At first I thought there was something terribly wrong with me.
When I was a little girl I felt anxious a lot, though I didn't know what to call it. I simply thought I was defective and the only one to feel so uncomfortable on the inside. I was easily overwhelmed by too much of just about anything—too much attention, too much noise, too much anger, too many people, too much to do. I picked up on the emotions of the people all around me, including the unspoken stuff. I couldn't discern whose emotions they were—mine? I felt unnerved by the stressed-out people in my life, perceiving their emotions and behavior as all about me, when that wasn't the reality.
I savored quiet spaces, time alone, and spending hours in quiet solitary play or work. Crowds and excess stimulation sucked the life right out of me (even today I avoid crowded stores, big gatherings, and loud music), making me feel grumpy, tired, and anxious. It was easy for my child mind to conclude that I was just shy, anti-social, hard to get along with, easily irritated, awkward, stubborn, and unlovable.