Just as I have been sharing my personal journey with you guys about my OCD, anxiety, eczema, adult acne, and the boat load of others issues I have, I wanted to talk to you guys about another that I've had my entire life, and that's tactile sensitivity.
There's varying degrees of this, and it often times is associated with autism, but anyone can develop these sensitivities and it's in my experience that everyone has at least one. These sensitivities can cause pain and discomfort in varying degrees. The reason its associated with autism is because often times autistic children and adults are uncomfortable being touched, and it causes a lot of discomfort for them.
Since I've never really read much about it, I wanted to shed some light on it and share my stories. I like to think of myself as the person that talks about real life issues most people don't want to talk about. I think it's so important to share things because I think that so many people suffer in silence, feeling like an outcast or a weirdo, and they feel completely alone. I know this because it's the life I've lived too.
So basically, I am extremely sensitive to textures. And I've been this way my entire life. My mom can attest to it. Here's some examples of my sensitivities as a child, which have all carried over into my adulthood:
This is just my starter list, but I think you get the point. To most people, these are just things they wouldn't even think twice about. The sensitivity part of it that causes the negative reaction is where you can differentiate who's got it and who doesn't. My husband, as per usual, no problems at all. Sometimes I'm putting away his tshirts and some of them are so stiff I don't want to touch them. I can't imagine wearing them.
I need everything in my life, from the sheets I lay on, to the clothes I wear, and blanket I use, to be soft and cuddly. I think that's one of the many reasons why I love my Blankie so much. It's got satin lined edges, well, what's left of them, and it's so soft. It's soothing when I rub the satin between my fingers, which I do pretty much every time my Blankie is in my hands.
I also have a lot of sound sensitivities too, like the sound peoples throats makes when they swallow, and sometimes even my own sneezing, but that's a post for another day. I'm not sure if that's related to this sensitivity, but my life is one big giant sensitivity anyway.
What's the reason I brought all of this up in a post, you ask? I've got a few thoughts behind it. The main one that got me to thinking about all these little "nuances" is that we're getting uniforms as work.
Once I heard we were getting uniforms, my anxiety shot right up. I do not wanna wear clothes that I'm not comfortable in. It's not a matter of just like "oh this shirt isn't comfy" and move on, like most people can. For me, it's "this shirt isn't comfy and I feel like crawling my skin off because it's itchy and irritated and I can't think about or concentrate on anything else until I get it off." If there's one thing you want your banker to do at their job it's concentrate and sadly, with these uniforms, for me that's not gonna be an option.
Not only are they absolutely hideous, but they're so uncomfortable. They're oxford shirts, which have to be tucked in, and a cardigan on top if you get cold. First, they have absolutely NO STRETCH at all. They're so constricting on the arms and back that I feel like I'm being confined and the idea of having to wear them all day every day is literally giving putting me in full blown anxiety mode. How unstretchy are they you ask? Well, I'm a small woman. 5'0 110 lbs and I usually wear a S, sometimes M depending on the brand. I tried on a women's XL that my coworker got, and I'm still constricted. I'm returning the size I got and exchanging it for men's sizes, since I hear the arms are a little bigger on those than the women's. Remember, comfort over looks. I'm not working to impress anybody. If I have to look like a slob all day for the sake of my sanity, so be it.
Secondly, they're collared shirts and the collars are so tight on my neck I feel like I'm choking, even when I have it unbuttoned.
Third, I can't do tucked in shirts. I'm 28 years old and have never tucked a shirt in a day in my life, why would I start now? The fabric being tucked is never even, it creases, and it won't be smooth against my skin.
Forth, the material is that starchy stiff cotton, which means I'll be wearing a long sleeve underneath it year round with hopes I can get used to it enough that I won't want to claw my skin off daily. I think these uniforms are bullshit for a lot of reasons, but they basically said, screw you tactile sensitive people, you're just gonna have to deal. I certainly don't like my job enough, nor do I get paid enough, to deal with this bullshit. I'm only thankful that the sweater is actually soft. If only I could just wear that, I would be fine. But nope!
The other reason I wanted to write this post is because I know I'm not alone. You often hear about kids with these issues, but those kids grow up to be adults with these issues too! There's a stigma around it, claiming people are too sensitive and that it's all in our heads. And you know what? That's true. Literally, it's how the brain processes sensory input. People like myself with these issues have different brains essentially than those who don't have it. It's a sensory processes issue in the brain. So yes, it's in my head, but not in a way I can control.
It's time to stop feeling ashamed of things that aren't your fault. You can't help how your brain develops! I hope this sheds some light on the issue, and hope that if you're suffering too, that you know you're not suffering alone. If you need to talk, I'm always here for you!