air to breathe. Too many eyes falling on me, dissecting me. Turning me inside out so all I can feel is the falling back into myself.

Flashes, too bright, 8 mm film reels, projection noise, film flapping, screeching halt, Go, padded hallways constricting as you make your way through, goose down filling your lungs soft and suffocating.

It’s almost impossible to follow one line of thought, every external conversation clashing with the internal monologues branching off and running away in my own head. The noise is deafening, lost in the static. Everything comes too fast, and I can watch myself, too slow, cover my ears and hold myself together.  That slow motion screen shot of a woman screaming, curled up in a corner, pulling at her hair to make it all stop…. Except it’s just another day, at the dinner table, in a friends living room, out to lunch with co-workers.

Other days it’s like feeding off of other people’s energy. Calm people are the best. This is one reason I do like Friend so much. When it’s just us, the influence between us is very calm, almost silent. Still. Other people, most people, have fragmented energy, turbulence that rolls off of them in waves. It’s clear in the motions, their manner and speech. Impossible to ignore, it permeates the thin skin separating us and their energy leaks in, pushing our own out. It’s too easy to feel what they feel. Confusing. I have a hard enough time figuring out my own feelings most days. The last thing I need is to figure out someone else’s and pick it apart to figure out which is mine and which is foreign on top of that.

Most days being hypersensitive isn’t too much of a problem. Eyes are the worst. I hate people watching me, looking at me. I keep to myself. Keep random conversations to a minimum. I’ve perfected a determined pace and lack of eye contact that keeps my interaction as little as possible.  Oddly, I love being out in the machine shop or the lab floor. I’ve always loved being out in the shop. The metallic smell, the loud machines, everything running and operating, noisy and dirty… mechanic. Machines. Not people. Machines don’t overwhelm me. Just people.  

Other times I think this contributes to reading too much into other peoples actions. Bridging the emotional gap between a normal relationship and the distorted one. Every compliment is uplifting, creating a warm glow. Every small gesture a glimpse into what another person is feeling. If you can see it, it must be there. You can read more in a person’s body language than from what they’re actually saying more often than not. Picking up on the unspoken cues, especially when they’re in conflict with the verbal ones, is a mess. Thoughts collide and become a confusing mash of disbelief and desire.  Not knowing what to believe and what you want to be true. Even the smallest negative reaction, building on other actions pointing down a path you don’t want to travel. Noticing everything. When someone pushes back, even a little, it’s obvious. Why? Because we look for it. Hoping it’s not there, but expecting it, seeing it, is frightening. Then what do you do from there?

All of it. It makes me cringe. Stops my breath and curl into a ball. Flight. I can’t fight it out and expect anyone to treat me as sane. I walk out, walk away. Learned to hold it in, until I can get myself out. Getting out is the only thing I know to do. Remove myself from the source, the scene, until I can get a handle on my reality and calm down. Stabilize myself enough to go back and keep going. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes I have to leave completely, go home and go to bed, or just drive aimlessly, left alone to the quiet night. I like the darkness. My monsters lurk in the light.


  1. Uh huh, i relate totally. So you got round to reading a bit about HSP eh?
    Something else to bear in mind, some are high sensation-seekers, (definately me) and some are low sensation seekers (more solidly introverted). As a borderline, i suspect you'd fall into the former category, but i'm not sure. It just means that we are more likely to experience a conflict between seeking excitement and having a low threshold for what our bodies can take.
    It's an interesting read.
    Thanks Haven, I was gonna write about this but you beat me to it. lol. :)

    Take care. xx

  2. ::smiles:: Only a little. It sort of crept up on me and I went with it. Don't let me stop you from writing more about it. I'm sure there's more to be said.

    Yeaaah. I fluxuate wildly between extremes with the High and Low sensation seekers. I definitely see that conflict between what we seek and what we can handle.

  3. Finding this made me so happy because its word for word what goes on in my head way too often. Especially the part where people's emotions tend to leak all over you - I find way too often I'm miserable because I'm in a room with unhappy, insecure people.

    Your mention of the machine room got me thinking. I find I'm really comfortable in big crowds like on buses or trains because all those people don't care about me and its exciting to feel the people around without having to worry about them watching you.

    The worst is when there are people who you know and they notice that you are uncomfortable, and then keep watching and watching to make sure you're okay.

    Anyways, I'm so relieved to have found this blog post because it was written by a real person and not a doctor and its hard to find people who understand this kind of hypersensitivity.

    1. I also greatly dislike being around acquaintances. When ever I stand I can feel their eyes on me. I greatly dislike it. However, there are friends out there. People that can feed you good energy. Keep you moving through your day. Besides the point. Strangers! I love strangers. No worries of ever having to see them again if you screw up. ^_^ The random encounters are the best. Afterwords moving on to never seen them again, wishing them good luck holding the memory. Such sweet bitterness. Even if it be just a smile and nod. =)

  4. I did a search on hypersensitivity and this came up. This describes exactly what I've been experiencing and I haven't found any other description that really gets to the heart of what goes on. I thought I was depressed for some time and all it took was for me to leave my home for 3 days straight for me to return "to normal." I thought my house might have been demonically possessed. Coming back the air felt so thick and disgusting. I'm still here and every moment is like I'm running out of air, living in a fog. I'm exhausted even after waking up.

    Thanks for this - it helps a lot.

    1. Good I'm glad I was able to help a little! I know it doesn't change things for your physical situation, but hopefully there's some comfort in knowing that what you feel is real and not imagined.

  5. I've just come here straight from the mirroring post, I did not know this existed! Thank you so much Haven :-)


  6. I am Borderline Hypersensitive. The best way that I've been able to describe the latter is: empathy 100 fold ...

  7. I can't even begin to explain how much relief this gives me that I'm not the only one who experiences this. I thought that there was something terribly wrong with me and that I would never know how to handle it. I'm the more intoverted type I greatly enjoy low key environments but I can also handle very excited environments too (but only in small doeses). I never knew what hypersensitivity was and I'm still really new to all of this. Thank you very much for posting this.

  8. wow I feel like a weight has lifted off my shoulders this is fuckin amazing. it is great to find out that your normal.. well ya know normal for a crazy person. those nights of browsing through countless pages about 100 different personality disorders that I fit 90 percent of the symptoms is over. this is it bam ding ding ding. well I mean I have adhd too but I knew there was something more to it, something that my other adhd friends didn't get. my best friend, which I thought had adhd too, I think is bpd too. well I know he does, that's why we get along so good. but hes HS too and always talking about vibes people give off that he thinks only he is sensitive to and me he thinks we are like phsycic or something. haha well he about had me convinced. he has no idea what bpd is and I understand some of his actions so much more now. I thot it was adhd but I always wondered why Ritalin make him a freakin annoying engergizer dummy and made me a motionless emotionless zombie. I would be the annoying one sometimes too but it would take a pain pill, I aint talking down at all just typing I don't know what. ill be sure to reread it 100 times and analize every detail, not for grammar or spelling or punctuation.. this time (only because its anonymous hatotheha) but just to make sure I didn't whine too much or reveal too much or whatever it may be. I don't know what I typed 8 seconds ago most of the time. I just watch myself type into the computer box. I notice that a lot of the last post are from a coons age ago. but I felt led to type nonsense into this rectangle here. I would go into detail about my ordeal with all of this. but I couldn't word it any better than ive read on here. I am definetly a quiet borderlands. (im playing the video game, I understand that may seem dumb but I giggled when I wrote it, so therefore im doing what makes me happy) at one point a few years ago, at the height of a depression I thought I was going crazy and I wanted my family to understand so fuckin bad. and the more I tried to show them about adhd or whatever thing I found that kinda described me, the less they wanted to hear and the more i annoyed them i think. i became a drag to be around all i could think about was my issues and so that's all i talked about. i guess that's the acting out i dunno, i feel like i just wanted them or some one to understand. but after a while and a few bad scenarios play out because of my whinig. i just decided to keep it all in. always. theres no point i mean there is nothing i can say to make them truly understand. they just nod or whatever it takes to appease me. but i see their non concern. its so obvious to me. does anyone really give a shit. the only reason im doing/writing it here is because i feel like if there is a recipient that they will be like "omg, that guy is my frikkin bff, he gets me" well that's my charicatured idea of what that person would be like that i just seen in my head. im 29 by the way. so yea anyway im stoked to have found this site. thumbs up to that chic that i cant remember her name that made this site. i hope that i click to look and see and erase all this sentence and just put her name, but so far i havnt. but if i did you would never know that this happened. you would just assume that i remembered her name. and therefore get robbed of precious gold of the mind of a crazy bpd person. and that wouldn't be right. that's what this site is all about. being a contributor feels good.... so yea i may not reread this now that i scrolled to the top. its a bit long. eh o well no one know who i am anyway. imma let it go to the wind.


Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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