Say what, said the monkey to the kangaroo…..

Well, hello again – coffee drinkers – and a few teapots and some teetotalers. You will regret abstaining from alcohol when you visit us for a dinner with more than 5 other people – remember, dog pellets served with warm milk – and copious splashes of red (or white and Rose for Jenny) wine http://www.anelephantinmysuitcase.com://coffee-me-hsp-chapter-1/

Unfortunately, I feel I am on the other side of the glass window looking in as coffee and I do not enjoy a symbiotic relationship. Often the aroma is just too much to resist – however, the price is shake, rattle n rolling.

In fact, a friend, Margaret, and I have a standing joke. When she invites me into her flower shop home for a visit a cuppa coffee (she is a caffeine addict for sure – at one time she drank about 8 cups a day) is served together with a Panado tablet! Because – why – coffee and I are not friends. No, not an allergy – it is a personality type. Coffee is hyping & headache-inducing.

Hunger can create havoc. Just don’t add coffee! Not any port in a storm. However, any f o o d will do, just please stop the trembling, rage or collapse – a dry bread roll, anything. The brain needs food. Perhaps a sugar imbalance creates heightened awareness – more than normal?

HSP has also been noted in animals. I wonder if they are the ones who flee from sudden loud sounds, who can be frosty instead of constantly wanting attention. Those whose spirits are broken easily. Great Danes are known to be susceptible to losing confidence. If corrected in a manner which they deem to be too hard or inappropriate, they will usually retreat to their bed or a corner and pout, ignore you and give “dirty looks’. They are hurt.

We will sometimes comment about a pet we brought up from puppyhood, who was never abused, that she/he cowers in crowds, hides in the garden when there is a negative atmosphere or snaps suddenly. Maybe there is a straightforward answer. You need to appreciate your animals’ gentleness and work around it – don’t try changing him or her, accommodate and make their life comfortable in order for the living being to be your best friend and asset so you can both reach your full loving potential.

There have been so many times I’ve withdrawn because I felt I couldn’t cope or just did not fit in. Why why why is life so difficult? Things are not really that difficult on the face of it. Other people are not troubled by noise, smells, pain and so on. How can I change this? Please, can I find my way in this world and be normal? As one advances in years, one understands more and learns to adapt and accept. One appreciates the good aspects of one’s personality and life becomes easier from that aspect. It is not all negative.

A pleasant quality we share is empathy, compassion and near sixth sense. Before lockdown, we had an elderly visitor to our Nia Dance Class one evening. She was awkward and unbalanced – a touch unnerving to watch, actually. I fretted about her falling, breaking a bone, and we wouldn’t know who to call for help! Typical – always worrying!!! There were about 20 ladies in class that day, mostly regulars. At the end of the routines, Lorraine had us stretch and relax on the floor. This little old lady (we later discovered she was in her 80’s and new to the area) was stiff and stood there assessing how she would manage this – suddenly by her side was Annie (and me). Finding her a chair and a glass of water. Nobody else had noticed her difficulties.

So, for every problem, there is a solution – but we need space or flexibility from those around us and we really appreciate your help at all times. Oh my gosh, an itchy cardigan (we call Cardigans Jerseys and overseas friends assume we are wearing cows around our shoulders in Africa when the weather turns cold) can really become an event!

Recently I had an emergency requiring urgent medical treatment. If childbirth is this bad – forget about having children. Kidney Stones! God have mercy! Excruciating pain which reduces grown men to tears (and one was crying out in the bed next door to mine) but what brought my tears was the needle. Why are needless and then sucking the blood out, so little blood – it’s pathetic, really really painful? I fainted during a blood test years ago. How on earth can a small needle into a tiny hole be agony? All thanks to HSP.

Is having a heightened sense of smell fund – sometimes. Oh, the delicious smell of a storm brewing in the dusty African bushveld. Vanilla essence wafting from a freshly baked cake. The perfume from Yesterday, today & tomorrow bush in a nearby garden. However, the smell of unwashed hair can flip my stomach! People walk past me in the street and I nearly get whiplash from the smell of unwashed hair? Newly washed hair is gorgeous – a whiff of shampoo passes by angelically. As for armpits. London – swoosh, mind the gap, push and shove, grab an overhead handle – oh boy…. underarm assault.

We don’t wake up in the morning thinking “how can I make life difficult today?”. We wake up thinking of the best way to approach the day ahead eg – “Today is Saturday. Chris will be home relaxing – with the TV playing throughout the day (probably sports commentating and Rugby) – I cannot cope with that incessant noise so let me garden instead of being indoors or meet a friend at the pony fields for a quiet walk”.

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If you are wondering, yes there are questionnaires available online which covers some of the following: I wonder if you’ll sit down with a cuppa coffee to do this test? Just asking. If you do, you are probably not an HSP!!!!

Do you find you prefer to work alone?

Is multi tasking easy or do you feel overwhelmed when you have many things to do in a limited time?

Are you deeply moved by a song or music, a movie or perhaps a book?

Do you nearly leap out of your skin when you get a fright?

Are you a perfectionist and a good worker?

Do you notice people’s discomfort or needs (finding a seat for a tired or elderly person)

As a youngster, were you criticised for being too sensitive or perhaps shy?

Here is my injection/needle one…… Can you endure pain better than other people?

Do you make decisions easily or does it take a while to think something through?

Can you sense an atmosphere in a room of people or mood between a couple?

Are you particularly sensitive to caffeine?

Are you overwhelmed by bright light, loud noises, itchy fabrics or powerful scents & perfumes?

Does hunger suddenly strike you and affect your mood?

How do you cope with changes- do they shake you up?

Ever withdraw after overstimulation, be it from a social gathering, workplace, traffic?

If you were to give a speech or perform a task, are your nerves frazzled, you become shaky and struggle through it?

Highly Sensitive People grow up hearing “don’t be so sensitive!”. “sensitive people are difficult to live with, you had better pull yourself together”. “Stop being so ridiculous, it’s not that bad!”. Well, these are the brains we have been born with. I popped out of my mother’s womb, genetically created that way from conception. Sorry to tell you this – HSP is going nowhere as much as you wish it to.

This emotional vividness cannot be outgrown, snapped out of, meditated into oblivion, looked through to the brighter side of life – we are not miserable but can be prone to depression. It is a genetic trait found in a smallish percentage of the population. Being this sensitive creates an advantage of being able to live, love and feel deeply, but often lead to feeling overstimulated and misunderstood.

You might spot me in a grocery shop soon, wearing lipstick on my eyes (behind steamed up sunglasses as I am playing The Body Guard – checking the tinned beans and boxed milk for alien invaders), avoiding the grumpy shoppers creating a horrible atmosphere, flying down the isles looking for a dry bread roll, with a studiously neatly packed trolley all in alphabetical order, wearing my knickers as a mask and mask as nickers (not that it’s visible through the perfectly ironed chinos), shakily answering my purse as the cell phone rings in the handbag, hair tied up with the curtain tieback.

When you say hello, your name has slipped my mind …… because we are moving again, the cat is at the vet, 6 friends are coming around for wine and dog food for supper and that woman in the bright red blingy dress talking at the top of her voice was wearing way too much perfume.

Loud noises hurt. I watch in amazement as our builders drill, angle grind, knock hammers, work with big machinery eg bulldozers for hours a day without flinching. Our cupboard builder uses woodworking machinery without earmuffs. My husband bangs tools around, drops pieces of metal on the tiled floors oblivious to their crashing & clanging … whilst kitty and I cringe and hide. The high-pitched sounds all slice through my eardrums like a knife.

Worry not – I am absolutely fine – this too will pass after climbing the avo tree in the garden to recover in solace and silence sipping bottled water, not iced coffee, watching the neighbours pink pet elephant swinging a suitcase full of masks and visors around with its trunk amongst the Banana Trees.

You might like to head over to an interesting blog https://blogs.psychcentral.com by Shannon Cutts (when the link opens please type in Highly Sensitive Animals under the search icon)

Perhaps you would like to learn more about this subject, to test yourself or you can help someone be it a family member, pet, friend or work colleague. Dr. Elaine Aron is the person to Google for more information or purchases her book.

Incase you have no idea what Nia is here is an introduction https://www.niasouthafrica.co.za. I discovered this amazing form of exercise dance in my early 50’s, our Instructor Lorraine Releen is just wonderful.

Until next time – au revoir and take care of yourselves at this peculiar time in our lives