You are just too sensitive! Don’t you think you’re overreacting?! Why do you take everything so personally?!

by Tina

Do any of these comments sound familiar?  They certainly do to me.  Sensitivity can be much higher in those of us with ADD/ADHD than in others.  And usually people who don’t understand ADD/ADHD have a very difficult time accepting that being highly sensitive is part of who we are.

One can be sensitive emotionally, empathetically, and/or physically.  Some people are actually highly sensitive in all areas with certain ones being more prominent than others. 

Being emotionally sensitive can cause the statements I’ve included in the title of this blog to emerge from those who don’t understand.  This sensitivity can be expressed through many outlets including anger, sadness, excitement, anxiety, insecurity, and fear as well as many other ways. 

At times people will make comments that mean nothing to them, while we with ADD/ADHD can internalize these statements and become highly affected by them.  These comments may seem to be judgmental, condescending, or even on the flip side, very complementary, yet the one who said the statement may not even recall saying it.  Often people with ADD/ADHD are very passionate about their interests.  When something is said about one’s interest of great passion, the reaction can channel this passion in ways others don’t understand.

When one is empathetically sensitive, it’s as though he or she is going through the same circumstances as the person/people around him or her is/are experiencing.  When someone encounters a very exciting situation, one with ADD/ADHD can be just as excited, and maybe even more excited, than the person actually celebrating.  On the other hand, when someone is in great pain or need, someone with ADD/ADHD can feel this angst to such a great degree that it can cause him or her to become very upset and maybe even withdrawn. 

It’s difficult to explain how we can take on the emotions and feelings of those around us.  For example, it is very difficult for me to go to hospitals or retirement/nursing homes.  I notice everyone and everything around me; thus, being in a place with much pain, anxiety, and sometimes sadness, is quite a challenge.  A while ago, I began noticing that I was picking up on things that others didn’t notice – whether it was regarding the person we were visiting or even people in rooms with open doors that we passed in the hallway.  I would take these feelings home with me and be very down for some time.

Being physically sensitive is often much easier to explain even though it can be hard for some to comprehend.  Smell, sound, and touch can be enhanced to such a higher degree for one with ADD/ADHD that it is literally hard to believe.  Certain smells can be quite pleasant to some while the same smell can cause one with ADD/ADHD to almost feel ill.  Sounds can be too loud or too soft.  There can be too many different sounds at once, which cause the ADD/ADHD brain to be in chaos. 

When it comes to touch and space, a person with ADD/ADHD can be very sensitive.  Many need their space, and they need MUCH space at certain times.  This can even mean having to be alone for a bit to decompress even if they don’t necessarily feel overwhelmed.  Being sensitive to touch can involve someone else’s touch or the touch of something such as a tag on clothing.  Some with ADD/ADHD don’t really like to be hugged or touched by others…especially when they barely know the other person.  This isn’t necessarily from being obsessive-compulsive about germs or from disliking the other person.  It’s simply a very high sensitivity to touch. 

Tags in clothing; seams in socks; a hemline on bare skin; certain types of material; turtlenecks; and cuffs of shirtsleeves are just a few examples of what can bother one with a sensitivity to touch.  Many of these things are never even considered by others, yet they can’t be worn by some with ADD/ADHD without MUCH discomfort. 

Many of these sensitivities may seem extreme.  Some may wonder how one would live with such high sensitivity.  You learn to adjust.  Yes, it may take some time as well as some explanation to those close to you, but it’s possible.  Life is much easier when we choose to adjust things according to our needs rather than our trying to adjust to the world.

Everyone who is highly sensitive doesn’t necessarily have ADD/ADHD.  It’s just that some people who do have ADD/ADHD are also highly sensitive people.  Do you have any particular sensitivities to share?  I’d love to hear from you.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Reem

I have ADD and everyone at my new college thinks I’m immature because I have a hard time controlling my happiness. I was really excited to start colleg, and this made people hate me for being annoying. At the same time I am sarcastic and like to joke around, and now people hate me for that too because they say I’m mean. I try to stay quiet now but people have made up their minds about me and wont leave me alone. This really sucks. I hate ADD. Not only does it make academics hard, it makes my social life hard too.

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Carmen S. Hollis

I have a boyfriend with ADHD. We have been going out since 2003. I like my hand held and he does not like to hold it. I know that he does not have the money to take me out to eat to nice places all the time. I thought since he doesn’t won’t to hold my hand he should do it. I say things that are on my mind. It’s like we have to have a blow out fight to have him listen to me. I know people with ADHD don’t like to be touched but, sometime I feel like I’m dying inside sometimes.

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Greg

“You are just too sensitive! Don’t you think you’re overreacting?! Why do you take everything so personally?!”

Wow. This is the exact post that I needed to read today! At this very moment, my dad is outside washing the car (channeling his frustration with me) after yet another week of misunderstood comments and misplaced emotion.

My wife and I so desperately need someone to intervene in our ADD/ADHD lives before too much more time passes as my dad has been sharing his home with us and doing a right fine job too I must add. But, there is a deep seated sense of frustration that prevails on our daily interactions (mainly mine and his) that is becoming more frequent and less subtle.

Have you ever done any kind of coaching for a situation like this? Would it even be something you would consider? We live in your area. I think it would be a good thing for us (not too sure about the effect we might have on you, LOL!).

Anyway, nice site! Very well written and a lot of good content I believe! Please keep it up!!!

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Tina

Hi, Greg.

Thanks so much for visiting my site and for your comment. Honestly, I haven’t coached a family situation without a younger child involved; however, I would like to speak to you further about your situation to see if we could work something out to help you and your family move forward with more ease. Please email me at changingitforward@att.net with possible times of day you are available to chat. We will work out a call from there.

Take care of you.
Tina

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Jason Marcon

I hate to comment, but for your post i am going to give it a try. You might have gained a loyal reader my friend

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Tina

Hi, Jason.
I’m glad you did comment. I hope you visit my site again soon as I will be writing more often now.
Tina

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Bethany Rice

Thank you for sharing. Not to many people in your position are so gracious. Your article was very poignant and understandable. It helped me to understand very clearly. Thank you for your help.

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Tina

Hi, Bethany.
Thank you so much for your wonderful comments regarding my writing. I hope you visit again soon as I will be posting more often now that the holiday rush is behind me.
Tina

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Johnetta Oberman

Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!

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Tina

Hi Johnetta.

Thanks so much for subscribing to my rss feed! I am so glad you found my site and enjoyed reading my blog posts. There is much more to come in the very near future.

Take care of you!
Tina

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Melaney

I appreciated this a lot. I believe I have ADD. I have most of the symptoms. I am also an extremely sensitive person. For example, my friend thinks that I am overreacting and radiating a sense of entitlement because I get so sensitive about the way that she treats me. It’s just little things like her talking on the phone for 20 minutes while she’s hanging out with me. She didn’t see a problem with this. I feel like that is something that most people would get upset about. It’s also the attitudes that she and other friends have while around me like saying “Hi” when they walk in the door and go straight to their room instead of acknowledging my day. I am always the one to strike up a conversation. I feel like the only reason some of my friends expend their energy towards me is if they receive something in return. I am constantly expending my energy towards other people and I’ve never expected anything in return. Just recently I’ve been extremely effected by small selfish inconsiderate acts that my friends take without even considering if I’ll get upset about it. I know that they are not responsible for my reactions to things but I feel like we all are somewhat responsible for each others feelings if we choose to open up to each other. I know that I seem like I’m overreacting sometimes. But am I radiating entitlement for being a good person and considering others feelings and wanting that in return?

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Tina

Hi, Melaney.

Thanks so much for reading as well as posting your insightful comment. It is SO TOUGH to live as a highly sensitive person! Trust me; I know this from years of experience. ;)

One thing I have learned in trying to deal with my high sensitivity is that I have to be careful with my expectations of others. I have noticed that I often expect others to act and react as I do, and many of my clients have noticed them about themselves as well. This type of response from others simply is not the usual case! Yes, to us it seems the logical response from others; however, in this very busy world, many have learned to focus more on self versus others. This is a sad state of our culture, but it seems to resignate highly among many. How refreshing is it to find someone who actually DOES respond in ways we expect?! I’ve come to appreciate and cherish those times and people rather than to expect them.

No, I do not believe you are “raditating entitlement” in your thoughts and actions. It appears that you, like other highly sensitive people – including me, are simply stating what you feel. You aren’t overreacting either. We are all made differently and have different ways of dealing with others as well as differing ways of responding or reacting to situations or circumstances.

Your way of treating others is to be highly honored and esteemed. You never know whose life you could touch with your kindness and your generous heart. Does it make you happy to do things for others or to “be there” for others? Then keep it up, and don’t think about what the future might bring in return. I’ve found that many times my “returns” don’t necessarily come from the ones I’ve shown such care or generosity toward but from unexpected places and people. Let that be exciting and adventurous for you!

Take care of you!
Tina

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Sara

Melaney,

As a woman who has had ADHD all her life I just want to say, I myself am a sensitive person and my friends all know this, but as I see it, you’re not honestly that sensitive, not as I see it, you have good manners, which is hard to find in people these days. Many people who others might call over sensitive or overreacting are neither… What they are, are normal people raised with good manners, people who were taught to respect others and their feelings, I think your friends are rude, honestly, and probably not very good friends.

As for the article, I myself avoid conversations unless spoken to personally, I also greatly dislike physical contact unless I invite it, I have learned over the years to Shake hand’s and accept the occasional hug as a sign of good manners, tho in my head I am slightly freaking out.
I also have become highly sensitive to sound, when I go to public functions for my friends if it gets to loud I actually get physically ill.

I am also sensitive to smells, tastes, textures, and temperature. I also am not able to talk to another person while looking them in the eye, I avoid eye contact with most people, That I am unsure of why I do it, but I either look at the ground or at some other feature on their face, or maybe their clothing.

My ADHD has actually changed over the years from being a hyperactive child, who was always moving, to a more dormant withdrawn adult. I have also noticed I have been taking on almost OCD style characteristics when I do tasks, which sometimes in beneficial, tho most times it’s cumbersome and makes most task take significantly longer.

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