Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tactile Defensiveness (Or Why Leggings Are My Friend)

I'm weird. I have weird relationships with inanimate objects. I have a weird relationship with clothing. For as long as I can remember, my clothes have "given me the willies"... "itched".... driven me to do whatever is necessary to GET THEM OFF!!

It's not like I'm a nudist and want to be naked. It's the fact that many materials and textures and seams and tags and dyes DRIVE ME CRAZY.

I can't wear anything with long sleeves unless its slinky material or really, really soft-as-newborn-baby-clothes cotton. So that means no sweaters and jackets. If you see me in a sweater, you can be sure that underneath, I am wearing a soft-as-newborn-baby-clothes cotton (from here on out known as SANBC cotton) long-sleeve undershirt. And I'll be wearing the undershirt wrong-side-out because the seams itch.

I can't wear jackets with short-sleeve blouses (which would make sense because the jacket would then serve as a cover-up for my arms) because most jacket sleeves "itch".

So, if I'm wearing a sweater or jacket, rest assured that I am hot (NOT THAT KIND OF HOT!) because I've got on double layers by necessity.

And that brings up another thing....... the change in temperature increases the willies. So, if I'm wearing an undershirt and a sweater and I get sweaty, or cold with goosebumps, I'm back to square one with wanting to rip off my clothes.

As I write this, I'm aware that there really are no words to describe what I'm talking about. You have to be one to know one. The only way this is going to make any sense to you is if you are tactile defensive, too.

So........... go on, Jenny....... We're so interested.........

Anyway, blouses are the least of my problems.

The biggest offenders are PANTS and BRAS!

I can't tell you how many times I've been late to work because my pants "itched". I usually have to wear hose underneath.

That's right. Hose. I cut the feet off.

And it can only be one brand of hose. All of the others give me the willies.

I go through my pants dance most mornings where I pull my pants up, walk around stiff-legged in an attempt to not bend my knees, push my pants down around my ankles, walk around, pull my pants up... down... up... down. The more wrinkled they get, the less they itch. The dirtier they get, the less they itch. You can make the connection here. Yes. They itch less the second day.

And bras. Why did God make them?

Those of you who know me well know that I went many years without wearing bras because they just weren't worth the discomfort! But a fifty-seven year old school counselor must wear a bra. It's my duty.

So... like with hose.... there is ONE style of ONE brand that I can wear without getting the heebie-jeebies. And, of course, the reason it doesn't give me the heebie-jeebies is because its so soft and so floppy, I might as well not have one on!

Things that I wish I could wear but can't:
*Tee-shirts (only old, worn-out tee-shirts don't itch).
*Jeans (again, only old, worn-out jeans don't itch).
*Sparkly things.
*Frilly pajamas and gowns (even flannel gives me the willies unless it's old and worn).
*Swimming suits once you're out of the water. In the water, most swimming suits are OK. But, once you get out and your skin starts cooling off or heating up, things get dicey. Except swimming suits with cups. They ALWAYS itch.
*Cute bras and panties.
*Cute capris (I have to wear the sweatsuit material form of capris).
*Any lace.
*Cute cotton sundresses.
*Pretty socks. Only utilitarian socks don't itch.
*Some shoes even "itch".

Once a year before school starts, I go buy a big girl bra. You know the pretty ones with the cups! I put it on and walk around my house with my eyes all bugged out and not moving the muscles in my neck or upper body for about three minutes before I have to RIP IT OVER MY HEAD - HAIRSTYLE, BRA, PEOPLE AROUND BE DAMNED!

I've been known to:

Sit naked in the back of my van between Los Alamos and a restaurant in Santa Fe while Donna drove because I got too hot and the sun dress that I was wearing to dinner started to give me the heebie-jeebies.

Have to take a soft pair of jeans off at my job in Espanola and sit in my office with a blanket around me while I try to dry my jeans in a microwave after having a water balloon fight and them getting wet. Two lessons: wet jeans feel HORRIBLE and microwaves don't dry things.

Walk around for hours with my arms inside my blouses because the sleeves have started to give me the willies (usually because of temperature changes).

Have to change shirts with someone WHO IS SMALLER THAN ME because mine started itching.

Have to have Donna sleep in my new tee-shirt that I had to wear because we were at Russian Heritage Camp and we all HAD TO WEAR matching Russian Heritage Camp tee-shirts because her getting it "worn in" made it not itch as bad.

Take my bra off in the car.

Take my pants off in the car.

Weird, huh?

I could be a blind shopper because I totally buy clothes by feel.

So......... you see why I like summer? See why I'm a hot weather girl? Even at my weight, I'm most comfortable in soft cotton shorts, silky blouses (that don't go with shorts), and no bra.

I know many people that have a sensory defensiveness about something. Certain sounds, lights, stickiness .... I even have a friend who works as a teachers' assistant but can't stand the feel of construction paper! It gives her the willies!

Is there anything that you are sensory sensitive to? Please post about it. I want to hear!


  1. One of mine so much to same way but not to your extreme. tags out of everything as a child or she would throw herself on the floor and writhe about as if something was eating her alive so out they came. They make a wonderfully soft jegginng no zipper but soft and stretchy. The come in all JC Penney.

  2. That's a good way to describe the feeling, Jilli. "Writhe about as if something was eating her alive".
    THAT'S what it feels like.

  3. foam rubber!!!


    just the thought of having to touch foam rubber freaks me out.

    total heebie-jeebies!!!

    even just now thinking about it makes me all creepy-crawlie!

  4. This sounds bad, given my profession, but children screaming. Nails on a chalkboard. It's like a cat scratching the inside of my brain. But I have migraines and, which makes you totally mental about loud noises, OR repetitive noises (STOP. TAPPING. THAT. PENCIL. NOW.)

    Or I have been known to pull over on the side of the road to shut a window open a crack that no one else even notices because the SOUND of the wind whistling through that no one else can even hear is driving me crazy.

    Also I hear voices in my air filter. Or music. or screaming. But only if I'm half asleep.

    Mental enough for you?

  5. I have problems with paper .. people folding it and running their finger on it to make it crisp .. if they bite their nails, it's even worse. My former team leader thought it was hysterical !

    I also have an issue with the repetitive noises, my son can tell you how many times I have asked him to KNOCK IT OFF !! please ..

    I HATE jeans, I can't stand wearing jeans. Maybe I just haven't found the right kind ? They itch, they squeeze and the button is usually RIGHT in my belly button .. so I wear dressy stretch pants ! When I DO wear jeans, everyone always notices ! That drives me crazy too ..

    So yeah .. you're not alone !

  6. Thanks for sharing, y'all! It's so fun learning about people. Aren't we interesting creatures?
    Keep it coming!!

  7. Crumpling potato chip bags. Seriously. OMG!! Get them away from me!!

    I have a son who struggled with sensory integration dysfunction when he was smaller. He could not have tags or seams or anything not soft enough. If he got dirt or peanut butter or crumbs or anything on his hands he went nuts trying to scrub it off immediately. It made kindergarten a challenge. Thankfully, he did outgrow this.

  8. Natalie can't stand any food sounds. If you really want to drive her wild suck something off your finger. Even when people eat with their mouths closed she is bugged by the sounds.

    As you know, I have always had a terrible time on escalators. Much worse going down than up. Lately, it has become a problem with stairs too. Forget going to anything with stadium seating. The Casting Crown concert was wonderfully miserable. Better once I got to my seat but still couldn't relax and enjoy their incredible music.

    Seems we all need some sensory therapy in life. Some of us more than others. If it would really help, why don't we do it? Don't know~~just asking.

  9. I have to cut the neck out of teeshirts in order to wear them or I feel like I'm choking. I cannot sleep in a tucked in bed because I feel trapped.