Highly Sensitive People

by Heather Kernohan

Being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is a blessing AND a burden. HSP’s feel everything (emotional, sensory, etc) much more intensely than someone who is not “highly sensitive. “loud sounds, bright lights, rough textures, strong smells and tastes can feel like too much AND music, art, landscapes, nature, comforting smells, comfort foods, and certain textures and textiles can feel so incredibly beautiful and peaceful that it can bring tears. Being an HSP makes me empathetic and helps me to connect with other humans and with my own spirituality AND feeling everything so deeply can be heartbreaking AND heartwarming AND mindblowing AND overwhelming.

Me and overwhelm? We are constant friends.


In the last month, my bestie “OVERWHELM” has been present with me during the following:

  •   ongoing grief of losing my dad and his birthday just a few days ago.
  •   the whole fam getting the ‘vid and my overwhelm ramps up with my fam is sick.
  •   missing work and having to cancel on clients
  • losing childcare and parenting while sick
  •   missing out on events that were really important to me
  •   missing so much time with my closest friends to connect and just “be.”
  •   the constant piling up of clutter and mess and school papers and toys and Halloween shit and takeout containers – and the relentless mess when mom spends 3 days in bed.
  • Ileft for 5 days in Vancouver with the clutter still piling up.
  •   it’s still here. I haven’t even unpacked and I got back 5 days ago.
  •   other stressors with family and people sick, struggling. grieving, etc.
  •   not completing things I have told people I would complete – shame spiral.
  •   29576 unanswered emails.
  •   and then the emotional overwhelm I’m processing from what is happening in the world.

Let me be clear, I’m aware that many people don’t even have the luxury to process their overwhelm but I’m not going to get into comparative suffering over here. My hard is hard. And your hard is hard.We are all navigating a list like I just shared AND if you are an HSP, it can feel debilitating, immobilizing, and suffocating.

My mental health requires a peaceful and calm environment.

I’m about to show you what my overwhelm looks like in a very real and practical way… (*asking myself wtf am I doing but here we go!*)

It feels like a representation of unprocessed feelings, unfinished conversations, unanswered questions, uncertainty of so many things (kids, parenting, schedules, plans, relationships, careers, etc.)


About Heather

Clinical Social Worker
B.S.W., M.S.W., R.S.W. (SK)
📍YXE – Treaty 6 Territory & Homeland of the Métis

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