Sound Sensitivities and Calmer: Yessie's Story
Since launching Calmer® we've heard how much they've been helping people with managing noise sensitivities.
Yessie got in touch with us to let us know how helpful she'd found Calmer. She has shared her experiences of her life and describes some of the different sensitivities she has.
Yessie has written a brilliantly informative, open and honest blog that we think will be extremely helpful for many people.
Thank you Yessie!
Find out more about Calmer here
My greatest passions are science and arts. I am currently doing a PhD in Social Complexity Sciences investigating gender inequalities in performing arts. Hence, I spend most of my time reading science, programming, attending seminars, and working on research in general. I like adding my artistic taste to the data visualizations I do. I even presented some of my work at the Data Stories 2020 (CEU, Hungary). So, my PhD is the perfect niche where I can develop my skills and interests.
Personally, fantasy novels comprise most of my recreational readings. My all-time favorite fantasy novels are the Harry Potter books – I am what is considered a Potterhead. I also love going out with my boyfriend for really long walks to enjoy the city while catching wild Pokemon. I do yoga and meditation daily: in the morning to activate my body, and in after work as a wind down routine. I do love cats, knitting and gardening.
I showed ASD signs in early childhood, such as above average intelligence before the age of 3, and was non-verbal in social contexts (I did not speak to others than my mother until I was 9 or so). My mum thought I was just super smart, extremely quiet and self-disciplined. Along my life, I have had a lot of panic attacks, anxiety crisis and other mood disorders. I started psychotherapy when I was a teenager, but the diagnosis was not clear due to overlapped symptoms related to my personal family history. Along my life, I have been diagnosed with depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and even bipolar disorder. I improved with behavioral therapy and some medications, but in general my anxiety kept increasing in intensity and frequency. For instance, sometimes I have severe episodes of irritable bowel syndrome, meltdowns where I hit my head or scratch my skin, and have physical injuries because of stress fractures. Then, I was suggested a differential diagnosis that confirmed ASD last year. It all started to make sense after the diagnosis and it is great now that I am receiving medical care for ASD.
Being autistic, to me, has two different sides. In one hand, it is really bad having a health condition that impacts one’s quality of life. For instance, I have a lot of struggles with constant joint pain, IBS flare-ups, skin problems, and general anxieties. I also feel exhausted really often, specially after -mostly awkward- social interactions. However, being autistic is also a blessing! I notice things in a very unique way and I am very creative. I also like that with autism one develops grit to become a successful person, even when the paths are different from neurotypicals. I also enjoy having a lot of skills and being a fast learner. I would say it is amazing being autistic and having such cognitive abilities, despite the challenges with the physical body and social interactions.
I have several sensory issues. I would say the most difficult sensory problem is smell processing. I have a very sharp sense of smell, so that I can smell people and scents in the distance. I feel overwhelmed with the smell of smoke, musk, lemon balm, and pyridines, and also when smells are too concentrated in a room. I enjoy smelling my cats, my boyfriend, almond oil, and a wide variety of aromatherapy scents!
Another sensory issue I have is my response to pain: I can move for long periods of time without feeling tired… like Forrest Gump when he went for a run! But my muscles think otherwise and the pain comes afterwards, during burnout. I do feel too much of my body, I am extremely sensitive (even for medications!) and I also have difficulties with touch and need a weighted blanket and tight bed sheets to get a restful sleep.
Visually, I am very good at finding patterns and creating aesthetics, that’s why I love the work I do in research! However, I do struggle to filter visual information in saturated environments, like the supermarket or when being outside for a walk.
In terms of sounds, I have difficulties processing conversations in noisy rooms, like cocktail party problem, and it gets trickier with my social anxieties. I feel overwhelmed with kitchen noise, loud laughter, barking dogs, chewing noise, and crying children. At work, I have to use cancellation headphones, so that it is easier for me to focus… otherwise I get easily distracted, even by the simpler sounds. I do like some sounds! For instance, the sound of placing two tuna cans together, the sound of a car passing tru a river stone path, the sound of the train, the sound of typing on the MacBook keyboard, and the sound of the wind moving trees. But in general, I do prefer silence.
Oh! I love my Minis! I usually use them when I have to work but there are multiple noises in the environment (like barking dogs or people having loud conversations). That may sound weird, but during the pandemic we have to stay home in a familiar environment, that sometimes is not quite a work place, if you know what I mean. I really love that they are very easy to clean and soft to touch. That was a concern I had about this product, mostly because I have touch sensitivities and am unable to wear accessories (like earrings or necklaces), but I find the Minis very comfortable. However, the Minis resulted just the right size for my small ear channels! (They fit better on my right side, the left one is even smaller and sometimes it drops out, but it is fine in general).
Before having the Minis, I used to go outside with my headset/headphones on, but now I use the Minis and they help me reduce my social anxiety when I am not at home! I feel more relaxed when I am in the line at the supermarket or when I have to ask for something to an unknown person. I have also used them during flights and they are very comfortable and reduce well my anxieties. I really love these benefits from my Minis!
Also, when I had a meltdown/shutdown or just feel very anxious and I’m in need for extra-calming support, I use the Calmer Night. I can’t use them to sleep because they keep falling out of my ear. However, their cushioned material feels so nice that I wear them with my cancellation headphones to make me feel relaxed. In this way, they have the same effect of the weighted blanket and it just feel so good.
I’m very grateful to have found the Flare products. They have really positively contributed to my quality of life! Thank you for that!
Read more from Yessie here: https://atelierdeyessita.wordpress.com/bio/
Thank you Yessie - we really appreciate the time you have taken to write this insightful blog.
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