Hypersensitivity to Criticism

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Recently my therapist and I have been talking about and working on my hypersensitivity to criticism. I have always had some hypersensitivity to any kind of criticism or rebuke. As a kid, I was the one you could make cry by looking at me wrong or even gently scolding me. I still tear up over things like that, even though I wish I didn’t.

This inability to deal constructively with any kind of feeling of failure has haunted me throughout my adult life, especially in the work world. I think this fear of not living up to expectations is partly why I struggle with immense anxiety around any kind of authority figure (bosses, teachers, doctors, police, etc.) Many times this anxiety is so strong that I am almost struck dumb (probably a type of selective mutism), such as when I have had to go for job reviews or any other kind of personal evaluation.

I have noticed though that my hypersensitivity to criticism focuses mainly on 5 areas. If I am criticized on something outside of these 5 topics, I am likely to be able to shake it off better or not let it bother me in the first place. Here are the subjects I am referring to:

  1. My art or writing. I am extremely sensitive to any criticism about my art and writing. However, I think this one is fairly normal for creative types. We all put a bit of our heart and soul into the things we create, in a sense they are our “babies” and we gave birth to them. This does create problems for me when it comes to having the confidence to share my art and writing publicly, especially in person.
  2. My looks and weight. I have always felt that I was rather plain or average-looking, so I have a bit of an achilles heel here. I was bullied quite a bit in middle school when I gained some weight after my dad died, and although I lost the weight a couple years later, those mean words about being “fat” have stuck with me. I have always relied on my intelligence, not my looks, to get me anywhere. I am proud of that fact, but sometimes I wish I felt more confident about the way I look.
  3. Any accusation of laziness or incompetence. I think the laziness thing bothers me because my mom would accuse me of that all the time. “Lazy”, “good for nothing”, “useless”…words like that stick with you. As for the incompetence, it doesn’t even have to be someone else that says something. If I feel even slightly incompetent (at anything) within myself it is enough to send me into a meltdown, probably a result of my perfectionism.
  4. Any perceived insult to my intelligence. As I said before, I have always relied on my intelligence to get through life, so if that is questioned or doubted, I feel worthless.
  5. Any insinuation implying that I am childish/immature or a crybaby. I have a lot of “childlike” qualities, as do many with Aspergers syndrome, and those can be endearing, but when people turn it into a bad thing and accuse me of childishness or immaturity, I feel misunderstood and hurt. I am extremely sensitive in some ways, but I hate the term “crybaby”.

So, what do you guys think? Do you share any of these insecurities? Are you also hypersensitive to criticism in these areas or others?

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Eating Disorders: My Experiences

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I’ve been watching some intervention episodes and other documentaries about eating disorders recently. I have never been officially diagnosed with an eating disorder of any kind, and am not sure I would consider myself an actual bulimic or anorexic, although I have had destructive behaviors related to both illnesses in the past.

Growing up, my mother and sister were overweight, and I saw what they went through being “fat”. The self-loathing, the cruel mockery from others, the way they would pick on people who were even larger than themselves in an effort to make themselves feel better. From a young age I learned that “fat” was a very bad thing to be. Maybe the “worst” thing you could be in many people’s eyes.

Around the age of 12, right after my dad died, I started putting on weight too. At first I think it was mainly just puberty, but the grief and loss of my father also made me turn to food for comfort. My mother and sister worked all the time after my dad died, so I spent most of my time at home all alone. The loneliness and heartbreak I felt soon turned me into a chubby little girl. I started getting bullied at school for my weight and went from being a confident, athletic, competitive kid to being someone who wished they could just disappear.

When I was around 15, I started working for the first time myself, and the increased physical activity and less time spent lonely and eating soon had me losing weight. I liked what I was seeing and started using little “tricks” to help myself lose more weight. Restricting what I was allowed to eat. Using laxatives if I overate. Trying pills that promised to rev up your metabolism, even if they made me more jittery and anxious.

Over the years, I have had periods of time where I fell into unhealthy habits with eating. Times where I binged and then tried to starve myself. Times where I tried to not eat and lived on water or Diet Coke (one of these periods led to my first visit to a doctor for depression). Obsessions with exercise. Endless calorie counting. Times where I saw the scale falling rapidly due to medicine side effects or a health problem and secretly rejoiced at the thinning. Using medicines that I may not actually need because they help me stay thin. Fearing the use of other medicines I may need because they cause weight gain.

As of right now, I am not actively involved in all of these behaviors on a regular basis, although I am certainly not above them and am still tempted. I do still rely on “stimulants” sometimes that I know probably aren’t good on my heart and health. Pseudoephedrine (a close relative of the diet drug Ephedra) is a big one for me, which is easy to excuse since I do have allergy and sinus issues, but I know I probably overuse it. The last time I was in the hospital, they said I tested positive for Methamphetamines, which was likely the Pseudoephedrine, since I don’t touch any illegal drugs.

I also tend to still play mind games with myself when it comes to food. I have a huge sweet tooth and I’ll tell myself, “Sure, you can have the cupcake/brownie/doughnut/cake/etc, but then you can’t have any lunch or dinner.” In my mind I justify this by saying the junk food is about the same amount of calories as a healthy lunch or dinner, so it is ok to trade them out, but I can’t help but wonder if this may be why I am often deficient in certain minerals and nutrients in blood tests.

This is the first time I’ve publicly shared these things, but I feel like it is something I want to get off my chest and be honest about.

Hypomanic Writing

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I wrote the following while I was pretty hypomanic. Thought I would share more as a glimpse into my life and hopefully educational about bipolar 2:

I AM bipolar, I’m officially crazy. I can’t seem to control myself, but on the medicine I feel SO much better, who cares if I’m hypomanic? Not sure I wanna tell the doctor the truth. Thank God I have my husband to keep me in check. I AM perpetuating the cycle. Thank God I never had kids. My muscles twitch and I can’t control them. I feel like I have Parkinson’s, but I’m good with that. I am stressed the fuck out, but I don’t care. I don’t want to sleep, but I have a magic bullet called Seroquel. I just worry I’ll get fat, but how fat can I get when I can’t sit still? Every dance in creation I think I’ve done today, even if it was spazzy. Some might look at me and say I’m a danger. I look at me and say I’m alive.

Help for teens with weight issues

‘Weighing In’ written by Sylvie Boutaudou and illustrated by Laetitia Aynie, is a great read for any teen or pre-teen who struggles with their weight or other appearance issues.  The book is written in a down-to-earth style that appeals to young readers and includes many colorful and sometimes funny illustrations to keep the boredom factor at bay. 

The book is split into three sections (called phases in the book), including Phase 1: Overweight, Under Happy, Phase 2: How I Got to be so Heavy and Phase 3: How to Lose Weight.

Overweight and Under Happy addresses the emotional and social problems that go along with being overweight…

To read the rest of this article, please visit Examiner.com: http://www.examiner.com/books-in-dayton/weighing-help-for-teens-with-weight-issues