Based on my own life experiences I have noticed a lot of people have never heard of the term "Highly sensitive person." They immediately become defensive of the word and then try to argue back that I am not one. It is rather ironic since most of the time they do not even fully comprehend the technicality of the word, or its significance to a person like myself.
My reaction was very similar when I had first stumbled upon the word. As an INFJ under the Myers-Briggs personality test, it came to my attention that many people who share the same personality type have exhibited symptoms that can only be classified as a "highly sensitive person."
Jenn Granneman in her article "21 Signs That You're a Highly Sensitive Person," describes the biological condition as such: "A highly sensitive person (HSP) experiences the world differently than others. Due to a biological difference that they’re born with, highly sensitive people are more aware of subtleties and process information deeply. This means they tend to be creative, insightful, and empathetic, but it also means they’re more prone than others to stress and overwhelm." For me, being an HSP is both a blessing and a curse. It allows me to be creative in my writing and literally see things from character's perspectives. I am able to be emphatic towards the characters and the conflict that arises around them throughout the story-line. It allows me to dream up worlds with such vivid imagination that it feels like you have stepped into a scene. I have been told many times that my stories often feel like a movie, because the environment and the natural settings for the character become so vivid in the reader's mind. As an HSP, I feel things deeply, such as pain, heartache and regret. Through words alone I can make a person break down in tears because their heart is aching for the awful situation that the fictional characters are put through, or feel an elated sense of joy after a particular scene. For writers such as myself, empathy is a super power.
I am in the process of writing a story called, "The Tragic Tale of Teddy Woven." One of the main characters is a highly sensitive person. The story focuses on a male character with a world of vulnerability where he feels his emotions quite keenly, but he does his best to appear cold and impassive. As an HSP, Theodore "Teddy" Woven uses his talents to create beautiful works of arts, but at the same time he is cursed with a sensitivity to sounds that threatens to break his sanity. The terrible secret Teddy tries to hide involving his ancestral home and his childhood creates a suspenseful story as the main protagonist, Sela, slowly uncovers the truth surrounding Teddy's ancestral home and the ghost that haunts it still.
As to my own personal struggle, I am an introvert and highly sensitive person that is living in a household full of people during the covid-19 crisis. My awkward predicament has inspired me to write this romantic Gothic horror story. There are many times when I fear I will lose my own sense of sanity when there are so many noises in the household. The television is going on in the background, while another family member is blasting music from the room across from me; a candle has ignited downstairs and that terrible scent manages to creep upstairs to invade the very privacy of my room. For an HSP person, it is well known that we are extremely sensitive to sights, sounds and smells. In a survival situation this would be a blessing, because we pick up things that most people would overlook. Unfortunately, in my current situation where my household is on lock-down due to the corona-virus, it means that every little sound, lighting and scent is magnified two-folds. How do I manage to keep my sanity in circumstances such as these? It took me sitting down with my loved ones and explaining that the noise that are making is disrupting my ability to work (i.e. writing). I have also requested that scented candles are not lit when I am in the house for the time being because I get an awful headache from the chemicals that linger in the air and more importantly the scent bothers me. As for lighting, in my workspace area I have the blinds currently closed and added a blanket over it for extra measure. I am certain most people are enjoying this hot, sunny day, but for me it is the bane of my existence. For someone who is not a highly sensitive person this entire concept is hard to grasp, therefore, I will create a visual analogy with media references. In the daytime I am like a vampire where I hide from the sun (the best way I can) and when I do go outside it is normally on cool, overcast days where the bright lights do not bother my eyes. For sounds, I am like Vincent Price's perfect portrayal of Roderick Usher that has a supernatural perception of sounds in the classic 1960 movie "The Fall of the House Usher." In relation to the scent, imagine werewolves presumably acute sense of smell when they are hunting their prey. Indeed, that was a little tip off to my book "Cursed," where I am sure it comes in handy for a certain werewolf who shall not be named ;)
This may be a curious blog for you to stumble upon, especially if you have never heard of this terminology until now. In society it is shunned, similar as to introversion when the word first started to appear in the media. I highly encourage you to learn more about it, there may be people you know that exhibit traits of a HSP person and are not even aware of it. If you would like further readings on the subject matter I will post some links below. On a final note, I hope to explore the concept of introversion and being a HSP person in one of my upcoming book "The Tragic Tale of Teddy Woven," while intertwining it with a classic ghost story. More details of this upcoming book will be presented in the coming months, so be sure to subscribe to this blog to learn more.
- 21 Signs That You're a Highly Sensitive Person
- Five Truths I Struggled to Learn as a Highly Sensitive Man
- The Difference Between Introverts, Empaths, and Highly Sensitive People