This is the #23 edition of our My Misophonia Story series. This week features Elizabeth (35) from the USA. Each week we’ll feature a new reader story, so if you’d like to share yours, please drop us a line. Elizabeth, take it away…
Where are you from?
Washington State, USA
What do you do for a living?
Music teacher, Freelance Artist, & stay-at-home-mom.
What are you passionate about / what are your hobbies?
Piano, violin, choir, painting, calligraphy, British literature, cooking.
How old were you when you first realised you had an issue with certain sounds?
About 10 years old, at my friend’s house, when she and her family were eating cereal, and they were all of them smacking with their mouths wide open and producing every loud variety of mouth-related noises, in total non-chalance, while I felt as if a truck was slowly running me down into the ground.
When did you first find out it was called misophonia?
About 6 months ago.
What are your 3 biggest triggers?
1. Chomping down on a chip or popcorn without first closing one’s mouth around the crunchy object (dry sound) and smacking food with an open mouth (wet sound).
2. Crinkling wrappers.
3. Vacuum cleaners/chain saws/lawn mowers even if they are muffled or distant (there are many more…)
Do you have any other sensory quirks?
I have color synaesthesia. “Monday” is red with salmon-pink splotches, “M” is smooth shiny black, C Major is off-white, and the opening Aria of Bach’s Goldberg variations is yellow and shimmery.
Sounds also have textures for me. Smells have a tremendous impact and usually have accompanying textures and colors; when I’m pregnant, some truly crazy things happen with smells, but I’m not sure if that is just hormonal.
Finally, my husband says that when we are walking together, I often veer off in odd directions, but I’m not sure what that’s about (does anybody know?).
Have you told other people about your misophonia and if so what was their reaction?
No, I have told nobody really except my husband; I don’t want people to feel in some way that I am angry because of something they are the source of, and take it the wrong way.
There is such a confusing and intense tangle of emotions which arise from a triggering sound, and it can even be difficult to not feel actual resentment towards the person causing that sound. It feels awful to say it, but I am just being brutally honest. And so I would rather work it out in secret than have an acquaintance or family member take it the wrong way.
What’s your funniest/most ridiculous misophonia-related moment?
Every morning throughout elementary/secondary school, my dear mother would in good humor wake me up (no easy task) by sending the family dog into my room to eat raw carrots next to my ear. (it worked!)
What helps you to cope with your misophonia?
2. If packing up and running away is not possible, I turn on music.
3. If turning on music is not possible, I try to find my “happy place”- indeed, visualization is tremendously effective for me
4. Drum my fingers on the table, scratch the underside of the table, or fidget in some way (this is probably more of an automatic reaction than a coping method, but somehow the rapid movements help me)
5. Try to smile through it; actually, my husband is very good at diffusing me with good humor, and being able to laugh about it helps take the weight off, because it can get very heavy, especially in family life (but this doesn’t always work when company is visiting since I’d rather they not know about it)
6. Focus on the sound and try to objectively analyze it.
What are you misophonic superpowers?
I think it helps me to be more sensitive in musical performance, or to approach a score in creative ways. Also, there are sounds that send me into near ecstasy, such as the sound of morning doves, wind blowing through really leafy dissiduous trees, or distant train whistles, but maybe that happens for everybody.
What’s the single most useful piece of misophonia related advice you’ve learnt?
I honestly don’t know much about it yet, and am only just beginning to learn!
What’s your very best life hack?
How to finely chop an onion in a way that keeps one from crying AND is efficient.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with your fellow misophones?
Please share your story if you haven’t yet; it’s helpful to know more about this, especially since it impacts us so frequently in our most personal spheres.
And finally! The quick fire round…
Favourite place you’ve visited:
Nunc Dimittis by Arvo Part
Just love the sound of the ocean and the wind in our sky and trees.
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
Favourite work of art:
Fra Angelico’s Annunciation
5 things you couldn’t live without:
Family, the Fine Arts, Tradition, Chocolate, Pen & Paper