Hearing and seeing everything at once?

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Emu Egg
Emu Egg

Joined: 7 Aug 2021
Gender: Female
Posts: 2

07 Aug 2021, 5:51 pm

So I have this thing that seems to happen every few months or so, where I just can't take hearing or seeing things anymore, everything suddenly sounds super loud and everything looks really bright. Back when I was in HS, I had to wear headphones because it was like my ears just couldn't take everyday regular sounds anymore, I wore a pair of sunglasses too, whenever I went out it was like BOOM, I was just bombarded with all these strange senses. I remember a guy I was going out with was embarrassed by me for wearing headphones and glasses indoors but I just needed something to calm everything down. So now I'm back to feeling this way again, I need to wear my headphones everywhere again, I don't know what happened I was doing find then about a month ago everything started to be too much for me the sounds the sights everything. Feels like I can't focus on one thing without hearing and seeing everything else. Does anyone know what I mean? What I'm talking about?

I never been diagnosed with Aspergers.


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Joined: 9 Feb 2012
Gender: Female
Posts: 5,812
Location: California Bay Area

08 Aug 2021, 12:47 am

Yes, it's called sensory overload.

If it's something that happens after a long period of stress, and you become unable to function as you previously functioned (like go to work or school, clean your home, or handle relationships) it might be a burnout.


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Joined: 15 Sep 2008
Age: 70
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08 Aug 2021, 11:58 am

I don't get that with sights and sounds much, but I do get it with thoughts sometimes. Several ideas will occur to me either simultaneously or in very short succession, and it can be quite stressful to isolate and clarify each one so that I can examine it and make use of it. It's like somebody throwing several objects to me at once and I have to catch them all when I haven't got enough limbs. And although I'm probably learning that it's not the end of the world to let some things go, I still have trouble with that. I don't know if it's possible to learn to ignore items from a plethora of sights and sounds or to avoid it making you feel giddy. If it's any help, most events that would cause me panic have to a degree responded to my simply resolving to keep calm, though sometimes it's all too much.


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Joined: 1 Nov 2017
Gender: Non-binary
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08 Aug 2021, 12:10 pm

I have it with sound (misophonia, hyperacusis), with light (photophobia, visual overwhelm), with textures (I basically live in pyjamas), and with smell -- even nice scents make me ill from overload. It's called sensory hypersensitivity like starkid said, and it can spike at some times worse than others. In my case the only sense of mine which is hypo (under reactive) is taste. I need food to be extremely spicy or flavourful, or I don't like it / can't process anything apart from the texture.

ToughDiamond makes a good point too, that this can also happen with thoughts. I feel like I'm juggling burning knives most of the time with so much mental input and my mind scattered in countless directions simultaneously. I'm diagnosed ADHD which includes racing thoughts, but I still have a hard time to control it.

You aren't alone. Even if you aren't on the spectrum you could have a Sensory Processing Disorder. Occupational Therapy can help reset your nervous system and also recommend assistive devices that might help.


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Joined: 1 Sep 2014
Gender: Male
Posts: 2,038
Location: Pennsylvania

08 Aug 2021, 12:54 pm

When I was a kid there was a Superman comic book I read where Superman had something go wrong with his superpowers. He was unable to "turn down" his super hearing, telescopic vision and x-ray vision. There was a panel where he was standing apparently in anguish with both hands over his ears with his eyes screwed shut in a half crouch shouting "Shut-Up!".

Someday that image comes back to me and I feel like I can relate. For me it has more to do with thoughts than physical senses, but I often feel overwhelmed in a crowd or even in a business meeting with a large number of participants.

Asperger's or Autism are just behavioral diagnosis in the DSM. People are people and don't necessarily fit into nice neat boxes like that. The specific experience of hypersensitivity it something that may overlap a number of "diagnoses" or even exist in the absence of a diagnosis.

My diagnosis is ADHD and part of the research on that has to do with executive function and working memory. Working memory is the pipe that all the thinking has to go through - it is the bottle neck of focus, kind of like the toll booths at a highway exit. Like toll booths a given person's WM can only handle so many "chunks" of memory - like a limited number of toll takers. The average is usually quoted as 7+/-2 which works out to "5 to 9" chunks. I once had a computer test that showed me that mine was about 3. The EF is responsible for deciding what goes into WM and how it gets arranged while it is in there - to mix metaphors it is a bit like having Scrabble tiles on your tray - you are only allowed to rearrange the tiles once they are on your tray. I find that sometimes sensory information can "push" things out of WM. The other day I got to work without my laptop. I turned around and drive another 30 minutes back home to get it kicking myself the whole time for having overlooked it. When I got home I discovered it was nowhere in the house - leaving the only logical conclusion that I had left it on my desk at work the day before. So I now had to drive another 30 minutes back to work - I am now an hour late for work. Just before I left the house for the second time I saw a bag from Walmart sitting on the table in the living room. Now I knew what had happened. I had bought some things from Walmart on my lunch hour the day before and had the bag sitting on the floor by my desk. When I picked up the bag on my way out of the office this pushed the laptop out of my WM - and my EF didn't notice the "missing" item because it had been replaced with another item. I then took the bag home and didn't notice the laptop was missing until I arrived at work the next day. It wasn't until I saw the Walmart bag that my memory of the "leaving the office" memories were triggered (retrieved from long term memory into WM). I hadn't forgotten - the data was stored, but the access to the data wasn't triggered.

Sometimes this flaky EF/WM interaction manifests as too many thoughts triggering too many other thoughts (and so on) and they are all pushing things into WM which promptly get pushed out by other things. I sometimes describe it as a deck of cards thrown in my face or a shattered mirror with each fragment showing a different (perhaps related perhaps not) image from each other fragment. In one of the Spiderman movies with Doc Octopus where was such a shattered mirror depicted in detailed photorealistic computer imagery.

I am working on coping skills for then this happens - I find, like you mentioned, that it varies over time.

ADHD-I(diagnosed) ASD-HF(undiagnosed - maybe)
RDOS scores - Aspie score 131/200 - neurotypical score 69/200 - very likely Aspie