• Meghan Douglass

Living With Misophonia

Misophonia is a condition most people have never even heard of and is still not recognised as a condition by all medical professionals. Misophonia causes an extreme emotional reaction to, what may seem to most, typical everyday sounds. The word Misophonia actually means "hatred of sound" in ancient Greek. Because of this it is difficult to work out exactly how common it is but it's suspected about 15% of adults suffer from it, and it is suspected to be more common in women. The trouble with working this out is, most people suffer in silence for fear of looking like a crazy person. You can get more information from the Misophonia Institute.

Misophonia causes extreme anger and disgust when faced with a particular sound or repetitive movement. This can vary from person to person but can include things like; chewing, crunching, flicking, whistling, clicking, tapping, leg jiggling, gum chewing, tap dripping, knuckle cracking and probably many more. If you are interested in some of the science behind it, here is a link to a scientific paper looking at the brain activity in people diagnosed with Misophonia (Misophonia is associated with altered brain activity in the auditory cortex and salience network).

I can't remember when I first noticed I had issues with different sounds but it has been most of my life and has worsened into my adult life. My Misophonia is always worse during periods of high stress or anxiety and becomes much harder to control. One of my biggest triggers is people chewing gum, the constant movement of the jaw out of the corner of your eye and the constant squelch sound in their mouth every time they chew. This causes me a great deal of anger to the point where I can imagine the relief I would feel if I just punched them in the face. For the record I have never punched anyone and have never been a violent person.

Misophonia is a really difficult condition to live with because it honestly just makes you feel like the crazy person in a room. When something is happening that triggers it you watch everyone else in the room calmly ignoring the sound while you get angrier and angrier. You feel like you must be going insane. It was like this for years before I discovered there was a name for it and that has been a huge relief. Knowing it is a real condition with an actual name has really helped make me feel less insane, but hasn't helped me get any better.

One of the hardest parts is knowing that it is your problem, not the person making the annoying sound or the repetitive action. I'm the one with the problem, not them, but in the moment, all anger gets directed at them. Years of practice means I rarely say anything about it and can control it to some extent, but I do ask close family members to stop doing things at times when it starts to get too much.

I was having a really bad day once and I decided to eat some peanuts. Well that was a huge mistake! The second I bit down I knew just how bad I was that day. I managed to make myself angry... I know it sounds ridiculous, but that handful of peanuts went straight in the bin.

Not every day is that bad, it really does depend on how my overall mental health is at the time as to whether I am OK around these things or not. It can be pretty rough at times but others, I can barely notice things which would normally upset me. Except chewing, if you chew with your mouth open and make noise, no matter my mood, I will always get the urge to poke you in the eye with a fork.

A large amount of the population suffers from this condition, but because so few have even heard of it. It isn't treated with the level of respect it deserves, and the sufferers are left to feel crazy. A big issue with this condition is it makes you not want to be around people if you're in a rough way mentally. You know people will likely annoy you and sometimes you just don't have the mental resilience to cope with it, so a natural reaction is to avoid people. This can become a viscous cycle of isolation, not for everyone but for some.

Cinemas can be a real struggle for people with Misophonia. The crunching popcorn, the rustling of chip packets, the small children intent on driving you mad by constantly kicking your chair. It doesn't make for an overly pleasant or relaxing outing. Picking times of day when the fewest number of people will be there, times where no children will be around and waiting until a movie is at the end of it's run before going are all ways to help cope, but there's always one person there that will make it hard. The worst part is though, you can't say one thing to stop it because you know people have every right to enjoy popcorn with their movie.

This is not a fun disorder to live with and at times it can be really hard for the people closest to you as well. If they know you are in a bad way they can feel like they have to tread on egg shells and be careful about what they do. This isn't fun for anyone.

Hopefully over the years more awareness can be made of this disorder and maybe more research into useful treatments as well. It's still so new and we are still learning a lot about how and why this happens in the brain. The treatments out there are limited and not always helpful to all so hopefully one day this will improve too.

I hope you found this useful, and to fellow sufferers, you are not alone and you are not crazy. Thanks for reading, if you liked what you read don't forget to subscribe to see more from me soon.

Woman in pain

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