The energy level never tones down in my head. I’m always processing something, there is no moment of not thinking, relaxing, or staring at a wall. I am so aware of other people, of sights and sounds, that it’s sometimes overwhelming to be around too many at once. My days are scheduled around lists of tasks that I tackle with relentless energy and intensity. Smells are the only sensation for which I have no sort of cut with a quota for experience. I live my life by rules. I will wake up at a certain time. I will accomplish x tasks by a certain hour, be at certain places, accomplish X amount of work. The way that I sleep, work, eat, is completely scheduled and planned, and that’s the way that I like it.

I want everything to be done efficiently, correctly, and well. I don’t understand why anyone would ever pursue anything and not do their absolute best. This makes me incredibly hard on myself, but also able to take on many responsibilities and do them well. This is the mindset from which I conduct my life, and consequently I don’t have patience or a high tolerance for laziness, arrogance, or a large deviation from a standard of excellence. I don’t understand how someone could have free time or choose to do nothing - if I had nothing to do I would make something immediately and once again progress.

Let’s go back to physical sensations. I have no idea about your experience of the world, but I can infer from my habits that my perception must be different than what is average. What is the probability of my personality + many major surgeries, and I am not different? Low. Let’s start simple. If I am sitting in the same room as you, your every gurgle, the slightest gesture, change in position, is constantly at the front of my awareness. It never changes to background noise. When I am alone in a room, I’m just aware of myself constantly, which is something that I can deal with. When someone else enters, then I’m constantly aware of myself and the other person. Each person that is added is an equal increase in that stimulation, until perhaps some point when I just want to leave the room because it’s too much. What is that point? I don’t much mind working around 2 or possibly three others. Once there is a larger group than that, it’s a pretty miserable environment for me to be in.

On top of that, I’m also thinking about the other person’s/people’s perception of me. These things combine to an environment that is defined by awkwardness for me, an environment in which I must simply endure and create the impression that I am relaxed in it. While my outside demeanour may portray being at ease, my inside state is anything but. If I was working on something, or trying to think or concentrate, all of that thought goes on the backburner. If I have to eat with a group or do something that I’m supposed to enjoy, I’m so distracted by myself and the other people that the experience loses all pleasure. When I am in a crowded room or space, such as a bus, the conversation and movement most definitely fill my stimulation quota if not overwhelm it.

When I work in a semi public place, such as my private corner in the gym where I am most productive, I simply must tune out everything by creating a dominating source - I play music through headphones. Even still, anything that enters my visual field is almost automatically brought the the front of my awareness, and I am often bothered and frustrated until that target has moved away.

I am hyperaware of my own body, it just never goes away. If I had to locate my center or sense of self, it would be deeply rooted in my gut. Every slight change in temperature, every subtle movement of anything through my intestine, and every twitch of my muscle or small pimple on my face are at the front of my consciousness. When I eat anything, I feel and hear my heart beat faster as the blood rushes to my stomach to digest, and I feel the heaviness in my stomach. When I am sitting in a chair I can feel (and sometimes see!) one or both of my legs pulse with my heartrate. When I wear clothing that has the tiniest bit tightness, I feel it touching every part of my skin, constantly, and it’s incredibly uncomfortable and I can’t wait for the moment to tear it off. When I fall asleep, I listen to my heard pounding, and I hear the subtle changes in the rhythm and speed of my own breathing. When I run, I feel every breath, and every twitch of every muscle working to power me forward. This hyper awareness translates to control - I can push myself harder than anyone that I know, and I don’t ever seem to get tired from exercise activities. When I “work out” or even run distance, I don’t even sweat very much. It’s just, easy.

If I had to call this anything, it would be some sort of hyper proprioception. With it comes great strength and control, but I am constantly thinking about how this part of my body feels, it’s like my body never fades into the background noise, and I wish sometimes that it would.

But other times I can play with my hyper-awareness of my body, and its location in space. Sometimes I like to close my eyes and create the sensation of infinite or confining space. I first figured out how to do that when I was little, perhaps 5? and then it took me many years to be able to willingly make the sensation happen, and then switch between the two. These are strategies that I use when I’m in a crowded place and I want to control the environment around me - I close my eyes, and make infinite space between me and everyone else.

Suggested Citation:
Sochat, Vanessa. "What it's like to be me." @vsoch (blog), 19 Nov 2009, (accessed 12 May 24).