Can’t run, can’t hide! Or can you?

Vluchten kan niet meer! Of toch wel?

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I fled. I am now under a hot shower, with the door closed, my head under the jet. With my hands over my ears now and then because I still hear noise. I do hope the tension will wash off of me now.

Really a necessity, because I came home after a wonderful and hard day of work, but completely overstimulated. At home I found my partner, son and a friend of his from class. They were having a great time. The new sofa was once again being tested for jumping capacity and for the different ways to build huts with the cushions. There was also a game going on that involved a lot of running, laughing and yelling. And who am I to stop so much fun? That was not an option. They should enjoy. But I couldn’t.

But there I was, standing with my head about to ‘blow up’. I would have loved to have curled up in my lovely new loveseat with a cup of tea. Between lots of pillows and with a good book, not too complicated. However, I had pictured silence while doing this and that was nowhere to be found in our livingroom.

My partner happily joined in with all the hilarity, quests and pillow fights. He’s great with that. Our son and all his friends are often trying to persuade him to play. Sometimes he threatens to succumb to his own success, because he doesn’t always feel like it. Fortunately today he did. And I love that, because it means I don’t have to deal with any of it, he will. Without feeling guilty, I ran.

So there were three noisy people running around the house. Reason for all my alarm bells to go off; sensory overload! I was close to crying, it really feels like having my senses flooded. I could not handle any more input. Quickly, I moved myself away from all their fun and went upstairs. I recently set up a cozy reading corner in the study. There is a wonderfully comfortable chair, strategically placed behind a few chests where books, coffee, tea, licorice or chocolate are within arms reach. Depending on the alarm phase and my needs, these survival items are called upon.

But even there I wasn’t safe yet, because the jumping and yelling gang had things to hide near my fortress. I was instructed not to tell dad! He folllowed a minute later, on his seek and find expedition. Hence my flight to the bathroom, where at least the door can be locked. And it is such a wonderfully good place, because it also meant I didn’t have to be present when the friend was being picked up. Because in this overload state, I have zero energy to be social.

Have you ever experienced this? A complete sensory overload with all alarm bells going off? It’s usually nobody’s fault, but something has to happen in order not to explode (and start shouting things that you rather you hadn’t, afterwards). Here are some tips:

  • Take a hot shower, lock the door. Spoil yourself with the most delicious showerfoam. And maybe a scrub. And oh yes, try that new shampoo right away. And the conditioner of course.
  • Create your own corner, where you can sit comfortably, mute the light, put on relaxing music and place a delicious mug of tea. And of course your favorite snack. Make sure you are behind a door that can be closed. Or hang a curtain and add headphones that allow you to listen to your favorite music.
  • Make sure you have earplugs at home. You can even have them custom made. Just make sure to use these sparringly. It’s better to listen to music at a low volume then to cut yourselve off from sounds).
  • Curl up on the couch, under a blanket, with the information: ‘Do not disturb!’ shared with all concerned. Turn off your phone.
  • Go around the block, with or without a dog. (Sounds like the perfect time to go get some chocolate)
  • Hide yourself behind a wonderful book, in which you can disappear completely. Not the newspaper, that won’t help with cutting down on stressful input.
  • Hide behind your phone or tablet and play your favorite game.
  • Do crafts, like making a beautiful color drawing (mandala).
  • Sit in a parked car with some nice music on.
  • Staring is also very relaxing. Put a chair in front of the (attic) window and look at the clouds. Or put it in front of the washing machine. Wonderfully relaxing, the rotating drum with moving clothes in it.

By the time I got out of the shower, the danger had passed and I had ‘decompressed’. The friend had gone home and our son needed a sensory break. He was collapsed and ready to snuggle up against me, under a blanket on the couch. And that’s where my ‘task’ begins, I’m the reader and boardgame player. Totally my ‘sensory level’.

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