This is the #38 edition of our My Misophonia Story series. This week features Lauren (20) 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. Lauren, take it away…

Where are you from?

Minnesota – United States.

What do you do for a living?

College student and college athlete.

What are you passionate about / what are your hobbies?

I love art and design. Modern calligraphy is one of my favorite things to do – I use my iPad and Apple pencil and do it by hand with markers. I also love everything about event planning and I would love to be an event planner.

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

From what I remember, I was around 10 years old. I noticed that when my friends would eat, I actually got really upset and couldn’t stop myself from saying something about their chewing.

When did you first find out it was called misophonia?

About 2 years ago I decided to look up my symptoms because it seemed too intense for it to be something as simple as irritability. I looked up something like “why do I hate the sound of people chewing” and went from there. Once I found out this was a legit thing, I was almost brought to tears by how accurate it all was. It was kind of like a sense of extreme relief. I kept reading about it and I was stunned by how much I related to all of it.

What are your 3 biggest triggers? 

Do you have any other sensory quirks?

Sometimes I get a tingling sensation in the back of my head (kind of like the feeling you get when someone scratches your back) when I watch someone draw or organize something. It’s super strange and I don’t know how to explain it. It only happens every so often.

I also like ASMR videos when they are cutting sand. Those are very satisfying.

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

I’ve told my parents, roommates, coaches, teammates, and some of my friends. At first, a lot of people say, “Just don’t focus on it!” Yeah, right. That’s not possible.

I can hear someone breathing from across the room.

• My parents understand where I’m coming from. They’ve seen me struggle with it for so much of my life.
• My roommates are good about it as well. It means a lot to me that they are so aware of it – I feel bad sometimes because I want them to be able to eat carrots in front of me, but they know that its a real thing and I’m not just making it up.
• They’ll even say things like, “I’m sorry, I’m trying to chew as quiet as possible” or they ask “are you going to murder me if I eat these?” (not literally, of course) and just by them saying that I feel better because I know they’re being considerate.
• My coaches and teammates are becoming more aware of it. I wrote a paper about misophonia for one of my classes and I sent it to my coaches. I’m glad I did!
• Some of my friends are more understanding than others. It probably does seem really odd to get that upset with the sound of chewing and other things. I don’t think a lot of them understand how bad it actually is, so they don’t always take it into full consideration.

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

I was at a game night. We were playing trivia and my table consisted of a lot of my teammates who know about my misophonia. All of a sudden, this young girl (maybe 8 years old) came by with her dad. She started eating Funyuns with her mouth WIDE open. It was actually tragic and a lot of my teammates noticed and gave me looks every once in a while. It was so bad that we were basically laughing at this point.

What helps you to cope with your misophonia?

Leaving. This is always the best solution for me because it never gets better and you can’t block it out, but it isn’t realistic. Usually, I find myself in a situation where I can’t leave, so here are a few other coping mechanisms…

• Wear headphones – I like my BeatsX because they cancel out a lot of sound
• Playing music on a speaker if you want to be tuned into the world around you
• Turn on the tv to help drown out the noise
• Play some nice music over dinner
• I’ve gotten pretty good at discretely plugging my ears during class – I can still hear my professor, but I can’t hear the whistle breathing or the mouse clicking
• Electric fan during the day, humidifier at night – relaxing background noise and it drowns out the sound of dishes or anything else noisy
• Acknowledging it – I always feel better when someone is considerate, like I said before with my roommate example. If people don’t know about your misophonia, how are they supposed to know you feel like you’re drowning every time they take a bite of their apple?

What are your misophonic superpowers?

I am way more considerate because I have misophonia. I always try to be polite and chew quietly, be quiet if others are sleeping, not shake my leg in case it will disturb those around me, and so on. I also notice when others are irritated and I am more compassionate because of this. I care about people’s comfort levels.

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

RESEARCH HELPS.

I did some research a while back and found out that the anterior insular cortex is majorly involved in the way the brain processes things and decides what is important. I’m no expert, but from what I understand, people who have misophonia pay attention to trigger sounds because our anterior insular cortex functions abnormally and processes the sound in an abnormal way. We think we are in some sort of danger because of the trigger which activates our flight or fight response. Knowing that there are scientific reasons behind all of this makes me feel better, so I highly recommend doing research.

What’s your very best life hack?

Do what makes your heart glow. If you want to be happy and live a meaningful life, the best place to start is by doing what makes you feel good. This will help you be who you truly are and you can be totally confident that way. A few things that make my heart glow include lettering, coffee, event planning, French bulldogs, travelling, and the people I love. (Plus, when your heart is REALLY glowing, the chewing sounds just a little bit quieter).

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

Spread the word about misophonia! Awareness is key.

And finally! The quick fire round…

Favourite place you’ve visited:

Verona, Italy

Favourite song:

For You by James TW

Favourite book:

More of a magazine/journal, actually. I love Mingle Magazine, which is all about celebrations, events, and design!

Favourite work of art:

I enjoy the series of Water Lilies painted by Claude Monet.

5 things you couldn’t live without:

Coffee, people (friends/family), my phone, my Bambi pillow pet, Instagram (@lauren.mw)