Adult, Married, with Sensory Processing Disorder

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Hello Readers. I haven’t written for quite a while, and here’s why:

A year ago I met a wonderful man. We dated for a couple of months, and then we got engaged and married. It went by in a bit of a blur, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

So now, I’m a married woman. Hurray!

As you all probably know, life with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) can be hard, but being an adult, and a married one at that, adds another layer to deal with.

The first month of being married was a wonderful roller-coaster of changes, and we SPD peeps love changes, right?… NOT.

I had a new house to settle into. Thanks to a bad sensory reaction to an apartment, all my stuff had been hurriedly packed by my kind friends and stashed away in the garage until after the wedding. I had no idea which box held the rest of my clothing, my favorite decorations, etc. I just knew when I moved in, they were there, waiting to be gone through.

I had a new person (we’ll call him, JS) who was now intimately tied to my life. JS had a schedule and a life of his own to work into mine. We had to figure out how we ticked on a day to day basis, which is pretty difficult to gauge when you have SPD. One day I feel energetic and able to take on the world, the next worn out by a single trip to the mall- sigh!

Not to mention the physical, emotional and spiritual changes that take place when you join two people in holy matrimony.

Then on TOP of all this we add SPD. To say the least, I was a wreck. Arguments, meltdowns, changes in routine and eating habits… the list of hardships goes on and on.

So then the question is: Was all this pain and suffering worth getting married?

Blog Wedding PicMy answer- Very much yes!!

Being a Neuro typical adult is hard and lonely, and having SPD never changes that fact. The fact is EVERY adult deals with a hard transition from being married to single.

WOW- do you know what this means? It means that we who have SPD have something in common with everyone else on this planet! I don’t know about you, but that gives me a sigh of relief. The difference for us is that it takes more time, but the time and hard work is well worth the pay off.

My husband is the partner I have always wished for. He is not just my friend, but my team mate. It’s no longer me going up against the dark forces of SPD and the world, but it’s him and I linking arms and battling it out together.

Sensory Meltdowns- The Tidal Waves of Sensory Processing Disorder

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It’s been a rough couple of weeks. I have reached the end of my sensory rope too often and when that happened the meltdowns soon follow. Sometimes they’re small, popping up in a glazed look in the eyes or a fuzzy brain. Other times meltdowns or more like a tidal wave- and all I can do is just let it wash over me.

Last night was Halloween. I went to various stores gathering up gear for a costume beforehand. Then I got dressed up in said costume (I went as a Jedi), and left for a Halloween party with my boyfriend. By the time I got to the party, the tights I had chosen to wear were bugging me, the cloak I was wearing  started pulling at my throat, and the smells from the cooking food and the other guests began to slowly drain me. Meanwhile, the room was filling with people, all dressed up in various costumes, talking fast and loud, and all concentrated into one small area.

As one would expect, I was brought very quickly to the breaking point. I soon found my eyes had glazed over, my brain had ceased recognizing my limbs and reacting to funny comments- I was in shutdown mode. My boyfriend noticed this and brought me to a quiet place, but sadly it was too late. By the time we reached the basement, I was in full meltdown mode. My limbs shook as my brain panicked at the sensory stimulation and sought the fastest way to find good stimulation (which usually comes through deep pressure). I had my Koosh ball, my boyfriends comforting frame, and a better environment, but it was no use- the damage was done and all I could do was let the meltdown wash over me.

It is so frustrating to feel your body going out of control as it flees from it’s surroundings and seeks out sensory stimulation to regulate ones brain functions. It’s like a spooked herd of cattle. They need to run, but aren’t sure where to go with that emotion. We all know the outcome of spooked cattle- a stampede and anything in their path is trampled as they seek peace or water.

What’s also frustrating is that while I was experiencing the shaking, the panic, and various other symptoms, a part of my brain was still the normal Annetta people usually see, only it was trapped inside. All that part of my brain could do was watch and wait while my body went out of control.

Eventually the meltdown died down a bit, leaving me pretty wiped out for the rest of the evening, but pretty much back to normal.

The tidal wave was over- or so I thought.

Then came the next morning. I awoke, tired and unaware that I was already an hour late- thanks to a faulty alarm. My boyfriend was waiting on my front stoop and I was still in my PJ’s.

That was when I realized the storm wasn’t over yet- the tidal wave was back! I spent the rest of the morning crying and fighting back tears. Anything and everything seemed to cause tears to fill my eyes. I felt like a bottle of pop that had been shook too often and all I could do was let the fuzz bubble out.

woman-1006100_1920 I felt horrible, angry, frustrated that my body was crying so often! I felt bad for my boyfriend who could only offer a comforting hug or rub my back and wait for the tidal wave to pass.

It’s the feeling of lack of control that is most horrible with meltdowns. They happen so often and I have very little ability to stop them once they start- they just have to blow themselves out. I am fully aware that I am acting totally opposite of what a normal 20 something should behave- but at that point, I am completely unable to stop the monster inside me from raising it’s nasty head.

So for those who have seen me in meltdown mode remember:

  • It’s not you, it’s my Sensory Processing Disorder- PLEASE don’t take what I do personally. It is NOT your fault that I have had a meltdown. And if I meltdown in anger, be assured that I am not angry at you- I am more angry at my body than anyone else.
  • Just allow the tidal wave to pass- don’t try to ignore it or expect it to go away instantly. It will take time.
  • And give me grace- I hate meltdowns even more than you do and I really am doing everything I can to stop them.

And for those who have meltdowns remember:

  • This too will pass- it may seem overwhelming now and embarrassing now, but it will soon pass and life will go on.
  • Give yourself grace- your body is unwell and it is trying to bring peace and order back to your senses, so cut it some slack.
  • Allow yourself time to recover and then get back at life- don’t let this meltdown keep you from life. Give your body time to recharge and then back to what you were doing. This time around you’ll have a little bit of experience under your belt as an extra bonus. 😉

8 Fashion Tips for Those with Sensory Processing Disorder.

pink-930902_1280Being fashionable can be hard when you react to certain things like clothing, makeup, nail polish, and other beauty items. Makeup can trigger my SPD into being irritable. Clothing can make me feel like I’m being poked, prodded, and or itchy all the time. And don’t even get me started with perfumes, nail polish, and other triggers in the smell department.

But somehow, despite these draw backs, I think I manage to stay stylish. Below are a few tips that I use in my own life to stay looking nice.

  1. Essential oils- I find that I react to fake scents like perfumes or body mists. But I don’t react to some essential oil smells. I think it is because they are taken from real items. It might be trial and error at first as you figure out what smells work better for your SPD, but there are so many to choose from giving you lots of potential options. I like the Lemon one the best, but Clove is very good too.
  2. Maxi skirts and dresses!- Love Maxi skirts. Made from the softest material, these amazing (and trendy skirts/dresses) are usually made with loose waste bands which make them great for people with SPD. Plus they IMG_0739are usable in the winter and summer, and they are everywhere, which makes finding them a snap! I currently have two in my closet and plan to add more in the future.
  3. Resale shops are your friend- Not just because they are cheaper clothing, but because they are preworn, which means that they have already shrunk and stretched as much as they possibly can. That’s good new for us with SPD, because that means that clothing won’t somehow change it’s feel after the first wash. Plus they are cheap, which means if your SPD starts reacting to it further down the road and you have to give it away, you won’t be giving away a ton of invested money.
  4. Natural makeup- Makeup is still a difficult thing for me, which is why I only wear it on special occasions. But when I do, I always wear natural makeup because it is gentler on my skin making my SPD a little happier.
  5. The joy of Jamberrry Nail wraps-  I adore Nail wraps for two reasons. 1. They have absolutely NO smell and 2. that they are super smooth to the touch. They do take a little getting used to when you first put them on, but I quickly adapted to their feel and I adore that they are super smooth, giving me that extra bit of sensory stimulation. Also, they aren’t very expensive yet look professional. You can apply them in the comfort of your own home, versus having to go to a smelly nail salon. And they make me feel pretty (which for someone who struggles with low self esteem that is a huge plus).
  6. Use a mixture of half Lemon juice half water as a hair spray substitute- I know this sounds strange, but it reallyIMG_8997 works. If you put the mixture in a mister bottle and spray it on the places you want to stay put, the water evaporates and the lemon juice hardens, giving you the help of “hair spray” without the smell. I used this for a special event recently and it worked great! (Note: If exposed to a large amount of sun, the lemon juice may lighten your a hair a bit).
  7. Wear necklaces and earrings that work with your SPD- If you need a lighter necklace or a necklace made out of leather, or earrings that are heavier or lighter- then do it. I love scarfs as a replacement for necklaces and tend to go without necklaces and just wear earrings for everyday fashion.
  8. Work with your natural beauty, not against it- In this culture, there are a lot of people telling you what is or isn’t fashionable entirely based on what they think, not on who you are. I have a different type of body than you do, which means some things will look better on you than me, and visa versa. When ever you are trying to look good, make sure that that is what looks good for you and not what other people are telling you. It’s easy to become discouraged if something you’ve been told is trendy is a trigger for your SPD (like leggings for me). Everyone has their own style and their own look, don’t be afraid to explore and discover what looks and works best for you.

These are just a few tips I have learned over the years. You may find that these tips don’t work for you, and that’s ok. Remember tip 8 and figure out your own tips and tricks in that case.

And whether or not you are styling on the outside, remember: the true beauty should come from within you and who God is making you to be (and no that is not just a cliche, it’s really true).

Stay beautiful and weirdiful everyone!

What It Means To Be Friends With Someone With Sensory Processing Disorder

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Being friends with someone who has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) means:

– Looking beyond the surface.

– Taking time to get to know them and appreciating their personality.

– Ignoring their noise canceling headphones, Koosh balls, or other sensory tools.

– Encouraging them to use their sensory tools when they need to.

– Including them in games even though they struggle to kick a ball or do other physical activities.

– Hugging them really tight or covering them with pillows when they crave deep pressure.

– Showing them that they are special, despite their limitations.

– Understanding when they ask you not to hug them or do something else.

– Asking what they really need and not what you “think” they need.

– Helping when they ask for help and just assuming they need help all the time.

– Making them laugh and helping them to forget about their SPD for while.

– Spending time in their home where they are truly able to be themselves.

– Watching movies with/or without loud, intense music (ask them what they prefer).

– Being willing to change plans when their SPD reacts to a situation or activity.

– Picking them up if they can’t drive.

– Respecting them, because the real battle is the one you never see.

Yes, being a friend to someone with SPD can be hard. It can mean making sacrifices and thinking of their needs more often.

But being a friend to someone with SPD also means:Image for Friendship Blogs

– They will always be there for you when you need help.

– They will treasure you and your friendship far more than you can imagine.

– They will see the little things you need because they always see beyond the surface.

– They will be real with you and you are free to be real with them.

– You can share all the junk in your life with them, because they get it!

We who have SPD understand that it can be hard to be our friend. We get it. But when you take the time to be a friend to me or others with SPD, it means a LOT. And we will do our best to do everything we can for you in return.

Always Learning Something New About Sensory Processing Disorder

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Today I learned something new about Sensory Processing Disorder: It is a “stand alone” neurological condition.

I had always thought that SPD had to be connected to another medical condition in order for it to be there, but I was wrong.

Here are the articles that helped me learn this truth:

Kids With Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, Show Brain Wiring Differences.

Breakthrough Study Reveals Biological Basis For Sensory Processing Disorder In Kids

This new knowledge just goes to prove a point we all need to learn: There will always be something new for me to learn about Sensory Processing Disorder.

This fact can be both frustrating as well as inspiring.

It’s frustrating because just when you thought you had read the last book, the last article and had filled up your information tank, something new is revealed about SPD that changes everything.

But it’s also inspiring because it is a never ending adventure that opens new worlds to explore about yourself and how SPD effects you.

So how do we keep learning?

1. Don’t be an information hermit:

It’s easy to go it alone and never reach out and connect with others who have SPD. To keep myself from being an information hermit, I connect with other people with SPD through a Facebook Support Group. Through updates from fellow SPD bloggers Facebook pages and many other ways.

(I learned of the above articles through one of my fellow SPD bloggers Facebook Page- Coming To My Senses)

2. Keep reading:

And I don’t mean keep reading this post (or do I?). Keep your eyes and ears open for any new books out in the stores that are about SPD. Sign up to a few SPD blogs (and not just mine). Check out new articles and studies being done on SPD. I know they can be a bit daunting at times with all the technical lingo, but they are worth hacking through all that in order to learn something new (and if you need help understanding them, go to step number 1 and ask around.)

Here are a few blogs I highly recommend for adults with SPD:

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Eating Off Plastic

3. Humble yourself…

I have this nasty tendency to think I know everything (and I doubt I’m alone in this). We need to remember we don’t know everything and must constantly humble ourselves in order to learn more.

I was homeschooled as a child and one thing I learned from the experience is that there is never and end to learning.

So go on, learn something new and come back and tell me about it! Sharing what you’ve learned is like sharing love; everyone needs to have both in their lives.

Is It a Sin To Get Angry From a Sensory Processing Disorder Overload?

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Many Christians and who deal with Sensory Processing Disorder have asked themselves, “Is it a sin to react to a sensory overload with anger or frustration?”  (Unsure what an Overload is? Click here to learn more)

Here’s the thoughts that often go through their heads:

  • It just happens too quickly for me to stop it.
  • I can’t stop the trigger and so I get frustrated because it’s like a cheese grater on my senses.
  • I really try, but it gets out of control.
  • My mind turns fuzzy too quickly for me to react any other way.
  • I really try, but I can’t seem to change my reactions.

Do you notice a common theme?- They tried to stop.

Anger caused by a Sensory Overload can be sinful depending on how we react to it.

Our natural reaction to SPD triggers is often anger, because it triggers that part of our brains, and sometimes that’s the only way our brain can react.

But we have been given tools to help us cope with our sensory triggers. We can use earplugs, noise canceling headphones, fidget toys, relaxing eye activities, and special tools like CoreDisks and Lap pads, which help sooth our senses so that our brain reacts in a better way.

God provided these tools to help us deal with our SPD in a good way.

It’s a temptation during a Sensory Overload to try to stick it out or behave like a “regular” person, but refusing to use the tools we have been given, is just as bad as getting angry.

We also have God to help us resist temptation.

His word says that there is always a way out of temptation, whether that is praying for strength, using sensory Extra image for SPD Angertools/toys, or getting out of the room and having some time alone. He will always be there for us and there will always be a way out of our temptation.

But we still need to remember that we aren’t perfect, which means that sometimes we will get angry and frustrated. When we do fail, we need to remember that we tried!

I believe that God is pleased with those who tried their hardest to keep anger under control, even if that ended in failure. There are many people out there who don’t even try.

We are all human, which means sometimes we will get angry. What truly makes a difference is how we decide to respond or react to that anger.


I’m curious?- what are some of the ways you’ve helped keep the anger at bay during an overload? Were their bible verses or prayers that have helped you deal with your anger over sensory triggers?

Please use the comment section below to share your thoughts and experiences on this.

Also, if you like what you read, be sure to sign up to receive updates on my blog so you’ll never miss a post.

~

Here are some of the posts that link up with this one:

Part 1 Sensory Tools Explained– Fidget/Tactile tools specifically.

A helpful list of Sensory Tools and Toys

Overload Alert- Sensory Overload explained.

 

Embracing My Sensory Processing Disorder More- Thoughts on the 4th of July and Fireworks.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July. I can already hear the Fireworks going off in the neighborhood.

Every pop, every bang sends chills down my spine and makes my SPD want to panic.

But this year, I’m not going to hide. I’m not going to fight my limitations, I am going to embrace them.

I stumbled upon a picture from one of my favorite childhood episodes of Clifford The Big Red Dog.

This photo is from the Clifford TV show, but the words were added.

This photo is from the Clifford TV show, but the words were added.

This picture is from an episode that is all about Clifford and Cleo trying to help T-Bone get over his fear and panicky reactions to loud noises. They want him to be able to enjoy the fireworks that evening and not have to hide away under his masters bed.

They spent the entire episode trying, but they find it is no use. T-Bone can’t be cured, but he can be helped. By the end of the episode we see the adorable scene pictured above. T-Bone happily enjoying the fireworks with earmuffs on.

My point is, it’s easy to run from your limitations. It’s easy to be scared of facing them. But our limitations shouldn’t keep us from living, especially when we have tools to help us.

So instead of dreading Fireworks and condemning them, try putting on noise canceling headphones, earplugs, or put your hands over your ears. The people around you who love you would much rather have you use these things than to not have you with them. You are important to them, no matter what tools you have to use.

This applies not only to the 4th of July, but to every day of our lives. Stretch your limitations, forgive yourself if you fail, and keep trying to live your life to the fullest!

I hope you all have a happy 4th and may God bless all of us who live in this great land.

How Can I Date When I Have Sensory Processing Disorder?

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If you’re a young adult with Sensory Processing Disorder you’ve probably asked this question a dozen times:

How can I date when I have Sensory Processing Disorder?

How can I get close to someone when I have to wear noise canceling headphones in every restaurant? How can someone respect me if I can’t drive very far away or can’t drive at all? How would someone handle my sensory tools, my brain fog, my frustration at the most normal things… the list goes on.

Honestly, the real question we’re asking is: Am I lovable, despite all this junk.

When I’m dealing with my SPD, I often feel unlovable, strange, and alone. I wouldn’t wish SPD on my worst enemy. I see what it does to me, how could I ask a boyfriend to put up with the effects it has on me?

And yet, just recently I suddenly found myself in the world of dating and I began to realize something wonderful:

That dating is not only possible, but my SPD makes dating a little more special.

Why? You ask.

With SPD in my life I can’t put up a charade. I have to be me and I know that is very hard, but it is very important to developing relationships.

People want to put up an act that everything is alright. Our culture has fed us the line of: “you have to be perfect or no one will like you.” But the truth is, that line is a lie! Be yourself, because you can’t ignore who you are forever.

It’s amazing how special it is to build a dating relationship on honesty instead of lies.

By being yourself, you begin growing something that goes deeper than the top soil of most relationships; developing something very special.

It’s true that being yourself makes one feel very vulnerable… “What if no one likes who I am?”

If they don’t like who you are, then the question is- “is that you’re problem or theirs?” -Because if that person likes you, they are going to have to like all of you, SPD included.

Sensory Processing Disorder is hard. There will be limitations, draw backs, frustrations and heartache. But you know what? Those words also describe life.

Everyone experiences all those things, perhaps not as often as we do, but they still experience them.

How can I date QuoteWe may have Sensory Processing Disorder, but that doesn’t make us completely different from the rest of the world.

It’s the person who sees that life is hard for everyone (whether you have SPD or not) and decides to reach into that junk who is worth dating.

But there’s more…

SPD allows me to treasure the small things and to develop the important things. Because everyone wants to be known. Even the one your dating wants to be appreciated for who they really are.

Having SPD gives you the eyes to see past the surface and to love them for who they really are.

So, yes! It is possible for you to date, because there is more to you than your SPD and there are people out there willing to see past the sensory junk to the true beauty within. Don’t give up. Keep living, keep expanding your world, and being the special person you are!

Learning to Trust Others With My Sensory Processing Disorder.

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I am scared of letting people into my world because I am afraid of how people will respond to my Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

I wonder how people will respond to my noise canceling headphones that I wear in restaurants, or when I cover my ears after their silverware squeaks softly on their plate.

I hate my world and how I respond to the little things that are normal for everyone else. Living with SPD causes me to be very aware of my limitations and struggles more than most. My natural response (even to those I love) is to draw back from them rather than trusting them with my limitations.

As I saw this reality in my life, I began to see that my lack of trust limits my world. That it captures me in my own fear of rejection and I saw that I had created my own chains.

How can I be free?– A question I asked myself a year ago.

How do I break these chains. Because I see that it doesn’t just effect my life, but it effects my family, my friendships, my boyfriend, my relationship with God… I needed to be free.

But freedom comes with a price.

Learning to trust others, means you have to allow people opportunities to have you trust them.

I have to make the first move and put my headphones on in their presence. I need to admit that I need an arm or a cane to steady my balance and take out my Koosh ball to ground me while I’m with others… I had to step out of my comfort zone and let people in. I had to admit I needed help, support, and comfort. To face the reality that I couldn’t handle everything!

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This was hard!

What if I reached out and no one reaches back? What if I open my heart to someone and they end up crushing it?

It was a chance I had to take.

There will be those who will hurt you and respond to your SPD by drawing back and acting awkward around you. But the more I allowed people into my world, the more I realized that there are a lot more people who care than people who turn away.

As I stepped out of my comfort zone, I found friends, I started dating, and I felt more myself than ever before! Not just because I had people I could trust, but because I began to allow myself to be free.

It’s not easy. I still struggle to trust and probably will struggle with it for the rest of my life, but everyday God is teaching me to trust more and more.

The chains are gone from my hands and now they are free to trust and to help those around me.

I am free now!