Calling all HSP and HG Ladies!

I have suddenly wondered about the correlation between Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) and Highly Sensitive People (HSP). I am so sensitive to many stimuli – I don’t enjoy driving at night, for example, because I am dazzled by the lights, and of course I also have Misophonia. I am wondering if those of us that are HSP are more predisposed to suffering with HG – it certainly makes a lot of sense to me!

Therefore, I have decided to do my first ever poll! Please let me know if you noticed a connection between the two!

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Child-free and partying!

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Well,  okay,  not partying exactly – more like relishing the silence,  while  sipping my coffee undisturbed.  There’s no shouting,  fighting or running around with guns, no dread as I sit down on the toilet seat without first checking for little boy splatters.  Time constraints no longer exist – we eat when we’re hungry;  we go out when we want to,  without a strict protocol of hysteria mainly consisting of “clean your teeth”,  “get your shoes on”, “hurry UP!”  Ah,  does it get much better than this?

Oh,  hang on a second.  Am I allowed to say that?  Shouldn’t I cradle any feelings of glee about being child-free close to my chest?  Isn’t it more appropriate for a mum without her kids to sit wailing in the corner,  resigning herself to a loss of all joy until they tumble into her ever-loving arms once more? Well, that would depend on who you were talking to,  I guess.

I have friends who smugly share that they never let their kids spend the night away from them,  their self-righteous “I’m a better mum than you’ll ever be” attitude oozing from every pore.  They need to be careful,  because that Mother of the Year medal around their neck is going to choke them.  Refusing to let your child stay with other people, while proudly proclaiming how you have personally put them to bed every day of their life,  does not make you a better parent.  In fact,  not allowing your child the freedom and independence achieved from staying with close family that love them more than anything  says more about you,  than your child.  There are some serious control issues going on there,  no kidding.

My kids have gone to their grandparents for the weekend.  It’s a rarity for it to be just me (and him indoors),  and my mind bobbles back and forth between enjoying the blissful peace, and feeling that the house is just too quiet.  When your kids are away,  there’s an undeniable tangible emptiness that inexplicably differs from  when the are just at school.  It’s hard to explain.  It’s a stillness,  a haven of serenity;  yet it also feels like a void,  a desolate gaping hole that can’t be filled.  One minute I experience a sensation akin to envy prodding at me, taunting the fact that it always used to be like this – getting up in the morning and having a leisurely coffee,  wondering how to fill the day’s hours,  and relishing the prospect of doing very little.  And then in an instant, it’s gone,  to be replaced with a rush of joy and gratitude at how wonderfully my life has changed for the better.

I used to have a hard time with guilt over being voluntarily separated from my children.  When we moved back here last year my family travelled before me,  and I spent seven long weeks away from them.  To say it was one of the hardest things I have ever done,  is an understatement;  it just about killed me.  Was it my choice to be apart from them? Yes,  it was. But sometimes we do things we just have to do,  and it was a necessity to factor in when moving our whole lives to another country.  People would comment “oh, I couldn’t do that”,  unable to contain their incredulity at how a mum could leave their kids for so long.  Ah,  you know;  it was nothing,  a piece of cake,  an absolute walk in the park – I flung them away from me without a backward glance.  I don’t think.  Being away from your children is like your arm being torn off,  because essentially,  not having your kids with you feels as though an integral part of who you are is suddenly missing.

Now,  it’s much easier to let my children go,  and feel no pangs. Realising that I am a HSP has helped me accept that it is okay to admit that I need time away from everyone  to recharge my batteries.  For example,  I’ve just spent the whole summer with my kids,  mostly alone, with ten full weeks of being with them 24/7.  It actually happened to be one of the of the best summers I have ever had,  but the intensity of having someone around you constantly, even if they are your own children,  is pretty tough going on the psyche of a HSP.  But in our society,  we can’t admit that,  not without criticism,  anyway.  One of my friends posted on Facebook that if people couldn’t enjoy the summer holidays,  then they didn’t deserve to have kids.  Obviously not a HSP then!

These days,  I feel a lot less guilt when letting my kids spent time with their grandparents.  And why should I feel guilt?  I am not sending them off with axe-wielding psychopaths;  they are with family who I trust with all my heart.  They have fun,  they play games,  they eat sweets and they get some time to develop as little individuals away from the parents. How can it not  be a win-win scenario?

Image courtesy of Photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Raises its Ugly Head Again

ID-100148083 Once more,  Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) raises its ugly,  fat head in the media frenzy that surrounds the news of Kate Middleton’s second pregnancy.  And once more, it is being played down as “morning sickness”,  or if they are feeling generous “acute morning sickness”.  Sadly,  Kate Middleton has neither – she has a debilitating condition that never lets up,  and quite honestly,  makes morning sickness seem like a walk in the park.

I talk (okay – rant) about it here,  and it is very well explained here,  so I am not going to explain the statistics again.

Awareness for the condition is undoubtedly on this rise (yippee!),  but there is a long, long way to go.  Women with HG are ostracised,  belittled and treated with an unrelenting condescending attitude wherever they turn.  Try living your life for nine months with a constant hangover (and no,  constant is not a hyperbole),  only to be told that it is part and parcel of a normal pregnancy (erm…no. Morning sickness is normal,  HG isn’t)  or that you are making it up (because,  of course women want to fake it,  and spoil a time in their life that should be calm and beautiful).

Women who have suffered with HG have two things in common: we are angry,  and defensive.  Most go on to have PTSD (and no,  again,  I am not exaggerating) after being forced to live with a horrific condition for so long,  one that leaves you weak and terrified for the health of your baby,  but mainly because they are just not believed, and don’t get the emotional support they need. I had my second baby seven years ago,  yet reading about HG reduces me to tears,  every single time.  It is something I am never going to get over.  Had I received the support and care from the medical profession and family members,  I am positive I would not feel this way.  HG brings about isolation,  and this horrible defensive attitude about the condition that will never fade.  Not until the truth is put out there correctly,  anyway.

So,  next time you hear about Kate Middleton being ill – have kindness and compassion in your heart. She isn’t milking it,  and neither is she lording it up because she is royalty.  She may have people to help her,  but that means nothing – she will still feel as poorly as the lady down the street.  The same goes for your friend who you might think is being over-dramatic – she isn’t!  She needs your help and support, and if you offer it,  she won’t stop feeling sick,  but she’ll come out the other side a lot more well-adjusted.

Spread the word,  people.  Please spread the word.

So, So Pertinent….

I read this today, and it was so ME that it actually made me cry. Such beautiful words, and so true.

 

“Sensitive people are the most genuine and honest people you will ever meet. There is nothing they won’t tell you about themselves if they trust your kindness. However, the moment you betray them, reject them or devalue them, they become the worse type of person. Unfortunately, they end up hurting themselves in the long run. They don’t want to hurt other people. It is against their very nature. They want to make amends and undo the wrong they did. Their life is a wave of highs and lows. They live with guilt and constant pain over unresolved situations and misunderstandings. They are tortured souls that are not able to live with hatred or being hated. This type of person needs the most love anyone can give them because their soul has been constantly bruised by others. However, despite the tragedy of what they have to go through in life, they remain the most compassionate people worth knowing, and the ones that often become activists for the broken hearted, forgotten and the misunderstood. They are angels with broken wings that only fly when loved.”
Shannon L. Alder

Introvert in Denial

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I have made a whole heap of discoveries about who I am in the past year.  I’m talking really huge, monumental realisations that have absolutely smashed to smithereens all previous theories about who I am, and who I thought I was.  A dawning of such magnitude doesn’t come cheap;  it causes the world as you know it to shake at your feet in a terrifying earthquake,  forcing all earlier conceptions to tumble to the ground,  leaving rubble where solid thoughts once existed.

It sounds terrifying,  and in many ways it is;  it is certainly life changing,  make no mistake.  But the overriding sensation is one of relief:  I am not odd:  I’m just in the minority.  I am not an intolerant bitch:  I struggle with Misophonia.  I am not an attention-seeking drama queen:  I am merely a highly sensitive person.

However,  one aspect of my personality is still a mystery.  Am I an introvert,  or not?  Many HSPs are introverts,  and it’s true that when I have taken online personality tests,  I invariably come up with introvert.  But while I enjoy my own company, I also love a good party.  I am loud and opinionated, which are a far cry from classic introvert characteristics.  Although I often shrink from attention,  there are times when I am most comfortable being slap,  bang right in the middle of it.

The bottom line is,  I don’t want to be an introvert.  There,  I’ve said it.  I am more than willing to admit that I have introvert traits,  but there are just as many extrovert ones, too.   When I consider the possibility of being an introvert,  I want to fight tooth and nail against it,  every fibre of my being screaming “that’s not ME”.

Why would this be?  I honestly don’t know.  Or perhaps I do,  and I am just being coy.  It’s stigma.  The stigma that is associated with introverted,  shy people.  God, I hate that word.  Shy,  shy,  shy,  SHY.  As a child,  I was always described as shy.   I am not shy at all,  and never have been.  I am wary,  and cautious and sensitive,  that’s it.  Nobody really looked close enough to see the real me,  to bother enough to realise that I wasn’t shy.  Hey, ho.  Common mistake:   quiet equals shy.

Perhaps the problem is that I see shyness and introversion all entwined and entangled,  with my mind unable to separate the two?  Or,  maybe,  it has more to do with how our society treats introverts:  the butt of poor jokes,  ridiculed and misunderstood,  seen as second class citizens that nobody remembers or cares about.  I am a highly sensitive person,  and as such,  I CRAVE acceptance.  This is closer to the truth;  this,  I believe, is the real reason why I can’t think of myself as being an introvert.

Although I have many unequivocal extrovert tendencies,  I think I may be a closet introvert: an introvert in some serious denial.  I’ve seen me walk into a crowded room and rather than show I was intimidated,  I have become the loudest person there.  I’ve had public speaking jobs,  where I felt a fraud,  sick to my stomach before every meeting I held.  I’ve worked in customer services positions where a jovial,  sociable  and out-going personality was a pre-requisite,  and gone home exhausted due to the effort it took.  I felt like a fake,  an interloper,  and just waited for someone to discover it.   That’s denial.  That’s pretending.  That’s not who I am.

And it makes me sad.  Why should I deny such a huge part of who I am?  If,  indeed, I am an introvert? Why should society dictate what is acceptable,  or not?  I might ask why should I even care;  but the HSP among us will know why.  We just do.

 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

The Complexity that is Me

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I feel like a whirling, swirling mash of emotions, that are threatening to engulf me at any given moment.

The kids are on holiday, and this means that I rarely get a moment to myself. To the highly sensitive (and Misophonic) among us, you know the drill; I don’t need to explain more. To those that don’t fit the above: I probably sound like a whinging, self-absorbed, uncaring mum, counting down the days until I have all the “me” time I could want. To you guys: I don’t care what you think, to be honest. You aren’t me. You won’t get it, and therefore I won’t even begin to justify myself (which is good, because I don’t have the energy to).

I am being sucked dry. So much so, that I can’t even explain the feeling in words. I really can’t. I could say that it is like the real me doesn’t exist any more; but that’s not quite right. I could say that it feels as though my stomach is being squeezed so hard that I wonder how I can still breathe; and that’s partly it. I am not normally at a loss for words, and I am usually fairly adept at translating emotions into those words; but, how I feel is literally indescribable.

I do feel like a bad parent; no denying that. I am so sick of feeling guilty, so I am not going to dwell on my perpetual self-torture. When you have kids, your sole aim should be to ensure they are as happy as they possibly can be. I don’t think my kids are. I think they will look back and remember their childhood with a mum that “had a weird thing called Misophonia”, who got annoyed by little things, who suffocated when she didn’t get any breathing space. Oh. And this wasn’t going to be guilt-flogging session.

I am crying now. See, this is my therapy. It helps; I know it does. It unburdens the horrific guilt I feel for my seemingly gargantuan, never-ending parenting fails. Where only my mistakes play across my mind in a perpetual rewind of where I am going so terribly wrong. I want to be THAT mum. You know, the one that can’t wait for the summer holidays to start because of all the wonderful things they are going to do together. That must feel nice. It must be nice to be that kind of mum.

My nine year old told me this morning that he wished he had a different mum. It took all of my energy not to say “yes, me, too”. His reason for saying this? I decided not to go to the beach with them. My partner works six-day weeks, leaving the house at 1pm, and not returning for 12 hours. Part of me wanted to join them for a morning on the beach; the other part was screaming “alone, alone, ALONE”. For once, I listened to the voice, rather than putting my kids first. They wanted me to go, and I wanted to stay. I am flattered that a morning on the beach is not complete without me, but it also smothers me. Then it makes me feel guilty when I disappoint them. There’s always a catch: I get alone time, but feel guilty for it. Sometimes, I can’t win.

I am not a bad person. A lot of this is not MY fault. But sometimes I feel my kids deserve SO much better than me. I am the mum that posts all the holiday pictures on Facebook, all smiling and happy, then sits back and waits for the comments about what a beautiful family, what a great time we seem to be having. I allow the words to stroke my frazzled ego, momentarily soothing my feelings of inadequacy. Never admitting that we’d had tears, tantrums and fights five minutes before the photo was taken; that although there were glimpses of real joy, they were few and far between. It’s all fake. I am not that perpetually smiling, easy-going mummy that I pretend to be. I carry a shit load of baggage around with me that can’t NOT affect my kids in the long run, no matter how hard I try; no matter how hard I try to deny.

As a highly sensitive person, I can’t bear failure. As a mum, it is crucifying.

Afterword: Three hours of alone time. That’s all it took to restore my composure and internal balance. I know that the above is not all I am, is only a tiny part, one that shows itself when I’m under intense personal pressure; it certainly isn’t how my children see me most of the time. However, it is an ugly, yet inevitable side of me, and can’t (shouldn’t) be ignored, and this blog helps me deal with it.

 

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.