What is misophonia?
It is not the fear of a Japanese soup as my daughter kindly suggested!
It’s a subject matter that I have even argued with myself over and over. I mean, how can the sound of a rattling crisp packet get on my nerves so much so that I have to leave the room? Or the tapping of a pen or deliberate but unconscious act of someone creaking a door just because? Or the tapping of keys on a computer keyboard? Or the dog licking herself to clean her paws? (Urgh! That sound!!) It's like in that moment, only that sound exists. And its amplified!
If I, myself, am rattling said crisp packet, then no drama llama!! The sound of a ticking clock is oddly soothing too. But there are certain sounds that I just cannot physically bear!
What the hell? What am I experiencing here? Am I just a weirdo? Am I just too damn sensitive? Should I just pack in the blatant annoyance I’m feeling?
Believe me, I’ve tried! But the urge to spontaneously combust is just too strong!
I’ve had the p*ss taken out of me for the sheer distress these every day noises cause me. I’ve been chastised for reacting, probably badly, in the past. I’ve wondered myself if I’m just an unreasonable person. Am I just one of those people who other people need to tread on eggshells around?
Oh God, no! I’m not that person!! I’m fun-loving. I like to laugh and be silly and be loving and affectionate and be serious when it’s required, etc.
“You’re a psycho!” Yep. Had that too!
But I couldn’t understand myself why I was so desperately and uncontrollably perturbed by these sounds!
Thing is, I don’t usually react to these sounds angrily. Yes, I’ve snapped and quipped. Mainly at people who think my oversensitivity to certain noises are for their amusement, so much so, that they’d make the noise on purpose just to get my reaction! I don’t blame them. I suppose for someone who doesn’t understand that misophonia is actually a ‘thing’, it would be a little bit of short-lived entertainment to brighten up their day. Something for the kids to say “hey mum, remember that time when....”
But for me, it’s real.
It doesn’t happen at noise per sè. I enjoy hustle and bustle, music, chattering, the birds singing, laughing, the TV, fireworks, etc, etc. It’s just those little stimuli that generally do not cause someone without this neurological condition any reason for their transmitters to go wild, whilst mine are on stand-by to cause chaos in the form of malfunctioning electro pulses!
I envisage a neurotransmitter party with disco lights whilst they stomp and dance to The Prodigy’s Fire-starter going on up there.. like an illegal rave!!
Notice that I said it’s a neurological condition? Because it is. Unlike anxiety. Anxiety is a psychological and potentially biological condition however, both conditions tap into the same neurotransmitters causing the fight or flight reaction.
Anxiety though, is mainly derived from internal sources such as worry, feelings of unworthiness, a sense of impending doom, fear, the unknown, reliving trauma, trying to predict and plan for every scenario known to man, etc. Anxiety induces the fight or flight reaction in the bodies nervous system much the same way as Misophonia. Only, Misophonia derives from external stimulus such as visual or sound.
Before I knew that Misophonia existed, I put it down to anxiety. It’s easy to mistake given the anxious feelings it presents. But the anxiety from these sounds immediately dissipates once the sound stops. Unlike anxiety itself which can have a lasting impact with intermittent recurring symptoms.
Some resources to read up on misophonia are below, although research into the condition is still in its infancy
Wikipedia has a library of information available, Misophonia included. Check it out here
Psychology Today interviews Dr. Arjan Schröder with comments from Dr. Kumar on the subject of Misophonia. Check this out here
Neurology Live also has info related to Misophonia and you can read this here
So to anyone who suffers with this condition, I feel for you. I hear you (pun intended). The best way for me to manage this is to simply take myself away from these sounds. Or to gently ask the perpetrator to kindly stop. You see, no need to walk on eggshells. Don’t change to accommodate my insensitivity to certain sounds. But don’t be offended if I walk out of the room to calm my neurotransmitters into time-out! It’s necessary. It’s also not an issue once I’ve calmed my inners!
“As you were” so to speak.
Now that I know what it is, I can also happily take the p*ss out of myself and laugh about it. Because that is how I find my coping mechanism.
It’s not like that for everybody who suffers though. It can vary in intensity and whilst mine is mild in comparison, it can impact the lives of some people far more detrimentally than it impacts me. It can be debilitating and is no laughing matter for some. So if you are suffering and it’s becoming a problem, here are some useful resources to help tackle the problem to get it under control:
Online Therapy may be an option (particularly during lockdown!) which offers therapy for a variety of conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar, health anxiety and more. This type of therapy could contribute to the management of Misophonia by teaching coping strategies. Best of all, its FREE! There is also the option to transition into paid therapy if the need presents. And by following this link, you will be eligible for 20% discount IF you transition to paid therapy. Check them out here
I hope you have found this post insightful and helpful.
In the words of my youngest - “Misophoniaaaaaaah” (Apparently my accent because of where I’m from!!)
IT'S A THING!!
Lots of love and peace and quiet