Clack. Clack. Clack. Clack. Clack. A skateboarder makes his way past my apartment building.
The sound of a helicopter from a news station just around the corner passes overhead.
Bong. A notification sounds from my phone. Another from my iPad. Another from my computer. All notifying me of the same big Facebook news. Someone mentioned me in a comment.
A siren, followed by another, screeches past. This happens many times each day. The firehouse is just up the street.
Another ding from all three devices. This one informing me of an email.
A big rig passes on the freeway some 60 feet from my window. The entire apartment rumbles just slightly.
A pedestrian below my window hollers something across the street to someone who hollers something back.
A text message dings.
More Facebook notifications.
A car with a modified muffler sounds like a turbo engine as it accelerates up my street.
A delivery truck passes.
Another big rig passes on the freeway. One passes every 3-15 seconds.
More Facebook notifications.
A train blares its horn as it approaches an intersection some three blocks away.
A pedestrian train screeches against the rails as it flies by directly in front of my apartment. Another one 7 ½ minutes later. And another every 7 ½ minutes from 5AM until 11PM.
The refrigerator kicks on and fills the apartment with a loud hum.
My neighbor’s dog barks in the hallway outside.
More big trucks. More Facebook notifications. More texts. More trains.
And then, one morning, I dropped that quarter I told you about in yesterday’s post. It made the tiniest little clank when it hit the hardwood floor. And something triggered. I lost control of my mind. And I freaked the hell out.
By the end of the day I was told by a doctor of the mind that I most likely was suffering from Sensory Overload Disorder. You can Google it if you want. It’s nothing to mess around with. Some countries have used it as means of torture. Long story short, it’s when your senses get so overloaded with never-ending noise and stimuli that you literally lose your sanity.
My homework was to go home and journal how all the sounds and notifications in my life were affecting me. All this NOISE and all this audible CLUTTER which I hadn’t even really noticed before that day suddenly was everywhere, once I tuned in; and it was (quite literally) maddening. My anxiety would spike for a brief moment any time a big truck passed by. My eyelids would begin twitching any time the train passed by. Anger started building within me the further into the day I got.
I went to bed that night, anxious for a break from it all. But no break came. Trucks still passed 60 feet from my head. Diesel engines revved on the street below. The faint sound of my neighbor snoring could be heard through the wall. An occasional siren would pass. And just my luck that particular night… the apartments across the street had a fire alarm malfunction and it took them two hours to get it turned off. I went to bed tense and anxious. I woke many times during the night. And the next day it took no time at all for the NOISE and the audible CLUTTER to push me to the edge once more.
I went back to my shrink and reported. He gave me the official diagnosis. I did indeed have Sensory Overload Disorder (something people with severe ADD are apparently more prone to get).
Great, what’s the answer? How do I fix this right now, Doc?