“I can’t stand the sounds of people chewing”: How I live with misophonia
I was sitting at the table with my grandmother and suddenly felt that I was terribly annoyed by the way she was eating. I was seventeen years old, and suddenly I began to acutely hear and feel chomping sounds. I was angry, cursed, and this, of course, offended my grandmother.
Soon, something new was added – I began to react to my sister’s whispers when she read books aloud. We fought, my sister told me to go to treat my nerves.
Over time, the problem only grew. I began to be annoyed by completely different sounds that were made by people around. The nastiest ones are published by people who chew gum. If I’m on the bus and someone is chewing gum over my ear, I usually politely ask the person to stop. I’m not telling people that I have a disorder, I’m just saying that I have sensitive hearing. The main thing is to speak delicately, because they are strangers after all. Everything that is connected with the mouth, with the teeth, with the jaw, with the saliva freaks me out. I myself chew very softly so that nothing can be heard.
At first I thought I was just hearing something. I can reluctantly hear what I do not need to hear, for example, someone’s whispering away from me. I can be in one room, but hear what is being whispered about in another. If these are my family and I hear that they are talking about me, then I shout through the wall that I am in the next room and actually hear everything.
But if these sounds start to annoy me, then the irritation quickly turns into anger. At this point, I’m ready to explode or run away from the source of the sound. I am beginning to hate the person who is torturing me so, and I feel that this must stop immediately. Sometimes people have a reaction to the grinding of nails on the glass – so I have an intolerance to some sounds right up to trembling. Rage chokes me, I want to close my ears, start singing – do everything to drown out this sound.
For a long time I tried to understand why this is happening. Maybe this is because when I was little, guests came to us and always kissed me on the forehead and on the cheeks? Then I wiped off all the kisses from myself. Maybe this reaction is related to hypersensitivity or anxiety.
Once I had to make a remark to my mother-in-law. It was at the table, she ate soup and sipped with great appetite. I didn’t know what to say, because this is my mother-in-law, a person much older than me. I had to pluck up the courage and ask her to eat more quietly, that is, do not sip – I referred to the fact that I have a sensitive hearing. She, of course, was offended. The subsequent times, when we sat at the table with her, I just turned on the music, tried to switch my attention to something else, or put on a film so as not to hear. I had to talk to her three times and explain that I have such a disorder. She looked at me and, apparently, thought that I was an arrogant girl who decided to teach her. She is a doctor, but not all doctors have heard of misophonia. Therefore, I had to find this article on Wikipedia and read excerpts from there, give examples that I was not the only one with such problems, and only after that my mother-in-law somehow accepted me.
It’s even more difficult with my husband. He sometimes snaps seeds, and we fight because of this. He says that he cannot eat without sound, cannot go to another room, because the TV is only in one. If I say for the hundredth time, “please stop slurping,” it could explode. And when they don’t hear me, I feel bad, my hands drop, I don’t know how to be, what to do – I really suffer.
A husband can watch a movie with enthusiasm and not notice that he is gnawing a burr. But this is also a sound that pisses me off – I can grab his hand and hold. Only psychologists who deal with aggression can help me. Because this is partly one of the manifestations of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The psychologist advised me to practice meditation, she said that you just have to practice a lot in order to allow yourself not to pay attention to sounds, to become so calm, always a person in Zen. But I somehow doubt that I will succeed, therefore, for the time being, it is mainly headphones and earplugs that are saved.
When the term “misophonia” first appeared, one of the scientists decided to conduct an experiment. He advertised in a newspaper looking for people with hearing or hearing problems. The father brought his daughter, a teenage girl, and began to eat ice cream with her. She could not stand it, burst into tears, ran out of the office in hysterics. I understand well the emotions of this girl, because this disorder affects everything in general. It is very difficult to live like this in society.
Sometimes, if the sound does not stop, I feel really bad. Recently I could not sleep in any way, I listened to all the sounds in the house and on the street. I was scared, I thought that someone was sneaking up on me now. I had a panic attack.
I work with this as best I can: at the table I talk a lot, I find topics for conversation, so as not to hear chomping in silence. The air purifier also saves – it’s a big whopper that buzzes, you get such a white noise that distracts and even soothes. At the same time, being in nature, I am incredibly imbued with sounds, they calm me down.
I go to work, and if an unpleasant sound appears there, then I muffle it with music or clicking on the mouse. My colleague has an intolerance to the sound of styrofoam, he immediately runs out of the room, so I’m not the only one. I go to lunch an hour later than everyone else so as not to hear people eating.
By some miracle, because of the sounds, my condition does not extend to the child – my daughter is three years old and you cannot explain to her that you need to quieter or chew silently. Over time, of course, I will have to teach her to behave differently and not make such sounds.