Misophonia

What is Misophonia?

Misophonia is a mental health disorder that causes individuals to be severely triggered by everyday “normal” sounds or actions. These triggers can lead to an emotional or physiological response. Most individuals perceive this disorder as an individual acting out, being unreasonable, or even crazy and annoying. The individual with this disorder may experience urges of anger, anxiety, stress, panic, the need to flee and more upon hearing or seeing these trigger “normal” sounds or actions.

What are the Triggers?

The triggers range from person to person, but often they are found to be regular things that an individual will come across on a daily basis. Some of these include chewing, drinking, heavy breathing, tapping pencils, chewing nails, keyboard clacking, the shaking of an individual’s leg, and more. Now while some of these may be annoying to the regular person, it does not necessarily mean that they have misophonia. Misophonia causes an inability to focus on anything other than that sound and/or action and causes the fight or flight symptoms.

 

My Experience with Misophonia

I have had misophonia since I can remember, but for the longest time, I never had a word to describe such feelings. Even to this day when I discuss it with my doctor, she dismisses me as she says her husband experiences the same thing and its just part of my anxiety disorder.  While she isn’t incorrect, for misophonia is also a mental health disorder, it is very much under-recognized and believed to not be real by many physicians and individuals. I have many triggers, my main one is sound. Essentially, I can’t stand any chewing or swallowing noises, loud breathing, and even tapping gets me sometimes. Along with these, even just the visual of someone chewing can set me off, even if I do not hear them. These triggers make me extremely angry and give me the sensation to fight the individual doing the action of the trigger. However, that often just leads me to flee the situation in order to protect everyone involved.  It’s not their fault but it’s not mine either. Basically, this means I can’t eat dinner with my family, or sit and watch a movie with them if snacks are involved. If I am writing an exam and someone is chewing gum in the room, I get extremely distracted and am guaranteed to get a lower grade. Overall it is very, unnecessarily detrimental to my social and mental wellbeing.

Cures?

There are currently no cures for misophonia, however, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy are supposed to help cope with the issue. In my experience, noise-blocking headphones have been the best gift I ever received and encourage some form of sound blocking device like earplugs to keep the sound out.

As someone with this disorder, I believe it needs exposure to the world because not many people understand or even know that this exists and if they do, not many people understand the degree that it can uproot someone’s life. Like any other mental disorder, misophonia has its hard comings, but those of us who have it are strong and live our best with what we are given.