Sensory overload - my most disabling symptom

hi everyone,

i joined a while back, but stuck mostly with PM’s because of the difficulty in reading the board. i’ll probably continue to pursue that method until i’m feeling better, at which time i’ll post my entire story, but i felt compelled to post this, as i’ve learned during my 7 month ordeal that “sensory overload” is the main symptom that is keeping me disabled, and i thought i’d share that.

first, i’ve had some VERY meaningful and interesting discussions with Julie on looking at our own symptoms, and the subject of “motion intolerance” came up. We were both using the term quite frequently, only to learn a few weeks later that her “motion intolerance” is mainly the type that is felt in EXCESS, making normal every-day activities like sitting in a bathtub, laying on a bed while talking on the phone, or even just sitting still in a chair practically impossible whereas MY “motion intolerance” turned out to be mostly an inability for my brain to process the outside world at the proper “speed” as if my brain just couldn’t react fast enough (sensory overload I call it now). I’m oversimplying a little bit as we both have a cross-over of each of the others symptoms of course but it was amazing how each of us threw those words around as though the terms were universally one idea lol. Anyway, we got a laugh out of it when we finally figured out the two symptoms were different so I thought I’d share this symptom with everyone.

My most disabling symptom is the inability for my brain to process too much information at one time. If I am outside in an open field, the symptoms are more tolerable. Or if I take a walk at night on a country road. These situations to tone down by sensory overload help but I’m by no means cured lol as I have other issues including dizziness/fogginess (slight drunk feeling, not true spinning vertigo), strange head sensations such as vibrations in the head, pricking sensations in the face, visual phenomena including the appearance that the environment is slowly shifting around constantly, hazy vision, photophobia, phonophobia, pressure-induced dizziness from straining which can incapacitate me for up to 8 hours, and initially some false motion (rocking, swaying, etc) but Topamax stopped that. it’s the ONLY thing the topamax stopped). lastly, I have fullness in both ears all the time as well. These are all symptoms I experience with no breaks. All the symptoms combined lead to a quite disabling picture but the sensory overload prevents me from living even a semi-normal life as I have to avoid just about any situation that my brain needs to process multiple bits of information. Grocery stores, night-life, crowded malls, crowded streets in the daytime, even inside my own house during the day if there is a lot going on. I often have a hard time finding what I need in my basement, or in my garage as when I walk in there, my brain can’t take in all the information, and I find myself constantly going over the same areas again thinking I missed items. Anything that requires hand/eye coordination is no longer possible as I simply can’t see what I’m doing even though my vision is 20/20. I used to be heavily into arts/crafts, building things, etc. But I can no longer do it as I can’t shop the stores I need to get the materials and I don’t have the focus/concentration as well as the visual/sensory perceptions to get the job done. The concentration just ends up making me dizzy lol. I know when I’ve pushed myself because I start getting headaches, my eyes hurt, the sinuses above my eyes hurt, and I start seeing flashing lights in the dark. It’s like clockwork with me. When I’ve taken it easy for several days, and have done just enough around the house to be somewhat comfortable, but not enough to push it, I don’t get as many headaches, and the flashing lights go away in a couple days. But the condition itself doesn’t improve for me in this “playing it safe” mode, if anyone is interested in knowing.

Well, I could go on more but i think that’s long enough for one post lol. I just though I’d take the time to describe my most disabling symptom, but sure as tax day, i do have MANY other disabling symptoms as well, that when combined, are just as lethal in keeping me disabled as the sensory overload, but for some reason, that’s just the one symptom that keeps sticking in my mind as the most limiting. In fact, I’m thinking that some of my other symptoms are part of the sensory overload like the photophobia, and phonophobia. If this symptom was magically lifted tomorrow, the next symptom keeping me down is the appearance that the environment is moving around on me. I wish i knew what THAT one was lol. Dr. Hain thought it sounded like a Mal De Debarkment-type symptom, but knowing my history, and knowing that i have no history of travel, he thought it was very unlikely that I would get this spontaneously. anyway, any responses or follow-ups with your most disabling symptom are of course welcome :slight_smile:


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Hey Boslee,

When you mention “Sensory Overload”…do you mean like feeling “Over Stimulated”? Crowds and Malls bother me…plus if there is a huge amount of people in a movie theatre…that can bother me, particularly walking to the Concession Stands…people chatting, children’s high screaming voices. It takes a toll on me. Driving on Freeways that i’m not familar with + picking someone at an airport like LAX…is one heck of a challenge. I drove with my friend this afternoon to Laguna Beach (near the Beach)…and there were so many people walking thru the shops…people bumping into me, kids on their skate boards riding them on the sidewalks…and nearly ran me over. All of this just gets to me. For the normal person…it is so much easier to take in. The more stimula…the motion and tension increase inside my head. I became so overwhelmed at walking at the beach today i had to take an extra pill of medication. My concentration is generally ok…but if i have not taken medication it is hard for me to talk to people or even keep conversation going because i find myself not being able to process all the information and i blank out on what points i want to make. It is so frustating and embarrasing.

Getting a diagnosis in late 20006 was a good portion of the battle…now if i could just get the Inside of my head to feel Relaxed…that could certainly be a big help. But my head always feels unrelaxed w/tension.



You’ve got an amazing memory. Thanks for reminding me of some of the symptoms i’ve told you about :slight_smile:

And there’s a thread going on that will be interested in what happens when you “push it.” so thanks for that too.

as we’ve talked, pre-Klonopin, i had that sensory overload to the point that i would get jittery/shaking. not knowing where anything was, or should be. I just couldn’t function. Boiling water was difficult. It was sensory overload and I would squint all the time. Klonopin helped so much with that and MDDers are famous for taking Klonopin. I’m also not sure MDDers believe MDD has to be brought on by travel. I’ll email the Yahoo moderator and see what she says.

that symptom of the environment moving around you is one i also have (had) and i’m told also sounds like MDD. docs have always asked me, is it the environ or is it me that’s moving - i say “both!” and “alot!” “violently” At this point it’s more rollling than whipping violently. but if you had a chance to watch that ABC video they did on MDD, that’s what I see (saw). Klonopin helped with that too and Topamax topped it off. If you haven’t seen the video, i can get my hands on it, let me know.

I think the reason I’m able to walk and still not drive is because the environ is not moving as much and i don’t have to sit on anything while walking and i keep a cap pulled down over my eyes to keep out the visual stimulation. to drive, i would have to sit and i would have to watch the environ go by (not sure about that one yet)



What I describe as motion intolerance I believe is similar to what you describe. Basically, I feel the motion exagerated, like if I’m in a desk chair that spins, I can’t tell when it has stopped, or how fast I am moving. It is even worse when someone else is in control of the motion. Like when one of my kids rocks the chair I am sitting in feels like I just got dumped out of it.

Sensory overload is another problem, and can be quite intollerable at times. Rooms with bad acoustics causing lots of little echoes, or large crowds are no-nos for me. Did I mention family gatherings? I usually spend those in a seperate room where I can avoid most of my relatives.


Brian…i have noticed when laying on my bed…my cats jump on it and that brings on motion like a waterbed sensation. Not comfortable at all.


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Brian…i have noticed when laying on my bed…my cats jump on it and that brings on motion like a waterbed sensation. Not comfortable at all.


— End quote

Joe, that is my most disabling symptom. That’s what I mean when I talk about motion intolerance. I can’t stand it when the cat jumps on he bed. That’s why i can’t drive. When I was real sick even my own breath would or talking on the phone while lying in bed would cause intolerable motion. Ugh!

thank you all for your follow-ups and for listing some of your symptoms as well. what a lovely thing to deal with huh lol? The topamax has helped a lot of my false sense of motion, like the “rocking” sensations. basically, it’s made me feel more grounded, but unfortunately, that just scratches the surface for me :slight_smile: The topamax helps a LITTLE with the sensory overload, but it’s not the best at it, and I find that I still fatigue quite easily from crowded places, anything that requires a lot of “visual negotiation” like maneuvering through a shopping mall or home depot, and from just “seeing” in general lol. If I could walk around with my eyes closed, I’d be the better for it lol. thanks again for sharing everyone.


Julie…what is interesting is i can drive a car without much problem…that is …if i’ve taken my medication. :smiley: …but at the same time i stress out when i’m lying on my bed and a cat jumps on it. Don’t get it…


yep! i did an experiment (thanks Adam) i got behind the steering wheel. I drove down the driveway. no valium. got back in the house, laid down in the bed, felt like hell and if the cat had jumped on the bed, she’d have been OFF the bed pronto!

So with my improvements, and with vestibular suppression (luckily i’ve used enough Valium over the past few years i’m over the sedation) i’m better driving than as a passenger, but much much worse when back home. And no cats on the bed.

So, when i posted that i was intolerant to the motion of the car, i was extremely intolerable to it a year ago, even with heavy sedation, even during the drive, but i was a passenger, i was way way way too sick to drive, but i’m not as sick since treatment.

It’s a process.

is any of that clear as mud ??? :slight_smile:

Hey Bos,

Is that phonophobia of yours actually hyperacusis?
By the way, there’s a Doctor Slater who did a study on spontaneous MdDS, It doesn’t have to involve travel.
Actually MdDS is frequently triggered by motion.


hi heather. I had to look that one up lol as i didn’t know what it was. i guess your guess is as good as mine but it would seem to me that the phonophobia is associated with my overall picture as I was able to tolerate sound before the mav hit. but it’s good to know all the possibilities. thanks for the info on the mdds as well. :slight_smile:



the moderator at Yahoo told me the same thing - they find that it frequently comes on after travel but can follow any motion experience. And it is usually better while driving. she uses her qualifiers abundantly.

i know hain told you he didn’t think MDD could occur spontaneously but i’ve also heard/read him say that it can also occur overlapping MAV symptoms (with no mention of travel).

Whatever, i just want the correct treatment.

Hey Bos, i drove around the block. I took one little Valium to do it, but it did no harm. and i skipped my afternoon dose of Klonopin so all in all, i didn’t really add any additional suppressant - Topamax seems to be doing it’s work and i haven’t titrated up since hitting 100 a week ago.

It’s time for patience, let it cook for awhile.


Hi every one,
I was first diagnosed with MDds due to travel triggering my symptoms 15 years ago, but it was also during a very stressful period during my life.
I was a frequent MDds forum member for over 3 years and saw a few MDds people eventually diagnosed with MAV instead of MDds,
They had all the symptoms of MDds only.
If you look at how air travel (air pressure changes) can affect migrianeurs,
And how motion intolerance can affect some MAVers then it makes sense it would bring on rocking in a MAVer.
Dr Hian himself in many of his OLDER rightings, say’s he believed there was a possibility that MDds could be from migraine.
as Julie said overlapping symptoms
I have had both Spontainious And travel induce rocking
Boats and air travel.

P’s has someone changed the smileys on this site???
they look different.

i was going to ask the same thing about the smiley’s - i thought maybe it was my new monitor :shock: Thanks for the upgrade adam!

I thought my topa was messing with my head .

Topa IS messin with your head :slight_smile:

Juls did Adam realy change the smileys?
or is my vision going heywire?
they do look completly different to me.
are you just joking?
stop it now.
I’m not kidding. :mrgreen:
jen lol

The smileys are new, don’t worry. :smiley:
Well, some of them anyway!

Oh thanks tran, I thought I was truly going nuts.
I’ve been tapering off zoloft and also titrating on topa and feeling a little nutsy today,
hope your having a good day today,if thats possible in this mav world

Do you still have your sensory overload problems? I can exactly relate since I have the exact same issues. Did you by any chance have a vaccine prior to all these things? Or did you have some kind of viral infection?
Hope you are doing well,