I knew what life was like as a drinker.
I had no idea what was possible without it.
I’m SO GLAD I found out.
Two years ago today I walked into the foyer of the Damascus Clinic in Brisbane. It was a Sunday, barely anyone was around. Petrified I was breathalysed, had my blood pressure taken, my bags searched and when I went to the bathroom I was asked to leave the door open.
It was humiliating. I felt like a criminal. But I stayed.
My experience of this two-week in-patient program was covered in an article I wrote 6 months later. In brief I went in, determined to quit drinking, spent 2 weeks there and have not had a drink since. Yay!
I’ve learned a lot about myself these last 24 months.
My greatest fears as an example;
- That I might bore people
- That I might sound arrogant if I state my achievements
- That I might disappoint or let people down.
I’m putting these fears aside for this post as my two-year alcohol-free gift to myself.
If I was still drinking there is no way I would have done this, nor would I have appreciated as much, if at all, the discovery I am about to share.
For quite some time I have been trying to find a way to group or classify some common traits that I share with a number of other folks I have met along this alcohol-free path. I started to see threads of commonality that went beyond the overarching and obvious ones that many of us share as ‘exuberant drinkers’.
With time, research and lucky coincidences ( if there is such a thing) I am delighted to say that despite my own British cynicism, I found the SCIENCE, FACTS and PROOF I needed that has led me to discover that I, along with 20% of the population, am an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person).
And what the bloody hell is that? Well for me it’s the answer I was looking for.
An HSP, as summarised by clinical psychologist and author, Dr Elain Aron, is a person who
‘Processes their experiences more deeply. And thinks about things more than others do”
What me? Never!!!
“HSPs also notice things others miss, and have stronger emotional reactions, both positive and negative. Noticing so much, feeling so much, and thinking about everything so much naturally means that they also get more easily overwhelmed, so that they need more down time and are more bothered by things like noise or having too much to do at once.”
My husband concurs 🙂
There are many more boxes to tick if you are an HSP, but here are my thoughts on how it has affected me and how it might apply to you, if you are in the 20%.
I was often told I was too intense, too deep, too sensitive. That I think too much, was too soft and needed to toughen up and get on with it.
And I believed something was very, very wrong with me.
Over the years, to stop myself from being too ‘fill in the blank’, I found distractions. First food, then cigarettes, exercise, and then alcohol. I’d take any way of distracting myself from the confusion, noise and demands of a world where I almost always felt overwhelmed, anxious, and just a little bit different. I numbed out or amplified. I didn’t know what me felt like.
I became very good at being less me.
In 2019 the gift of a personal challenge woke me up (when my Dad sadly died). This inspired me to give myself a chance to find out who me really was.
Without this experience, I dare say I’d still be drinking. Functionally, discreetly and shamefully.
But instead, I am delighted to say that this discovery has given context to many of my life decisions and, with this appreciation of what it means to be HSP, I am now brimming with excitement ( and relief) for the next chapter.
I share all of this because I believe this may be a missing puzzle piece for many of us who feel not quite ‘at home’ in this world. Who struggle perhaps more than others with the hustle, the pressure and the demands of life. There are tools we need, and there is support and a community of fellow HSPs growing worldwide.
If you’re not HSP that’s not to say you don’t experience similar feelings or challenges, being HSP is not better or worse, it’s just different.
If you’d like to learn more about it you can visit www.hsperson.com where there is a self-test you can take confidentially and for free along with more info and resources.
You may also like to join me in the private Tappedin Facebook group where I am certain we have some other HSPs lurking. We tend to find one another.
Thanks for reading my post. I hope you found it helpful/interesting/overthinky/too deep and everything else in between. Whatever your thoughts, the HSP in me cares deeply.