PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND ME IV
In November 2018, I started a project, where I collect stories from emotionally intense people from around the world.
I am overwhelmed by your generosity and feel incredibly moved by your courage to be vulnerable, the poignancy in your stories, and the poetic beauty in your words. This is a continuation from page one of this project.
Life can be a precarious and lonely journey, and I am glad we can find each other in this space.
I hope you will land on some resonance and encouragement in the stories and recommendations from your fellow travellers of life.
To contribute, please click here.
(The images alongside the stories are added by me, unless stated otherwise or are a part of your offerings.)
AMY, 25, USA
’As I let the water run, I look into the sunlight and I start giving thanks to the universe for giving me life. When I start speaking I also give thanks to the tree for hosting me in it's space, and as I do that, I always get a response from the universe.’
My Name: Amy Romero
Who am I:
I am from a small town in Illinois. I am currently 25 years old and I was partially raised in Mexico but later moved to the US. I really enjoy listening to music, buying books, eating good food, and sharing my passions with people. I currently work as a manager at a movie theatre. What matters to me? uplifting women in a world where they have been told that they are not good enough. I think that women are such powerful and resilient beings that deserve everything that's good in the world.
I grew up in mexico with a strong sense of curiosity for the world. I have very vivid and detailed memories of my childhood when my life was the happiest but also when it was the most tragic. I grew up feeling a sense of detachment from people but felt very in tuned with nature. I think that I have a very good sense of becoming close to people and because of that I have suffered greatly. I always knew that I could feel things with such intensity but I never knew or understood why.
I love watching music based films such as: Whiplash, the temptations, La bamba.
I love reading books about adventure and romance: Pride and prejudice, Howls moving castle, the house on mango street.
Music is my escape: anything from frederic chopin, trevor hall, mon laferte. I love sound so my most favorite sounds come from tabla drums, digeridoos, wind chimes, tall grass rustling in the wind, the ticking of a clock.
People who have influenced me:
There are a few people who have helped me along my journey: My aunt who helped raising me, my third grade bilingual teacher, my HS psych teacher, and a few friends who have really helped me evolve over the years. These people have helped me find myself through their kindness and acceptance when everyone else made me feel invisible.
Some written words:
Whenever I am feeling sad I like to take a shower with warm water and while I do that I open a small window that we have to let the sunlight in, through that small window you can see the sky, the sunlight, and a huge tree with all of its levees that sits right in front of my house.
I like to believe that I have a special connection with that tree.
As I let the water run, I look into the sunlight and I start giving thanks to the universe for giving me life. When I start speaking I also give thanks to the tree for hosting me in it's space, and as I do that, I always get a response from the universe. A small breeze enters through the small window and the leaves begin to move.
I like to think that the universe is connecting with me at that very moment.
A life advice:
Always be honest with the people that you love, remind them how much they mean to you, share your emotions with people, let them know how they make you feel. It's those little reminders that remind us that we are meaningful to somebody. It feels so good to know that people notice our little moments of happiness.
In my own words:
Please be gentle with yourself, don't close yourself off from the world because you can't bare the pain that hardships make you feel. When you become sad, you become bitter and that leads to anger, you detach yourself emotionally from people, you forget how to feel your own emotions, crying becomes physically painful, everything feels cold and isolated. Don't let the pain consume you, feel everything to it's fullest capacity, it's okay to cry and feel pain, it's okay to smile and feel loved. You are deserving of love no matter how much believe it to not be true.
GABRIEL, 59, ENGLAND
‘I love anything that takes me to a higher place, sporting/business success, sex, drink, music, art, theatre, a beautiful view or visiting a new country.’
My name: Gabriel Clare
Who am I:
I am a 59 year old man. I was born and brought up on the South Coast of England, before leaving at age 18 for University. I pursued a career in finance based in London before returning to retire in my home county. I enjoy travel, art, literature and Mediterranean cuisine. I am a lifelong sailor and feel happiest went I am on or near the sea.
I was brought up as one of three children in a stable, loving home. I had a very sheltered upbringing centred on the family. My mother was a full time housewife while my father worked long hours. My family was financially comfortable. My parents had very traditional values and gender roles. My parents worked hard and saved their money. They did not socialise and rarely took a holiday. I was always a sensitive child. I was very shy and blushed easily when embarrassed. My parents set great store by academic and sporting achievement.
I struggled to learn to read and have always been poor at spelling. Looking back I think I might have been slightly dyslexic. I was also quite poor at maths. However I passed my 11plus and went to grammar school. During my teens I was successful at athletics and competitive sailing. I found my single sex Grammar School a struggle academically and I was not able to make many friends. I felt socially isolated both at school and home. While my mother thrived bringing up young children she was unable to help me develop from puberty onwards. Standards of strict traditional Christian temperance and morality were assumed as a given leaving nothing left for discussion. From age 11 onwards I felt emotionally alone and confused. I lacked a sense of personal identity. I was groomed and sexually abused by a male family friend for a short period. This is something I was never able to tell anyone until I had some professional counselling two years ago.
However with a great deal of effort and hard work I passed my O and A levels.I did not know what I wanted to do in life and so I went to University. While my parents were proud of me being offered a place at University they also found it difficult to accept that I was leaving home and becoming an independent adult. I was left to find my own way to university with just some small change in my pocket.
I found university life a shock to the system. I felt insecure and socially inept particular with regard to members of the opposite sex with whom I had never socialised with before. My initial reaction was that I was some sort of imposter who was total unqualified to be at University and that at any moment I would be discovered as a fraud. However despite periods of depression and existential angst I did make friends and really enjoyed my time at university. I discovered that alcohol could dull my sensitivity and help overcome my natural shyness and embarrassment. I continue to use alcohol in this way to the present day. Much to my surprise I even enjoyed the academic side of University and achieved a good Honours Degree.
I left university and went to London to work in financial services. I worked in a high pressure environment with targets and deadlines to meet. I had to pass numerous professional exams. I worked in an environment which had a heavy drinking culture. I suffered from work-related stress, bouts of depression and anger management issues. I self-medicated with alcohol. I was lonely and married an unsuitable partner so as not to be on my own. I strived to make the marriage work but grew more and more depressed. After a sort of mini breakdown I left my wife and son and set up home on my own. I suffered an acrimonious divorce. However my self-esteem improved and my career flourished. I ended up in a senior role in an international bank.
I took early retirement and remarried. While I had an active social life and plenty of hobbies my early retirement put a stain on my personal relationship and I continued to suffer with mood swings and bouts of depression. I had a mini breakdown and for the first time in my life took some professional counselling. I found the counselling process difficult at first but ultimately it set me on a voyage of personal discovery. I searched the internet for the cause of my problems. I seemed to fit a BPD profile and it was while researching that disorder I came across Imi’s Eggshell therapy website. Imi’s analysis of HSPs seemed to fit me perfectly. I was excited to learn that she was writing a book and I ordered it the day it was released. I read it in one sitting with tears in my eyes. Imi might as well have written my life story.
Mood swings. I enjoy the ecstasy of being on a high and feel desolation during the lows. I love anything that takes me to a higher place, sporting/business success, sex, drink, music, art, theatre, a beautiful view or visiting a new country.
When I suffer disappointment, a setback or a personal argument, I lack mental resilience and can quickly find myself psychologically in a bad place.
Lack of self-esteem. I constantly criticise my own performance and think I am not good enough.
I feel other people’s pain and get upset if others are upset or suffering.
My mind won’t stop thinking and analysing. I have a severe internal critic.
I want to be loved. I have a passionate nature I seek unconditional love and yet can never find it. I have a tendency to feel rejected in relationships and withdraw emotionally as a result.
I fall in love to quickly and attribute (unthinkingly) all the qualities I seek in an ideal partner to the person concerned.
Blank and white thinking. It’s either all good or all bad.
I have had the same recurring nightmare all my life. In my dream I wake up on the day of an important exam only to realise I have not revised and feel I am doomed to fail.
I am a driven individual and have succeed in many aspects of life but my personal sensitivity has made everything I have done so much harder that it should have been. Everything I do or accomplish seems an emotional struggle. Both my siblings have experienced mental health issues.
Graham Greene, Brighton Rock
George Orwell Homage to Catalonia, 1984
E M Forster A Passage to India.
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles
J P Sartre, The Roads to Freedom
J D Salinger A Cater in the Rye
Matt Haig, Reasons to stay alive, Notes on a Nervous Planet, Humans
Michael Lewis, Liars Poker, The Big Short. The Undoing Project
Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow,
Stephen Covey 7 Habits of Highly effective People
Artists; Picasso, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Giovanni Bellini
People who have influenced my way of thinking or being
J P Sartre and the existentialists
Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky
Written words that have resonated with me:
The poems of Emily Dickenson
I taste a liquor never brewed –
From Tankards scooped in Pearl –
Not all the Frankfort Berries
Yield such an Alcohol!
Inebriate of air – am I –
And Debauchee of Dew –
Reeling – thro’ endless summer days –
From inns of molten Blue –
When “Landlords” turn the drunken Bee
Out of the Foxglove’s door –
When Butterflies – renounce their “drams” –
I shall but drink the more!
Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats –
And Saints – to windows run –
To see the little Tippler
Leaning against the – Sun!
A life advice:
Ensure a (thinking) gap between a stimulus and your response. You will always secure better outcomes if you pause to think (if only for a short while) before you make your response to a given situation.
Begin with the end in mind. Before you say or start something imagine where you want to (or are likely!) to end up!
Get out and experience the natural world.
My words to you:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”-Mark Twain
Don’t keep doing the same thing expecting (or hoping for) a different outcome.
Remember the definition of true friendship is someone who would do something for you when it’s not in their personal self-interest to do so.
Talk about your feelings, but to the right person. Not everyone understands. Limit your use of social media. Meet people face to face. Listen more than you talk.
Seek to understand others before being understood. The secret to getting on with people and making friends is to first show a genuine interest in them.
Ask open questions, who, why, what, when, where to show interest and to keep conversations alive.
“Computers are useless, they only give you the answers.” Picasso
Read books. They can provide so much insight, learning wisdom and enjoyment. Travel (as opposed to holiday).The experience of other cultures is life affirming. Exercise/sport…but do it outdoors. It vital to feel nature and the environment on your skin.
Giannia, 22, USA
‘sure I got angry quick and it was a true fury, and when I'd get sad it could last for a while and thoughts of self harm did enter my mind, but I also knew how happy I could get and how amazing my "positive" emotions could feel.’
My Name: Giannia Leese
Who am I:
I'm from the midwest, around 22. I've lived all over my state, longest place I've ever lived somewhere was 6 years. I love being around the people I consider family, people I've tried to explain how I FEEL about things to, music is integral I always love listening to music. Making a difference, specifically, making the world a better place, having a positive, lasting impact and being happy, and taking care of my family.
It was only last year almost exactly that I started looking on the internet, searching for answers as to why I felt so much, why I could go from one emotion to another so quickly, why they were so intense and engulfing I would feel like I was drowning. When I finally identified with what I was reading I can't tell you how relieved and excited I was, I could finally get some answers. I had been through a lot just as a young kid, I was around lots of sex, drugs, crime and was overly socialized as a child. Wasn't all bad, when I was younger I remember happy times, but most of it is marred. I was in foster care with my youngest sibling and I still had bad things happen there as well, but soon we were adopted. I remember going to therapy, which was a requirement for me, and consistently being told I was angry, that I had anger issues, I had depression, being put on BC because they helped with my mood swings, with a strong case being that I cried at the littlest things. I always thought that they never knew what they were talking about, sure I got angry quick and it was a true fury, and when I'd get sad it could last for a while and thoughts of self harm did enter my mind, but I also knew how happy I could get and how amazing my "positive" emotions could feel. But, I was just 7 I'd been through a lot, or I may be 15 but I was still young, sure I was 18 but that didn't make me an adult. There was always a reason other people knew better than I did, but the BC helped a little so I let them tell me what I needed. I always thought other people thought of me as clingy, sensitive or too emotional, I can see that, it doesn't even take a particularly perceptive person to be able to know what people are thinking general unfunded people aren't too great at hiding their emotions or thoughts. But I mean why else would several professionals agree that I had depression and anger issues. So, I let it get inside my head, and I believed them for a while, I mean I really had thoughts of suicide over things other people would be over in a day so why not just try their way? As I've said I only recently found out what this is, so after I was 18 I stopped taking BC and started letting my emotions do as they pleased.
When I was 14ish I met two people that I consider family and my soulmates, I love my family but my love for them was there from either my siblings birth or the meeting of my parents, I do hold them in my soul and there is no question I was lucky to have had one of my soulmates born in to the same bloodline but loving them was not a choice I just do. With these two people I chose to love them, I had to tell them not only the things my family already knew, like my messed up childhood and awful experiences, but also the things I'd never told anyone else. I think of soulmate(s) as a person(s) that is a part of you, the same soul, and your soul will recognize them when you meet them, so obviously I feel strongly about them haha. Anyway, we shared eerily similar traumatizing experiences and were still trying to cope with them, so we bonded quickly. As our friendship went on I started to be more and more candid and open with my emotions, because I was told by my own father that I was getting angry or sad incorrectly, and was made to feel like there was something wrong with me I had tried to keep the true scope of my emotions dulled to appear healthy. I had done this for a while and many people would say they thought I was mean, because I didn't seem to smile or show emotion when I was around them, a side effect of trying to keep my "negative" emotions in check I suppose. Because I was being more open with my emotions my two friends started to talk to me about why I would be fine and then something they might find mildly irritating, I seemed to blow up about, if we got into a fight I would be so scared that our friendship would end I would try to be proactive and end it myself. I would cry myself to sleep just thinking about it, and start to be swallowed up by sadness and naturally I am someone who can dwell on a single idea for ages. I'm also talkative, I can discuss one subject for absolute hours, just mulling everything over, I can start on one subject and end on a completely other planet in a matter of 30 minutes. I enjoy thoroughly fleshing out an idea or concept, it helps me fully grasp things, talking to myself is the only way I can do this and actually end my musings, talking to others only "ends" because I can tell they are bored or uninterested, so I find the most compatible discussion partner is myself. This idea might lend itself to why I don't find much value in a romantic relationship, for whatever reason any sexual encounter has ended with me perfectly content to never see or hear from that person again, maybe in the future, but I just know trying to find someone willing to understand might be more trouble than it's worth. Because of this tendency to just turn to myself, I use this as a way of getting out my emotions without letting them lead me down a radical path, so if we have a fight over the phone I can simultaneously get out my emotions with someone who truly understands them (me) and talk to them in a meaningful way so I don't go off the deep end.
They are starting to understand a little bit more, and I've accepted who I am as well, I know what I need, I have no issue telling people how much I care and how much I want them in my life, so now I can tell them that I need to hear the same in return, I've never been and can never be someone who is content with knowing that they love me, I have to be told every once in a while. Maybe it's because I wasn't told when I was younger by my bio family, that my foster family literally asked to adopt my sibling and not me, that my father has said he would "send me back", I think they all contributed to an already sensitive person needing to hear people articulate their affection. I'm not a mushy person, but I do know that with the people I love most, I have to hear it every so often, I love people but I don't need someone in Greece telling me they love me lol.
Still, even with my siblings and parents I do get lonely, I can explain until the cows come home, but I can tell they still don't truly get it, I've told them I have felt anger from when I wake up to when I go to sleep, that I switch to sadness so quickly I don't even know what happened and they try to help but it doesn't alleviate the rollercoaster I'm on. I have felt happiness in way I don't think I could ever describe in a million years, I get sad off of other people being sad and have to hide it so they don't think I'm trying to be overdramtic, it's not actually happening to me so they don't understand why I would be crying harder than they are sometimes. They don't understand why if someone disrespects them I get angrier and more offended, its personal. I can get angry about things going on in the world and feel personally responsible for all the bad things happening, its a crushing burden, feeling like you can do something great, that you want to help and effect change and then something terrible happens and honestly feeling like it's your fault and yours alone because you haven't gotten to the point where you can help, so you're just standing by and letting these things happen?! Seeing what's happening on the news and just crying and crying and feeling so bogged down my the negativity, it's so consuming that you contemplate suicide. And it sounds so crazy because you are one person in 7 billion, so why do you care, what can you do, why does it matter? And just irrational I know it must be because I over think everything and it's not really my responsibility but I can't help it, I feel those emotions that are not only my own but strangers as well on such a large scale that I have had to try to numb myself. It doesn't help that I'm actually interested is politics, global warming, that I have been raped and sexually assaulted, that I am a mixed raced person, that I identify as LGBTQ+ everything affects me and even if it doesn't I find myself crying for those it does affect. I can't watch news everyday, I can't keep up with everything I'm interested in because anger, frustration and sadness just wash over me and hold me down to the point that I can't breathe, I can't think rationally and yes I go to dark thoughts. I try to switch it off I try to stop feeling so much but if I do that then all my emotions get dulled, and going back to how I used to cope after I've accepted myself, feeling so numb that it can't stand it. The only other way to escape my emotions is to try to sleep, but when I do that people think I'm depressed when really I just needed a break and stop telling me I'm coping wrong if you can't even begin to understand. Heck, I can't even watch certain movies or listen to certain songs unless I have fully prepared myself, I'll get so upset and sad I wasn't a young adult in the late 80s that I just cry and take about 2 days to regulate until I've reached my equilibrium again.
Yes, all my experiences have added to the effects of being hyper sensitive, intense and perceptive. What with over thinking, feeling unreasonably responsible, slightly (lol) paranoid, and everything else it can be so hard being this way, but I've come a long way. I don't "get angry wrong" just because I couldn't control an emotion society looks at as "bad" when I was younger, doesn't mean I had anger issues, same with sadness, God forbid you cry and show sadness, nobody will take you seriously, well crying helps me work through my emotions rather than avoid them. It may not affect you but avoiding my emotions only delays and intensifies the inevitable, and I'm not depressed just because it's another "bad" emotion you can't seem to cope with. These all drain me yes, but on the flip side I can't imagine doing my favorite things or seeing my favorite people and not feeling happy or ecstatic or even calm and peace to the extent that I do, and I still haven't found the end, each time it keeps going further and further, more blissful than the last. And even positive emotions can be draining, it's like being used up in a way that leaves you relaxed and content. Its better than any drug I've ever had and I believe any I consider taking in the future I've found nothing more intoxicating and dizzying than doing something I truly love with people I truly love. So yes it can seem like a double-edged sword, but I couldn't ever bring myself to even wish it away.
I listen to all kinds of music and all kinds of movies, anytime I want to feel inspired or upbeat I listen to music that makes me think of my dream future. I also love the west coast, specifically Port Angeles, Seattle and Oregon, when visiting my family have gone in a RV and I remember taking a nap on the floor with my head in between the driver and passenger seats and waking up looking up at tree-lined mountains and a blue cloudy sky or when we were driving back from a national park in Washington and seeing the sun set throwing orange and purples and yellow towards the darkening sky with the moon in place and the trees creating the perfect frame. Or even when we took a ferry and again the setting sun made Seattle's windows and metal shine and dance and look like crazy close stars that just couldn't stop shining. All these experiences I had I associate with music that make me think of the warm light on the cold water, like Love$ick remix by Mura Masa, never forget you by Zara Larsson, Lean on and Get Free by Major Lazer to name a few. I also love aliens, the thought of something else out there makes me feel small, which some might dislike but when you feel responsible for things you can't control and like like you're filling up with too much emotion feeling small helps me use perspective to think this isn't all there is, there could be so much more. But I also find the desert mesmerizing so I obviously associate aliens with Nevada, New Mexico and corn fields, but songs and movies that inspire me here are The Host, Avatar, Arrival, and close encounters of the third kind, I enjoy other alien classics but they don't inspire me lol, songs that make me think of aliens (down ask my why ) the summer or the desert are Talking body Tove Lo, I'm in control AlunaGeorge, I got you Bebe Rexha, wild things and stay Alessia Cara the less I know the better tame impala.
I also want to be financially stable and I use that to inspire me to work hard for everything, but it's hard to get inspired when you get bogged down by the things going wrong in your life, so for me I use Pinterest, I save ideas for big houses, nice apartments, and I find pictures of things that help me think of the amazing times I had on vacation, planes in the clouds, beautiful Washington pictures and I also look at pictures I want to go so different locations and really anything that makes me feel good. That's where I go for art as well, people make amusing things and beautiful photos or drawings can make me cry, especially if they depict bio-luminescence.
People who have influenced me:
I kind of have people all over the place that influence me, Anne Boleyn for being an ambitious woman and getting the last laugh when her daughter became England's greatest monarch, my parents as well, my younger sibling much more innocent and pure, reminds me it's okay to just enjoy things and take break. My two people, they teach me a lot about accepting that people are different and they can totally understand without feeling the same way. Dr. MLK, unnerving belief, Rosa Parks, Malcom X, Selena, Michelle Obama, Salma Hayek, Sofia Vergara, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, Ruth B. Ginsberg so many people mainly their strengths of morals, character and how they speak even when people tell them tojust shut up, never buckle just because they yell loudest.
Some written words:
I love what a lot of people say my tattoo list is insane but one speech comes to mind it's tailored and it might fit me better than it might fit you but Peter Dinklage gave a speech that you can find on YouTube shown by goalcast, 2:50, everytime I'm close to giving up on an anything I think back to this speech, and I find a way to push on, to light up the night.
A life advice:
I believe that people are mostly good and that the few does not and will not dictate my drive to help the many, that because something terrible happened does not mean everyone is like that. Just because what you may want seems far fetched to others do not, DO NOT let them be the reason you never try, succeed or even fail. You can be ambitious and still giving, you can want to provide for your family and create wealth and still be charitable, you can look out for others and yourself, you can put yourself first and still be selfless, you can teach without being condensing, you can stand by your beliefs and still respect others and reach your dreams taking many different paths, please don't give up.
In my own words:
You have to look and find what works for you, how can you regulate your emotions, what works best for channeling them into useful actions find that out because everyone is different, and everyone needs different things. Don't ever be afraid to ask for what you need, but you should never have to beg someone for anything, especially love. Not only are you not alone but you are special, people experience this at varying degrees, you've found people who identify with you while still being unique. Don't let the exhausting part of this get you down, you have an amazing capacity for every emotion, explore them and realize like everything else this coin has two sides. Some people will never know your pain or anguish but they'll also never know your ecstasy or bliss, you may wish to do without but this is only one part of you and you can learn to control this however you please.
‘ Living life more intensely sure has its lows, but the little things I draw strength from bring me so much joy and power and make this all seem worth it.’
My Name: Grace
Who am I:
I am a teenager living in the US, and I am very driven by faith. My natural talents lie in art, and I suppose I have always just found peace in it from a young age. I also feel moved by nature, beautiful historical places, many other things, and enjoying listening to music, as most do, but it means something very deep down in my soul. I guess I'm still figuring out who I am.
I am still young, and know that there is still so much for me to learn about myself, yet I can't help but completely relate to what Imi has been writing. I've been skeptical about how I feel for so long, but for even longer, I felt that I've always just sort of known that something was different about me, something didn't quite add up.
I even made the brave choice to speak to my parents about how I am feeling, and started seeing a doctor for three years for therapy. It didn't work. I tried a new therapist who I felt I had a bit more of a soul connection to, but they too labeled me as dysthymia, etc. I've tried two different types of medicine, and nothing has eased how I feel.
Now don't get me wrong, I am so grateful for all of the help and resources I've been given, but it seems no one knows how I feel. I mean literally no one. Until I stumbled on an article in Psychology Today where Ms. Lo shared what it meant to feel this way. As I have done many times before, I felt... everything. Finally, it felt like there was this light at the end of the tunnel. All of my days alone wondering why no one and no source recognized my uniquely intense emotions were not in vain. The ups, the downs - the article has been the one source I can relate to.
I'm still trying to figure everything out, but I do not regret who I am and how I feel. How could I? Living life more intensely sure has its lows, but the little things I draw strength from bring me so much joy and power and make this all seem worth it. In the moment at least.
I need this to work, and I believe now that it is recognized and I am still quite young, I can begin to free myself of my condition's restrictions, and yet utilize them at the same time.
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" -Stephen Chbosky
My strong beliefs
And though I'm a serious kind of girl, I still feel entirely moved by some good music
People who have influenced me:
My mother, and really just most of my family
Jesus - who says it's okay to love
The Virgin Mary, Michelle Obama, and many other strong women
Some written words:
"Comparison is the thief of joy"
I know I write a lot about joy, but so far, I find it more interesting to dwell on than my more terrible and immense feelings.
A life advice:
My goal is to live by the idea that in the end, you are stuck with yourself, and are the only one who can bring strong peace and happiness. I'm not quite there yet, and maybe I never will be, but I believe it is a good way to go about life.
In my own words:
Well as someone who is young and emotionally intense, my firsthand advice is that though you are unique, one in a million, different.. you still have a place in the world and there are people out there who can relate to your story and be moved by it. Simply, this is so hard, but you are a fighter if you've made it this far. You can do this. You really really can.
LINDA, 70, NEW ZEALAND
‘I was supposed to conform and tried to at times but it didn't feel honest. I thought I 'knew' many things and that sense kept me going, but if I spoke them out, was told I was wrong.’
My Name: Linda
Who am I:
I'm actually 70 years old but look younger, (which is a wonder!) and feel about 23yrs! I was born in New Zealand and have lived here all my life - a country of immense privilege and beauty but which, in my experience, suffers from materialism and embarrassment around non-physical realities. Authenticity matters to me, sincerity and honesty, also respect for resources (i.e. not wasting things), and respect for the planet.
Many families have dysfunction. Feeling no connection with either of my parents, I craved to feel loved. I think I dumbed myself down in my childhood and thought I was hated. As I got older, I was controlled and forbidden what should have been healthy things. I married a good man but who had little grasp of anything non-physical. All my life I was told I was 'too intense', 'too sensitive'. I was supposed to conform and tried to at times but it didn't feel honest. I thought I 'knew' many things and that sense kept me going, but if I spoke them out, was told I was wrong.
Fast-forward many years and I find, after much searching, the answers.
Three things in particular are transforming my life.
1. 25 years ago - finding the One Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church (and I stress - the Traditional one, not modern or 'progressive' but the one formed by Christ 2000 years ago).
2. The Enneagram. This is a personality theory that helped me a lot after I did a weekend course. It is a very old method of the dividing of people into nine types. For some of us who feel so unique, I must say it is a surprise to find we are one of the nine and are often performing along a particular pre-determined line! The Enneagram gave me hope as it made more sense of who I am, how I've developed and in some ways, 'why', and how I could understand myself better. But it also showed me how others may be and how everyone has various issues, strengths and weaknesses to struggle with. My bewilderment at how others behave and view the world became more understandable which was a good thing for me. There are many and varied books on this and plenty of info on the Internet.
3. Neuro-emotional Technique (NET) Through this, I have been able to see that the perceptions formed by me in life, have caused people around me to react and that I can change within by this Technique and then how I am treated may change and there is less pain in life. That is good, because for most of my life I have felt deeply traumatised and I really should look very elderly!! But I think that continually forgiving (once I had worked through the hurt of not being understood) has helped me, actually. BTW, I am still married, after nearly 50 years, to the same man! This may be the greatest achievement of my whole life.
The main spiritual reading I have done is a huge Work by an Italian mystic, Maria Valtorta, (a bed-ridden invalid who never travelled to the Holy Land). It contains over 600 visions of the lives of Jesus and Mary. The account of the Passion of Christ is more graphic and distressing than Mel Gibson's film....which I didn't see...being warned by friends who knew I would not manage it. Maria's books, written in Italian are now published in English and other languages in 10 volumes named "The Gospel as revealed to me".
I also read the Bible and writings of the saints. Real food for the soul. You Tube has many good clips that educate - particularly, 'Sensus Fidelium' is one I enjoy, about the Traditional Catholic Faith. You Tube also has plenty of NET clips which inspire and give hope for change within or with physical issues (which may stem from what is within.)
Imi Lo's book gave me the words to celebrate my sensitivity etc, as a gift and to look more on the positive side of the contribution I can make (albeit often an unseen one.) My deep feeling of compassion for anyone, no matter what they are experiencing of distress, causes me to pray for people who may never know that I do......and I often cry for others when I pray, and this is a wonderful way to 'use' such deep feelings, believing I am giving something, knowing the One who reads hearts and knows my intent, can use it.
People who have influenced me:
Jesus the Christ, the Apostles, many of the saints. Holy priests. My dear friends who love me and help me to feel valued.
Some written words:
"Late have I loved thee, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved thee!
You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.
In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all.
You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.
You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.
You breathed your fragrance on me: I drew in breath and now I pant for you.
I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst no more.
You touched me, and I burned for your peace."
- The Confessions of St. Augustine of Hippo, 4th Century.
A life advice: The words of Jesus the Christ, Saviour of the world, Son of the Living God:
"Ask, and it shall be given you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened unto you."
Also, common-sense advice I have found in clips by Gary Daniels - he has such a positive vibe, and some things he says can make it possible to pick up a better outlook.
In your own words:
The same as the words above, and I would add that I would love that they would be able to feel and believe, even in their head before they really know it, if possible, that they are loved by the Creator of the Universe, unique and of great value!
MARIAN, 36, Belgium; coach and clinical psychologist
‘there are people in the world who are like you, although you don't have met them yet.’
My Name: Marian
Who am I:
I'm from Belgium. I'm coach and clinical psychologist.
My biggest passion is writing. In september I published my first book. It's a book for teenagers. I hope it will inspire them and give hope when times are rough. I like being alone and being creative. I like being in nature. I like reading. I like drawing and making music. I'm also mother of two children. The third child is on his way. I love to be a mum and be with the children. Sometimes the practical things of the household and the care for the children are hard for me because I need so much time alone and don't feel good when I don't have this time.
I had a very very difficult time from when I was 15 till 23 years old. When I look back afterwards I think I was really depressed. I felt and thought very black. I didn't felt connected with the people around me. I felt very very lonely. My parents didn't understand or helped me. They let me go my way while I needed support, boundaries, love and care.
Now I'm 36 years old and I'm feeling much better. I have learned to love myself in the way I am and to choose for the things that I love and to stop to be a person who I am not. I'm feeling more and more on my way and enjoying life and my creativity. It's still difficult to find a job that I love enough or to make money with the things that I love. Also difficult that I lose a lot of energy in the daily world around me.
- Etty Hillesum
- Dawson's Creek (character of Joey)
- Living with intensity - Pchiekowski
- Personality shaping - Dabrowski
- Women who run with the wolves
- Film: the lady in the water!
- Rainforest mind
- website Tolan Stephanie
People who have influenced me: Jesus, Etty Hillesum
Written words that have resonated with me:
'When we seek daily spiritual guidance, we are guided toward the next step forward for our art. Sometimes the step is very small. Sometimes the step is, 'Wait. Not now.' Sometimes the step is, 'Work on something else for a while.' When we are open to Divine Guidance, we will receive it. It will come to us as timely conversations with others. It will come to us in many ways - but it will come.
- Julia Cameron
My words to you:
Try to believe in yourself. Know that times will get different. Know that there are people in the world who are like you, although you don't have met them yet. You are not alone. You are beautiful. Try to choose for what you really love and don't try to be like everyone who you see around you. Being emotionally intense is sometimes difficult, but in the end it is a gift, for yourself, for everyone around you and for the world.
JESSICA, 21, KENT; PSYCHOLOGY STUDENT
‘I can 'sense' people's emotions, I can be very sensitive to smells, I feel things so intensely that my body doesn't know how to react.’
My Name: Jessica
Who am I:
I am a 21 year old female from Kent. I've lived there all my life. I am a student studying psychology, however I am currently on a placement year working in a clinical setting.
The most important things in my life are my family and boyfriend. They are my support and I don't know where I'd be without them.
My aim in life is to be happy and content.
My story starts when I was 16. I was abused by a guy I liked. I hid it because I was embarrassed and ashamed. My mental health started declining when I was 17. I was a straight 'A' student before, but suddenly my grades dropped and I refused to go to school on most days. I would stay in bed, forget to eat, never live the house. I would seep and watch TV. I started having panic attacks when I needed to leave the house to go to the doctors. My mum eventually got me to see a doctor, only for me to be told that there was nothing wrong with me and that I just needed to spend more time with friends.
I went to the doctors a second time. This time, I was recommended to start a course of counselling and was prescribed medication. This didn't really help the situation. The next year was spent trying different antidepressants, and attending various counselling and CBT sessions. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression by the GP.
Aged 18, nothing had changed. I was more angry, I cried over the smallest things. I would rip up my bed sheets, rip my clothes and destroy my personal possessions. I was referred to the local Younger Adults CMHT and diagnosed with EUPD.
From then on, people seemed to understand me more, but there is a stigma within the healthcare system with people with BPD. People seem to believe that people like me are difficult to work with. But we aren't. We just need the right treatment, and for the clinicians to understand our struggles.
It's hard. I struggle to find the words to describe how I feel. I've known about my diagnosis for years, yet my parents and friends still don't fully understand it. I can 'sense' people's emotions, I can be very sensitive to smells, I feel things so intensely that my body doesn't know how to react. But that's hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it themselves. And it's also difficult when there's very little awareness in the public media about BPD/EUPD.
The song 'How to Save a Life' was a really inspirational song for me. I reminds me that I need to live.
Imi's book on emotional sensitivity was another inspiration for me. It showed me that although i struggle, there is still positive in my disorder, and that I need to use that to my advantage.
The Mighty website has been a big help, the sense of community reminds me that I'm not alone in this.
People who have influenced me:
For me, my boyfriend has influenced me. Before, my relationships were always intense and unstable and never lasted very long. I have been with my boyfriend for almost two years now, and he has stayed by me though everything.
He has been by my side through everything, even coming with me to doctors appointments, and has helped my confidence grow and grow. When he's with me, the world doesn't seem so scary.
He has this amazing view of the world. He is calm and relaxed about everything. His aim is to be happy, and now that is my aim too. I don't need to get a 1st at uni to be happy. I don't need a big fancy house and lots of money. He makes me happy and thats all I need.
Some written words:
'People with BPD are like people with 3rd degree burns over 90% of their body. They feel agony at the slightest touch o movement'
'You may have to climb the mountain, but the view from the top is worth it'
'It's a disorder, not a decision'
PATRICIA, 62, NEW YORK CITY; WRITER
‘There are many, many people who have come before us (me) who have suffered and struggled. I'll never know their names but I can feel them, you know? Especially the women whose names don't even come down to us. '
My Name: Patricia
Who am I:
I am now sixty-two years old. I grew up in New York City and have lived in the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountain regions of New York State for the past thirty plus years. I have been an artist and writer since childhood but I have held many job descriptions over the years.
I don't remember ever categorizing myself as "sensitive" as a child but I know now that I was. I did always know that I was different than the other members of my family and friends.
I came along fairly late in life for my parents and my siblings were all much older than me. When I was two years old, my oldest sister died suddenly at eighteen of an undiagnosed heart condition. My family essentially fell apart at that moment and never regrouped.
I sometimes say that I was born just in time to sweep up and turn off the lights.
I don't know if my parents blamed each other for Ann's death but when they weren't arguing and fighting, the tension was thick enough to cut with a knife. I don't believe that they ever dealt with their grief. After her death, her name was rarely mentioned in my family so I never got to know her even through second-hand histories.
My father was raised in a monastery orphanage and God only knows what he might have experienced there but he was a very angry and exacting man. He was hard on my brother who wound up leaving the family very young and marrying a woman who came from dysfunction as well. Their children suffered greatly as a result of that union.
My remaining sister who is mentally, emotionally and physically disabled was a constant emotional drain on my parents and they often fought about how she was being "handled." She was difficult and there were no societal options for people like her in those days. No compassion or support. Just "try to look as normal as possible..."
There wasn't much room for me to have any needs as things were forever in chaos and my role became pretty clear pretty early on: Disappear until we need a peacemaker.
I remember long walks with my mom when she'd leave the house during an argument. During those walks, I would counsel her on her marriage! I was six or seven years old! To say I was emotionally parentiified is an understatement and my mother's emotions became my responsibility in my mind.
When I was nine, my father died. He was forty-seven and had suffered numerous heart attacks beginning in his thirties.
He died in his sleep sometime on a school day morning. I had some kind of premonition that morning and I refused to go to school which was strange because I loved school - it was my escape. I had just been skipped from third grade to fifth and so happy to be challenged.
I don't know how long he was dead before I reached out and touched his arm to find that it was ice cold. I have no memory of what happened after that until my mom came home from work hours later.
wound up in bed for two solid weeks after that trauma. I was never taken to a doctor or a psychologist or even talked to about it. That's how things were done in those days. Like my sister, my father was rarely mentioned again.
My life after that became pretty much trying to shield my mother from further emotional stressors. She became extremely anxious and sometimes even paranoid. I became the go-between when she and my sister were fighting. Alcohol became a constant coping mechanism for both of them.
I never had the luxury of focusing on myself or my sensitivities. My focus was always outward - waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Despite passing all my high school classes with mid to high eighties even though I rarely attended in my senior year, I never went to college. I had to get a job and start contributing to the household. In those days, it wasn't thought that women really "needed" a college education. It was optional at best. That failure is to this day my biggest regret.
During childhood, I spent most of my time in my room reading, drawing and writing stories. As I got older, my friends became my "real" family and I found myself almost living two lives. I sometimes say I got in as much trouble as I could before getting home at eleven so my mother wouldn't worry.
Like many women before me, I saw "Husband #1" as my ticket out only to find myself in a deeper mess. Looking back, I was so out of touch with who I was and what I needed that I just kept digging deeper!
Now I have been married for thirty years with a daughter, two step children and grandchildren that I'm very proud of. Despite having now entered my sixties I'm doing everything I can to give voice to myself and my inner child through my art and writing. My biggest challenges have been self esteem and caretaking issues. I am a card-carrying member of Adult Children of Alcoholics and Other Dysfunctions which has probably saved my life.
Despite how hard life was for me growing up, I have always felt that I have been "protected" by unseen forces. I don't subscribe to any religion but I have had some profoundly deep spiritual experiences throughout my life. In many ways that has drawn me to more esoteric things. I feel that we are much greater than these bodies and these roles that we play in the production we call "life."
Off the top of my head and in no particular order: I love Shakespeare and Jung. I love Robert Moss and his dreamwork. I love Raymond Moody and his books about Near Death Experiences, I love anything by Marianne Williamson, I love Rumi. I love Wayne Dyer and John Bradshaw. I loved the Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore. Thomas Campbell - My Big Toe. I loved the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and so many more. I actually do a lot of reading to "escape" and then I'm drawn to Medieval Mysteries (don't ask me why!)
I tend to like "escape" movies too but one I really related to was What's Eating Gilbert Grape? I could really relate to Johnny Depp's character in that movie.
Art is my salvation and has been since I was an infant and mother put a pencil in hand to stop me crying and waking the whole house up in the middle of the night!
People who have influenced me:
There are many, many people who have come before us (me) who have suffered and struggled. I'll never know their names but I can feel them, you know? Especially the women whose names don't even come down to us. Despite the damage done to me by her neediness, my mother definitely comes to mind as a hero. She survived so much and somehow she kept going. In the best way she knew how she did what she could for me. She worked in factories. She scrubbed floors. Her father was tough and her husband was even tougher. Even though her heart was terminally broken, she loved me and I know that.
I guess people like Gandhi and Mother Teresa come to mind for their selflessness and that's obvious, but I always feel that for each person like that - whose names we know - there have been hundreds of thousands like them that we don't. I try to honor them all in my heart. I think of those people - living through war, living through famine, living through disease and oppression and heartbreak and surviving to pass on their genes. They're humanity - ordinary people - they're all heroes to me.
Some written words:
I love quotes and poetry. Here are a couple that resonate with me.
"Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it" - Rabindranath Tagore
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
JELALUDDIN RUMI, TRANSLATION BY COLEMAN BARKS
A life advice:
Many, many things that I still need to remind myself of on a regular basis! Perhaps the simplest is to get out of your head sometimes and simply follow your heart. Be child like. It's okay to be that because we are that. Someone once said to me: "Of course the child you were still lives within you! Did you bury your six year old self? Did you have a funeral for your twelve year old self? That child is alive and that child needs you to parent her.
Attach to the things that bring you joy! Do more of those! Give yourself that gift because those things are telling you who you really are!
In my own words:
Make it your life's mission to love yourself. Strive for the day you can look in the mirror and smile and say "I love you" and really mean it without shame and embarrassment. Strive for that.
Another thing I would say is to connect with your body. All the emotions, all the pain plays out in these bodies but most of us have learned to be in our heads so much that we are cut off from them. This has helped me so much especially when I'm in an emotional flashback. Notice the sensations in your body without intellectualizing or labeling them. Just notice and breathe into the sensation. Don't try to attach the sensation to the "story" in your head. Let it just be and don't attach to it. You will see that after a few minutes the sensation will lift off you and you'll feel better. I always picture a big tree with a flock of birds that come and sit on the branches for a few minutes and then take off in unison.
Another thing I would say is that you can't "solve" your childhood. It's over. There's nothing to solve any more. You will have to find a gentle and compassionate way to unlearn some things and learn some other things - that's all it is. If you can do this with love and forgiveness, then you won't just have survived, you will come out of it with gifts for yourself and others.
My offering: A piece of artwork titled Gentle