So, following on from my post living with rosacea, I want to talk about another condition that I have and something that really isn’t known too much about. I’m also going to guess though that a lot of people will be nodding along to this post saying they feel exactly like this too. The condition is called misophonia.
What the hell is misophonia?
The literal translation for misophonia is a hatred of sound, but that’s not exactly entirely correct. Misophonia sufferers hate certain sounds and not everyone who suffers from it hate the same ones!
What are the symptoms?
Again, it’s different for everyone but the emotional symptoms can include; anger, irritability, disgust and/or panic towards certain noises. Plus there are physical symptoms like jaw clenching, headaches and stomach issues (who else gets a dodgy tum when they’re panicking or stressed about something?)
How did you get a diagnosis?
I was referred to the ENT department for my dizziness and as part of that I had a balance test. In the appointment I mentioned that I thought I might suffer from misophonia and was referred on to the Audiology Department for an appointment. During the appointment I was told that I definitely had misophonia, although luckily not to the degree that some suffers can have it.
What are my triggers?
I get audio and visual triggers so, people tapping their hands or feet (if I can see them doing it, it generally makes it worse), people rocking or nodding their heads to music, the noise of vehicles idling outside when I’m indoors, people humming, sighing or whistling, people smacking their lips and any general eating/chewing noises, people licking their fingers to turn pages of magazines (which not only is a misophonia trigger, but it’s also pretty gross), constant coughs; especially if they’re unusual coughs, music that’s only just audible from other people’s headphones and probably many, many more!
How does it make me feel?
It’s kind of like the internet thing “once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it”. Once I’ve heard a noise that sets me on edge, my brain can’t actually tune it out and focuses on it instead, unless I have my headphones with and can play my music loudly enough to drown it out. Hearing a trigger noise sets off my fight or flight instinct, so not only does my adrenaline kick in because my body thinks it’s ready for a fight, (not that I’d actually fight someone about it, but you know what I mean) but my body also wants to flee from the noise, so it makes me feel panicky if I can’t move away from it (for example if I’m on public transport, in a meeting or out to dinner.) It also brings out feelings of disgust for the person causing the noise (even if they don’t know they’re doing it) and I usually get super painful headaches because I’m clenching my jaw so much 🙁
I also find that if I’m in public places where a lot of people are talking all at once, and loudly, I find it incredibly hard to concentrate and it generally makes me feel dizzy and disoriented.
Are there any treatments or cures for misophonia?
There’s currently no cure for misophonia. It is possible to have Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (through the ENT department at your local hospital but you’d need a referral from your GP) which essentially teaches you how to ignore the sounds of tinnitus, so I guess it could be transferable to misophonia noises. There’s also CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) which could help.
I always take headphones with me if I know I’m going to be using public transport. If I can, I’ll try to move to another carriage or to the top or bottom deck of the bus if the noise is really bothering me. If it’s someone I know really well, I’ll ask them politely to stop; most of my friends know about my condition so they’re always really supportive. When I’m somewhere like a restaurant or a blog event, I kinda just have to suck it up, which can be super draining and painful.
Is there anything else to know?
I know it’s hard, but maybe just being aware that what you’re doing in public could be silently making someone else feel awful. If you’re on the bus and late for work, drumming your fingers on your knee or sighing loudly isn’t actually going to make you get there any earlier and could trigger someone’s misophonia. Check your headphones and make sure your music isn’t too loud to be heard by other people.
Have you found yourself nodding along to a lot of this? How do you cope with any irritating noises in your life? Let me know in the comments below 🙂 x
This is so interesting, I’ve never heard of this condition before, but it sounds like it must be so awful for you. I’m definitely going to be more aware of my actions in case I’m making any trigger noises – I definitely think I’m a foot tapper sometimes!
A lot of people haven’t so I love writing posts like these to bring awareness to the masses 🙂 I definitely do it too though, I probably sniff quite a lot!! x
This is so interesting-thank you for writing about this and your experience. I had never heard of it before but it makes sense. It’s so good you’re learning how to cope with it in your own way and spreading the awareness.
I think that’s the main thing isn’t it, to spread awareness so that people might just think a bit more while they’re on public transport or in a restaurant and that not everyone finds you tapping your fork against your wine glass pleasant lol x
I am really aware of noises, but I put that down to my hearing loss and overcompensating because I don’t want hearing aids (I know, I know, so bad).
It could be this, you never know, but I’ve learnt to live with it, because the hearing loss is going to only get worse as I get older – it’s genetic.
Sorry you have to deal with this, it sounds very frustrating.
I’d definitely imagine you’re more aware of noises in that case!! I’m sorry to learn that, perhaps in time you might decide you want hearing aids, but I can imagine it’s a massive decision for you xx
This is so interesting! I’ve not really heard of it before if I’m honest! I love reading posts like this, so informative! Good post lovely!
Thank you 🙂 I posted it months ago and wasn’t really popular but everyone seems to be reading it today 😀 xx
I suffer too…my dads jaw clicks when he eats and my boyfriend clears his throat quietly but repeatedly A LOT ….i always feel bad after for flipping out and getting angry with them…but it just makes me want to punch walls!
I’m so glad it’s not just me. My dad taps his foot. All the time. It’s fine nor I don’t live with him, but I used to have to stop watching TV downstairs as I couldn’t stand the noise! X
I have misophonia as well. The pain these “trigger” noises have caused me in my life is overwhelming. Thank you for making that distinction – that this is not a simple avoidance but something that results in very real neurological reactions. I tried CBT, but the best for me was sound therapy with an audiologist. Fill your world with sound to help your brain distract from the trigger sounds, and look into noise generators for your ears, they help me. My husband and I blog about our life with misophonia and other issues at Ourmisolife.wordpress.com
Nice to meet someone else with it 😊 thanks for sharing your story! I’ll definitely be checking out your blog!
Sound therapy sound fascinating x
Interesting – have not heard there’s a term for this! I feel as though I’m more sensitive to sounds compared to my SO – he has the volume of the TV up SO LOUD and it drives me insane. He says the volume is normal. In fact, it’s one of the few things we argue over – seems petty but it’s awful to me. I actually wear noise cancelling headphones to muffle the noise – and I keep the headphones on without anything playing – they just act as ear muffs.
Anyway, I hope CBT works for you! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this.
Oh I feel your pain, my boyfriend used to be a DJ so all the music he plays is super loud, even if it’s Sunday morning! He can’t do quiet lol. Thanks, I hope it helps too 😊 x