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Old 10-16-2012, 08:11 AM
Halcyon Halcyon is offline
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Default A problem of touch

I'm posting this from a new account because I'd rather keep this problem somewhat isolated from my other "identity" (for lack of a better term). I've come to trust the community here and value the input of its members. For reference, I am male and in my mid 20's. If this is in the wrong area, please relocate it to a suitable one.

This is something I've been dealing with for quite some time and I feel I've reached the limits of my ability to deal with it. For as long as I can remember, I've had what felt like a special need for physical contact that went above and beyond what the average person needed to feel happy and content. This isn't necessarily sexual (though sex is an avenue which I've pursued this, albeit safely) in nature, often just the simple act of holding hands or running my hand across someone's arm or back gives me this charge that I cant really compare to anything else with any degree of justice. If I am without this kind of contact for long periods of time, I notice changes in my mental and then my physical self.

After a few days, I feel a little down. Nothing major, I just drag a little bit and am not as perky as I usually am. Once I hit a week, I start feeling actively depressed. Once two weeks passes, the physical pain begins. I start feeling an undefinable ache, almost like an itch you cant scratch no matter how hard you try or where you scratch, that starts at my shoulders and works its way across my entire body. After that, joint pain and a twitch in my left arm begin. Its an actual, palpable pain that doesn't respond to painkillers. At first I chalked this up to depression but I noticed even when I was engaged in something that made me happy and alleviated the symptoms of depression for a few days, the pain remained. I next attributed the pain to muscle pain caused by my muscles contracting due to the stress of the depression. Muscle relaxants (prescription strength and Tylenol) did nothing to help, using a massage machine did nothing, and a massage (I was wearing a shirt for the process) did nothing. Once I am able to have that contact again, I feel this profound sense of calm come over me and I feel so "at home" that its like I could almost just melt.

This craving surpasses virtually any other desire if let grow long enough. After three or four weeks, I find myself having to remind myself to move around and eat. Its almost like my body just stops caring. Even sex just starts seeming meaningless because I cant get past the fact that I'll be TOUCHING someone. A lot of the time, I donít even care if the sex happens or not. As long as we can just make contact, I'm happy. I think if I had less self-awareness, I'd probably be a sex addict though.

Actual touch itself is...difficult to describe without straying into the corn(y)fields. Itís a charge that races through your entire body and makes every hair stand on end, like a lighting bolt that shoots through every nerve and muscle. It feels almost like a miniature orgasm drawn out over several minutes and all you want is MORE; to be drawn in closer, more contact, more touch, and never have it end. The closest feeling I could equate it to that would have any coherent meaning for other people is when you're driving and you've got the windows down, music blasting, and you start gunning it up as the music crescendos; that rush is...similar in a limited way. It isn't necessarily sexual in nature, either. While it does enhance sexual encounters, the ecstatic feelings are clearly independent of sexual arousal. I've also noted that certain areas of the skin are more sensitive to this kind of touch than others; my back and hands especially are susceptible. Areas of skin that can generate this kind of charge when touched also become desensitized after a few minutes of contact but regain the sensitivity after given a few minutes to "recharge."

Certain people also have markedly different touches, no two people are alike in that respect. I've met people that set my blood on fire just by touching my cheek and I've met others where I felt absolutely nothing when they touched me, some have a sense of warmth that spreads from where they touch, others its almost a vibration. This can also change depending on that person's mood and the mood of the moment. I even build up a tolerance to the touch of a specific person if I'm exposed to it for long periods of time; it stops having the effect of satiating the hunger and the intervals between NEEDING contact become shorter and shorter even if the amount of physical contact between that person and myself remains the same.

I realize this must seem a little...eccentric, to be mild, but this IS something very real that I experience. I have spent hours trying to approach this from a scientific point of view but aside from a new found knowledge of neurotransmitters, nothing has come of it. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitters produced when someone is physically touched (among myriad other circumstances) and while I have considered jamming a hypo of synthetic Oxytocin into a vein, I've stopped short of this (for obvious reasons, and the fact that synthetic Oxytocin is not available without prescription.) I have read several articles on the concept of "skin hunger" (essentially the human desire to be touched) but it deals with this in a MUCH more subdued way and there is virtually no clinical information out there on the subject, its barely recognized as a "thing" to begin with. I've dealt with this as long as I have memory and while it creates some amazing experiences with people, the crash and the constant hunger (for lack of a better term) is wearing me down.

I have considered antidepressants but I can find no valid clinical reason for asking for them; how I feel is there regardless if I am depressed or not. This kind of thinking intrudes even when I am at peace and happy with the rest of my life. I also have spoken with several counselors about the subject but I cant seem to find anyone that really understands A. what the problem is or B. why itís a problem. I feel I've sort of run out of options; everything I chase down is a dead-end with no help to be offered.

If you have anything to offer, anything at all, I would be glad to hear it.

After re-reading this upon completion, it strikes me that this looks frighteningly like a suicide note XD I assure you this was not my intention at all, I have no plans on self-destruction whatsoever. I find my circumstances highly frustrating but not nearly to the degree that warrants self-destructive behavior and I do consider myself, on the whole, mentally healthy.
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:05 AM
dingedheart dingedheart is offline
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Hi and welcome,

I didn't think think your post sounded like a suicide note .

With this condition I think poly is going to be a very good fit for you.

What do you do you do for a living ? I recommend massage therapist or politics ( shaking hands, slapping backs, kissing babies ).
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Old 10-16-2012, 12:02 PM
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Anek Anek is offline
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Do the positive effects happen when you are touched, or when you touch someone?
Would just shake hands with people be enough?

I've never heard of this as a "condition", but on much smaller terms than what you describe it makes sense, the desire for physical contact and connection.
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Old 10-16-2012, 02:04 PM
Halcyon Halcyon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dingedheart View Post
Hi and welcome,

I didn't think think your post sounded like a suicide note .

With this condition I think poly is going to be a very good fit for you.

What do you do you do for a living ? I recommend massage therapist or politics ( shaking hands, slapping backs, kissing babies ).
I work as a counselor, teaching life skills to teens as part of an NPO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anek View Post
Do the positive effects happen when you are touched, or when you touch someone?
Would just shake hands with people be enough?
The positive effects are more pronounced when I'm being touched but they also happen almost as strong when I'm touching someone.

If I've gone a very long time without touching someone, then yes I can get a reaction out of something as simple as shaking hands or a hug but that usually requires going three or more weeks.

Quote:
I've never heard of this as a "condition", but on much smaller terms than what you describe it makes sense, the desire for physical contact and connection.
I can imagine the desire for physical contact being natural, but to the point of almost a drug-like addiction where you're caused physical pain if you dont get it?
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Old 10-16-2012, 04:57 PM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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Have you taken the five love languages test? The book is also very good. You are very likely high in touch as how you express and feel love. If you google five love languages you can find free online tests. Also are you unusually empathetic? I've noticed that my friends who are highly empathetic either need more touch than most OR they are very very selective in who and how they touch.

Finally, I have heard spiritual healers, shamans and energy workers describe touch similar to how you experience it. Talking with shamans, reiki practitioners, energy workers in general may be very useful to you and possibly a life work avenue.
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:26 PM
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LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is offline
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Sounds normal to me-not that most adults operate that way. But its a huge consideration with premature babies (look up importance of skin to skin contact and preemies). For them it can be life threatsning not to have skin on skin touch. Studies in babies that were in orphanages show similar issues.

I agree, read the love languages book.
But just as importantly, build into your life the types of connections that promote frequent touch!
Children are an amazing source for this *you slecified it need not be sexual* as they crave hugs and cuddles all day. In fact, you may consider as a sside gig, volunteering in some activity with kids in the 0-4 age group as they particularly are affectionate. They NEED the affection and they give it too.
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:35 PM
marksbabygirl marksbabygirl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LovingRadiance View Post
Sounds normal to me-not that most adults operate that way. But its a huge consideration with premature babies (look up importance of skin to skin contact and preemies). For them it can be life threatsning not to have skin on skin touch. Studies in babies that were in orphanages show similar issues.

I agree, read the love languages book.
But just as importantly, build into your life the types of connections that promote frequent touch!
Children are an amazing source for this *you slecified it need not be sexual* as they crave hugs and cuddles all day. In fact, you may consider as a sside gig, volunteering in some activity with kids in the 0-4 age group as they particularly are affectionate. They NEED the affection and they give it too.
I am dealing with this with my youngest two children. Especially the youngest. HE is CONSTANTLY touching me. Drives me batty. But i try to respect his need to be touched and to touch - he needs it especially right now.
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Old 10-16-2012, 11:51 PM
Fayerweather Fayerweather is offline
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I agree with Opal too. I loved that book and my bf and I use communication about our very different languages to make our relationship run smoothly.

I don't have the severity of symptoms you do, but being touched (especially by a lover) just makes me feel so right and so loved. I have a high touch language and even a waitress patting me on the shoulder or a hug from a friend is really nice. If I had to live without snuggles and kisses and hugs, I'd probably die.

And yeah. I'm a massage therapist too. Have you ever had a professional, full body massage? If you can remove the sexual component (unless you go to a place that encourages that sort of thing) it can be pure heaven for a touch person.

Best of luck with your touch issue. I feel like I understand it a little
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Old 10-17-2012, 07:24 AM
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Anneintherain Anneintherain is offline
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I second that massage idea, even seeing if Reiki would work (not so much touch, but curious about if its the touch or the energy that is really the issue, and think you'd find it interesting too)

I'd throw out it could be good making an OKcupid listing looking for a cuddle buddy, friends/partners, trying a cuddle party? Sharing this feeling with anybody close to you that might be open to bonding with you in that way? A contact sport that is friendly in nature? Asking a current trusted friend about non sexual cuddling, or an ex partner that you are still on good terms with?

You don't mention if you have any current partners, if you do, are they in some way not meeting your needs for touch, if so, why is that? You not asking for it, they aren't into cuddling, etc.
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Old 10-17-2012, 12:39 PM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is offline
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I agree with the others in their suggestions of trying different types of massage or finding cuddle-buddies...AND I get that lots of people (especially kids) require a certain amount of touch...

HOWEVER, if your need to be touched is so pronounced as to affect your ability to function in other areas of your life (as it sounds in your post) then it sounds to me like it does carry hallmarks of addiction (including "tolerance" which you also describe in your post).

Anti-depressants are used to treat other conditions besides depression - migraine headache prophylaxis, fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. So, one does not need to have depression to take anti-depressants - we are talking about regulation of neurotransmitters here - which regulate ALL functions of the nervous system, not just the emotional parts.

You will have read in your research (go "intarwebz"!) that the most commonly prescribed antidepressants are SSRIs (serotonin-specific re-uptake inhibitors). The newest class are SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors). However, you may want to talk to a doctor about the the atypical antidepressant bupropion (brand-name Wellbutrin, marketed under the brand Zyban when approved for smoking cessation) for its effect on dopamine.

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter involved with telling our brains when we have had "enough" of something - "enough" food, "enough" sex, "enough" nicotine, etc. It it often used as an adjunctive when treating "dual-diagnosis" patients (mood disorder + addiction) which is how they came to figure out its usefulness in treating nicotine addiction. It can also be used in the treatment of obesity (on the "food addiction" side). And, unlike other anti-depressants, does not cause sexual dysfunction.

JaneQ

Disclaimer: I do NOT have any financial stake in the manufacture, sale or use of the medication bupropion (which is available as a generic) - I just have a general desire to see more people more happy more of the time and am a firm believer in "Better Living Through Modern Chemistry"
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