Super Sensitive Soul Seeks 'Ssistance
October 23, 2018 9:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm a super sensitive soul. I strongly dislike conflict, thinking about pain being inflicted on others, people being swindled, forgotten toys, sad looking puppies, and so forth. My sadness does not come from depression, it comes from being crazy empathetic and having the thinnest skin imaginable. How do I cope?

Today's "What's Elly Sad About" is this post: The Best Wildlife Photos of 2018. This question is not about the specific post, but it gives an example of the sort of thing that will push me over my very narrow ledge and cause me to be haunted and sad for days afterward. I'm fine with the post existing and even linking to it, because I'm sure that my sadness is abnormal and everyone else in the world can view the photos without being overwhelmed.

I looked at the pictures when the post first came up. Most of them were wonderful but there were some that really bothered me, in a cruel-circle-of-life, r/natureismetal kind of way. I felt like I was punched in the gut and for a few days now the memory of the pictures is still right there and I can't shake the image or the feeling. This is not abnormal for me. A month or so ago I was listening to a podcast (This American Life) and suddenly - but totally within context of the story - there was a description of casual animal abuse. I had to stop working and go sit for about half an hour before I could pull myself together. This seriously affected me for about a week. I'm thinking about it now and I have this awful clutch-feeling in my chest and my eyes are full of tears.

I have always been this way. I don't find physical humor funny because usually someone gets hurt (even fake hurt). I truly do think that everybody is good inside so when I read about con artists swindling the elderly I just feel gutted. I was a super sensitive kid that preferred Mister Rogers and David the Gnome to GI Joe or She-Ra or anything too chaotic. I have always disliked stand-up comedy (or comedies in general) because the jokes are usually at the expense of somebody else. I am THE WORST crouton petter. Do you have a really sensitive child? I'm what they could grow up to be. BEHOLD YOUR FUTURE!

So, what now? How do I cope with being a super sensitive person? I don't think that "Get used to it" or "grow a thicker skin" is the answer, because I don't WANT to be okay with awful things, you know? I don't WANT to be able to say "oh well that's life" about animal abuse and swindling the elderly because they are awful things and I don't want to think that they are less awful than they actually are. Is there a middle ground between "suck it up sweetheart" and continuing to be completely undone by seeing a hurt puppy? How do I find it?

I should point out that I am in therapy and am taking medication for ADHD/depression. This is also a year-round thing (not just in the winter when I have SAD) and it has also been going on my whole life regardless of who is in the White House.
posted by Elly Vortex to Human Relations (34 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
I get this really bad too. Very much same. I hate seeing people get hurt in any context, even Roadrunner cartoons. While I do feel it's a healthy thing and I would never want to not feel this way, the problematic thing for me is my brain continually going back to those troubling images.

The thing I have been doing lately is when I see something upsetting, the first thing I do is think "We are not going to be dwelling on this." It's important to say the words, emphatically, like you mean it. And then immediately, strongly, move on. Don't let it take root. Move on to the next post down the line, change the channel, or whatever you're looking at it. If you feel your brain going back there, don't let it. This sounds like I'm saying "Oh it's easy, just don't do that". It's not easy and it takes practice, but it's the only thing I've done that actually helps me with this. This is also not "Grow a thicker skin". Upsetting things are upsetting and there's no changing that, but allowing my brain to torture itself isn't helping anyone.
posted by bleep at 9:13 AM on October 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

Have you read The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron? This book talks about what it means to be highly sensitive, why some people are, and how to cope.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 9:14 AM on October 23, 2018 [10 favorites]

I haven’t read it but there is a book called The Highly Sensitive Person that seems to be frequently recommended for this type of thing.
posted by girlmightlive at 9:14 AM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

This doesn't address the larger problem but for crouton petting sometimes you can make up a happier narrative since it's all essentially imaginary. I though of an actual example but it might make us both sad! Being very general, if you had to get rid of something and felt sorry for it, imagine it is an adventurous thing and is looking forward to the next place it's going, even if you can't understand the appeal.
posted by Smearcase at 9:16 AM on October 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would suggest somatic oriented activity. Yoga, gardening, or similar. Getting out of the head into the body. ADHD can lead to a lot of bouncing around. Grounding exercises can help anchor your awareness.

Are you familiar with the work on Highly Sensitive People?

I mean either you continue to suffer even for situations you can't do anything about, or you find a way to reduce your suffering. I've found it helpful as a person high in empathy to work on my personal boundaries. Can I help in the situation? If not then my negative emotion is just adding more negativity to the web of life. So intry to reframe in terms of what is practical. If my pain can serve a purpose, solve a problem, then that is one thing. But otherwise, I would rather add positive value to the world, and if I get stuck then it's hard to do that.

So grounding the awareness into the body, and reframing the value of adding suffering are tools that I've found helpful.
posted by crunchy potato at 9:17 AM on October 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

I'm going to repeat my reco (again...) for Emotional Agility by Susan David. Feel your feelings, listen to what they're telling you, respond based on that, kind of thing. I'm perhaps not as sensitive as you, but quite sensitive, and this helps me work through various horrors.
posted by wellred at 9:17 AM on October 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

I'm right there with you. For me, I recently read ONE sentence about sad kids in a Stephen King book (of all things) and I can't stop thinking about it. What i do is (similar to what Smearcase said) write out a paragraph continuing the story where the kid gets rescued or the dog finds a new family or something like that. And then I tell myself THATS THE REST OF THE STORY.
posted by silverstatue at 9:19 AM on October 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

I am not super sensitive per se but I am depressed/heartbroken/outraged/scared about the current political situation in the US. What's helped me IMMENSELY is getting involved locally, specifically helping good local and national candidates get elected. I donate my time and my professional skills to good organizations and the candidates and their campaigns. I can honestly tell you that I feel about a million times better.

I know I am not unique. We are social animals and we thrive on action. Stop consuming bad news and start doing. Find something you can do at least weekly and in person. I guarantee that you will start feeling better almost immediately.

If you don't know where to start, google "volunteer match".
posted by rada at 9:21 AM on October 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

FWIW, I cried at that exhibit when I saw it in person. I think your reaction is perfectly reasonable.

I now have a robust yoga practice that helps me feel good and/or get back to feeling good quickly when I experience anything upsetting. I have a class pass so I can drop in any time I need it.

This has saved my life.

Get a practice that includes exercise, heavy breathing, and some form of meditation or flow state, preferably something you do in a group setting.
posted by jbenben at 9:24 AM on October 23, 2018

Another thing that has gotten me out of the "sentimentality around objects" stuff is thinking about how things are actually just big old clumps of molecules and that's it. They don't want anything, they don't deserve anything, they don't need anything. They just are there, and we can either make use of them or choose not to. Getting a zoomed out view outside of our mushy primate story-telling brain helps a lot.
posted by bleep at 9:27 AM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

I just read the Paul Wellstone thread led by your post in 2012. Whatever the solution is, I hope it doesn't make you change, at least not in ways you don't want to.

(And silverstatue, I had the same experience with Mr. King's writing.)
posted by Baeria at 9:27 AM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

When you encounter suffering, do you feel like you must make yourself suffer in response or you'll somehow be cheating? You could skip it and it would not be cheating. You could instead of torturing yourself spend the time doing something useful to make yourself a friend to some creature. (But please don't throw money at any group that broadcasts triggering video or stills of people or animals suffering to get people like you who can't stand it to give money: that's understandable, but it's also exploitative and it shouldn't be rewarded.) Every time you think of the sad thing, go and be extra kind. To a little spider or a button or yourself or a friend or a stranger or a sprig growing somewhere, it doesn't matter. Kindness alleviates suffering.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:44 AM on October 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

These are all good suggestions, but as a sensitive person myself, I'd like to gently suggest some of this might come from growing up or being sheltered in a privileged way. If that's not you, please disregard. But I've just met a lot of "sensitive" vegans/animal lovers/environmentalists who seemed strangely indifferent to the fates of actual human beings.

I'm not saying "toughen up" but I am saying that being sensitive and in touch with your feelings needs to go along with empathy and active work on behalf of others. Surprisingly, sometimes it does not.
posted by coffeeand at 9:47 AM on October 23, 2018 [11 favorites]

Do something concrete and positive instead of wallowing or subjecting others to long convos about your sensitivity. (Not saying this is what you do!) Also, having perspective on your own privilege/lack of suffering may help you reframe this. Suffering is about THE VICTIMS. The way you've written it mostly focuses on you and your feelings. Replace that with actions.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 9:56 AM on October 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

I am this way. I can feel all the suffering and pain. I have realized I cannot save the world, it’s too overwhelming. So I choose one thing to put my energy, money, work into. It helps to feel useful and gives me the strength to see suffering, knowing I’m helping end it.
posted by MountainDaisy at 9:57 AM on October 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is a form of negative rumination, similar to the kind of repetitive self-criticism that is common with depression. It's not because you are privileged or selfish, any more than other types of anxiety are because you are too privileged.

I've talked to therapists about this and these are the two bits of advice I've been given:

1. Give yourself permission not to engage. You're not going to make the world a better place by browsing dogs that are up for adoption (one of the ways I torture myself). Just don't do it. You have permission not to follow all breaking news.

One of the things that has been effective for me is not clicking any link that looks like it will be heartwarming or cute because about 50% of the time it's a trap and something terrible lurks inside. I will see a heartwarming story about a goldfish who was given artificial fins and then I'll ruminate on both the fact that there are tons of sad goldfish AND that the money could have gone to help a child in need.

2. I am not a scientist, but according to one therapist, your brain can't both do visualization and rumination at the same time. She recommended the "stop sign exercise." Find a stop sign that you regularly pass. Next time you pass it, make a note of everything about that stop sign. What does it look like? Is the intersection loud or quiet? Are you standing on hard sidewalk or grass? Save up all this sensory information. Next time you find yourself trapped in a thought, bring yourself mentally back to that stop sign.
posted by tofu_crouton at 10:18 AM on October 23, 2018 [35 favorites]

You can't do anything about the feelings except feel them, but try to do actions that will help alleviate some of the suffering. Just whatever small thing you can do. For instance, if animal cruelty distresses you, stop eating meat from meat industries where the suffering is massive. Eat more humanely raised meat. Or just eat less. Try volunteering for a homeless shelter. Or work and support a political campaign that will help alleviate some of the suffering of various peoples. We aren't perfect and we aren't consistent and we can't do everything, but any small thing is better than nothing and is a step in the right direction. Best wishes.
posted by gt2 at 10:21 AM on October 23, 2018

Is there a middle ground between "suck it up sweetheart" and continuing to be completely undone by seeing a hurt puppy? How do I find it?

There definitely is. I would gently challenge some of your post:

My sadness does not come from depression, it comes from being crazy empathetic

Does it, or is this your narrative? When you say you are "crazy empathetic" do you find yourself overcome with happiness and joy when those around you are engaged in their own bliss? Because, for example, physical humour can come with an incredibly deep, expressive joy on the part of the performers. Being empathic at a comedy festival can certainly come with a sense of who the victims of the jokes are but it could also result in feeling the excitement of those around you.

To me what you are experiencing sounds more like hypervigilance, rumination, or anxiety. These things can come with high sensitivity, because being overstimulated raises your responses and you may be reacting to things on a heightened level. But if you only experience the overstimulation around negative things then it is worth delving a little deeper.

So when you say you don't want to be less sensitive to awful things...I kind of take you at your word. But are you working on being sensitive to wonderful things? Does a story about great love or caring or help leave you joyful for days? If not, why not?
posted by warriorqueen at 10:28 AM on October 23, 2018 [35 favorites]

Hi, I'm like you! For me, while I volunteer and give money to things I care about, that doesn't alleviate this particular feeling. Neither does beating myself up for not obsessing about this OTHER thing just as much or not doing enough or not fixing all the problems in the world. This kind of ruminating/obsession is actually way closer to how people describe intrusive thoughts, and strategies to combat them are what really helps me mentally (I'll let you google, there are a ton of resources online about this). And removing myself from this wallowing well puts me in a much better space to actually do things/help.
posted by sonmi at 10:44 AM on October 23, 2018

I know my every answer on this site the last few months has been "mindfulness meditation", but have you tried mindfulness meditation?
posted by matildaben at 10:53 AM on October 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Good points, all. Thank you for responding!

I do come from a rather sheltered place and I certainly know others who do and seem to care more for animals than people, per coffeeand's insight. I have a soft spot for animals - especially those in the care of humans - but I also have mega-feels for humans suffering, particularly the elderly. In the past I've reasoned that those who prefer animals to people do so because humanity can kind of suck sometimes. Hell, I often prefer the company of animals because they aren't driven by ego or hatred, and they don't get their kicks out of needlessly hurting others*.
The sheltered upbringing perspective is one I hadn't considered but yeah, I can see it.

I do get joy from happy things and it can carry forward for quite a while. I've heard about "diminishing returns" where you get a jolt of happiness from a thing/person/experience at first but after a while it's just kind of "meh". I think my emotional scale of diminishing returns is broken because I still get joy out of my new bike as I did the day I bought it. I guess this is to say that I am a Strong Feeler in both happy and sad ways.

Volunteering is a good outlet for me. If nothing else, I like the good energy that other positive people bring to the room. I practice yoga regularly (I completed a Yoga Teacher Training course a few years ago) but meditation has always been an uphill battle. I keep trying though. Like what some of you have said, intrusive thoughts and spiraling worries are something that I struggle with. Working on it with CBT and therapy.

* I'm not going to look up whether or not there are animals that DO get their kicks out of needlessly hurting others.
posted by Elly Vortex at 10:56 AM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Like what some of you have said, intrusive thoughts and spiraling worries are something that I struggle with.

You say you're in treatment for ADHD and depression. Have you ever considered that you may have a comorbid anxiety disorder?

I was diagnosed with depression, then also ADHD, and then years later was diagnosed with anxiety. At first I was surprised, because I thought I knew what "having an anxiety disorder" looked like and I didn't fit that profile - but actually, anxiety can take a huge variety of forms, and in retrospect, many of my depression and ADHD symptoms either stem directly from or are seriously worsened by my anxiety.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:05 AM on October 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Another point to keep in mind is that if you wreck yourself emotionally over a problem, you will not be able to work effectively to address it. I support a lot of dog rescue work, but I am very careful to avoid any graphic tales of animal abuse. Being overwhelmed with sadness and haunted by terrible images eats up a lot of energy I could be putting into living my life generally, but also into doing work to support rescue. People burn out on causes in part because they're exhausted by their own empathy.
posted by praemunire at 11:22 AM on October 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

I don't WANT to be okay with awful things, you know? I don't WANT to be able to say "oh well that's life" about animal abuse and swindling the elderly because they are awful things and I don't want to think that they are less awful than they actually are. Is there a middle ground between "suck it up sweetheart" and continuing to be completely undone by seeing a hurt puppy? How do I find it?

"[BADTHING] is a part of life" =! "I'm okay with [BADTHING]." This is a false equivalency. There are lots of shitty things in the world, and you can acknowledge that they are a sad, unfortunate part of life... while simultaneously wishing that these things didn't happen.

I feel like the "middle ground" you're seeking is a place where you acknowledge something unpleasant or painful or upsetting, but also acknowledge that agonizing over it is simply useless. It doesn't make the bad thing go away, but it does amplify the bad thing in your mind and in your life.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 11:26 AM on October 23, 2018 [12 favorites]

I have a kind of woo practical exercise for you. I've used the following exercise/ritual when I find myself shaken or overwhelmed by someone else's suffering or emotions. Here's how you do it:
-find a quiet, safe place
-close your eyes, breathe deeply and raise your hands in front of you, palms facing out (like if you were instructing traffic to stop)
-think of the person and the emotions you've felt coming off of them. Say to yourself while sweeping your hands forward, "thank you for sharing your {emotion} with me. I'm gently, respectfully, returning that energy to you." Repeat until you've mentioned all the feelings. The sweeping hands motion is like if you were in a pool of water and wanted to send gentle waves in their direction.
-next, think of all the emotions you have expended in this situation. Reverse the waving motion and say "I'm gently, respectfully, take my {emotion} back." Repeat until you've gone through all the feelings.

I've found this exercise really helpful. I think it helps because it names all the feelings, it's grounding and it allows you to create some emotional distance without building a wall.
posted by purple_bird at 11:30 AM on October 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

I do get joy from happy things and it can carry forward for quite a while.

That's really good although I notice that your example of joy is about ownership/experience, not about empathy (not that this is wrong or anything, just noting that for you.)

So I would suggest three ways forward. One is to up your experiences with things that bring you joy. When I am stuck on something that is causing me to despair, I deliberately seek out things that I suspect will make me see the wonder in the world again. For me this can be as simple as a walk by the lake or sharing a silly activity with my kids. Hanging out with happy people. Etc.

Two is maybe a bit deeper but...if you experience joy tremendously empathically or dramatically, how come in your post you focused on the negative experiences? Well, you kind of touched on that a little bit when you said you believe people are good and then stories about fraudsters upset you...but you really did not come to AskMe to inquire why you like good people and belly laughs so much and how come you can bliss out for days on one picture of kittens snuggling.

I would suggest that if you really think about this you will see that it's not the feelings that are the issue at all. (The sensitivity may tire you out. But I would be careful of anything that suggests sensitive people are only sensitive to negative things.)

It's your attachment to the feelings you think you should have or the way you think things should be. If you can let go of the idea that good feelings are Good and bad feelings are Bad, you may be able to see it all as information and that will help you move through both.

For me, I came to a better understanding of my various sensitivities when I stopped thinking of one set as either desirable or "fake," and one set as being real or "deep." I've been privileged to meet some really deeply religious people who are world-famous for being sensitive and it struck me how easily they laughed. That helped me to untangle my sensitivities from my learned responses to trauma/dysfunction/elementary school playgrounds and see that there were my feelings and my awareness, but then there was a whole other mechanism that turned those into a very stuck place.

Third is that I think the CBT and therapy continuing are a really good idea. Techniques to re-ground will also probably help a lot.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:54 AM on October 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

Have you ever kept a garden? In my opinion, there is very little that can teach you about life/death/life better than gardening. Sometimes for there to be growth, there must be trimming. Sometimes for one life to live another must die. It's very instructive, but on a level that is not bloody/gore/hard-to-take. And the nurture involved and your role in decision-making about what can/will thrive, may help you cope with learning and dealing with the strange circuitousness of nature.

That said, there are some things in this world you may feel you need to avoid. I see nothing wrong with knowing that about yourself, as long as you do not build up a fantasy-delusion that does not admit the existence of the things you prefer not to experience.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 2:13 PM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

I had this until I got treatment for anxiety and OCD. The emotional impact isn't the problem, the 3 days of spiraling is. The first part is empathy, the second is a symptom that needs to be treated.

I mean, if ruminating and agonizing over wrongs fixed them I'd be all for it, but it doesn't help anyone and in fact prevents you from using your energy to heal or assist others.
posted by Dynex at 3:28 PM on October 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

can i ask if you've done any online investigation into ASD specifically Aspergers part of the spectrum? I'm an NT, LONG time partner of a successful clinician with Autism. This sounds SO familiar.

the only reason i suggest it is lots of advice about how you can deal with symptoms but understanding the underlying issue that cause you to have these feelings can also be useful.

ASD is, after all, a spectrum. plenty of people are not disabled, indeed these days we are switching to ASC for CONDITION not DISORDER. YMMV
posted by Wilder at 3:58 PM on October 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't think that "Get used to it" or "grow a thicker skin" is the answer, because I don't WANT to be okay with awful things, you know?

I mean... I know. And as schroedingersgirl said, you don't have to be alright with it, but it would be helpful to accept reality at some point. The earth is home to both predators and prey; imposing anthropomorphic ideas about civilization or equity or fairness onto the natural world is, sorry to say (truly), misguided. There's chaos and horror and destruction, human-sourced and not...Yes, some people swindle seniors. Others do worse... I agree that most people are or would be "good", or do what we call good things, under optimal conditions - when they themselves are treated well and can expect fairness, access to opportunities, decent treatment, etc. But some people have had lives that haven't been lucky that way, and their experience has taught them that swindling people is how you get by. Maybe they live in a country with >60% unemployment and their choice is to be decent or hungry, and it's an accumulation of odds that tips them one way or the other. (Some others haven't been lucky in other ways - maybe they've had anomalous brain development, or histories of trauma, or injuries to parts of the brain that would help them reason or empathize more effectively... more than a few studies have found damage to the frontal lobe in violent inmates, for example.) So I don't think it's correct to say that swindlers etc choose to do evil things, exactly, or that they're fundmentally and essentially evil, it's more like their equipment or environment or both makes it more likely.

Civilization, equity, justice, etc are delicate constructions that depend on good government, good communities, good families, and good health, and they have to be fought for, all the time, in perpetuity, because there's always some kind of wildness or ugliness creeping in from somewhere. Not because anyone intends it to, necessarily, it's just individual or collective reactions to responses, different modes of survival (adaptive or not) colliding.

I think accepting this is really necessary for coping. It would also help to try to cultivate gratitude for the luck we've had that has saved us from having to contemplate doing horrible things to survive (or seeing others make that kind of choice close-up, for example), and as many have said, to use whatever luck we do have to try to level things off where we can, if we can.
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:40 PM on October 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm like this in some respects, and I agree with those above who have suggested anxiety likely plays a role (raises hand). But setting that aside, how to deal with it in the moment? I have in no way mastered the ability, but one thing that has helped is that I now say a little mantra (you could call it a 'prayer' if you are religious I suppose) whenever I encounter suffering that, in turn, brings me suffering. Mine is partly spoken in English + another language and is inspired by Buddhist thought. It goes:

Poor little thing,
I'm sorry,
Everything is temporary;
Even suffering

In doing this, I feel I've paid my 'due' respect to the sad thing, but then also put in place some sort of closure on the sad thing. It's by no means 100% effective, but it has helped me significantly.

*If I can help/change the sad thing, then I would try to do that first. If not, then mantra.
posted by Halo in reverse at 9:38 PM on October 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

I don't WANT to be okay with awful things, you know? I don't WANT to be able to say "oh well that's life" about animal abuse and swindling the elderly because they are awful things and I don't want to think that they are less awful than they actually are. Is there a middle ground between "suck it up sweetheart" and continuing to be completely undone by seeing a hurt puppy? How do I find it?

I think "mindful acceptance" might be a good key phrase to look into. That type of practice is a big part of um, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which could be another thing to try here. The bit of mental judo is that you don't have to think something is fine/okay in order to accept it, basically.

The other thing is, presumably the problematic part here is being "completely undone," i.e., that it's interfering with other things you want your life to be about (going in the direction of things you value). The ACT way of thinking about this is that you practice feeling whatever you're feeling without trying to make it be different, then do something in line with your values, instead of reacting to the emotions with, say, endless research, coping, self-distraction, avoidance, etc.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:42 AM on October 24, 2018

meditation has always been an uphill battle

Don't let that fact rule out adopting a meditative practice. It's supposed to be an uphill battle, and the point of doing it is to strengthen your uphill battling skills.
posted by flabdablet at 4:03 AM on October 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am the same kind of person, especially about animal cruelty, also cruelty to children and pregnant women and the destruction of the environment. Like another poster, I have been very distressed about politics since the election of that racist, sexist pig. I too found the advice about visualizing the stop sign most helpful. I tried meditation, could not get into it, and appeals to the reality that the world is cruel make me more depressed. I have given money to candidates I like and to environmental and animal charities but cannot volunteer to do anything political that involves contact or interacting with potentially hostile strangers, so that is out, and cannot volunteer at the animal shelter I support with donations because I would want to take all the kitties home, and could not deal with the cruelty in some cases. I have gone to some large demonstrations, I am ok with that and there is strength in numbers.

I do avoid the news, leave the room or turn off the TV when politics come on, especially Trump, and do not click on things I know I will find upsetting. I have been this way since childhood about animals. Except for my close human friends and family, I do prefer animals to humans. I have a vivid visual imagination and it is often about awful things. I take medication for depression/anxiety, it helps some, but the state of the world is so terrible it is hard to be positive.
posted by mermayd at 6:04 AM on October 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

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