The fear of uncomfortable clothes

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Merkava_4, Jun 19, 2017.

  1. Merkava_4 macrumors 6502a

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    California
    #1
    Last night I ran that thread title through a Google search as surprisingly, a new form of mental illness popped up that I had never heard of: Sensory Processing Disorder. Apparently, some people are either too sensitive to sensory input, or not sensitive enough. And apparently, the disorder is more prevalent with children.

    The most common thing with kids that have SPD is they hate the feel of seams in their socks rubbing against their toes, of they hate the feel of any clothing that has scratchy material or tags that poke into their skin. Parents will often turn to social media as a venue to express their frustrations about their kids taking so long to get ready for school because they keep taking the clothes off that mommy wants them to wear for that day.

    Myself, I don't know if I have SPD or not. All I know is that when I'm at work and my work clothes are either restricting my natural flow of movement, or are too scratchy, I can't focus on my job. The clothing consumes every cognitive thought that I have. I started this thread to see if anyone else here at MacRumors has the same mental disorder. Funny thing about mental disorders, if everybody had it, it wouldn't be a disorder. It's only because a minority of us have the condition that makes it a disorder.

    Clothing manufacturers tend to make clothes that look good on people; not clothes that are comfortable. If everybody was like me, clothing manufacturers would be compelled to make clothes that are very loose fitting and that are very soft in order to have happy customers that want to buy their line of products.

    Where this disorder becomes a problem is if a person is a blue collar worker that's forced to wear a work uniform because the employer demands that professional appearance. That professional appearance usually means a uniform that's constructed tighter than it needs to be and also made out of an industrial strength fabric that's made to withstand repeated washings. The employer will rent the uniforms from a uniform service that provides the uniforms to the employees. The employees have the choice of either wearing the uniform, or not working there. If you're a person with SPD, you're going to have a problem real real fast. You either live with working inside a torture chamber, or you quit your job and have no money to pay bills.

    I will post a link to a page where parents talk about their children with SPD and also adults that chime in and talk about their own issues with SPD. If any of you are living with SPD and have any tips on how to cope with it, please comment here or PM me.

    Clothing Doesn't Feel Good
     
  2. Scepticalscribe, Jun 19, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #2
    I think that calling this condition 'sensory processing disorder' may be over-stating things; you may simply have skin that is rather sensitive.

    Sensory issues - including the matter of feeling fabric, or material, that clothes are made from on your skin - is sometimes something one finds with those who are on the ASD spectrum, or who are thought to have Asperger's.

    Myself, I have extraordinarily sensitive skin, and, yes, dislike seams and labels. And artificial fabrics.

    In my case, I deal with it by wearing only natural fibres - mainly cotton, preferably organic, but also wool and linen, material that allows your skin to breathe. This means that I haven't worn man-made fibres in decades, and I am all the more comfortable for it.
     
  3. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #3
    I don't consider myself overly sensitive, but even I dislike labels if I notice (feel) them while wearing a shirt.

    My question is what does sensitivity to clothing touching your skin have to do with clothing being comfortable and fearing such clothing? By definition comfortable clothing should be less annoying. :) I agree it's more of a sensitivity issue.
     
  4. arkitect macrumors 601

    arkitect

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    #4
    The amount of labels that get stitched onto the inside of shirts and trousers etcetera these days is ridiculous. Some appear like little pamphlets of several small "pages" a couple inches long.
    No matter that the garment might be 100% cotton or linen or wool, the labels are 100% man-made fibres and they scratch and itch like hell.

    I get out the scissors as soon as I get a new garment. The care labels get binned.

    And no, I am not particularly sensitive. I object to careless execution of design and manufacture.
     
  5. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #5
    I fins the labels useful when I am shopping - the first thing I look for is what material is the product made from, and the label tells me that, or ought to; if it is not completely natural, the garment is of no further interest to me, irrespective of how 'nice' or attractive it may appear to be on the shelf, or hanger.

    An unusual consequence of this is that I can say "100% cotton" in a surprising number of languages.

    To the OP, I also use organic products in which to wash clothes; that also contributes to a feeling of relaxed comfort when wearing them.
     
  6. arkitect macrumors 601

    arkitect

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    #6
    It's not that I object to labels, they are necessary.

    I object to excessive amounts of labels stitched into the interior seams… that interfere with fit and comfort.

    Of course I want to know if something is cotton or the like.
     
  7. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

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    #7
    Children are very sensitized- which explains why they don't like tags on clothes, don't like showers (vs. baths), often itch mosquito bites or pick scabs, have strong taste preferences, often learn very efficiently, etc. When I was little I refused to wear jeans because they were too "crispy". A girl in my preschool class practically every day would rip off her tights because she didn't like how they felt.

    Many people have personal preferences as to what material and fit they wear. We all have our pet peeves too- yours might be scratchy clothes, mine is people "flicking" their long fingernails and low quality lighting (ex. CFL lightbulbs). If you're so sensative that you can't go about your day wearing the wrong material and you're obsessing over it, then maybe there's a problem- it could be sensitive skin, mental disorder, or perhaps a neurological disorder.

    Sensory Processing Disorder is a very vague/broad term that comes from the DC: 0-5 but isn't recognized in the ICD-10 or DSM-V. The DC: 0-5 (Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood) is kind of a weird diagnostic manual- it's relatively new and is supposed to be used alongside the DSM or ICD but focused on kids, but it has a lot of variation in how thorough it is in describing conditions and really isn't fully comprehensive yet.

    The problem I have with SPD in most cases is that the definition is so broad it doesn't necessary describe what the root problem is (excess dopaminergic action, problem in the midbrain, etc)- unless the cause is completely idiopathic (unknown) the term sounds more like a set of symptoms (a syndrome) that are the consequence of another condition. Because ICD codes are used for insurance billing, SPD probably isn't a common diagnosis, rather justified under a different diagnosis that's more common.

    As @Scepticalscribe pointed out, many of the adults suffering from SPD symptoms also have Autism/Aspergers traits. Alternatively, they may have some other mental health problems or developmental or aquired neurological issues (a bit more specific than just saying SPD). In these cases SPD again is a symptom of a greater condition, though I'm sure idiopathic SPD without co-occuring mental or physical health problems is possible.

    If clothes "consume every thought" then you might want to seek some professional help. I assume you are given a work uniform? Generally such clothing is pretty poor quality. There is a difference between being annoyed and the irritation consuming your thoughts. Most people become desensitized to their clothing eventually as their mind focuses on more important things. Maybe you're just hypersensitive, but it could also be mental health related (do you experience a lot of anxiety and/or depression? - you don't have to answer but it's something to consider as they are common co-occurring symptoms in conditions like OCD and Aspergers/Autism or even ADHD).

    Some suggestions- try to desentize yourself (exposure therapy so to speak) or seek psych therapy for the obsessive thinking, determine if there are any underlying mental health issues, and learn to mentally cope with the chronic discomfort you feel (especially if it's affecting your quality of life). The fact you're reaching out for peer support is a move in the right direction. In terms of addressing the physical issue- maybe try fabric softener or moisturizing your skin (dry skin is more sensative).

    You could also talk to a doctor (neurologist or psychiatrist would be best) about possible medications could be helpful- but there is no FDA approved medicine indicated for SPD and probably limited research, but assuming SPD is caused by overactive or abnormal neural communication, there are ways that could potentially be addressed.

    Best of luck!
     
  8. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #8
    On the topic of uniforms, and uncomfortable ones, is there a possibility that you can get the work uniform made yourself to your own specifications and requirements?

    When I was at school, I had to wear a uniform, and I found parts of the uniform uncomfortable.

    Thus, my mother - who was equally unhappy with the poor quality of the material and cut - got parts of it made to order in materials that I could wear comfortably. In colour - and broad cut - it was indistinguishable from that worn by the others, it was just the materials were different (and warmer and natural, pure wool rather than a mix, and so on cotton blouses rather than man made etc, and it was made to fit - or drape - more attractively); initially, the school wren't terribly happy, but they acquiesced when my mother made it clear that she was adamant about this.

    Now, of course, we did pay for these things ourselves.
     
  9. Merkava_4, Jun 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017

    Merkava_4 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    A.Goldberg - Thank you so much for your reply. You're obviously a mental healthcare professional of which I'm delighted to have included in this thread. I've been going to the mental health department at the VA hospital for a long time. Their initial diagnoses was severe OCD and chronic depression. They started me off with a low dose of Fluoxetine, but I've been on the maximum daily dose for several years.

    The medication works very well with my depression, but only takes the edge off my anxiety disorder. Still, it's better than nothing. Right now my fear of clothing is my most astronomical obstacle. I very much need to find employment, but this fear has me in a chokehold. I cannot fathom going through an interview while constantly thinking of how uncomfortable my clothes are. Even if I managed to get the job, I can't fathom accomplishing my job while constantly thinking about how uncomfortable I am. There is absolutely no way that I can be calm and relaxed without comfortable work clothes. It's very frustrating because I desperately want to go to work.

    I have a wide range of skills and I know that I could land a job easily if I didn't have this fear of clothing. I have even entertained the idea of learning how be my own seamstress, but that would take too long. I need to get to work sooner rather than later. My next appointment with my psychiatrist is not until the end of July. That's too far away, so I'm thinking about going into the VA emergency and talking to the on-call phych. I need some kind of advice as to where to start. By the way, I did apply for Social Security Disability benefits back in October of 2012 on the premise of severe OCD, but they denied my claim.

    Scepticalscribe - I have checked with all the tailor shops in town; none of them want to make custom clothing.
     
  10. Roller macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2003
    #10
    As others have said, there is a continuum between a minor aversion to particular fabrics or styles and a disorder that significantly affects daily life. However, regardless of whether the condition is formally recognized in the DSM or any other taxonomy, it can be debilitating, as in the OP's case. I agree with A.Goldberg's suggestion regarding professional help.

    Personally, I've always been very sensitive to material like wool that feels "scratchy," so I've compensated by purchasing clothes made of soft cotton. I've also had suits tailored with silk linings. I'm surprised that the OP can't locate shops that won't do this or alter clothes to make them less constrictive. Perhaps a tailor in another city can do this remotely.
     
  11. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

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    #11
    It sounds like this is beyond the issue of "I don't like certain materials" but instead is deeply affecting your day to day life.

    Have you talked to your psychiatrist about this problem?

    It sounds to me like your appointments with your doctor are too far apart considering your symptoms are not managed. That can be a problem.

    If you don't think you can wait until July I would try calling and seeing if you can schedule an appointment earlier or if you have any other options within the VA hospital. Be sure to stress the importance of why you need to be seen. If you have a therapist other than your doctor you may want to try reaching out to him/her (or getting one in addition to the psychiatrist). If your doctor is too inaccessible you may want to consider finding another provider that is more flexible, if possible. I suppose if you cannot wait or experience an emergency the ER is your best option. What do you feel will happen if you had to wait until the end of the July.

    I can't comment on if you have OCD or not, but under your doctors diagnosis there are a bunch of treatments for OCD, therapy (CBT, exposure), clinical groups, peer support groups, programs, other medications (there are more options than Fluoxetine), etc. Maybe you need to explore these options further. OCD can be managed, but you have to put in the effort. Unfortunately there is no magic bullet medication.

    When you see you're doctor be open about all your symptoms. As you may know, OCD is often viewed as a manifestation of anxiety. Treating anxiety should help with OCD. If you're not content with the progress you've made with your doctor, it might be worth looking into a psychiatrist who specializes in OCD (or at least consult)... I recommend not dumping your doc and then waiting to *eventually* find new one. If you go this route, find a replacement, meet with him at least once, then you can cut ties with your old one.

    Social security- did you appeal in 2012? Why were you denied? Have you tried reapplying?
     
  12. Merkava_4 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    A.Goldberg - Hi, I haven't talked to my psychiatrist about this specific problem yet no. I don't get to see her that often. About once a year for 30 minutes is all I get. It's funny though because I could easily talk to her for 4 hours if given the chance. But she's been my psychiatrist since 1994. I consider her a very nice person and also a friend.

    I did not not appeal the decision by Social Security denying my claim. Believe it or not, at the time, I was actually glad they denied my claim because that means they think I'm a normal person and that gives me the excuse to find a job and pay taxes like normal people. I now realize that was a mistake and I should've appealed the claim within the 6 months window. I'll now have to reapply and start all over again which could take up to 2 years to see any benefits I'm told.

    I've always wished I could be a normal person like everybody else. Being mentally ill means I have above average intelligence and see the world in a negative light that normal people don't see. This clothing issue is a major obstacle for me. I wish I could walk into a clothing store and have everything on the shelf fit me perfectly. If that was the case, the sky's the limit for me.
     

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