Let’s Talk About: The Senses
The Senses: one of those things that generally gets neglected. When you’re diagnosed with a chronic illness, there is some form of overdrive happening in your body. For me, it was CFS, and it was affecting my hypothalamus, which was working at well-over the usual rate. Not only was this affecting my immune system, it was also turning many pleasant everyday things, like flowers, into horrible, overpowering smells that filled my head.
What’s Happening to the Senses
Generally, the internet calls this sensory overload, but for many, including myself, it becomes stimuli hypersensitivity and affects one or more of the senses. In fact, it’s a telling, although minor, symptom of CFS, and occurs across the board. I know many people that find this to be a really difficult part of daily life: going outside is blinding, you can hear your mum chewing three rooms down and you can smell the off milk in the fridge.
Sometimes, of course, it comes in handy, like when the guy across the hall from you in the dorms puts honey on your door handle because you trashed him in billiards. Other times, it’s a downright pain in the ass. Electric skin (as I call it), otherwise known as Paresthesia, is a whole other story (even though it is technically touch) and is something that I plan to cover in another post.
For sound, smell and sight, here are my top tips for handling yourself:
1. Try to calm down. Stimuli hypersensitivity gets especially bad when your brain is going at a million miles an hour. Having said that, it’s a lot easier said than done. Start off with splashing your face or doing some breathing exercises.
2. Noise cancelling headphones are wonderful things and are especially great when you’re having an episode. If white noise is too hard for you to listen to, and whale noises don’t really do it for you, try some low-volume Pete Murray
3. It’s not always going to be because of an episode. Make sure you have candles and diffusers in your house/room – that aren’t Glen 20 or some other air spray.
4. Close the blinds, check the dishwasher, throw out the trash, yell at the neighbourhood kids – literally get rid of the problem.
5. Can’t do that because you’re at work? I always made sure I had some soluble panadol (it absorbs faster, and I think it tastes better), aromatherapy oils (to drown out yucky smells), a washcloth (to either cool you down or to soak in essential oil – either or) and a light-blocking eye mask in my desk drawer. A ten-minute stint in the bathroom won’t leave you particularly missed, and it might make all the difference.
There you go! There are my tips. Let me know in the comments if you have anything else I should try!
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