Liminal Luminous

The shining threshold
Disability/Chronic Illness Mental health

Wound up as tight as a spring

I am a very nervy person, my sensory system seems to be jacked up an awful lot higher than most people’s. This means I get overwhelmed easily and it doesn’t take much for me to be exhausted by everything around me. It feels like everything I look at, hear and sense takes a little of my energy away. At one point this resulted in my being unable to walk as my nervous system was flooded out by stress and apparently my mind decided that the only way to cope with this was to limit my body until I chilled out.

As you can imagine this was hideous, I had to get a wheelchair, stop working as much and generally learn to live my life again in a different way, with a lot more space and less doing in my life.

Last June I had a car accident where someone rear ended me at a mini roundabout. I didn’t see or hear it coming, because he sneezed and hit the accelerator by mistake. I had my dog in the car and I was utterly hysterical. It took over an hour for the paramedics to calm me down and they let Buster into the ambulance with me. Luckily I was in a hire car and he was on the back seat (in a sling to cover the seats), where as normally he would be in the boot. The boot was absolutely destroyed. Buster is my (informal, untrained) therapy dog, he has been a huge part of learning to get well again both physically and mentally. I had to learn to walk so I could keep him. I had originally bought him to be my marathon training partner, that’s how much my life had changed. Having to go and walk him in the woods means that I stay well – again mentally and physically. He is a springer spaniel and very high energy. If he doesn’t get lots of stimulation and exercise he turns into Buster the Destroyer. My kindle, glasses (spectacles), numerous socks/knickers – seriously I have no idea how he finds them, but destroy them he does, or he turns into a devil and goes around stealing and creating mischief.

Since the car accident I have struggled greatly with tinnitus and hearing. Not being able to hear my husband unless he is facing me, really struggling in meetings or workshops and going out shopping was awful as I would get so stressed by not hearing things.

However, I had a hearing test and it came back as mild hearing loss – certainly not enough to reflect the level of hearing loss I am experiencing. This week I saw a hearing therapist. And essentially she explained to me that in the accident, where I was so traumatised I have impacted my hearing process, not the mechanism, the process. The problem isn’t that I can’t hear, it’s that I can hear everything and I am not able to filter out. This explains why I am also really sensitive to noises, being very jumpy and getting extremely overwhelmed in noisy situations.

Great, so my mind wants me to calm down some more, and now that I have overcome the physical difficulties it has essentially made me deaf. If I could harness the power of my mind I would be able to do telekinesis or something, or a PhD in nuclear physics. It really is that powerful. When I was sick I read It’s All in Your Head: Stories from the Frontline of Psychosomatic Illness and it’s fascinating as it really does show you the link between our mind and bodies – highly recommended. It is written by  Suzanne O’Sullivan who is a consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London. This is where I did my pain management course which helped me get so well. She says:

the sympathetic nervous system might be activated for a prolonged periods at a low level, our bodies do not adapt well to chronic stress and this is when the autonomic nervous system is capable of harm

This is exactly what is happening to me, whenever I am in the car I am anxious that the same thing is going to happen again. I have buster in the car with me eight times out of ten, and I am worried that is he going to die because of someone else going into the back of me. So this is reinforcing the feelings. The same when I get stressed out that I can’t hear, my system makes me less able to hear, so I get more stressed etc etc etc. The exact same thing happens with chronic fatigue and pain, it is all down to the nervous system being turned up an awful lot higher than normal, so that everything takes an even higher toll.

Part of my problem is I am a deeply stressed person who is unable to relax. I meditate daily and do yoga, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. And I’ve realised it’s because I don’t really do much on impulse or for fun. I am so afraid that if I let go I will unwind so much that I will never get going again. That I am going deaf and I won’t be able to make my living doing what I do. Or that I need to have so much rest that I am not going to be able to make money. Cealrly there are an awful lot of issues to unpack here. But first and foremost I need to do things for fun with out working about how I can prove my worth – either by volunteering to take on more stuff (which has happened with my concert band, I was enjoying it so much, but then I felt I had to prove my existence and so I volunteered for the committee and I have so much stuff to do), OR that I turn it into money. OR a qualification of some description – I enjoy moodling around on the piano, I have no real idea what I am doing, so I felt that I should start doing my grades, despite the fact I am already doing grades in flute. I can’t just enjoy it for the pleasure of it.

I need to learn to calm my hyper nervous system down, yes that is more meditation, but also learning to have fun and relax.

2 Comment

  1. Ah, yes. Familiar territory! I have so much to say in response to this that I hardly know where to start. I guess it had better keep until I see you in person. In the meantime – may you be peaceful, may you be rested, may you be sustained, may you be provided for, may you be well. x

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