Sensory Overload

Sensory Overload

I’ve been speaking with others that live with Multiple Sclerosis, or a similar illness… about certain things that we deal with frequently; that isn’t really spoken about as “main topics” for the disease in question.

Recently, I seem to be having some sort of an issue when I’m out in public with a lot going on around me. For example, I’ve been having issues at the grocery store a bit more than usual. It probably doesn’t help that it’s hot outside… but if I go to the store and it is packed full and there is a lot going on all around me, I seem to get ‘overloaded’ and get confused a bit more easily… lose train of thought, sense of direction, etc.

Trying to plan to avoid crowds

I plan out the trip before I go by the way. I get everything organized and planned; I have my grocery list ready and I have a plan. I usually plan to go when it’s not busy but I can’t predict the future… and I seem to have bad luck recently when going out and about. I end up finishing up at the grocery store, forgetting A LOT of things that were written down right in front of me. Why is that?

I had to think back and analyze on what happened, why I got lost… I came to the conclusion that I got sidetracked. There were people everywhere; I couldn’t even get in to certain aisles. I also get overheated easily, so then I’m to the point that I’m overwhelmed, getting confused, getting overheated…. Causes so much frustration that I just want to hurry up and get out of there.

Losing track of conversations

This doesn’t just apply to the grocery store; I was just giving an example. If I go to a friends house that is having a party/event…depending on how many people are there, I get overwhelmed very easily. If I’m trying to hold a conversation I will lose my train of thought more frequently, because of the all the surrounding sounds and people talking, and too much going on at once. It’s almost like a ‘buzz’ of sound that’s going on around you.

Not everyone understands

Literally the other night I was at the softball fields because my husband was playing a game, and I was talking with a friend of mine… she is telling me something and we were really close to the dugout, so there was a lot of chatter there too, so I couldn’t even comprehend what she was saying. Once we moved away from the noise, I asked her to repeat herself, cause I didn’t catch ANYTHING. She of course understood, but not everyone does in these situations.

Too much activity can cause a migraine

I’m sure I look a bit crazy to those who don’t understand… or that I’m scatter brained. But it seems that ever since I was diagnosed with MS, I can’t have too much going on at once. It will give me a headache/migraine, because I’m getting overloaded with way too many outside factors at once. It makes me exhausted as well, if I get overwhelmed… I just want to take a nap.

I’ve noticed, as well as close family/friends, that I do much better when communicating with others with less background noise/activity. It took me a while to put what I was going through into words… and I came up with Sensory Overload.

It's a lesser known symptom

This issue isn’t something that I was aware of and/or prepared for when dealing with MS. There are so many things that we go through that aren’t on the ‘symptom list’. They aren’t fully detailed and explain to you scenarios of what’s going to happen when certain things happen, etc.

So for those of you who see someone with MS or an invisible illness, they might be having issues like this… You might need to remind them of what you were discussing, or see if they want to step outside with you. Suggest moving to a less ‘active’ area so help them regain their thought process and sanity.

Sometimes I have to step outside

I can’t tell you how many times I have to go to my room, or step outside… while I’m at home. I have two young boys, husband and father-in-law in the same house. It gets to be too much and I just have to separate myself, because it can cause some anxiety issues for me as well.

I love being around other people and socializing, but I have to change up how I’m going to go about things. Know that I’m not TRYING to be anti-social as well. I just need time to get myself back together from the sensory overload… It can be confusing with too much going on, then frustrating because we can’t handle multiple things going on at one time.

We push ourselves enough

And for those of you who have a loved one that has gone through this or something similar… PLEASE do not make them feel bad for it. We are already hard enough on ourselves and we try to push ourselves as much as we can as it is. We got things taken from us due to MS. We are trying to keep our lives as ‘normal’ as possible on top of everything else we are going through.


Ashley Ringstaff

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