Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Thanksgiving means time spent with family and eating good food. While many look forward to this holiday, there are those who dread it. Especially those of us with misophonia.
I know I don’t particularly look forward to going out on Thanksgiving because that means exposing myself to a lot of triggers. In the past, family from out of town would come and we’d have a huge Thanksgiving celebration at the house. As time went on, it’s mainly just been me, my aunt, and my dad. Personally, I prefer this (no disrespect to my family members of course) because that means less triggers to deal with. However, it also means there’s more opportunity to go out and eat at a restaurant.
In these situations, since they’re happening more frequently, I like to be prepared. I could just say “No, I don’t want to go”, but I don’t want to be rude or seem ungrateful (or not thankful). So, I’ve come up with a list of things I do and stuff I bring with me when I go out for Thanksgiving. I want to share this with you in the hopes of helping you get through your Thanksgiving tomorrow.
- Breathing exercises. Deep breathing really calms me down, and I do it a lot when I don’t want to leave a situation while I’m being triggered. I especially use it during class and in restaurants. I saw a really good gif on tumblr where you sync your breathing with the gif. It leaves me with a peaceful and more calm feeling. You can view it below. If the gif doesn’t help, you can also try the 4-7-8 breathing technique detailed here: http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/4-7-8-breathing-stress-relief-techniques
- “Everything’s Ok”. I tell myself that over and over. I know this may not work for some people, but I find it works for me and decided to state it here anyway. If I say this while doing a breathing exercise, it helps me calm down a lot. It doesn’t stop my triggers, but it makes it slightly more tolerable.
- Focusing on what someone is saying to me. This is a huge challenge for me. However, when someone is talking to me, I try to focus on what they’re saying instead of the triggers they’re making. **Triggers will now be mentioned in order to give an example, and will be put in parenthesis. If you feel like this will trigger you, please skip to the end of the parenthesis** (For instance, they could be saying this: “There was a fire at the house down the street yesterday!” My worst trigger sound is the “s” sound. The way some people pronounce the “s” sound pierces my ears. So, what I hear sometimes is: “There waSSSS a fire at the houSSSSSe down the SSSSSSStreet yeSSSSSSterday!” The “s” sounds are over-emphasized; they literally make my ears hurt, make me incredibly angry, and make my chest feel tight). **End of triggers** However, if I focus on the actual sentence they’re saying and grasp the fact that a house burned down, I can have a conversation. But like I said, this is extremely hard for me to do. I end up listening to a person talk instead of engaging in the conversation, or I excuse myself. This is especially bad in restaurants, when someone is trying to talk to me and there are a bunch of triggers all around me.
- Headphones and/or earplugs. Whenever I go out, I take my headphones and wear earplugs to dull the sounds around me. This is very useful when I go to restaurants, because I can put my headphones on and focus on a conversation with someone a little better. The headphones I use currently are “JVC on-ear headphones”. They’re pretty cheap if you can’t shell out $200 for a good pair like Bose or Sony. I bought mine (white) at Wal-Mart, but you can find them in other places like K-Mart or Staples, and Amazon. They hurt my ears after awhile, but they’re better than nothing. Here’s a black version of the headphones: http://www.kmart.com/jvc-on-ear-headphones-w-remote-black/p-05742063000P?sid=KDx01192011x000001&gclid=CP-iyOuuvdACFZJcfgodjCYBVA&gclsrc=aw.ds
- Scout out restrooms or “quiet spaces” whenever you go out. This is especially helpful when I go out with family for Thanksgiving. I will be going to Yuma this year to eat at Cracker Barrel. When I get there, I need to know where the bathrooms are in case I need a moment to cool down and breathe. It’s important to have a place to run to when you’re out and about in order to take a moment before going out and facing your triggers again, whether that’s a restroom, some other quiet place, or going outside for some air.
All in all, I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. It’s all about being thankful. Focus on the things you’re grateful and thankful for. I’m thankful everyday for my family, friends, and my boyfriend who all support me. I’m thankful I am able to function at all in the world despite my misophonia. Don’t focus on the negative, because if you do, that’s all you’re left with.
If you’re in need of a friend this Thanksgiving, please feel free to contact me here: https://misophoniaweekly.com/about/contact/
See you next week! <3