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Home » Blogs » A Neurodivergent Perspective » Mental Health, SPD and PTSD: It Should Be within My Rights to Play Music to Maintain My Mental Health Needs 

Mental Health, SPD and PTSD: It Should Be within My Rights to Play Music to Maintain My Mental Health Needs 

surrounded by music
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

When you have sensory processing disorder (SPD) and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you never know when a noise is going to trigger you, and you have to be prepared at all times. Since moving into our new home, I’ve found ways to muffle the noise around us. I run box fans to drown out my neighbors’ constant use of lawn equipment and the traffic on the busy road near us. And I listen to music both inside and outside my home. To create my own sensory sanctuary. To keep myself from being triggered by the noise. To feel safe.

Sometimes when I’m outside, I wear my noise-canceling headphones to listen to my music. But other times, like when my husband and I are sitting outside on a Sunday morning and the neighbor behind us begins using his table saw, I play music through a speaker so we can still enjoy each other and our outdoor space.

And up until recently, I’d been feeling quite settled in our house. The most settled I’ve ever felt in any house, for that matter. It felt like ours. It felt safe. It felt magical. And then we received the following letter: 

My husband crumpled it up in a silly, dramatic gesture saying, This is how I feel about that!

It was addressed to my husband and to Jennifer (not my name) and signed, Your Neighbors. No name or address or phone number to have a neighborly conversation about our mutual problem. Just an anonymous threat. And unknown threats are the worst: they give you no power to fight back.

I felt triggered. Angry. And like the safe sanctuary I thought I’d created was crumbling. I play my music to drown out noises that are harmful to my mental health. To assist my neurological activity. To keep myself regulated. Not to upset others. And especially not to create tension surrounding our new home. 

After receiving the letter and looking up the ordinance referenced, I was really upset. The tears would not stop pouring from my eyes. I went into my room with my music playing through my noise-canceling headphones. I meditated. I tapped my forehead. My cheekbones. Under my nose. My chin. My heart. I repeated this action until I felt the pain pour out of my heart. Pain from decades of being reprimanded for doing things to help my sensory processing. In school. At work. In the company of others. And now at my home.

I tapped until the pain felt muted. Subsided. I heard my yoga teacher’s voice ask me how far down my breath could go. It only reached my chest. That’s where it stayed too. Shallow. Anxious. So I took some magnesium supplements and stress relief spray and lay down. I was a wreck.

There was a kinder way of handling this. A more neighborly way. I keep to myself, and I don’t want to take away anyone’s enjoyment of their home. But I refuse to compromise my well-being for their preference. And while they could argue that my music is a, “disturbance which interferes with the peaceful enjoyment of the premises of others,” I could argue that their use of saws and blowers and lawnmowers disturbs my peace too. 

I asked a friend, who used to be a dispatcher in the county we live in, if there was really anything my neighbors could do about my music. I didn’t want to feel the threat of the cops showing up at my doorstep because I was trying to feel safe in my own backyard. She said that people call the cops over neighbors’ noise all the time. Over blowers and lawn equipment too. That if there are enough complaints, the cops will park on the street to assess how disruptive the noise is, and that they only issue a ticket if the problem persists. 

It was somewhat of a relief. But not completely. I still feel the tension coming from my neighbors. And since I don’t know exactly who is upset, it feels like it’s coming from everywhere. Like an encirclement.

The worst part is, I’m happy to compromise. Willing to work with them on the volume of my music. Only play it during times of the day we agree on. Like when they use their table saws and lawn equipment. But they left me no choice by remaining anonymous.

And just like it’s within their rights to run saws and mowers and blowers to maintain their needs, it should be within my rights to play music to maintain mine. 

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Mental Health, SPD and PTSD: It Should Be within My Rights to Play Music to Maintain My Mental Health Needs 


Jenna Grace

Jenna Grace is a neurodivergent writer and educator with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sensory processing disorder (SPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD) diagnoses. She writes and speaks about topics including neurodiversity and SPD in order to help others and to explore new meaning. Visit her website or Twitter, @jennagracewrite.


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APA Reference
Grace, J. (2019). Mental Health, SPD and PTSD: It Should Be within My Rights to Play Music to Maintain My Mental Health Needs . Psych Central. Retrieved on January 29, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/neurodivergent/2019/08/mental-health-spd-and-ptsd-it-should-be-within-my-rights-to-play-music-to-maintain-my-mental-health-needs/

 

Last updated: 30 Aug 2019
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