Growing up, my parents always referred to me as "The Princess and the Pea." This was due to my extreme sensitivity which they found exasperating. The nickname came from a story by Hans Christian Andersen in which a princess was unable to fall asleep on a pile of twenty mattresses with just a tiny pea underneath the bottom one. While I was never that bad I was damn close, and my ultra-sensitivity was apparently enough to drive my mother crazy; she developed early-onset Alzheimer's at age 57 and died at 62.
As an adult I am currently engaged in driving my husband crazy, although let's face it, he was halfway there when we met. Still, I walk around the house turning off all the lights because of the glare, complain that cashmere blankets are scratchy, insist that the furnace is making an odd hum that's not right, dump out a new bottle of wine that tastes "off" or declare that something in the refrigerator smells "funny," none of which he can detect.
I always thought I was nuts because seeing a dog locked inside a parked car (Man's Best Friend, ha!) brings tears to my eyes, making a simple trip to the supermarket fraught with danger. Ditto reading the newspaper. But recently I have come to find out I am not crazy, I am simply hyper-empathic, or an "empath." Sort of a human sponge, I feel too much and there's nothing I can do about. Following are the most common traits of an empath; who knows, you might be one too.
Soul Survivor: Feels less stressed when alone.
Leave Me Alone: In close relationships, requires distance and periods of solitude.
Ouch!: Highly sensitive to sounds, smells, bright lights and the feel of certain fabrics.
I'm So Tired: Often suffers with fatigue and feels drained following social interactions.
Whatever You Want: In relationships or friendships, feels that the needs of others trump their own. Agrees to things they don't want to do to please others.
What Was Your Name Again?: Connects very quickly and deeply with total strangers.
Let Me Help: Drawn to people who are who are ill or have been victimized in some way, wanting to heal them or make their world better.
What's Really Going On?: Unable to take things at face value, they are constantly searching for answers that might explain the situation.
That Poor Doggie!: Connects strongly with the animal kingdom and identifies with their emotional and physical pains.
Let Me Out: Are most at peace when spending time in nature.
Did You Say Something?: Easily distracted when doing things they don’t enjoy, they zone out in situations where the mind is not stimulated.
I'm Not Going There: Crowded places like sports arenas, large concert venues and shopping malls cause anxiety and require downtime following excursions to such venues.
Not A Party Animal: Struggle to relax and enjoy themselves groups unless they are extremely comfortable with those surrounding them.
Artsy-Fartsy: Creative and highly imaginative. Writing, art, music, dance, building and design are pastimes they are passionate about and happiest doing.
Neat Freak: Prefers living space to be clutter-free and minimalistic, believing that chaotic surroundings make for chaotic minds.
Tell Me Everything: Often used as a sounding board or dumping ground by those seeking to unload their problems.