5 responses

  1. Adrian
    July 2, 2007

    What I will be wondering about now is why social activity takes more mental energy for some people and virtually none for others. Although I want to make friends and social connections, the more stress and worry I have about school or work, the less I feel like socializing. My wife is also like this, although we are quite different in many other respects. For other people, socializing is an easy and fun way to relieve stress and escape, and if I was like that then I’d be less of a homebody.

    Now, in your experience, does just any social interaction, even with friends and family, use a lot of energy, or just the interaction with strangers and mere acquaintances?

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  2. codeman38
    July 2, 2007

    Socializing with friends and family uses some degree of energy – there are some times I just can’t manage it – but it’s not nearly as stressful as interacting with strangers or acquaintances.

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  3. Emilie
    July 4, 2007

    I could really identify with the description of only having so much energy per day for coping with social situations. I need a lot of quiet downtime to recharge from a typical work day, and I work in a fairly subdued atmosphere to start with. Perhaps part of that requirement of mine is because I am an introvert, but I’m quite sure that I’m not “neurologically typical”, either. People who know me even somewhat well would be quick to agree that I am hypersensitive to certain types of auditory input.
    Perhaps somewhat paradoxically, I also will block out auditory input, sometimes for several minutes at a time, if I need to put my entire focus on a visual-spatial problem, like steering in a lane with concrete barriers on either side. Visual “clutter” itself doesn’t necessarily bother me, especially if I am not trying to navigate through it. But a busy visual scene plus flickering, buzzing fluorescent lights and noise bouncing off the walls will send me into overload within a minute or two.
    Eye contact isn’t a big issue for me — although as a child I was accused of “staring” at people often enough. I seem to be better about “appropriate” eye contact as an adult. I’m not entirely sure why — years of trying to teach myself social skills? Not being as hypersensitive to visual stimuli as other people may be? I still do get very upset if people I don’t know well (or have a bad feeling about) invade my personal space. I’ve learned more tactful ways to deal with that than screaming and running, although screaming and running are still up there as options for me in those situations.
    I do have certain particular methods I use to calm myself in situations that are stressful for me. Countering unpleasant noises with white noise is one thing I do regularly. Trying to adapt the situation to one I can be comfortable in works at times. I also wonder if sensory integration training would (or would have) helped me…

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  4. Ted Garvin
    August 21, 2007

    I have had the same sensory overload experience at Wal-Mart. I have auditory language processing problems. Can’t make out the lyrics.

    One thing has helped–paying cult to Hermes.

    And you thought I was going to mention Someone Else. 🙂

    Serious about the Hermes bit, though. I am _extremely_ lucky.

    Reply

  5. Elise
    October 3, 2007

    For some reason (procrastination, most likely) my mind was on proofreading this morning, and it brought me back to your site after several years’ hiatus. And then lo and behold, you’ve started this new blog that speaks to me all too well. Like the article’s author, I have SLE (thankfully in a milder form), and this “spoon theory” describes *exactly* how I feel much of the time. The next time someone gives me one of those Looks I’m going to wave a bunch of spoons in her face! Between my INTP-driven social exhaustion and my lupus-driven physical exhaustion, I have to pace myself just to get through the day without collapsing by lunchtime. Perhaps someone should write a spoon theory for INTPs too; just because I don’t like parties or dealing with emotions doesn’t mean I’m a robot, but some people seem to have issue grasping that concept.

    Incidentally, my little sister has sensory integration disorder, so I imagine that when she’s a bit older I’ll be pointing her towards your sensory overload posts.

    -Elise, who used to be known as Lesi ’round these here parts

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