My struggle with misophonia

Sav Vivanco

Going to the movies, eating dinner with family and sitting in a classroom might sound like normal everyday activities to some people, but for me and anyone with misophonia, it’s our worst nightmare.

I have had misophonia for as long as I can remember, and it affects me significantly every single day. Misophonia is a disorder where an individual has a hatred of certain sounds or even repetitive movements.

For me, I have a more severe response to when someone is eating or making repetitive sounds or movements around me. Some of my reactions in the past have been to leave if I could, yell and even get so overwhelmed I start to cry.

If I feel like I can’t leave a situation where someone is making a sound or movement that triggers a response, I start getting annoyed. If the situation continues my response will escalate to me sweating, shaking and even crying.

One of the ways misophonia has affected my everyday life is during dinner time. For most people their family would all sit together no problem, but my family hasn’t eaten together in years. The only way I could even eat in the same room as them is if I had headphones in, and even then we would need to eat at different tables.

Everyday dinners at my house consist of me eating in one room and my parents eating in the garage or another room. On holidays, when my parents and I go to my grandparent’s house I always eat in their guest room.

It has become a known thing not to eat around me in my family. When I go to another room to eat no one even questions it at this point because I have been doing it for so long.

Before I leave my house, and I know that there is a chance of there being food, the number one thing on my checklist is my headphones. I never leave the house without my headphones, especially on vacations or going to crowded places.

The last thing I would want to happen is to get somewhere without my headphones, and have to leave because I hear chewing or other noises I don’t like.

Another sound that is a big trigger for me is snoring. This has cost my family a lot of extra money when going on vacations. When staying in a hotel my family has to either book a room with a door or two separate rooms to separate me and my parents.

If we are unable to sleep in separate rooms in a hotel, that causes me to have to sleep with my headphones in with music blasting. This causes my ears to hurt when I wake up, or I do not get great sleep.

Normally when I sleep I have to have music playing no matter what. Little noises my house makes, my own breathing or noises my pets make will all cause me to stay awake and never fall asleep.

For me, I not only have reactions to sounds, but I also have a hatred for repetitive movements. These movements could be the tapping of a finger or foot, the visual of someone eating or my pets licking themselves.

The most frustrating part of having misophonia for me is the lack of information available. When doing research, most websites say doctors don’t know how to explain what the cause is. Whenever I try to explain it to people they think I’m just over reacting. I feel like no one can truly understand what it is like unless they have it.

Despite the lack of research on this disorder, nearly one in five adults may be experiencing it and don’t even know what it is. There is so little research on misophonia, that if you went to a healthcare provider there is a good chance that they have never even heard of it.

Since there is not a lot of information on this disorder, I have often gotten frustrated with myself, because I feel like it is not normal for me to be acting like this.

When I have a severe reaction to someone eating I feel bad because I know it is not a big deal, but when I hear or see something that triggers me it is almost like I lose control over my body.

I try to hold in my reaction for as long as I can, but most of the time it is not very long and I speak out about it. There have been several times where I won’t be able to control myself, and I have even said things such as “be quiet” to complete strangers in public.

Even though it is different for most people, in most cases it is more than just hating one specific sound.

Certain environments are worse than others. Sitting in the movie theaters or sitting in a classroom are two different places that stand out when I think about where I experience certain sounds the most.

Since people aren’t talking in a movie theater, the sounds of candy wrappers or the crunch of popcorn drive me crazy. Sitting in a classroom is probably the worst, because I feel like I have no escape.

When in a quiet classroom, there is always one person who is either clicking a pen, tapping their foot or sniffling. I have had countless experiences when taking an exam where I started freaking out because someone was sniffling non stop, and I wasn’t able to get up and leave.

Most people affected by misophonia notice symptoms in their late childhood or early teenage years. In most cases, women are more likely to have it compared to men.

I noticed that I had a hatred for sounds and movements when I was still in elementary school. I remember when I was little one time as a punishment my parents chewed a chip in my ear. I don’t know how to explain it, but I can still hear it if I think about it too much.

In many cases, misophonia could be linked with anxiety. In high school I started feeling more anxious, and even went to therapy. Even though my anxiety got worse years after I noticed my misophonia I have always noticed I would get anxious in certain situations.

I feel like having both anxiety and misophonia makes my symptoms more severe. I get high anxiety before I even get to certain places if I know there is going to be food or a lot of people. My anxiety can also cause me to have a stronger reaction to a trigger sound as well.

Still to this day if my parents eat around me, and I say something to them they get frustrated with me. I feel as if they never understood why I would act out.

Due to the low amount of research done on misophonia, there is currently no cure. Most sources on the internet try and tell you to either get therapy or try and expose yourself to the sounds you do not like and deal with them.

This is extremely frustrating when you have been dealing with this for years.

As a kid I remember not knowing why I would get angry when having to eat around people. It wasn’t until my friend’s mom looked it up and told me it might be something called misophonia. This was the first time I was able to start getting some answers on how I was feeling.

I feel like having misophonia has had a negative impact on my social life. I have had to say no to going to parties, team activities and other social gatherings where I know it would probably be better for me not to go.

Because I skipped out on social events growing up, I feel as if it has made my social anxiety worse. I feel like I am less likely to put myself in situations to make new friends and meet new people.

I don’t know how this is going to affect me when I get older, but it hasn’t gotten any better over the years. In fact, I feel like it has almost gotten slightly worse.

I used to be fine with eating around people as long as I had headphones I was good. As time went on, it has gotten worse and I now struggle to even be in the same room as people eating.

I also now have to eat either listening to music or watching something on my phone, because I now can’t deal with the sound of myself eating. This isn’t common for most people, but I have noticed the sound of myself chewing has gotten more annoying over the past few years.

For me nothing has really helped me get over this problem I have, but listening to music and isolating myself has helped reduce my reactions to certain trigger sounds and movements.

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