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Misophonia…

February 5, 2015

So, I’ve wanted to write about this for a while but never found the right time or words and for some reason they decided to flow out of me today.

‘My-So-Phonia’ … it roll’s off the tongue nicely doesn’t it. Have you every heard of it before? No, I hadn’t either till a few weeks ago when a friend of mine told me all about it. She told me about it because she knew I had Misophonia and wanted to tell me what I have been suffering through has a name and I’m not alone.

Misophonia means ‘hatred of noise’. It’s a very real thing. In the previous link you will read about Arjan Schroder from the Amsterdam Medical Centre in Amsterdam is taking the lead researching causes and possible treatments for Misophonia. (link ref to Motherboard)

Even the Washington Post wrote about it so it has to be real!

Now you know it’s real, how can I best explain this…. You know those noises you hear, just every day noises of people going about their business and not being particularly loud about it. These noises cut me to the core. They produce a ‘fight or flight’ emotion in me that I have no control over.

In 2011 The Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam produced a study to get Misophonia categorized as a registered psychiatric disorder. On hearing this I got a lot scared and immediately though “I don’t have a psychiatric disorder. That’s something other people have, but not me”. But then I figured I’ve had this all my life and finding out it is an actual thing with a name and not me just being a pain in the ass a positive thing rather than negative.

The way I explained it to my children was it’s like I have Supers Powers and have SuperSonic hearing and I can hear certain noises at a higher volume than others. They are seven and four so this was the first thing that sprung to mind and they got it.

What are the trigger noises? Everyone with Misophonia has different triggers but the most common are:

  • Eating – slurping, crunching, lip smacking, any eating noise really
  • Cutlery against teeth, bowls or plates
  • Keyboard clacking
  • Sniffing, coughing, throat clearing
  • Crisp bag noise
  • Popcorn eating – the cinema is a hell hole
  • Dripping water
  • Did I mention eating?!
  • Nail biting, clipping
  • Dragging of feet

So what can be done about this and why do some suffer and most don’t. There are theories about the origins of Misophonia with many siting that it is something that evolves in teenage years. A friend of mine has another theory that goes even further back to infancy and I think she may be on to something.

All I know is I have had this aversion to certain noises all my life. There is no treatment for it as yet but Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has shown to improve the reaction to trigger noises in some cases. Some have tried anxiety and antidepressant meds for it but the results are still out on that.

There are support groups on Facebook for ‘Miso Sufferers’ to vent. I put a post up on my facebook page yesterday about it and immediately had two friends come back to say they have Misophonia too! Then I found this blog post from ScaryMommy which was more humorous but hit the nail on the head!

So what happens when we hear a trigger noise? Everyone is different so I can only talk about my reaction.

I put the radio or TV on as a buffer in nearly every situation I’m in. It can’t be too low or too high and only I can get the volume level right. I’m a nightmare in a car with my need to control not only the radio volume but the heat also. My family don’t let me sit in the front anymore so I just shout my commands from the back.

“Can you turn the temp down to 18 please”

“No, it’s too cold now can you turn it up to 20 please”

“The radio volumn needs to be at 13”

“Sorry I can’t really hear properly can you turn it down to 10 maybe”

I am obviously more comfortable with my family and can ask them to do whatever it is they are doing more quietly, but whatever they are doing is not ‘wrong’ our loud, it’s how I am hearing it is the issue. So it’s a very thin line I skate.

I have explained that to the kids. What they are doing is not wrong, it’s just the way my ‘SuperSonic’ hearing picks it up. Unfortunately they still get told off and I literally can’t help my reaction.

I very often walk out of the room to remove myself from the sound. If in the company of others I will tolerate it. I rarely let it slide completely though and would often make a comment about not being able to eat crunchy food, or having to slice up my apple to eat it. On occasion I do have to remove myself from situations but mostly I can tolerate it.

It’s not easy living with someone with Misophonia. I know that and I hold back as much as I can every day. Sometimes, if I’m tired or stressed out my tolerance thins and I can lash out or stomp off and then scurry back with tail between my legs and an apology.

The cinema is pure hell. I tolerate it because I love going to the movies but I really do go through hell listening to all the sweet wrappers, crunching of pop corn and slurping of drinks. I stay seated through clenched fists, gritted teeth and sky high anxiety. I’m cringing now just writing this.

Some people with Misophonia don’t have the control that I can have and have shouted at complete strangers on the bus to shut up because they are eating loudly or rattling their paper. There is an extreme version which I am thankful has not effected me no matter how tempted I am to react.

The anger that trigger noises evoke are akin to that feeling when you stub your toe on a table or when someone gives you a fright by jumping out from behind a door. It’s that rush of adrenalin to the body and that tightness in your chest. You just want to hit them! Or maybe that’s just me too?!

So that’s about it for the moment. This was easy to write but pushing the ‘publish post now’ button was not.

It’s something I manage every day of my life. I have lived with it since the beginning.

I’m not hopeful a treatment will be found so in the mean time I’ll potter along as I was before and be thankful that I have a Super Power!

What's Your Super Power

What’s Your Super Power

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3 Comments
  1. Melanie Mccabe permalink

    Hi Jill been reading your blog for a while and love it….I also have this…nose wheezes and mouth breathers drive me bat shit insane along with TV and radio on simultaneously…I dont have ur self control though and usually fly off the handle….thanks for diagnosing me

    • Thanks for reading! There’s a great group on Facebook with over 3,000 members if you wanna lurk there! It makes you feel a little normal!

  2. I always take earplugs to the movies, and it helps! It drowns out the popcorn, and you can still hear the film. Good luck!

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