Q: I have always been somewhat of a sensitive person, however lately the littlest things seem to upset me a lot more than they should. For example observing a football team losing a game (not necessarily even a team I am a big fan of) can bring me to tears. I have made some changes in my life fairly recently, but generally for the better. Let me explain a little bit about my habits the past year- I started using marijuana but I still maintained good grades and somewhat similar social habits. Then once summer came I smoked almost daily before work. During this period I did stop smoking for a month-pretty easily as somewhat of a confirmation that I am not addicted. I then developed panic disorder, which was never bad enough to go to the hospital although I suggested I may need to go. People could usually talk me through it and calm me down. Eventually I took xanax and zoloft, for about 3 months, I’m now off and was fine when I started slowly lowering my doses. That is somewhat of my background. More recently I just had a very poor semester, and I feel really guilty for wasting my parent’s money on an education, and I told them that. This was due indirectly to the marijuana I think. My friends didn’t do much, or have any ambition, so at that point neither did I. After seeing my grades I woke up and realized if I want to get where I’m going I need to surround myself with people who also want to succeed in some way. It was then I decided that moving further away from home into a more structured and strict school would benefit me greatly in terms of growing up. Here’s the thing. I have never been away from home before, and I have never been more scared/excited in my life. My biggest fear I think is being so far away from my parents. Not only will I miss them but I will worry about them. They are starting to get older and the whole idea of the fact I will someday lose them overwhelms me beyond words. I feel if I leave I may end up never living close to them again, and though I accept I will probably never live with them again, it’s very strange to leave where I have been for 20 years. I guess this is probably what is causing my over sensitiveness, as just writing about leaving has brought me to tears. I also think and talk about death a lot, and I am not sure why. I guess I’m afraid of the unknown–but all this is really starting to affect my life. I just want to know if this could be causing my being oversensitive to other environmental factors. Is there anything to help me in coping with this?
A: On one hand it sounds like you are trying to make some very positive changes in your life and on the other maybe you are not ready for them. Moving away from home for the first time is a big deal and you need to figure out if you are ready for it. You may be experiencing a mild depression (depression and anxiety often go hand in hand) which could explain your sensitivity. Are you able to stay clean and focus on school without moving? If not, then there may be some other personal work you need to do. You have mentioned being on medications for your anxiety but have you tried therapy? Whether you stay where you are or move to your new school, I would suggest finding someone you can trust to work through some of the issues you have mentioned. Despite popular belief, I personally believe that marijuana use can be addictive and it has been proven to affect motivation. For you to remain serious about school and “growing up” as you put it, you will need to address your marijuana use. A good therapist (or AA and NA) can help with this as well. I wish you luck and I hope you start feeling better soon.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Feb 2007
Counts, H. (2007). What could explain my sudden oversensitivity?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/02/13/what-could-explain-my-sudden-oversensitivity/