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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Deposit

Let's begin with an analogy. 

Having SPD is like having a sensory bank account. When you're respectful of your quirky neuro-needs and dedicated to your sensory-occupational-physical-psychotherapeutic diet of Wilbarger, exercise, breathing, cognitive reframing, rest, and endless omega-3s, your bank account is full. These are the banner, blue-sky days when you forget you even have a sensory bank account. You are perhaps calmer than usual in the face of sirens/screaming babies/undulating crowds/packed subway cars. You may surprise yourself by seeking out challenges. You may sit an extra half hour with friends at a popular new restaurant with pulsing lights and an unnecessarily-hopping bar scene. You may open a bottle of ketchup without banging it on the counter and breaking it in a fit of exhausted rage. You may not even walk directly into your armchair. Bruise free, baby!

When your sensory bank account is full, it's easier to make these withdrawals. You are personnel on pay day. You are the sultan of salary. You can make it rain. And this makes sense. When you keep your sensory bank account balanced, you're able to spend like you're neurotypical and ready to roll - as long as you make periodical deposits. 

There are times, though, when life makes it difficult to strike this balance - when work needs you for a few extra hours, when your friend is in crisis, when there are occasions to plan for and celebrate; when your weekends become checklists. Suddenly, you are withdrawing all of your savings at once. You are watching your nest egg deplete. You are thumbing through the stats and frowning at the final tally. Account overdrawn. 

This is where I am today, in the red. 

How I got here is no mystery, and I admit that I actively witnessed the depletion of my sensory bank account for the umpteenth time in my life. This isn't a society where SPDers can say "hey (insert name of company/friend/family member/situation), my sensory bank account is incredibly low, and I need to fill it before I become incapacitated. I need some unimpeded rest and a bear hug! Cancel my plans, I'm feeding my sensory needs today, yessir." To a neurotypical person, this makes little sense. "Get some sleep," they might say, the way most humans deal with exhaustion, unaware that when a sensory bank account is empty, stranger things happen. The body feels extra disconnected from the ground and walls. Sounds become piercing and unbearable. Movement is unthinkable. The brain becomes an ancient Victrola; a single, scratched record spins round and round. It cannot be toggled off. 

Nonetheless, once overdrawn, the mind and body get what they need regardless of what's proper or truthful or acceptable to the general public. For hours last night, I twisted between blue modal sheets and my 17-pound weighted blanket. My skin was on fire, and my horizontal body felt as if it was being pitched backward. Every breath my husband took was loud and immediate - and this through the 33 db earplugs I typically covet. My brain screamed songs and thoughts and images at me, a zoetrope of piecey, circular movement. 

I barely slept, and I awoke with a sharp startle.

When I saw my husband this morning, he looked at my drooping eyelids and curled form, and said, simply, kindly, "looks like you need to replenish your bank account."

Guess what I'm doing today. 

I am so thankful to have my own personal sensory banker. 


8 comments:

  1. I love knowing you Rachel!!! Very good perspective and reminder for me to fill my sensory bank! I always forget and just let my good days be good and my bad days bad. Thank you so much for the reminder I don't need to live like that at all!!!!

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    1. I know who this is from! So lucky to have such great SPD-adult-allies in this life. Glad and grateful for the mutual support!

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  2. I was diagnosed with SPD a few years ago while still in college...I was doing then what I've always done, doing whatever it takes to survive without really understanding what the problem is. I've searched the web now and have found many reasons why I have the problems I do have (such as anxiety problems). It is so helpful to know that I'm not alone...or crazy. I'm still shy about talking about it because of people's reactions, but I'm getting better at being more open.

    This post is great and even though I take medication that has turned my life around, it still helps to know my limitations and when to say "no". Thank you for being so open.

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    1. What a wonderful comment, Catherine, thank you! Your history sounds a lot like mine, doing what it takes to get through the day without any true understanding. So many adults have secondary issues related to their SPD - anxiety, depression - and so it becomes so much more complex to get the right combo of treatment.

      Glad you're working on being open! We need to keep talking about SPD so others can learn from our examples. Society will ultimately understand, it's just a matter of time, education, and research! It's my honor to be so open, I hope you keep visiting the blog and find me on twitter @coming2mysenses :)

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    2. Found you on twitter. :-) My goal is to continue to talk about it and discover more about the condition and help others. If I can help others by being open about my struggles then I am very glad and I will find the courage to be more open (in spite of overwhelming anxiety).

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    3. Awesome! I'm absolutely with you - it's worth working through the pain and anxiety to help others understand and learn about SPD. Glad you're on board and happy to know you!

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  3. Love this bank account analogy. Your body might be screaming but your mind is in tip top form!

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    1. Thanks Sharon! At least something works here sometimes - hah!

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