How does one handle change/sensory overload?

I recently left a support program that I have enjoyed for six years, the reason I left is that each week I have been triggered listening to the traumas of others. My closest friends have told me that I don't need to be in Celebrate Recovery to be their friends ...whew! What a relief that is - the thing is I didn't go about leaving in the right way and sent an email to my ministry leader that surprised even me after a couple of calming hours where the last line read WRITE ME OFF! I even pointed out to my best friend, "this just isn't like me!"

I had responsibilities within that program that I enjoyed at one point, but it took a lot of time and late nights and I just want to look after me - buy groceries, eat food on a regular basis, improve my self-care , get to sleep before 10 p.m. I have also started a volunteer job that I really enjoy as a receptionist. It is something I know I can do although I am struggling in some areas mostly with memory.

I just can't handle a lot at one time - my volunteer shift is three quiet hours of greeting people and I think it works because the environment is quiet. I haven't worked since 2009 and doing volunteer work helps me feel as though I am contributing to my community like everyone else. Does this make sense to anyone else but me?

9 Replies

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  • It does make sense...I don't cope so well with sensory overload neither.

  • I understand. I was in a support group for a couple of years. It could be very good but at times it could be very triggering. I'm glad you have found a volunteer job that you like. I have one too.

  • I understand. I can't be in a room with everyone who has so many issues. It is all pain and suffering. And it really has a negative influence on me.

  • Yes it makes complete sense. I found that as time goes by my needs change. What was good at one time and served me well no longer does and I have to move on to the next step in healing. I think it's a good thing that you saw this and changed to doing what works for you today instead of just keeping on with what worked for you yesterday. I think that's all part of the recovery process. I think you should congratulate yourself for seeing this and taking the steps you need to move forward.

  • Thank you so much for your affirming comments.

  • I was thinking of going to a Survivor group, but was concerned that it might be triggering. I wish I could find the right kind of support. It's hard. Thank you for sharing I am now convinced this group would be to much for me.

  • It makes a lot of sense to me! Sounds excellent, only three hours and nicely greeting people in a quiet place and that's all. Sounds quite comfortable. I would like that, myself. I admire you for doing this. I think you are doing very successful self-care and I can relate to that. Yes, it makes good sense!

  • Makes sense to me! I started doing volunteer work digitising a photo archive, then the contact with people made me stronger, so I joined a support group which made me worse. The good thing that came out of the group was some drive that made me determined never to go back. I'm working now, in a safe pleasant environment but only part time.

    I cope with sensory overload by tuning out, I just turn voices into white noise, I nod and "uh hu" in the right places mostly, but I tune out. Mostly it works. When it doesn't I lock myself in the toilet and breathe, focussing on where the breath is going in my body. Then I go back and do a task that involves putting something in order. Filing, shelving or just tidying the coffee area!

    You are doing well, you have out grown the group, you have moved on. I wish you luck

  • I have began to do that breathing thing myself to calm myself in overwhelming moments. I take a deep breath and hold it for the count of 4 and release it for the count of 4. Previously, I had no knowledge of how the breath is central to controlling my body's reaction. Thanks for sharing your experience and your encouragement GRUMPYA.

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