Misophonia, when noise drives you crazy, Photo by Aliaksei on Unsplash
The miso-what? You’re still wondering where the hell I got all that from.
To be honest, I’ve been suffering from this symptom for years, and to finally be able to put a name to it makes me better. Unfortunately, it doesn’t lessen the effects…
But at least I now know that it affects more than 10% of the population who suffer from tinnitus. It’s reassuring that I’m not all alone.
Maybe you too are misophones, without knowing it!
I am a misophone, because…
An intense rage comes over me…when you chew loudly, breathe a little too hard, or sniff slightly.
I suspect that hearing people chew can annoy many. But at my level, it’s much worse.
Only this lunchtime, eating with my parents was torture. At the slightest sound of sucking, chewing, swallowing, or jaw cracking, a wave of hatred rises within me.
It’s not just annoyance, it’s a veritable inner tornado that takes hold of me. Anger devastates everything in its path, I can’t focus on anything but the disgusting noises coming out of their mouths.
My fists clench, my throat knots, and I struggle not to leave the table. At this moment, I feel like killing someone, I only want the noises to stop.
One cookie after another, my father appears to me only as a mouth distorted by the pieces of saliva-soaked cakes, as sullied teeth, and above all as an unbearable physiological din. For a few minutes, I forget… I forget that I love him, I forget his qualities, his love, and I feel at that moment only dislike and contempt.
I am then nothing but anger and disgust, I try to keep a front mask, not to let my bad mood show. Unfortunately, failing to explain my disorder, my aggression always finds a reason to surface.
And when I manage to take it upon myself, my look of hate and disgust then speaks for me.
Hard to live with
As the years go by, I feel like my hearing sensitivity is increasing.
On a daily basis
Since adolescence, I have struggled with this disorder. I get bitchy, scolding my loved ones when they talk with their mouths full. Under the guise of politeness, I try to eliminate one of the noises I hate.
Naturally, I’m not going to stop people from eating, sleeping or breathing.
If only this disorder occurred rarely, I could take it in stride, once in a while. But no, every meal, every food item that passes through someone’s mouth, every irregular breath, every sniff, every swallow makes my hair stand on end. The anger then lurks, ready to burst.
Finally, almost every meal that is a little too quiet is torture for me. Train and transportation are only bearable with earplugs or headphones. And if I’m unfortunate enough to have a snorer in the room, my night becomes hell.
Because it’s not even the noise that keeps me awake anymore, but the hate that keeps me awake.
In the pro world
Even outside of meals, my mind can get caught up in this anxiety.
I remember my worst negotiation trip to Bangladesh. The purchasing office manager Raqib accompanied me on all my negotiations. Now Raqib was burping, farting but mostly making tons of scraping noises, swallowing and seemed to be playing with his phlegm. The anger was building up, building up, and I almost exploded in front of my suppliers.
While my colleagues sympathized, they were not aware of the torture of her few days. My stress and tension could not have been higher, and it had nothing to do with my assignments.
It’s strange to think that a disorder like this can even impact my professional life.
Similarly, I almost stopped an online training, because the chick was talking with a slight ooze of saliva. I persisted and she must have been drinking water, because the following videos were not as unbearable.
At Armand Thiery, I wouldn’t be surprised if misophonia had led to my dismissal. My manager was a real shoveler, making a monstrous noise while eating even a piece of candy.
I don’t remember being particularly verbally aggressive, but my tension must surely have shown through…
Guilt, the misophone’s partner
The problem with his disproportionate reactions is also the guilt that goes with it.
Guilty of my reactions
In the moment, my thoughts are so harsh, so unfair to the people around me. The anger and contempt don’t fade as easily as the sounds that evaporate. They were there, they leave a mark and I blame myself for that.
I am fully aware that this is going too far, that chewing noises are not worth such irritation, such anguish. But if I can’t find a distraction, it’s impossible for me not to feel this surge of emotion.
Once past, I feel guilty. Obviously I would never kill anyone for a sniffling noise, but isn’t thinking about it already too much?
The anxiety of my own noise
Beyond the discomfort of feeling these kinds of emotions, it’s also the fear of making noise that makes me anxious.
The noise of others is such a torture for me, that I do my best to try to make as little as possible.
So sometimes my own noise itself becomes a source of anxiety. For years, I avoided eating on trains so as not to bother my neighbors, for example.
In a quiet environment, I’ll do everything I can to make sure my breathing is muted. And my worst fear at night is to snore loudly.
Misophony and noise
Since I named this inner rage, I began to wonder, what sounds were driving me crazy.
And finally, only noises related to visual or kinesthetic elements that disgust me end up creating this flow of emotions.
The worst of the noises
The worst is any noise related to the mouth or digestion. These trigger my rage, make me nauseous and put me in second states.
In my mind, noise becomes a repulsive image, and every micro decibel creates a vision of horror.
The sounds of chewing, swallowing, sucking but also the sounds of brushing teeth, the gurgling of the belly, the sounds of lack of saliva… In short, no noise that we can avoid…
The nail sounds also disgust me. The sound of the nail file reminds me of its horrible rough texture, as for the sound of the nail clippers, I have a vision of horny, yellowed nails running through my head.
The nose sounds, on the other hand, make me sick. I get a gagging feeling from them. Throat clearing, sniffing, nose whistling or the noise you make when you blow your nose… Suffice to say, between colds in the winter and allergies in the summer, I am served…
If you come across my dark glance in this kind of case, look no further….
The good thing is that clocks, keyboards, mice, rain have grace in my eyes! Hallelujah!
On the contrary, the soft sounds
On the other hand, some noises soothe me immensely, putting me in a state of joy and unusual pleasure.
The sound of the gravel under my shoes makes me feel all things. Making them crunch under my soles soothes me, makes me smile, and almost brings me some pleasure.
The sound of cleats on asphalt puts me in almost the same state of bliss.
If you know me at all, you must have already seen me twirling my hair between my fingers. Well, it’s not to give me an attitude, nor is it to seduce the males around, but simply because the sound of my hair crackling is my favorite sound.
It’s a comforting, de-stressing and pure sound to my little ears.
Causes and solutions
Well, now that my rage has a name, I’d love to know where it comes from….
There is no secret, this disorder does come from an abnormality.
Reassure yourself my ears are fine, on the other hand my brain…
A recent study shows that misophonia is a neuropsychiatric disorder associated with brain abnormalities.
I didn’t even know it existed, but it’s my inferior insular cortex that’s getting a little too active! Basically, the brain region that allows me to focus on what’s happening in my environment activates at its sounds, when it shouldn’t.
With people, non-misphoners, the noises are heard, but not retained as essential. In me, hehe, my brain analyzes them as first-order information.
What do I do, then?
Overall, cognitive therapies, hypnoses, ESMR, and alternative medicine are the only solutions. In short, there is no direct solution, just help to try to live with this disease, without going crazy.
I just found out about it, and for now, I’m going to try to find solutions on my own.
Eating alone forever?
At breakfast, yes, I prefer it! Unless you have a great discussion on the shelf!
For other meals, noooo. For the record, a lively discussion can make me forget about your nasty chewing noises. A louder sound environment like a restaurant or bar covers the more unbearable noises.
Bref, if you hold my full attention on something else, the noise becomes completely bearable.
Meals alone or people seeing me too often, on the other hand, might be harder to bear. So I breathe, identify, accept and wait for it to pass, that’s the only way.
Pardon me for the angry looks and mood swings I can sometimes get during meals. If the noises are coming from you, the trouble is definitely coming from me.
This article won’t change anything, but it may give you a better understanding of all those like me who suffer from misophonia.
And then, just talking about it, it takes a weight off my shoulders.
On that note, chew well… silently!