I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
So I’m going to go a little off topic today to tell you a little something about myself, something I don’t normally share with others.
I’ve decided to share this here because it’s something I deal with every day and I imagine that being on the road will help with it not being such a huge burden on my day to day life. And because I would also like to bring awareness to the condition and create a safe place for others to know they aren’t crazy or alone.
What am I talking about? I know, get on with it already!
I suffer from misophonia. Very few people in my life know this, basically just my immediate family. Probably because even though it’s not something I can control, it’s embarrassing to admit. Even when trying to explain it, I realize how irrational it sounds and that others can’t truly understand. It sucks, big time.
Let me back up a bit and explain what misophonia is.
The literal definition of misophonia is hatred of sound but a person with misophonia does not simply hate all sound. People with misophonia have specific symptoms and triggers and are sensitive to only certain sounds (and occasionally to visual triggers). Any sound can become a problem to a person with misophonia but most are some kind of background noise. People call the collection of sounds that they’re sensitive to their trigger set. It is possible to add to one’s trigger set over time.
Exposure to a trigger sound elicits an immediate negative emotional response from a person with sound sensitivities. The response can range from moderate discomfort to acute annoyance or go all the way up to full-fledged rage and panic. Fight or flight reactions can occur. While experiencing a trigger event, a person may become agitated, defensive or offensive, distance themselves from the trigger or possibly act out in some manner.
Misophoniais is also referred to as 4S (Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome).
Those who suffer from this neurological condition understand the noises that trigger us aren’t even noticed by most people.
I’m going to give you an example by using one of the more common triggers, gum chewing. Ugggggh the dreaded gum chewing!
When a ‘normal‘ person sees someone chewing gum they may not hear anything more than normal chewing and it doesn’t bother them in the slightest. In fact, they may not even notice it at all. But when I hear someone chewing gum, that noise is magnified in my head times a hundred and it floods my head with an insanely loud chomp chomp chomp and I just want to get away from it or cry. I am often triggered visually, even if I simply see someone starting to unwrap a piece of gum I panic before it’s even in their mouth.
- Eating sounds (chomping, smacking, slurping, crunching)
- Gum chewing
- Lip smacking
- Breathing sounds
- Sucking in/whistling out through the teeth
- “ahhhhh” sounds after drinking
- Singing, humming or whistling
- Scratching nails on skin
- Fingernail filing
- Muffled noises through walls/ceiling (music, banging, heavy walking)
- Repetitive noises (pen clicking, finger tapping)
- Silverware scraping teeth or plate
- Pet licking/chewing themselves
- Pet drinking/eating out of food bowl
- and many more.
Most of these listed above are triggers of mine and some invoke very severe reactions to me.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of you reading this list are like “uh yeah, ok, so those annoy me too what’s the big deal?” Well for me, they aren’t just annoying, they can actually make me panic, they make me want to leave the room, and sometimes my reaction is so severe that I tear up and I’ve even been known to start tapping my head with my finger tips or knuckles to make the sound go away.
I have gotten so good with keeping my coping mechanisms stealth that nobody has ever noticed, and that’s a good thing since most don’t know I suffer from this. I’m not as stealthy in front of my immediate family but I still try not to act too crazy. And I also keep a pair of earplugs in my purse so I can discretely pop them in my ears when I know I’m going to be in a situation where I’ll be triggered.
So there it is, my little secret. Not so secret now I guess.
Misophonia is not commonly spoken about but there has been more awareness over recent years. And there is a new documentary coming out that I am super excited about and can’t wait to see it. Yes, I’ll be making my sister and friend watch it with me for sure.
If you or someone you know suffers from misophonia I would love to hear from you. Feel free to email me if you’d rather keep it private. I understand, trust me on that.
Here are a couple resources that I’ve come across to share for those who would like to research this a little more.
WebMD – great explanation of what misophonia is, how you get it, how to treat it.
Misophonia Online – great source for information, resources and a forum.
Misophonia Support – This is a very in depth list of possible triggers by category.
Quiet Please – posted June 20, 2016
Misophonia: Kelly Ripa, a rare disorder, and me – posted Mar 3, 2016
Misophonia is a real, awful thing, and you might just have it – posted on Dec 26, 2015