Hi, I’m Sally Pendreigh.

They say life begins at 40. Well, for me, it was 48….

Doing internet research for a counselling assignment, algorithms were bombarding my screen with pop-ups.

Closing them as quickly as they appeared, one caught my eye.

The title was “5 Gifts of Being Highly Sensitive and 5 Curses: An Interview with Douglas Eby“.

Intriguing … that something could be so good and so bad.

The ‘highly sensitive‘ bit almost passed me by … until I started reading.  I found myself recognising one thing after another.

The Article

The article began with the gifts:

Intensity of sensory detail, like appreciating shades, textures, music, colours in nature. Tick.

Strong tendency to be aware of nuances in meaning. Absolutely.

More aware of our inner states. You bet, it’s where I live most of the time!

Creativity. Well, I write poems, does that count?

Greater empathy. So people say.

It was as if someone could see inside me.  My posture turned meerkat-straight.

I wondered what the curses would be:

Easily overwhelmed and overstimulated. Tick, though I wouldn’t say ‘easily‘ because it takes a lot of hard work to get to that stage.

Not just aware of, but affected by, the emotions of others. Yep, afraid so.

Need lots of time and space alone. And there I was thinking I was just being rude, selfish and dull!

Unhealthy perfectionism.  Personally, I’d call it being thorough and, frankly, some folk just aren’t thorough enough!

Living out of sync with the prevailing culture. Well, that was THE clincher. My experience in a nutshell.

The Impact

That article changed my life. Finally my experiences and reactions made sense.

I was – I am – a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

I didn’t like the term much – it was too close to what I’d often been judged for.  But I couldn’t deny the symptoms.

Armed with this new-found knowledge, I could stop berating myself for being some sort of freak.

And I started appreciating the gifts of my sensitivity.  All I had seen before were flaws.

It was – and has been since – a whole new world. I now think of life as before and after finding out I was an HSP.

The post-discovery me is more connected – to myself, to others and to my place in the world.

Finding My Mission

I would have just left it at that – having a better relationship with my own sensitivity, connecting with the gifts and managing the challenges.

But HSPs just kept finding their way to my counselling room, even though I wasn’t saying anything explicit about being highly sensitive.

Clients seemed to recognise descriptions of underlying struggles – like feeling things more deeply than others, struggling to fit in, being misunderstood.

They said things like  “I don’t know who I am“, “What’s wrong with me?” or “Why am I so emotional about things?”.

The possibility they might be an HSP emerged when they shared what hurt.   No easy thing when they’d been derided all their lives for those very struggles.

They explored being an HSP for themselves and almost always came back the next week saying,”That’s me!” and “What I am is a thing!“.

It was joyous to witness fellow humans befriending and coming to celebrate the difference that had set them apart for so long.

I had found my mission. Or maybe it had found me? Either way, thank goodness for that algorithm and that article.

The Mission Continues

I was a counsellor and psychotherapist for 10 years, working with hundreds of clients over thousands of hours.

I started putting more out in the world about being highly sensitive on my (now defunct) counselling website and in directory entries.

In September 2020, I wrote an article for The Counselling Directory – ‘Being Highly Sensitive: What if it’s the answer not the problem?’.

The article was picked up and published in Happiful magazine in December 2020 with a new title ‘Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?

Together, they led to me getting new clients from all over the UK who told me “You could have written that about me.

I retired as a counsellor in spring 2022.  Now, with this website, I hope to reach more people than I ever could one-to-one.

I want as many people as possible who don’t know they’re an HSP to find out and be freed by the discovery.

After all, who needs angst when you could have freedom!

Because being highly sensitive really is the answer not the problem.