Still Sleepless, Cranky and Annoying After all These Years

Remember when I suggested that you might be sleepless, cranky and annoying because of your ample empathy and your serious sense of social responsibility?

Well, let’s face it. There’s so much to be sleepless, cranky and annoying about. Where do you start? What do you do? When the environmental, social and political issues are SO ENORMOUS.

I know. You’re actually way beyond sleepless, cranky and annoying. More like sleepless, enraged and despairing. I get it. But you were born with a capacity to respond to others’ pain with sensitivity and compassion. You were born with a need to make a positive difference. You can’t just eat your tofu and tune it all out.

And that’s a good thing.

So here’s what I’m thinking. You’ve got some skills. Some smarts. If I know you, you’re an idealist and an optimist. And you have the capacity for visionary and intuitive meanderings. Maybe even spiritual and mystical awakenings. That’s all you need. You have what you need. (Well, maybe you need a little therapy, too.)

But now you must believe in yourself and figure out where your path leads. (Or where your paths lead.)

I know. That’s not easy. You’d be doing it already if it were easy. But I’m just saying that a next step is trusting your rainforest mind in all of its depth, ruminations, passions, nerdiness and radiance.

Trust yourself.

5885747179_939f256af9And get some sleep.


Photo from Creative Commons:

To my bloggEEs:

Thank you for reading. I hope that you’re finding what you need and that you feel less alone. Now that you can see where I’m going with this blog, let me know if there are questions you have or topics you’d like to see addressed. And if you’re on the younger-ish side, you might want to check out They’re a community of “nerds” working to “increase awesome and decrease suck” in the world.

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

21 responses to “Still Sleepless, Cranky and Annoying After all These Years”

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  1. mphinton Avatar

    I had a tendency to keep piling on commitments. For example, while attending grad school (with 2 young kids at home), I taught classes, helped organize a conference, presented at a different conference, applied for and received numerous grants, developed an assessment tool for the research conference committee, worked as a volunteer community mediator in an elder abuse project, ran a community org I founded for isolated women in my community, etc. etc. I repeated this pattern over and over again in my life. It was only until I went to a an excellent therapist that I was able to learn how to fill my days with some of these types of things, but also with things that replenished me (meditation groups, exercise, kayaking, playing piano, journaling, etc.). My life is now much more balanced and joyful – I give a lot to others in all kinds of ways, but I give to myself too. The biggest challenge was learning to prioritize the me time. To just say no to other people because I felt like staring out a window – that that was valuable too.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Yes! That balance is so important. Thanks for sharing.

  2. hno3burns Avatar

    I never really sleep.

  3. Deidre Avatar

    Although my empathy leaned more to the intuitive side, seeing the undertones of what is not always apparent, I have never had trouble sleeping until I became pregnant with my first child. Within only a few days of conception, I could no longer watch violence on tv, read anything that wasn’t light hearted and as an avid devourer of currents events, I had to stop reading the news. Once she was old enough for me to really start experiencing her personality, I understood. It was she that was the true empath. Her nightmares are injustice. She seeks out the sad and injured. She can hold the hand of an autistic child with sensory issues that normally prevents touch, she can make a woman in the last stages of Alzheimers smile for the first time in 6 months. That empathy that kept me awake with her pregnancy never left. Amazingly enough she left it with me also. I can not read the news, I am extremely careful what I read and watch. I have over the years subscribed to several groups for environmental, animal and human issues via email. I know there are some days I can read them and some that I must skip them for another day or sleep will elude me.

    After 5 years of her in my life I have come to expect the extraordinary, but have never stop being amazed,

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      I’m hoping that more and more children are being born with these traits. Imagine what a different world it could be! Thanks, Deidre.

  4. shy-clown Avatar


    Whole my life I thought I am somewhat crazy, disturbed and stupid, etc,… What lead me to studying all kinds of psychological illnesses and comparing them to my personality,

    First thing I started to learn was about schizophrenia, because of nonstop self judging,
    then bipolar disorder because of uncountable activities – and speed I can do things.
    Being most of time alone bring me to idea I might be Mild – Autistic.
    I interpreted my misunderstanding with people as my personality flaw gave myself diagnosis of Asperger.
    And now I am here. And it fits…
    Well I am still the same, but just reading this pages made me feel better, that I might not be sick after all. 😀

    Sorry for my English Skills – I didn’t put much effort to learn it beyond the ability to communicate with others…

    Thank you for this Blog 🙂

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      I’m so glad I can help you find your true diagnosis–rainforest mind! I have heard from many clients that they’ve been misdiagnosed by practitioners or they’ve misdiagnosed themselves. So you’re not alone! Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m guessing that many readers will be able to relate.

  5. Corrina Avatar

    Paula, I just started on your blog, so I will explore further for my daughter. She’s only six and is a well over-grown rainforest already. Thank you for your blog.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thanks for writing. Maybe you also have a well over-grown rainforest mind.

  6. marlies Avatar

    Thanks so much for your inspiring words. I read them at the right moment. I get it. And yes, it sure helps!

    Listen to my body more. Rest more relaxe more. Cheetah style.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thank you!

  7. dmstauberDo Mi Avatar
    dmstauberDo Mi

    I’m loving all of this, Paula!!

    I have had to give myself permission not to do everything I’m good at or everything that helps people. (Permission, over and over and over.) I get to do what I love. And yes, self-soothing techniques have been really important! I’m reminded of John Travolta in Phenomenon, when he’s in the garden and his excited speeding mind calmed down to the waving trees…I cried.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thank you, Do Mi. Take good care of that excited speeding mind of yours!

  8. Cynthia, aka Gaia gardener Avatar
    Cynthia, aka Gaia gardener

    Boundaries have been particularly difficult for me to learn – it’s taken counseling and well over 50 years of living to realize that I needed them to stay mentally healthy myself. I’m finally starting to work to put my priorities at the top of my list, instead of trying to take care of everyone around me first. Empathy is good, if you can learn to take care of yourself.

    Social responsibility is humbling. I’m only now realizing that most people don’t have much sense of responsibility to society as a whole, which creates another layer of difficulty to trying to save the world!

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Yes, I’m getting the message that I need to blog about boundaries and self-care. How does a highly sensitive person loaded with empathy stay centered and balanced and positive? I appreciate hearing your thoughts, Cynthia.

  9. Marmie Avatar

    I am quite new to this “wow-I-must-be-gifted-too” idea. I wonder if the hypersensitivities and constant mind working might be contributing to migraine headaches for others. I’ve noticed other triggers, but if I am in a vulnerable place medically because of other triggers such as weather, the hypersensitivities and constant thinking seem to exacerbate the migraine. Is there any info or literature on this?

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      I haven’t read that gifted adults are more prone to migraines although I’ve run into several female clients over the years who’ve had them. But I don’t know if there are statistics anywhere. Certainly the sensitivities and super-active mind could contribute to tension that might trigger migraines. Maybe someone reading the blog will know. In any case, it’s important for rainforest-minded adults to learn self-soothing and relaxation techniques to deal with what can feel like assault from people and environments. I wish I knew more about this, Marmie. Thanks for asking.

  10. Andi Avatar

    I love, love, love every single post. Keep it up!

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thank you!

  11. abgswalAmber Avatar

    Ufff! Immense empathy just gets so exhausting – constantly having to fight to find the balance between giving enough of myself to give to the person and keeping distance enough to (try to) stay centered, balanced and healthy.
    Plus, it’s hard to not take on the responsibility of other people’s happiness (even if I know it’s the happiness of people I know are prone to being upset, so it’s ~Really~ not my responsibility).

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Yes, so exhausting. Staying centered and balanced as much as possible is so important. I’ll blog about ways to do that in a future post. Thanks for your comment.