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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Effects of Overstimulation

This is something I'm seriously starting to look into. If anyone knows about it, I'd sure like to hear your thoughts. Here goes:

I live with someone who is really dear to me, but is driving me nuts. Sadly, she suffers from depression (I think it's okay to put that out there), and she's been receiving treatment for years. I haven't been the most understanding friend about the problem.

What drives me crazy is that she has to have some kind of noise or activity happening around her all the time. She's not an active person, funny enough. For months, I've thought what irritates me is her lack of motivation and energy. We used to work together and hang out during our time off. I was never bothered by her then.

The other day, it dawned on me what the problem is: there's no peace around her. It's as if she doesn't know how to operate her body's "off" switch. All day, the TV must be on. At night, lights are on - and, often, a radio.

I remember telling her once that the reason I don't watch a lot of television is because I need time to hear my own thoughts. Besides, how do you get anything done if you're sitting in front a television 80% of your day?

Now, here's why I'm curious about overstimulation: what if she is making her problems with depression worse? How do I approach her with the suggestion? And why the hell hasn't her care provider talked about this with her? That is, assuming I'm onto something - and I just might be.

This post at Health Central indicates I'm right about the effects my friend's behavior is having on the both of us.

I was interested in this post because I have my own sensitivity issues because of my creative tendencies. Living with someone like my friend sort of traps me in her environment. I suppose that, if we can, we're going to have to work out some kind of compromise - that or completely change our living situations.

My concern is - whether I change my situation or not - what will happen to my friend?

Another part of her personality is that she is highly addictive - to food, beverages, cigarettes. I don't even think they are tied to pleasure so much as distraction. For instance, she goes shopping several times a week. There are groceries literally crammed into the fridge and cabinets - for one person. (I have a dorm fridge.) She doesn't just smoke, she smokes three different brands and usually keeps all three packs open at the same time. She loves diet soda, so she buys them a couple a cases at a time. We used to go to Sunday dinners at my family home and she'd carry a few sodas with her and trot to smoke a cigarette about every fifteen minutes.

As a former smoker, I understand tobacco addiction, but she takes it to an extreme that I almost can't fathom. She can't sleep through a night for getting up to have a cigarette. What's frightening is that I've seen her sitting up in the center of her bed - cigarette and lighter in hand - head drooping in a nod-off. And this is all through the night. I can honestly say that I have never known her to go sleep completely through a night. She can't. She's either got to get up and run to the bathroom several times or have a smoke.

It was just a couple weeks ago that I started thinking about the over stimulation. I had start finding out a way to block the light and smoke from my room at night. (I lay towels across the bottom of the door.) Her room is directly across the hall from mine so, to block out the sound of the radio or her heavy trotting to and from the bathroom next to my room, I keep my browser open all night to Rainy Moods. Finally, I was like, My god! Do you ever rest your brain? And that's what got me thinking about all this.

Is it a cycle, possibly? You get depressed so you distract yourself then  >>>  You're so distracted you can't function productively then   >>>>  You get depressed because you aren't progessing in life >>> And on on on.

So, am I onto something here? Maybe. I'm going to think of ways to have my friend consult her caregivers with the idea.

Not to be cruel, but all this made me think of the quote that defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. (I'm serious when I say that describes my last relationship.) The thing is, in the case of my friend, her main problem is her depression and inertia. Since there are people who are supposed to be helping her then, as a friend, I need to figure out how to push that issue.



  1. You're not being cruel. That is not easy. You're seeing someone that is kind of close to you in a downward spiral and there seems to be no easy way for her to climb her way out of it.
    The TV on or radio tells me that she doesn't want to think too much. This serves as a distraction from her thoughts which may be quite sad. I can't even blame her for that. But she is in need of help she needs to seek on her own before this behavior becomes so ingrained in her that she can never stop it.
    The longer depression lasts, the worse it is to defeat it.

  2. You hit the nail perfectly on the head @Yamilette. Thing is, at this point, she rebuffs any help. She's going to have to reach out a little. I'm just trying to keep myself together now.