Highly Sensitive Refuge
A highly sensitive person

A Letter to My Mind, From a Highly Sensitive Person

Dear mind,

You’re an elusive shapeshifter. One moment you’re a fawn in the African grass, weary of the lion on the move. The next, you’re the lion. Running. Always running. Through millions of thoughts, memories, and feelings. Some clear and bright. Others more obscure, like Roman labyrinths descending into dark history.

I don’t want to go there, not tonight. I know you’ll make me an unwilling tourist anyway.

You think too much. Have I ever told you that? You think ahead. You think behind. You think sideways and at odd angles. If it exists, you’ve probably thought of it.

Are you burned out? I know I am. I’m so tired, but I can’t sleep.

Insomnia is like my ex-boyfriend. He’s got this romantic way of making the night seem indispensable. Each night, he sweeps me up in his arms and arouses my anxiety, one kiss at a time.

Mind, you’re a mystery to me; always calm in the storm but uneasy in the quiet. The only time I don’t feel your presence is when I’m sleeping. I know you’re still there, though. Some nights, you make my teeth a necropolis of grinding bones, damaged from biting down on themselves. I startle to find my bottom lip is a victim of your assault. Split like a sliced apple.

The remnants of your nightmare roll by like an overnight train whose journey comes to mean less and less in my waking moments. I don’t remember what you were thinking. Wherever you went, it wasn’t a good place. Next time, bolt a “no enter” sign on that door.

People say I’m over-sensitive.

My doctor says I have PTSD.

I don’t know what to think.

Mind, You Soak Up Feelings Like a Sponge

Dearest mind, you soak up people’s feelings like a sponge that I can bathe myself with, until I am swimming, or floating, or drowning in a maelstrom of emotions that don’t belong to me.

If everyone around me is stressed, I’m stressed — even when I have nothing to be stressed about.

I am happiest when others are happy.

When others are sad, I’m so unbelievably sad.

I once had a friend who lost her brother. I was sad about it for weeks. We aren’t super close, and we don’t even live in the same town. Yet it was all I could think about because for a moment, you made me a siblingless sister.

I cried for her. Tears dripped from my eyes and nose, streamed down my cheeks, ran down my neck and hands. I wanted to stop the pain. I wanted to stop her pain. I wanted to stop crying. Until then, I never realized how much crying hurt. It hurt my chest. My face. My eyes. Everything hurt…

Mind, you step into other people’s shoes, without untying mine. Some days, I find myself walking; one foot in a perfect shoe size, the other in a shoe that is too big or too small. I find myself tripping, and stumbling, and feeling sad over the sight of a homeless man, or from talking to a friend who’s unhappy in her job. In these moments, you make me feel like I don’t have a home or an enjoyable job, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Sometimes, it gets really loud and confusing, especially in crowded places. It’s like having five radio stations on all at once. I don’t know who to listen to. Some days, I can’t even hear myself. There are times when I think I’m going crazy. I want to run out of meetings and malls in screaming hysterics because everyone won’t shut up, even though nobody’s actually said a damn thing.

Open offices will be your Armageddon.

To my managers, I’m sorry.

When I get home, I try to sort out which emotions belong to me and which don’t.

Mine, not mine, mine, not mine, not mine…

I don’t know if this one’s mine… do you think this is mine? Well, I guess it’s mine now.

In rebellion, I vomit up words and art.

Alternatively, I get really quiet.

I’m so quiet because you’re so loud. You’re so loud that sometimes I don’t hear the 5 a.m. train rush by, the one I was supposed to catch. I’m so caught up in the stories you weave and the thoughts you think. You’re transcending.

Mind, You’re the Good Kind of Crazy

Dear mind, I know, without a doubt, that you’re crazy. The good kind of crazy. The kind that tells stories. The kind that searches for others in their darkest moments. The kind that chooses empathy time and time again, no matter the cost. The kind that seeks freedom through art, and believes in better tomorrows, and purposeful days. The kind that lives kindly.

Dear mind, we got this.

Now, please go to sleep.

Fellow highly sensitive people, can you relate?

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