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When Life Has You By The Throat

Updated: May 7, 2022

Find solutions, redesign, adapt and modify your environment to thrive.

Photo description: Background is a white wall. There are white furnishings around: A night stand with lamp, a long white work table, an open lap top, and crumpled papers lay on the work table. At the center is a woman dressed in white. Her elbows are on the table and her face is covered by her hands. She has short red hair and glasses. She is very distraught.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels


When life has you by the throat, find solutions, redesign your environment, and modify.

What’s your most significant aggravation? Is it noise, crowds, socializing?

Is it lights, sounds, close proximity to others, and communication? It is for me.

Sit down and write out what struggles you have and analyze where you have the most significant challenges. You know, those moments when you want to scream at the top of your lungs or throw the coffee mug across the room.

It’s funny how major struggles and challenges with a timeline involved, we somehow manage to conquer. But a minor thing like an itchy clothing tag can take us to unbearable overwhelm. Like many relentless mosquitoes biting at your skin, clothing, temperature, lights, sound, crowds, touching, communication, and surprises can be the downfall.


Photo Description: A closeup of a young person's eyes and forehead. The skin is caucasian, looks overheated with redness, and beads of sweat. The eyes are hazel with dark eyelashes and eyebrows. There are a few freckles. There is barely a hint of hair in the photo which is either light brown or a wet blonde.
Photo by Hans Reniers on Unsplash

Overheated Leopard:

What’s your nickname? Cold reptile or overheated leopard? I’m in the overheated category. It’s a heatwave every day for me.

If it is too hot in a room and I don’t have clothing that can help me stay cool, I’m not going to function. I will collapse. I can’t tolerate heat, especially high humidity. If this is you? Can you adapt with clothes, fans, and items to keep you cool?

At work, I have two or three fans going simultaneously and wear loose-fit, cool-to-the-touch clothing. I wear slip-on and off shoes and walk about barefoot most of the workday.

Where I live, it reaches temperatures above 100 degrees. By 1 p.m., no one at work can function in the heat, but we have to anyway. I know my body can faint and drop when the heat gets intolerable, so I plan to sit and doing quiet work during the hottest hours of the day.


Photo Description: The center of the photo is a pair of sunglasses alone on a sandy hill in the middle of a desert. The sun is bright and blaring down on the sand dunes.
Photo by Fabio Partenheimer from Pexels

Death Valley Glare:

Does indoor light blare into your eyes like one walking through Death Valley on the hottest day of the year?

Do you find yourself needing sunglasses indoors or turning lights off and preferring to work in the dark?

I can’t tolerate lights either. I keep the lights off, and I wear dark sunglasses all day. If I don’t, I will get completely overwhelmed. In public places where you can’t control lighting, wear sunglasses.


Do you find yourself avoiding crowded, noisy places?

Wear specialized earbuds that dim the sound. I use IQbuds. I couldn’t do my job without them.

Crowds are a huge issue. I haven’t figured out how to survive a crowd other than to keep a distance and only be in a crowded situation for as little as possible. My maximum time in a store is about 15 minutes. I can’t handle being in a store for very long.

Stores and crowded situations I try to plan. I go when it is the least crowded and noisy. I am very strategic. Don’t waste any time getting in and out of a crowded environment. Plan ahead.

If you are unfamiliar with the environment, first find an employee and ask them to help you.


Photo Description: A young person in a red hoody sweater is pulling the sweater up to their eyes. They look uncomfortable and frightened.
Photo by Talen de St. Croix on Unsplash

Bug Crawl:

How do you feel when someone physically leans or rubs on your unexpectedly? I find myself wiggling away. If I’m overwhelmed, it will feel like little bugs crawling all over me.

I have to be ready for it. Where I work, students run up and grab hold of me. I find myself avoiding known huggers and creating a considerable distance between myself and others. I prefer online meetings for this reason.

Do you find yourself drained after a social engagement or avoiding them?

It requires a lot of planning and time for me to prepare for communication. I’ve given up on it and now use an AAC device (Alternative Augmented Communication) and American Sign Language (ASL) for communication.

I also limit my social engagement time. Instead of 3 hours, I limit it to 45 minutes or less.


Photo Description: A young woman with long wavy brown hair and a black tank top angrily bites down on a book as if she is trying to keep herself from making a bad decision in anger.
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Sour Puss:

How do you react when your plans get suddenly altered?

Surprises can turn this lovely personality into an angry sour puss fast. I think I’m close to a zero surprise tolerance.

I need pre-warning for upcoming events, visits, and Dr. Appointments. Not only pre-warnings but daily reminders.

The idea of “Let’s Surprise her,” will never go over well with me. If this describes you also, it’s best to let people know that about you. “Surprises are off limits.”



In your home, work environment, and out and about the town, make sure you manage your environments. At home, have quiet areas where you can have lights out, sounds off, and a place just for you.

At work, redesign, modify and adapt what you can to help yourself manage better. The more stimuli you can block, the better. When you are out in the busy town, wear your sunglasses, comfy clothes, and sound-canceling earbuds.

At church, I wear my sunglasses and IQbuds. I stay in the main chapel with everyone for about 20 minutes or as long as I can, and then I retreat into a quiet room with a speaker and lights I can adjust. I listen to the rest of the service in the quiet room.

The most significant area I’m adjusting to in my life right now is a career change. Self-employed is best for me. I found writing to be an excellent fit for me.

Let me know your challenges and what adaptation strategies are working well for you.

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