I have had Misophonia Disorder since I was a teenager. It’s possible I had it before then and didn’t realize it. I didn’t know until decades later that what I was experiencing even had a name. In fact, I just realized that the term Misophonia wasn’t even being used until the year 2000… but I had it long before that.
The crazy thing about it is I am experiencing the symptoms right now as I’m writing this article!
So… What is Misophonia Disorder?
Pronounced mee-So-fonia, it is literally translated “hatred of sound”. A person with Misophonia will become enraged when hearing certain sounds.
It is considered a chronic condition, so it’s something that is ongoing in a person’s life, it is not acute like an illness that comes and then goes. Also, it is considered ‘primary’ meaning it doesn’t result from another condition.
There isn’t a lot known about what causes it. Some researchers think it is an unconscious response of the nervous system because they have observed that certain things can either make the condition better or worse at times. I will share my own experience with that as well.
Misophonia is not classified as a mental health illness.
Typical Triggers of Misophonia
The sounds can be different for different people. Some examples are categorized as eating sounds like slurping, sipping, eating with mouth open, burping, breathing or nose sounds or whispering, and finger or hand sounds like nail-biting/picking or joint popping. For some, certain speech sounds like the “Ss” sound can be a trigger.
For me it is what I call a “smacking” sound when someone is eating or chewing gum. Sometimes if someone has … all I can think of to say is, “a dental problem” where their mouth makes extra sounds or when someone has dry mouth and they kind of “smack” when they talk. My grandfather in his 80s used to just make these random smacking noises that drove me insane.
One article I read said that animals making the same kinds of sounds did not trigger Misophonia. Well, I can tell you that for me that is absolutely 100% not true. My cat cleaning herself or a dog licking peanut butter are HUGE triggers for me!!
What Does it feel like to have Misophonia? The Symptoms.
I can speak from experience here! Unfortunately.
I said earlier that I was experiencing symptoms as I write. Well, initially that was because my cat was laying here giving herself a bath. This happens multiple times every day because she loves to come sit near me and start cleaning herself. Now, I love my cat and I think she’s just so cute however, because of Misophonia I cannot tolerate hearing her bathe.
The feeling? I’m putting off describing it because I don’t know if I can. It’s an instant, negative, very strong feeling and subsequent reaction. There is a desperation to stop the sound or mask it or get away from it. Sometimes I experience it as rage. Yes, rage is a perfect description and it’s instant. You feel angry but also desperate and frustrated, like you want to scream and cry at the same time. Kind of like the picture above.
I feel mostly rage but some people feel disgusted and get an upset stomach. It can be a huge problem for people at work and some start avoiding social situations that may trigger their symptoms.
I’m trying to think of what might compare to this feeling for someone who has never felt it. All I can think of is the instant fear or anger you would feel if someone surprised you in a bad way like … you get mugged. Someone grabs your bag and shoves you and runs. I’m not sure if that’s a good example but it is like an assault, the fight or flight feeling.
Back to me and my cat, since she has stopped taking her bath and I continue to write and think about Misophonia, my triggers and how it makes me feel I have had anxiety in my chest. It’s a tight feeling, shallow breathing, that’s the only way I can think to describe it; it might include an increase in heart rate and/or blood pressure and I feel a knot in my throat. Now again this is just from thinking about the triggers and feelings. I’m clenching my jaw and my muscles are tight.
Because we are talking about how Misophonia feels, I also have to include the emotional feelings that come into play. When a trigger pops up it’s instant as I said and it can be rage so it isn’t something you can always hide.
For example, if you are in the car with someone who is chewing gum, you might have to ask them to stop, then they get offended because you are saying that they’re smacking which you would normally never say to someone and admittedly is pretty rude. So in my case I feel bad about that but I can’t control my reaction and if it doesn’t stop I will literally jump out of the car so…
Also, people (usually family members.. ahem) will scoff when you say something. Oh and they love to say, “Oh, you think you don’t ever smack?” That is really hard because you can see that they obviously don’t understand at all what you are going through. It’s not a matter of being a diva, but that’s exactly what it looks like.
This all leads to more anger, frustration and desperation which was already set into motion by the trigger. I have had some pretty emotional discussions with my husband and son just trying to make them understand and I think they do, they can see it.
How Can One Cope With Misophonia?
One thing to do is carry ear plugs. It’s not always feasible to use them but in certain situations you can and they can be a lifesaver!
Carry ear buds and listen to music. This is how I cope with my cat. I put my music on and I actually have to block my view of her because even if I can’t hear her, seeing her has the same effect on me.
Leave the room if at all possible, just walk away.
You might have to say, “Can you please stop?” This is sort of a last resort depending on who you are with.
Show the people you are with the most some information about Misophonia, preferably when you are not experiencing symptoms. Ask them to read it and try to explain how upsetting it is for you and that you are not trying to be difficult but this is a real thing that you cannot control.
Following are some therapies that I have not tried:
One is called TRT – Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. It is supposed to help rewire the brain to reduce the reactions to trigger sounds and is done over 12-24 months. It is said to have been successful in treating Misophonia.
Then there is CBT – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Commonly used in conjunction with TRT, this form of therapy attempts to alter the negative thoughts of the misophonic person to decrease their suffering.
How Can Others Help?
You may not realize it but please understand that we are not trying to be difficult, we aren’t trying to infringe on your rights. We do not want to have this. If we could simply ignore it we wouldn’t even have Misophonia. We realize it is not reasonable. If you can put your own rights aside for the sake of compassion, it will go a long way in our relationship.
Please, please do not exaggerate the sounds or make the sounds on purpose! Not funny. at. all.
This should go without saying but, Don’t make fun of us and make us feel stupid for this!
Also, it’s not the same as fingernails on a chalkboard. That is an unpleasant sound to your ears or sets your teeth on edge so to speak but in Misophonia it’s an intense emotional reaction.
In my personal experience I have connected my Misophonia symptoms with my anxiety. When my anxiety levels are down, the normal triggers do not bother me as much or sometimes at all.
When I am taking supplements that help with anxiety, my Misophonia comes under control as well.
GABA really helps and it works fast. Either a chewable or if I have capsules, I open them onto my tongue.
Online-Therapy.com – Offers Cognitive Behavior Therapy online
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Thank you for reading!
Please ask me questions or let me know about your own experiences with Misophonia in the comments section below.