All of my Facebook friends know I suffer from it, and they all love to tag me in anything they find about misophonia. Today I decided to get personal and share what it is actually like to live with the condition.
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All my life, I have battled with misophonia. Long story short, I am unable to cope with certain sounds.
Misophonia doesn’t just cause sufferers a little bit of irritation, it is a full blown rage and/or panic brought on by one of your ‘trigger’ sounds. For some people it is chewing or sniffing; for others it can be pen clicking or toe tapping. There hasn’t been all that much research on it yet; nor is there any conclusive classification as to whether it is a psychological or neurological condition. In fact, it has only really been considered a condition since the early 2000s.
I heard about misophonia two years ago, and to finally have an explanation for my discomfort has changed my world. It has taken me almost 25 years to finally work out what was going on with me!
As a child I was at my worst. My trigger noises were all mouth noises; chewing, smacking lips, slurping, biting down on your cutlery… you name it, guaranteed it set me off. I also couldn’t handle a weird squeaky noise my brother made, throat clearing, sniffing and dad’s burps. Weird, I know.
I couldn’t sit next to my best friend in primary school because she sniffed constantly, and was a mouth breather. Every time she opened her mouth, I could hear the wet spittle in the corners of her mouth. I can’t even explain the smacking noise but it drove me insane. Most people wouldn’t have noticed the sound, so it made my distress over it even more embarrassing to admit to.
It was literally hell being sent to my Grandad’s house when my parents were away because he made every mouth noise under the sun. It pains me to think that I hated being at my Grandad’s house because I loved him dearly, and he was a fantastic grandfather. But, his mouth noises made being at his house such a traumatic experience for me. I would get so agitated I would be kicking the table and gritting my teeth together so hard I gave myself jaw pain; all before running off to the lounge room and shoving my head between pillows to get away from it. I am sure he thought I was insane.
Most of my family thought I was being crazy.
My brother figured out certain sounds that would set me off, and he would use them to wind me up and get his way. He used to love seeing me go from Jekyll to Hyde with a simple squeaky noise.
My parents could never understand why I would give them daggers across the table, kick the table, and run off to my room in tears. They would laugh at me (in disbelief I assume) when I would start screaming, bawling, and hyperventilating over them eating barbecue shapes, or their reflux.
What else were they to do? They had no idea what was wrong! Not to mention, they couldn’t work out why I couldn’t just ignore the sounds (which, by the way, you can’t). It was a mystery to them as to why I was so sensitive to certain noises. It was a mystery to me too.
Now that I know what misophonia is, I have been a lot more confident in explaining to my family why I acted like this when I was a child. For the most part, they seem to be quite understanding.
Although it hasn’t gone away completely, I have definitely been able to control myself a little bit more in adulthood. I am still hugely affected by mouth noises, sniffing and throat clearing, but I have dropped my issue with burping. It would be nice if I could drop misophonia altogether, but at the moment, I don’t know how to do that.
I still get an uncomfortable, internal itch in my lower abdomen whenever I pick up on my trigger noise; and that trigger noise still becomes my primary focus and source of rage. Once I have heard it, I can’t switch my brain off from it. It is embarrassing and frustrating for me, as I still can’t come to terms with not being able to control my reaction to certain sounds. At least I am now more confident in explaining my problems with people that are close to me!
Being able to articulate to people what my issue is helps me to deal with it a little better. It also provides some sort of explanation for my odd behaviour when it comes to meal time, being stuck on public transport with people, or my mean, mean daggers. I feel terrible for the way I behave, because I know I am being ridiculous, but my reactions are far better than me coming to physical blows over a little noise!