You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go. -Dr. Seuss
I saw this quote on Facebook, and it made me realize something. Even though I have misophonia, I can choose to not let misophonia have me.
It’s true that I have misophonia. I get triggered by a number of things: “S” sounds; repeated tapping (finger and foot tapping); gulping sounds; chewing sounds; people smacking their food; slurping sounds; people biting their nails. And those are just a few.
However, I believe I’ve let misophonia dictate my life. I refuse to do certain things sometimes, like go to the movies or go shopping at my local mall. I forego going to certain events because of the triggers I know I’ll encounter.
However, there are a lot of things I do anyway despite my triggers. I go out with friends (movies, eating, parties). I’m pursuing a degree in college. I keep friends around despite the fact that they trigger me sometimes. I try my best to do things even though I know I may get triggered.
But forcing myself to go out, keep up with friends, and stay in school is very exhausting, especially since I’m an introvert. Some of my family members don’t understand why I don’t talk sometimes, and I want to tell them “One, I’m trying hard to concentrate on what you’re saying and not leave because you’re triggering me, and two, I’m an introvert, so I don’t talk much anyway and being with other people is very exhausting.” Though I force myself to go out and be around people (which is exhausting) and try not to let my triggers get to me (even more exhausting), that doesn’t mean I’m a social butterfly.
Well, what does it mean? It means I’m trying. I’m trying to steer myself in a new direction and not let misophonia keep me from doing what I need or want to do.
And there are days when I can’t, but that’s okay. Everyone needs to recharge, whether that means sitting in your room with hot cocoa watching Netflix, or going out with friends and having fun. As long as you continue trying and not giving up (steering the wheel in a new direction), I call that a success.
“Hold on a second, what about those who can’t do what you’re saying people should do? What if people can’t get out of the house because their misophonia is so bad?” To them, as long as you get out of bed even though you don’t want to, I call that a success as well. It always saddens me to know that misophonia has had such a terrible affect on people, and they just can’t expose themselves to a lot of triggers. It’s taken over without the person letting it.
Let me expand on that, because I don’t think some family members or friends realize something. I am able to go out, thankfully, and do the things I want as long as I get to recharge. I’m able to function for awhile before needing to leave a situation. But for some people, that’s not possible, and they probably feel bad for not being able to do things they want or need. Furthermore, when family members or friends get upset with them and say they need to stop letting misophonia dictate their life, it makes it worse because they most likely didn’t let it dictate their life in the first place. It just got worse and worse until they were barely able to function.
While I’m lucky enough to be able to say “Nope, not right now misophonia, I’m having fun”, other people can’t do that. They can’t just steer themselves in another direction because in their mind, misophonia will not let them. And I have days when I just can’t go out and I need to stay home. Forcing myself on days I shouldn’t ruins my day and someone else’s because of the way I’m acting.
So, what’s the positive in all of this? Family members and friends of someone who suffers with misophonia, support them endlessly. This will alleviate some tension. Observe their behavior, because they might not always ask you to do anything out of shame. My best friend is very good at noticing when I seem bothered, and I don’t have to say a word sometimes because she knows when I’m triggered. I’m also lucky that my friend L tries his best not to trigger me as well when we hang out, and he does a fantastic job even without me saying anything.
So, in summary:
- Don’t let misophonia dictate your life.
- It’s ok if you have no control over misophonia. In fact, I don’t think anyone has total control.
- Go out, recharge, repeat. But never go out if you feel like you can’t.
- Family members: Don’t try to shape your child into someone they’re not. If you know they can’t do something because of their misophonia, don’t try to force them to do it (eating at the table, for instance). Suggestions and questions are welcome, and helping us set up a doctor appointment may also help.
- Friends: Please don’t get upset with your friend who suffers from misophonia. They probably need your friendship badly, and losing you as a friend would hurt them a lot. Support them in any way you can.
Like I’ve said before, I have some pretty amazing family and friends, as well as my boyfriend, and I’m lucky to have them and their support. That’s what helps me get through my bad days.
Love. Support. Kindness. Positivity. Practice that for the misophonia suffer, those with anxiety, or any kind of illness (mental, neurological, physical, psychological). You have no idea how much you will help us by accommodating us like that.
See you next week!