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Heightened Sensitivity

Help for the overstimulated

Illustration Credit: My Buddy by Kate Pugsley

It’s movie night on the couch with a friend. Perusing the Pay-Per-View options, American Sniper comes up as a popular choice. My friend is enthused; I am bemused. Why, I ask her, do people still make movies glorifying war and death? We move on to documentaries. “Oh, let’s see The Cove!” she enthuses. “Remember? It’s about activists stopping the slaughter of dolphins, and it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary.”She looks at my horrified expression and sighs, “Okay, moving on…” We settle on a repeat viewing of Pride and Prejudice.This friend, who has known me since college, is puzzled by how I’ve changed in recent years. A former tomboy/tough girl who had trouble sharing feelings or showing vulnerability, I’m now, in middle age, someone who experiences joy and sorrow in equal (and huge) measures, notices everything in tiny detail, showers the people and critters I love with incessant attention . . . and suffers, at times, from a cracked-open heart.I’ve learned that I have become an HSP—a highly sensitive person—and while at times I may feel a bit freakish, in fact I’m not alone. Research tells us t …

Jane Ganahl is a frequent contributor to S&H.

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