Sound Sensitivities and Calmer®: Ellen’s Story
January 26 2024
KiaOra! My name is Ellen and I go by the pseudonym "Chronically Ellen" on Social Media - so named so for the amount of chronic illnesses I have! I am a creative from Aotearoa New Zealand with a particular love for photography. I'm a product photographer and digital creator by trade, and I spend a LOT of time in my garden. Due to my illnesses, my days are primarily focused on soothing and healing activities such as gardening, cooking, doing the odd puzzle, photography adventures, and trying out new creative activities... all with my best mate Theo at my side. (Cat 9y).
I sort of fell into social media, and I've never looked back! Developing a tight-knit community has been an amazing experience and sharing my life and knowledge in order to help others is an extremely rewarding privilege. We keep things very raw, real, and unfiltered, discussing everything from chronic illness life to gardening, food and wellness, with a healthy sprinkling of mental health on top.
"...my brain faces this cognitive overwhelm daily..."
In March 2022 I suffered Neurological Trauma as a result of Covid19. I ended up with Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) and as part of that, I lost the ability to filter out sounds, meaning I suddenly could hear everything all at once. I mean EVERYTHING. I could be listening to someone talk but also hearing the bird two blocks away, a plane overhead, the hum of the aircon unit, lawns being mown down the street, the hum of road noise, someone walking past and often my heart beating. My brain faces this cognitive overwhelm daily, and it is seriously exhausting.
"...leaving the house became more and more difficult."
As a result, I find I can't hear people, can't concentrate, and often can't think straight enough to do simple tasks such as reading the paper or even writing a shopping list! This makes it very hard to stay organised, and get any work or art done, let alone keep a household ticking over. Being powerlessly assaulted by sounds from all angles in the modern world, leaving the house became more and more difficult. I found some relief in noise-cancelling headphones or simply walking away from the noise, but this didn't help me in a large portion of situations. For example when I needed to be talking to clients, editing reels (which involve sound elements), or simply having a conversation.
So on days when my concentration was demanded, I would tire within minutes. It's not a conducive situation for creativity either. I can't open my mind to creativity when I am under stress, and the cognitive overwhelm is stress-inducing by nature.
I have also been recently diagnosed with autism. So when I say this constant barrage of sound was upsetting, I mean it was upsetting me to a level I wasn't even aware of. The pain of the overwhelm physically hurts and I am prone to headaches, tics and an inability to speak when the overwhelm becomes too much.
"Keeping my nervous system as calm as possible is a key element in managing my health
Calmer® has given me a freedom I actually didn't think would be possible in my newly disabled body. I can now handle walking around the supermarket, they make social events much easier, and even when I am having a particularly sensitive day, I will wear them at home just to help slow down my cognitive processing and promote... you guessed it - calm. Keeping my nervous system as calm as possible is a key element in managing my health day-to-day, and Calmer® helps me do that. It's been a complete game-changer and I am gratefully recommending them to everyone who will listen!