Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sensory overload

While most of us expect to be subjected to loud noise if we’re in the middle of the city, we don’t usually expect it when you live in a quiet suburb. Noise can be both soothing and frustrating, depending on the type of noise and when it’s present.

What I didn’t realize was how strongly noise could affect the psyche too. Although the area where I live is generally very quiet, save for the usual traffic of families coming and going, some yard work, children playing, and barking dogs, it’s been getting progressively noisier over the past few weeks. One neighbour began a project involving getting an in-ground pool and major landscaping. That was about three weeks ago and resulted in back hoes and trucks coming and going in our small crescent plus the accompanying work noises. Then, this past week, another neighbour had to have insulation removed from their house. This involved operating two rather large gas generators and there being a large metal container into which to suck the insulation. The racket was unbelievable and just yards away from my office window.

As if that wasn’t enough, a neighbour a block or so away is getting rid of something (I think an in-ground pool) and we can hear the jackhammers all day. Three or so blocks away, the city is doing major road work that calls for dynamite blasts throughout the day, plus the assorted trucks coming and going with the associated beeping every time they go in reverse. Then, if you add the every day neighbourhood sounds of people mowing their lawns, trimming their hedges, and a family whose dogs bark all day long – the noise was deafening.

On Thursday, I started to feel really down. I couldn’t figure out why because things are going very well. I have enough work to keep me busy, my family is healthy and doing well, the weather, although a bit grey, hasn’t been too bad, and there really wasn’t anything to complain about. So, why did I start having this pit in my stomach and why was the world starting to look so sad all of a sudden?

On Friday, it hit me: it was the noise. The noise was beyond what I could bear. I thought it was going to drive me nuts. As soon as I realized that this was causing my bad feelings, I felt better. I still felt that depression hanging in, but having identified the likely cause really helped me feel like I’d gained a bit of control.

Sure enough, in the late afternoon, the two generators were packed up and the insulation removal was finished. The road work was finished for the weekend (it’s a holiday weekend here in Quebec), and the landscaping work was now in quiet mode. The dogs had stopped barking and no-one was mowing a lawn within ear shot. It was quiet. Peacefully, wonderfully, quiet. And my sadness lifted. Almost magically, I felt ok again.

So, how am I going to deal with this next time? Ear plugs didn’t block out most of the noise. I have a hard time working while listening to music (too distracting), but maybe that’s what I’m going to have to try again. Fire up my MP3 player and try to use that as my buffer to the noisy world around me. Chances are though, this won’t happen again – at least not at the level that happened this past week.

Today's news:

HIV test gives results in just 60 seconds
Glucose may affect more pregnancies
Researchers identify main factors for worsening of glaucoma

No comments: