On Tuesday of this week, I went to class and sat at my regular spot. A girl sat next to me and had a cup of coffee in a Styrofoam cup. I was hoping against all hope that, when she would eventually pick up the cup to drink and then set it down, that I wouldn’t get triggered. However, as I put my headphones on and prepared to take my notes, that was not the case.
The sound of the Styrofoam cup hitting the table was infuriating. Simply having my headphones on playing no sound wasn’t enough to block out the sound. I didn’t want to have white noise and rain playing though, because I wouldn’t be able to hear my professor otherwise. But the sound of the cup hitting the table forced me to, and I was annoyed that I couldn’t listen to my professor.
Fast forward to my second class of the day. I sat in my usual spot, put on my headphones, and heard two people popping their gum during class. Loud popping. I shot a few glares at them and became increasingly annoyed that I would, again, have to play white noise and rain and not be able to hear my professor. The gum popping continued for about half the class (about an hour and 30 minutes) before I didn’t hear it anymore. I turned off the white noise and rain and sighed, feeling lost and still annoyed. I got home feeling exhausted, so much so that I completely forgot about typing up a rough draft for my writing course due today.
As you can very well see, misophonia is exhausting. It’s stressful. Those who have it know this. They also know that misophonia is not a choice. It’s not something we chose to suffer from, just like cancer, anxiety, PTSD, or any other well-known illness (mental, neurological, psychological, or physical) is not something others choose to suffer from. Family members, friends, and perhaps co-workers may not understand that, and may therefore criticize the sufferer for acting that way and to just “deal with it” or “block it out”. They don’t understand that the brain of the misophonia sufferer cannot filter out those sounds. Something’s wrong; the limbic system is messed up, and our body’s fight-or-flight response is activated when a normally harmless sound is heard. No one wakes up one day and thinks to themselves “Today, I’m going to be annoyed and get angry at normal sounds”.
As true as this is, the silver lining–for me, anyway–is that I survived. And, I have continued to survive with misophonia again and again for about 12 years now. I say “survive” because, if you think about it, that’s what it is. You’re trying to live with your brain freaking out about normal sounds, and, if you’re like me, forcing yourself to go about your life as best as you can, and always being positive. Even though misophonia just showed up one day and said “Yep, I’m going to live here now. Deal with it”, I push forward. It’s harder, and I have anxiety now because of it, but I don’t let it hinder me. I suppose that’s when “choice” factors in. You can choose to live life as best as you can with misophonia, or not. That part, I believe, is up to you. And I say, live your life no matter how hard it is. Always try to be happy.
See you next week!