In which the Highly Sensitive Homeschooler goes on a college trip, and decides she’d rather stay in her bed forever.


It was an average day, really. Nothing from the outside that would make it look like I should want to retreat to my bed never to return.

Beautiful weather, kind people, peaceful campus. (Wait, that actually sounds better than average…)

So what was the problem?

My high sensitivity was shifted into super-overdrive. Pun intended.

I was driving the 2.5 hour route to the college when we had to go through a tunnel. Now, I’ve never liked tunnels, but this was worse. I quickly realized this wasn’t an ordinary trip according to my ramped up brain. A panic attack ensued, that I was only controlling by the teeniest of threads, because I *must* – because I was hurtling through a tunnel at 55+ miles per hour, and if I didn’t keep going, the people in my car and the cars around me were going to probably die.  It’s not like you can just turn around in the tunnel, or stop.  It felt like I was driving at full speed into a brick wall, through the eye of a needle. How are all these other people in these other cars doing this??


My heart pounding, we finally exited the 865 mile long tunnel. Why are all these cars driving so fast? Why can’t people slow down around here?  Slowly, slowly, I got back to almost normal.  Stressed and nervous, but normal.  We drove another hour or so.

And then.

And then we get to a place where I think we need to turn left under this high, thin bridge.  “Thank God we don’t have to go over that monstrosity,” I’m thinking.

But no.

We did.

There were no buts about it, I had to turn around and take that bridge to get where we were going.  If my daughter didn’t have a scheduled interview and tour, I would have turned around and gone home, 15 minutes from my destination.  It’s amazing what motherhood will do, isn’t it?  I braved that God-awful bridge so my daughter wouldn’t be embarrassed or lose a chance at a school she wanted to go to.

Heart pounding and panic churning all the way.

Luckily we found a different way home, no bridges or tunnels, that only added an hour to our formerly 2.5 hour trip. (If we hadn’t, I would have found a hotel and stayed a few days until I calmed down. Because at the time, I just Was it worth it? Oh yeah, this route was so much better… the only problem was it then got dark while we were driving.

Again, I have no problem with darkness, or driving, but something about driving at 65 mph in the dark with others driving even faster all around me was so surreal. I had to keep shaking my head to knock me back fully into my body and the fact that we were OK and I was moving forward.  It seemed like I was watching a movie, one that I had to fully participate in or die…like I was in 2D space or something. My daughter’s constant loud chatter definitely made it harder to concentrate, and sent my hsp-ness into the stratosphere, but the alternative–silence– was even worse. She kept me present and driving.

Just. So. Weird.

It was completely a physical reaction, something I could not help.  No amount of self-talk changed what was going on with my body. Trust me, I tried!  It seemed to be primed to take in every little detail and magnify it a hundred fold, so that input wasn’t making as much sense anymore.

In between, we had a very nice college visit.

Beautiful campus surrounded by trees, water, wildlife. A personal tour, just us and a very nice tour guide.  I wish I had experienced it without stress hormones flooding my body. It would have been an awesome day!

I would not have driven, or taken that route, if I knew it would be that bad. I drive often, and didn’t expect this. I will definitely work on getting better, or making different decisions (like a “safer” route, driving during daylight) before I do that again. It wasn’t fair to my daughter, it was probably not safe, and it wasn’t good for my health and wellbeing, either.

So I’ve been home for a few days and occasionally watching videos of people driving over the bridge I drove over, while deep breathing, trying to reprogram my brain. “This is OK. You can do this. It is only a bridge and you have been over 1000s of them. No problems here.”  Breathe. Breathe.  I think it is interesting how many views “bridge drive overs” get on YouTube.  Maybe there are a lot of people like me out there, trying to figure out how to do this stupid bridge thing.

I blame my age, hormones, tiredness, my vision changing, the holidays, hmmmm…maybe the phase of the moon?  I know a huge part is that I have not had any significant downtime in months years.  Even on easy, less busy days, I’m “on call” 24/7.  This has been keeping me “on edge,” I believe, so that when something stressful happens, it tips me instantly over that edge into unmanageability.  There’s no margin for error.

Story of my life.


OK, so I’ve left my bed since making that proclamation. Reluctantly. 😉

I’m going to need to work on this. I’m not sure how yet. One more college visit and one more bridge to go.

2 thoughts on “In which the Highly Sensitive Homeschooler goes on a college trip, and decides she’d rather stay in her bed forever.

  1. I just have to say…yes!!! That’s how I feel and no one gets it!! If I’m driving and I get into a situation where I can’t stop (in a tunnel, over a bridge) I panic. I especially related to your “shaking your head” …I have to do that in these situations. I sometimes even tug on my hair just so I remind myself that my head is attached to my body and I am in. This. Thing. Thank you for making feel like I’m not insane. I’m going to send this to everyone who doesn’t believe me haha

    • Thank YOU for making me feel that *I’m* not insane, LOL! I didn’t know anyone else that felt like this, and you explained it just like I felt it that day.

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