Before the word bipolar reared its head in our household when I was growing up, I can remember my mom using the word “hypersensitive” in reference to me.
I can understand completely how that conclusion came about, because what else do you call someone who is extra sensitive emotionally, extra sensitive to noise, sugar, environment, basically the gamut of human experience? I’ve always been sensitive to things that most people could care less about, and though that makes much more sense to me now there was a long time where I didn’t quite understand what that meant.
These days, the simple way to explain this is using the word triggers.
Noise is a huge trigger for me, I have a very hard time being in situations where there is a lot of noise. I am quickly overwhelmed by places like the mall, not because of the people… just because of the amount of noise. I know that these situations are likely to result in a mood shift, and I tend to quickly find myself feeling exhausted, extremely irritable, and ready to climb into the nearest quiet hole I can find.
I figured that one out pretty early on, but something it took me a while to recognize is how much media content effects me.
For example, if I listen to a sad or angry song, I will become sad or angry.
If I watch a depressing movie, I will likely walk away feeling depressed.
If I read an article about a topic that disturbs me, I will probably be disturbed and frustrated for the rest of the day.
So lets see, I have a disorder that causes my mood to shift rapidly on its own (sometimes for no apparent reason), is it wise for me to be actively choosing to surround myself with things that will have a negative effect on me?
This is where things get tricky. I don’t believe in general censorship, I think information belongs to everyone. That said, it has become increasingly difficult for me to do things like watch the news, especially when there are videos of child abuse taking place or people (Saddam Hussein, for example) being killed right in front of me. I can handle hearing a disturbing topic, but I absolutely cannot handle such graphic, disturbing images (especially of real life situations).
For the most part, I try to avoid movies with disturbing images as well… I’ll watch the occasional horror movie every once in a while, but I constantly remind myself that I am watching a movie and the content is fiction. Plus, horror movies are often so ridiculous that they couldn’t pass for seeming real anyway, so I haven’t had much trouble. Usually it is movies in the “drama” category that really get me in trouble, because that’s when things like abuse, sexual assault, or suicide pop up without any sort of warning.
Honestly I hate the idea of censoring what I allow myself to see or hear or read, but there are very real and unpleasant consequences if I do not. I don’t enjoy feeling a deep, unrelenting agony… especially when it isn’t about something that happened in my own life!
Recently I’ve been listening to podcasts as an alternative to music (or books on tape, love it), and it has been great to learn little facts or hear stories and for the most part I have not had trouble with them effecting my moods (with the exception of listening to The Fellowship of the Ring and having a bit of an intense OCD relapse from the Tom Bombadil portion for some odd reason).
You know what else never makes me feel terrible? Justin Timberlake. Now now, don’t scoff, if you knew me you’d know that to be a ridiculous thing to say but that is the very reason I am able to listen to him. Seriously, I crack up like crazy anytime I hear Justin Timberlake, and he is one of the few artists that puts me in a better mood than when I started (simply because I’ve been laughing so hard over the course of the song).
Well, in conclusion, I’ve reached a point where I feel comfortable with what media I expose myself to for the most part, this sort of censorship has become an important reality for me.
Do you ever find yourself censoring what you read/watch/or listen to, and is it worth the trouble?