This is the #8 edition of our new My Misophonia Story series. This week features Claire (16) from the US. Each week we’ll feature a new reader story, so if you’d like to share yours, please drop us a line. Claire, take it away…

Where are you from?

I’ve lived in Tennessee for a couple years now.

What do you do for a living?

I’m currently a high school student.

What are you passionate about / what are your hobbies?

I love music of any kind – I play ukulele and violin, and I’m currently trying to learn the piano. I listen to lots of bands (twenty one pilots is my favorite) and I read and write, as well.

How old were you when you first realised you had an issue with certain sounds?

When I was about 13. That also happened to be a highly stressful period in my life (for other reasons) so when I first developed misophonia it was pretty rough and I was leaving the dinner table in tears almost every night.

When did you first find out it was called misophonia?

Probably a couple months after I started having issues with the sounds of people eating. I think Yahoo Answers was where I found out that misophonia has a name and that other people struggled with it.

What are your 3 biggest triggers?

Chewing food/gum, loud breathing, and slurping/swallowing

Do you have any other sensory quirks?

It absolutely drives me crazy when someone is sitting with their legs crossed and waves/bobs their foot around in the air.

Have you told other people about your misophonia and if so what was their reaction?

My family is very aware of it and I’ve told one friend. She’s been very nice about it and she always looks out for me and tries to help relieve my discomfort or avoid certain sounds. It means the world to me that she actually cares and tries to help me.

What’s your funniest/most ridiculous misophonia-related moment?

It’s never super funny at the time but there have been multiple occasions where I’ve frantically tried to strike up a conversation with someone so they’ll stop eating or breathing loudly. In my most desperate moments, I’ve started dancing, singing, or even given the said person a hug, just hoping to distract them. I’ve definitely had my fair share of incredibly ridiculous moments but sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

What helps you to cope with your misophonia?

Music is the biggest one. At the dinner table, we usually have music playing in the background and that really helps cover up the sounds of eating. I also usually have a chapstick or something small in my pocket that I can fidget with. I pretty much just try to distract myself.

What are you misophonic superpowers?

I think I’ve definitely become more sensitive to others in almost every aspect. It’s made me more understanding, because just like most people don’t understand my struggles (misophonia), I realize they may also have struggles I can’t even grasp – I definitely pick up on others’ signs of discomfort. Also I’m really good at eating or even walking around quietly.

What’s the single most useful piece of misophonia related advice you’ve learnt?

It’s not anyone’s fault, including my own. When someone is chewing loudly I tend to kind of villainize them and just think about how they’re the worst person in the world and that they’re trying to ruin my life. But honestly – and unfortunately – eating sounds are part of life. So it’s just helpful to remember that smacking doesn’t make someone an awful person (just annoying).

What’s your very best life hack?

“When the world gives you s**t, give it back flowers.” So basically, always try to treat people better than they’ve treated you and make something nice out of bad things.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your fellow misophones?

If you haven’t, you should look at the research done on misophonia! It’s actually really reassuring to know that misophonia has to do with uncontrollable responses in the brain, and it’s not just us being dramatic or annoying like people think.

And finally! The quick fire round…

Favourite place you’ve visited:

Chicago, IL

Favourite song:

“Vienna” by Billy Joel

Favourite book:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith

Favourite work of art:

Monet’s Water Lilies or anything by Vincent Van Gogh

5 things you couldn’t live without:

My family, my dog, my ukulele, music, books