Friday, 22 July 2016

Living with misophonia


Misophonia is no joke, it can be hell for those who suffer from it, and the worse thing about it is the people who you care about most, like family, friends and your partner, that are the ones who are doing the things that set the misophonia off. If you tell them that their slurping, chomping, sniffing, insistent throat clearing, tapping, scrapping and bashing of dishes while eating, other clicks and mouth noises drive you nuts, they either get angry at you or think it is funny to do it all the more. Or it is like they think it has gone away and that the next time they are near you and start heavy breathing into their glass and gulping down their drink, that it won't bother you this time. Well it does.

I am in no way pretending I don't have habits that are annoying to other people, but if I knew I was doing something that was making someone feel physically sick, then I wouldn't want to cause that in someone, so I would avoid doing it in front of them.

The Symptoms of Misophonia
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 are sensitive to only certain sounds. Any sound can become a problem to a person with misophonia but most are some kind of background noise. 
Exposure to one of these sounds 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 this a person may become agitated, defensive or offensive, distance themselves from the trigger or possibly act out in some manner.
The people closest to the person with misophonia often elicit the sounds that affect them. This can make personal relationships difficult and stressful. An environment known to include these sounds can limit social activities when a person with misophonia anticipates a problem. In some cases, a person with misophonia can become socially isolated and pull back from family and friends in an attempt to reduce the associated physical symptoms that they experience (tension, headache, tightening jaw, stomach issues, etc.).

I know myself from my childhood if anyone picks up a banana I am out of there, the eating of bananas make some of the worse chomping sounds. People who lick their fingers and make slurping noises as they do drive me mad. I tense up, hutch my shoulders and try my best to ignore it and hope that goes away, if it doesn't go away quickly I am likely to get a headache and neck pain, which often leads to a migraine. It also causes my already delicate stomach to do somersaults and can start up IBS.

When exposed to one of these sounds, some people feel the need to mimic what they hear. Mimicry is an automatic, non-conscious social phenomenon. It can have a calming effect and make the situation feel better to the person experiencing stress. There is a biological basis for how mimicry lessens adverse reactions to triggers because it evokes compassion and empathy.

Actually I think people will get angry at me if I do this, and at times I can't help doing exaggerated sounds like they are making. To me it is showing them how bad it sounds, but they don't understand why it bugs me so much.

People with misophonia can be reluctant to share their symptoms with others because sharing can have several different outcomes. Reports from sufferers indicate that sometimes people purposefully mock them with offending noises (at times exaggerating them as well). Also, sometimes family, friends, co-workers and others minimise the problem. A person with misophonia is sometimes told to “just try to ignore that sound,” or “you’re just being difficult,” or “don’t let it get to you.” Suggestions like these are not helpful. And people with misophonia often say that if they could simply choose to ignore the sounds, they would have made that choice a long time ago.
On the other hand, there are those who are supportive and offer encouragement. Anyone with a problem or difficulty appreciates a helping hand now and then. If you know someone with misophonia and want to help them cope with the disorder, all you need to do is ask what you can do to help.

As I talked about in the Elven Ears article I wrote, I already have very sensitive hearing, which is why I like there to be no sound at all most of the time and it is great when I can control that. But sometimes I can't.

If you know someone who suffers from misphonia, please don't assume they are just being awkward or offensive to you.



Sources

My own experience and misophonia.com

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