Most days at work I'm fine, if not happy, but there are days when it hurts to force myself to function normally. Today was one of those days. For the first two hours of work today I was in intense pain. It hurt to talk and I mostly gestured when I could. Normally I can look near faces if not at something on them, but today I wanted to look int the opposite direction and could barely stand to look at the upper bodies of others around me. Every texture, every sound hurt. Touching anything made me shudder, people talking sent spikes through my head. It felt like the world was attacking me.
Every ounce of control I had was called in to keep me from crawling under a shelf and stimming for the next few hours. The bad thing is that all my coping mechanisms aren't socially acceptable in public, so I tried to do things close to them that wouldn't be as obvious, like tensing all the muscles in my hand, or tapping my heels against the floor when I walked. Those helped a bit, but what helped the most was singing and humming songs from musicals, which blocked out everything else and focused my attention.
These are the days that scare me and show that my careful control on the world around me isn't really control. It's not that I'm really less susceptible to sensory overload, it's just that I have more sophisticated blocking systems. When those blocking mechanisms malfunction, I'm just as easily overloaded as anyone else.