The HSP traffic light Grand Prix

“A day in the life of a HSP family”

“Overarousal is the greatest problem for HSPs”  
(Elaine Aron ‘The Highly Sensitive Person in Love’ 2000)

04:13 Dad wakes and then dozes lightly.

06:20 dad gets up to use the bathroom, shower and start the day proper.

If we use a traffic light system, he’s already in Amber, some raised arousal, but not at overwhelm…….

07:00 – Dad has an online meeting and is fully ready in time, but has to forego without his usual one and only daily coffee. After joining the meeting, he learns that the other party has an urgent issue to deal with and consequently they will have to end after only 30 minutes. He’s OK with the last minute change: “Ah, I’ve gained some time unexpectedly” he thinks, immediately in a positive train of thought.

08:00 Time for breakfast and to join the rest of the family.

Minecraft has just released a major update and their son is dying to try it out. This is not a good idea, especially before online school, so mum and dad decline and to their amazement this is accepted without a fight. The nature of that game, and that of a highly sensitive child with high sensation seeking aspects, mean it has a never ending, almost addictive quality to it.

Surprisingly today there is no drama at breakfast time from any of us: there’s no being picky about the egg, (overcooked?) or “I don’t want eggs at all”, or “the toast is too “burnt”, or “I prefer a different bread” (which we don’t have). 

We are able to sit outside and enjoy the warm weather out of direct sun. There’s a neighbour shouting at their child(ren) and dad wonders what they must have done meanwhile peace is restored. We all notice a crow pecking the guttering, perhaps for the sealant between the sections, and notice a microlight passing overhead, high in the sky, but still audible. Dad thinks of the amazing view they must have on such a beautiful clear day, and remembers his younger days when he was a passenger in one, when his own thrill seeking part of HSS was stronger.

Mum is definitely in Green, unusually calm and relaxed.

Dad has been thinking about an email he has needed to write since yesterday evening. It’s taking up far more time than it deserves and he feels triggered by the content. He’s also a therapist and knows the Karpman Triangle well enough, yet here he is being asked to play the game.

“No, I’m not going to do that, absolutely not. That is rescuing!”

Dad writes the email about X to send to Y. His son needs the computer for his school class imminently and somehow unexpectedly dad sends the email about X directly to X! Being a HSP, an uncharacteristic mistake is made, maybe due to some “pressure” and he is mortified about what he’s done and launches his own internal enquiry worthy of a governmental blunder.

Dad begins to overthink, yet somehow the email has the desired effect possibly due to the language barrier.

One minute he was going to be publicly humiliated then hanged or burnt at the stake, at the very least lose the contract, then the next minute back in reality there was not even a need for a reprimand.

How easy it is to let your mind get carried away when there’s a modicum of anxiety.

09:30 Meanwhile their son has finished his online class, and the new update of Minecraft beckons; I consider “Am I a poor parent using tech to allow me to work during lockdown?”

10:45 As anticipated after 75 mins use, extricating their son is not easy; the joy, the novelty, is huge and far more interesting than subtracting fractions.

11:00 Dad helps his son with the maths, yet misreads the instruction – they’ve finished adding and this week they are now starting subtraction; dad only notices this after they reach number three:

“I’m sorry, we need to start again”. Son has written in ink not pencil…….”

Both have perhaps jumped into Amber at this stage.

“I might need a rare second coffee today to make it through the afternoon”, dad thinks to himself.

We start again and bomb through the sums, the reluctance dissipated quickly just like the maths.

12:00 “Can I go out dad?” 

“Not for too long, as your mum will be home shortly and it’ll be time for lunch.

13:00 Lunch passed without incident for mum and dad as the temperature climbed outside. 

A heavy workload beckoned for the afternoon. But dad is back relaxed and in Green.

14:00 After a minor technical issue with a client, a potential wobble is averted.

Dad is glad he had that second coffee, that turned into a third (this time decaf…….)

Dad is still fully in Green.

15:30 Son wobbled and got back on track with some HSP love from mum, and some ice cream… Self care is always paramount for the highly sensitive person, or child.

16:30 Whilst dad is working, mum and son have a misunderstanding, which boils down to too much: too much heat, too much sun, perhaps too much sugar; plus some strong will and too little food – “I’m not hungry” and son is in and out of Red having not had lunch.

Parents don’t always get it right. Time for apologies.

A chat with gran and grandad later lifted everyone and all are in Green.

18:30 Dinnertime. Too hot for using the oven. A salad would be ideal but it’s pasta for all.

Dad fancies a beer – the local shop is not the best in physical distancing, so dad simply doesn’t bother.

Then bang!

19:30 A friend of their son comes to tell, he has had accident whilst cycling.

Dad rushes out, followed by mum, heart racing, wondering how serious it might be…

Somehow he’s crashed into some street furniture – a huge plant holder made of wood and filled with soil – it wouldn’t move easily.

I notice a neighbour has him on his feet and he walks sobbing towards me – so he’s walking at least; there’s blood from an open cut on his knee and two huge road rashes on an arm and a leg. Thankfully he has his helmet on.

Red Alert in every sense.

There’s some pain on the grazes, but the blood sends him delirious; it’s not that he’s queasy, it’s about his not wanting to be bleeding at all.

Dad tries to use alcohol wipes to clean the wound up but the tender broken skin and bruising makes him shout out.

This calls for his favourite soft toy from when he was young, in the shape of a (cheeky) monkey, plus his pillow with deer motifs.

We watch a film to take his mind off everything and he slowly goes from

Red > Amber > Green.

20:30 His levels rise again when it’s time for bed; firstly getting upstairs.

Before dad offers to carry him, he does make it upstairs and is even OK to clean his teeth unprompted.

Thankfully, it is very hot so the need for heavy bedding resting on the wounds isn’t needed, though finding a comfortable position might need some adjustment. He falls asleep quickly and the pain is gone by the morning if not the “scars”.

21:30 Mum and dad reflect on the day’s events and are grateful they are not as taxing as this every day.

And another day starts.

Take the highly sensitive person test here.

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