The clinking of dishes;

The lights;

The “Mom, I’m hungry.”  “He’s hitting me.”  “Can you play with me?”  “What’s for dinner?”

The piles of laundry;

The overflowing dirty dishes;

The homework;

The crying infant;

The endless varieties of ketchup;

The music;

The shoulder tapping;

The blaring of the television;

If you are a parent, you might be laughing (or crying) right now, because this sounds like typical things encounter all day long.  If you aren’t a parent, though, I am sure you can still relate to the concept that we are constantly barraged by stimulus of every kind all day long.  Everywhere we go, we are we are seeing, hearing and touching things.  In good health, all of this stimuli is just part of the daily routine and we may not even take note of it.  When dealing with severe emotional pain from depression, however, this constant assault on our senses can take our symptoms from bad to worse.

As a mother, I have 4 built-in sources of almost constant auditory, visual and tactile stimuli which originate from each of my 4 children.  I also have the visual stimuli of my environment, which often is in one of the varying stages of getting messy or getting clean.  All of this input was too much for my ill mind but I didn’t really have much choice–I had to live with it.  I learned, therefore, that it was essential for me to be very selective in what additional stimuli I was allowing into my life in order to survive the worst of this mental pain.  I also found ways of doing what had to be done, in the easiest way possible to limit the load on my delicate mind.

If you are in a similar situation with your mental health, I hope some of what I share here will be helpful to you.  Remember, the key here is to lighten the load on our minds by limiting the stimuli our brains have to process.

Here are some things I stopped doing in my life to give my brain a break:

  • I didn’t initiate many interactions with my children, I would let them come to me for the most part. (They did come to me, often–trust me).
    • Along with this, I learned to listen and interact without emotionally extending myself, or in other words, not getting emotionally involved.  I learned to be more emotionally passive in my interactions.  This was essential due the high volume of interactions I had to participate in everyday.
  • Situations where I had to be physically present (such as going to church meetings) I would do my best to tune out whatever I didn’t absolutely have to listen to.
  • I limited my social interactions because these would always increase my pain.
  • I limited time spent listening to loud music as the added noise would often increase my pain.
  • I stopped multi tasking. This was much too taxing for my brain.
  • I eliminated any media that was really action-packed, intense, or loud as this would increase my distress.  In fact, I reduced my media consumption in general.
  • I limited time in “busy” environments, such as the grocery store.

Here are some things I started doing to help give my brain rest:

  • I set aside about an hour each day for quiet alone time. When the kids were home from school for the summer, this meant all of my children had to participate in quiet time when I did. When my older children were in school, I did this while my baby napped. I cannot stress enough how essential this was! It still is, in fact.
  • I had my children do a large share of the family chores. They were all old enough to help. This improved the stimuli from my environment without me having to do it all myself.  (We still do this in our family).
  • I would remove myself from a situation when I started to feel an increase in pain. For example, this meant that sometimes I didn’t eat dinner with my family, because I needed a break in the quiet.
  • I got rid of a lot of possessions, with my husband’s help. I found it difficult to tune out my environment when it was a mess or when excess “things” were constantly assaulting my eyes. I actually went so far as to take most of the pictures and decor down in my house. I just really needed to see blank, empty space. This helped me a lot.

These are not exhaustive lists by any means and many of these of individualized to my circumstances, but hopefully this gives you a starting point from which you can form your own plan to decrease the load on your mind by limiting the stimuli in your life.

Does this make sense?  How have you coped with mental pain from depression?  I’d love to hear your suggestions.


24 Replies to “Overstimulated”

  1. I also raised four children, so I totally understand what you’re talking about. One of my biggest problems was all of my children talking to me at the same time. I knew they all needed to be heard. So I came up with a couple of things that helped me and them. First, each of my kids got 15 minutes in a room with just me so they could talk about whatever they wanted, what happened at school, something they wanted to do, anything. I tried to do that every day, but realistically I managed it about three days a week.
    The other thing was “special days” which meant one of them stayed home from school and we spent the day together doing something fun, playing a game, baking, going for a walk, etc. This, of course, had to be limited, but each one got two “special days” each school year.
    Them knowing that they would have their turn to talk made it much easier on me as well. They didn’t feel like they had to all try to talk to me at the same time as much. Another benefit was that I was able to really listen to each one.
    As you said, that worked for me. It won’t necessarily work for everyone else.
    Thanks for a great post.

    1. I’m so glad you can relate! I love your suggestions here— such great ideas! Thank you so much for commenting!!

  2. Nice post. I only have one child, but she certainly is wild lol. It’s amazing how much the outside world can influence our thoughts and emotions through sights, sounds, and smells.

    1. Thank you. Being a parent is very demanding. I’m not sure if everyone can relate to what I shared here but I’m glad you can! Thank you so much for commenting.

  3. In 2015, I was introduced to adult coloring books. I would select a picture I wanted to work on, turn on music I enjoyed listening to and shut out the rest of the world. My focus was turned towards concentrating on that, instead of my depression. Even if it’s only for a half hour a day, my mind is somewhere else. Another thing I do is meditate at least 2 times a day. Once in the morning, and early evening. I listen to Jason Stephenson quite a bit, but there are a lot of other meditations to look into via Google.

    1. These are great suggestions! I would read a lot. This helped me not to feel the pain because my mind was somewhere else. I find meditation very helpful as well. Great ideas! Thank you so much for sharing these!

  4. This is a great post, I no longer do the grocery shopping, my husband does. I will go if it’s a quick stop, say, I’m already out and we need milk. But the bulk of it, he will do. I also can’t do social settings – 🙌🏽 take out and we eat at home. And I do what I can, when I can. Otherwise, I can go into a panic attack and feel like I can’t breathe. You listed very helpful tips, my 10, 8 and 6 year old all help around the house and it’s been so helpful! Having chronic pain is no walk in the park but knowing how to work with it instead of against it, helps reduce stress therefore having less anxiety. 💛🙏🏽

    1. It’s so important to safeguard our mental health-especially when we are responsible for caring for others. I’m so glad you’ve found ways to do that! Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts! ❤️

      1. Yes! It may all seem at times a little silly to others that aren’t going through depression and anxiety and chronic pain. But it’s very well understood by those on the same journey. Love your blog! 😊💛

      2. Thank you so much! I’ve loved the sense of community here. I’ve never experienced anything like it. It’s so nice to be able to share my journey and be understood. Very refreshing. Thanks again 😄❤️

      3. Yes, it’s so nice! There’s isn’t too many places you can go and find someone that knows first hand what you’re going through. It’s a great reminder that I’m not alone.

      4. Thank you for sharing that! I’m so sorry you have Chiari – I know what you’re going through. It’s always refreshing to find others that can relate to the journey I’m living. 💛🙏🏽

      5. It is. Chiari isn’t as common as a lot of other chronic illnesses. I’m sorry you have it, but it’s always good to find someone else who can really relate. Best wishes to you.

      6. Yes, it isn’t common. And even among doctors, I had seen a neurologist at one point who knew what Chiari was but at the end I figured out he specialized in a whole other area. I left and haven’t seen him since. I transferred over another hospital and am now with another team of doctors that see Chiari patients on a regular basis. It’s really important that just because there are Neurologist, that we see one that specializes in our illness.

  5. Mother of 4 as well! Ages 11-2 years old. It’s been a while since I’ve truly felt that someone understood Exactly what I deal with. I’ve used some of these but thank you so much for sharing. I need all the tools I can get right now. 💛💛💛

    1. It’s so nice to feel understood—I know what you mean. ❤️ I hope some of its helpful! Being a mom can be so hard! But it’s worth it. Hang in there!! I’m right there with you!

  6. Really great suggestions! Now to control my own stimuli towards my oldest son. I am glad that you are talking about parenting while mentally ill. It’s no easy task.

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