Over the past few weeks, I started thinking about the things that have changed for me since my anxiety began to take over my life. A lot of things changed in my feelings and thoughts of course. But I never really thought about senses. Since I have been wearing glasses since I was pretty young, my hearing and smell senses are fairly well developed. I’ve always been able to hear when a phone vibrates, even if it isn’t necessarily near me. However, one of the biggest changes since I developed my anxiety has been my sensitivity to noise.
The world is very very loud. I never realized it before because I was so used to it, and I’m a relatively loud individual. But, my anxiety increases tremendously when there is just too much noise around me. And for the most part, other people don’t really notice it. I work at a college so it’s constantly noisy. It hasn’t been a problem for me before but now, I can barely watch TV with the volume higher than 30. I don’t go out a lot anymore because the amount of noise that I may encounter. I become extremely irritated with low frequencies such as testing sound equipment. Now, I know that stress and emotional exhaustion have been linked to hearing problems and tinnitus but here is what I believe is my problem with sound.
When I feel really anxious, I have difficulty focusing, which isn’t uncommon for people with mental health disorders. One of the things I do is try to tune out one specific sound so I can think about what I am doing in that moment, that way I also don’t let my mind start running wild in complete silence. However, when there is a lot going on for instance, at a social event when there are multiple conversations going on, my brain is over it. I’m trying to process what I need to hear but my mind is picking up everything else as well. It’s sensory overload and I can barely function without having a panic attack. I have to focus solely on making sure I keep my breathing regular so I don’t freak out. It really sucks because in my job, I’m constantly surrounded by sound and people moving around and other noises. Most days, I can find a quiet place to focus on what I need to but there are some days, I have to just leave because nothing will get done.
So, if you know someone in your life that suffers from anxiety and doesn’t always want to go out into large crowds or parties or social events, it may just be too much for them to process. It happens and it’s okay. Life is loud and it’s okay to want some peace and quiet sometimes.