This one is on auditory sensitivity.
Sometimes I am not sure if my auditory cognition can be called “sensitive”; I do not feel overwhelmed in that sense, when I am outside or in a store or at a place with many people. I feel stressed and drained and I tire very quickly, loud sounds make me flinch and cover my ears but visual stimuli are not as bad. What makes me think that my hearing is overly sensitive is the fact that I seem to hear many things other cannot – or they hear but do not listen. When someone opens our front door, my family’s cars on the street, the cat scratching at the window, our washing machine’s warning signal from the basement, etc. We can even be watching a film and I still hear things like that. I tend to get caught up with details or small things I like to look at when there is a lot of visual input but I do not really feel overrun by it and it does not tax me as much as auditory input – I think, because I can decide to look at something or not but I cannot decide to hear something or not. Control is an important factor, I suppose. It is not entirely about loud sounds or many sounds at once but about anticipating these sounds or being able to control them.
In fact, I do not like silence – because it is never really silent. What most people call “silence” is in fact filled with annoying and distracting little sounds like breathing, chewing, traffic, moving and talking people outside, leaves, birds, etc. I like music, because it covers those sounds with something that makes sense, something controllable. I basically listen to music all the time – on my radio, mp3-player or just in my head.
Recently I read about the quietest room on earth, where it is so quiet that most people cannot stand the silence more than a few minutes. I would very much like to be in one, some time. Although it will, of course, not be totally silent, either. I will still hear my own heartbeat, breathing, etc. – which can be annoying as it is, already. That is why I do not like earplugs. They just replace outside noise with inside noise… Sometimes my body’s sounds keep me from falling asleep but I cannot very well switch them off. I lie awake and listen to the change of my heartbeat when I breathe slower or faster. Sometimes it skips a beat which is especially uncomfortable.
To me, “silence” is actually best described with white noise because it drowns everything else – even my thoughts. That feels very nice, sometimes. I now have a room with a bed directly under the roof of our house and when it is raining, the rain on the window sounds like white noise. I love that. I wish it would always be raining when I have to fall asleep.