I tend to get grumpy this time of the year. Partly this is because it is a busy, stressful, time, and partly it is because it is a time filled with a lot of sad memories of abuse, divorce, craziness, and associations having nothing to do with nativity scenes or Santa Claus. But partly it is because this is one big overload for me. Everywhere you go there is more and more sensory stimulation: bright lights, often blinking. Crowds. Music. Noise. Chaos.
I manage my sensory overload issues by tightly controlling them. My house is kept extremely quiet. I watch tv occasionally, but only if I can handle it and only certain "safe" shows at a low volume. There is never music. I run the dishwasher on a delay while I'm away or sound asleep because it is intolerably loud. I sometimes have trouble tolerating the noise of the water heater of the basement dehumidifer. Even a shower can be too loud and some days I don't take them.
I knew that this would be hard. It always is. I went prepared with a lot of earplugs, but I left them in the basement where I couldn't get to them all day. Stupid.
So today as I progressed through the day I realized how much effort it was taking just to handle the sensory input. I have learned to use more coping tools to handle this in the last few months, but they aren't really socially appropriate, so they stayed home. So, this was the day in review.
I got up per my usual procedure and took a shower with my carefully selected scents. I got dressed in a very soft sweater and new jeans. I loaded the car, dealing with crinkling paper and banging doors. I drove to my mother's.
At my mother's there were many, many more food odors than I am used to. That alone bothered me. I was cooking and touching many textures, and again this added stress. I had to manhandle all my presents again, with more noise. And my sister's dogs were there, although my sister and her husband weren't yet, so it was loud. Normally my mom's house is an extension of my own and I feel pretty safe there, but this was the beginning of overload.
Not too long into it my jeans starting buggling me. I knew they were loose, but they felt tight and bunchy and like they were poking me. They were itchy and I was more and more aware of discomfort through the entire front.
Then I got hot. Nobody else was hot, but I was miserable. Eventually I put on my mom's shirt, which felt too small and tight as well.
We opened presents. That too was loud. Too much paper. I handled it well though, and only needed one ativan this year. (last year I was into the ativans before the unwrapping started). Interspersed with presents was cooking, so it was like noise, textures/smells and noise, noise/visuals, intermingling with no recovery time. And of course my pants. Oh those pants. I finally had them undone, thinking they didn't fit or something and all I wanted to do was rub my fat belly, which isn't exactly attractive. And my bra started poking me. I hate this bra, but since it is the same size and style as my others (just newer and therefore should fit better) I keep trying to convince myself I can wear it. Guess not.
Then there was eating, with more noise and now a lot of tastes. Since I tend to eat one course meals a lot this also is excessive; I am very aware of taste and smells, and other people's noise.
Then clean-up, with a new bunch of noise. This is where I lost it. I kinda yelled at my brother for yelling. Oh well, somewhere in here my family needs to learn to respect that I have issues. I guess.
I then had to get home to take meds, so I packed up and drove home and now am enjoying the blessed quiet and anticipation of my weighted blanket in about 3 seconds.
What a big day.
(And my poor belly is all red and broken out because my body hates new clothes).