Highly sensitive people may have to deal with especially strong reactions and feelings.
How do our brains create such strong feelings and how can we stay emotionally healthy and balanced?
“I am the kind of person that feels so much that if I didn’t have acting (and music), I would burst from all of the emotion inside!”
She has also said, “My sensitivity is my superpower.”
But it can be very challenging at times to embrace our strong emotions, especially “negative” ones like anxiety.
Julie Bjelland, LMFT is a psychotherapist specializing in highly sensitive people, and notes:
Research shows that most HSPs spend more time in the limbic system (emotional brain) than non-HSPs.
See more in my article Why are we more emotional as a highly sensitive person?
The photo is Christina Ricci as Wednesday in “Addams Family Values” (1993).
The movie also featured David Krumholtz [later in the tv series “Numb3rs” among other projects] as a rather stereotypical highly sensitive kid, repressed and using an inhaler to cope with asthma.
Wednesday may represent another sort of coping with high sensitivity: responding to situations and other people with snide irony and contemptuousness.
That may be another way to cover or hide from feelings that seem too strong.
Writers – intelligent and emotional
In her book My Teeming Brain: Understanding Creative Writers, Jane Piirto, PhD quotes a writer remembering their childhood, with thoughts that Wednesday might have shared:
“What I feel as I think of summer camp is completely ugly. I want to kill my parents for doing this to me!
“I want to hack them to death for this… they threw me away and tried to make me ordinary!
“They threw me away with a bunch of normal kids who thought I was strange and made me feel strange until I became strange!”
Dr. Piirto goes on to comment, “This quotation illustrates the combination of high intelligence…and high emotionality…that are hallmarks of the personality of the creative writer.”
Also see her related article: Themes in the Lives of Successful U.S. Adult Creative Writers
This intensity of emotional memory is something Elizabeth Wurtzel spoke about in her memoir Prozac Nation:
“No one will understand the potency of my memories, which are so solid and vivid that I don’t need a psychiatrist to tell me they are driving me crazy.
“My subconscious has not buried them, my superego has not restrained them.”
The Wikipedia page on her notes:
“As described in Prozac Nation, Wurtzel’s depression began at the ages of 10 to 12.”
Prozac Nation, “published when she was 26…chronicles her battle with depression as a college undergraduate and her eventual treatment with the medication Prozac.
“In the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani wrote,
“Wrenching and comical, self-indulgent and self-aware, Prozac Nation possesses the raw candor of Joan Didion’s essays, the irritating emotional exhibitionism of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and the wry, dark humor of a Bob Dylan song.”
“The paperback was a New York Times bestseller. The film adaptation of Prozac Nation starred Christina Ricci.”
Highly sensitive people may be especially vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
Therapist Susan Meindl writes:
“HSP’s typically respond strongly and quickly reach their natural level of tolerance in loud, bright or chaotic environments.
“Managing this kind of overstimulation could be treated as a “technical problem” of reducing environmental intensity or leaving it when possible.”
She goes on to detail “Five kinds of over-stimulation which can contribute to depression” in her article Overstimulation May Lead to Depression.
Some related articles:
Creative People with Depression and Deeper Wounds
Mental illness and emotional health challenges impact many of us, including artists and other creative people. According to a National Institutes of Health website, an estimated 16.2 million U.S. adults aged 18 or older had at least one major depressive episode in 2016.
How to Relieve Stress and Anxiety When You’re Highly Sensitive
As highly sensitive people, we may experience many positive aspects of the trait, but we can also be more reactive and vulnerable to stress and anxiety.