Telling Parents About Misophonia

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  • #1008959 Reply

    I’ve been struggling with misophonia for awhile now, but it didn’t get bad until a year or so ago. Lip smacking and related talking/eating noises are a huge trigger for me. One of my moms smacks her lips a lot when she talks, and it absolutely drives me insane. I haven’t told her about my misophonia yet (as far as I know, she’s never heard of the disorder), and I know she doesn’t realize that what she’s doing bothers me.
    Last night, we were sitting on the couch and talking, and she was smacking her lips A LOT. I can usually hide my reaction, but I was tired and not in a great mood and it was otherwise silent in the room, so it wasn’t a good environment. Anyway, she saw me flinch once when she did it, and she WOULD NOT DROP IT. Finally I told her, “You smacked your lips and I tensed up a little because I really don’t like that sound.” She acted like that was weird/stupid, so I didn’t want to try to explain misophonia to her then because I was afraid she would just judge me or think I was being dramatic.
    I thought we had dropped it, but today my other mom told me that I “hurt her feelings” when I told my mom that her lip smacking bothered me and that I should stop reacting to it like that. I wanted so badly to explain to her why I couldn’t help it, but I was afraid that she wouldn’t understand or that she would be judgmental. How do I bring it up with my parents? I don’t want to make them feel self-conscious about everyday noises they make, but I feel like they need to know that I really can’t help how trigger noises make me feel and that I’m not just reacting to hurt them or to be dramatic.

    #1008967 Reply

    Hi Morgan, I’m very new to this site and definitely not exposed to a lot of experience in dealing with miso, but I can tell you what happened with me and my family (my mom is very oversensitive and not very understanding, which I think you might be able to relate to).

    I was quiet about my misophonia for a few years after I developed it, for the same reasons you are quiet now. I didn’t think the conflict it would cause would be worth trying to explain something like that. However, when I started high school, I developed unrelated and very extreme anxiety and depression that skewed my normal judgement skills and made me feel very vulnerable, so when my family finally approached a professional about my mental health, I thought it would be a good time to mention it. Unfortunately, I was armed with only the Googled term “misophonia” and the person we had paid to diagnose me was absolutely terrible at her job. She blamed it on subconscious family issues, disregarded my anxiety altogether, and from that moment I knew I should not have said anything.

    Because I had not clearly brought it up with facts and figures earlier, my parents had already thought my avoidance at the dinner table was maybe an eating disorder or trying to avoid their company. We didn’t have a very close relationship, and misophonia is such a new term, that this made sense and when the doctor said it that’s all they could think about. That might be what your mom is feeling. She doesn’t know about the word misophonia at all, so the can only connect it to being overdramatic or not wanting her conversation.

    For months and months it was terrible. My family was going through a rough patch anyway, but now my mom didn’t feel comfortable eating with me and blamed it all on our broken relationship. We ate separately, which is a big deal for her. She would call it “animalistic”, and I just felt guiltier and guiltier even though I did not ask to eat separately and hadn’t even mentioned several dozen sounds that trigger me. I can’t tell you telling her isn’t going to cause problems, because it is. Even if they immediately accept what you’re telling them, there’s going to be lots of questions and people you live with are going to feel uncomfortable with it. You’ll probably feel bad for having them do that.

    My mom understands better now. She still dislikes it, but she doesn’t constantly bring it up as if I’m ruining her life and if I excuse myself to go to the restroom during a restaurant she lets me stay there. There’s a lot less tension and we get along better. People will always understand more with time.

    Sorry for that very long post, but here’s what I would suggest. Get two sheets of paper and plan exactly what you’re going to say on them. On the first, draft what you’re going to say out loud to your family as you “come out” about the disorder. I’m sure there’s a comment thread for that on this forum somewhere. Then list all of your triggers that you can think of. Then, on the second sheet, put research, explanations, and resources your parents can use. Then, look at your first sheet and list ONLY the triggers that you think are WORTH MENTIONING. The longer the list, the more inconvenient and stressful conversations you’re going to have to deal with. You might think of healthy ways your family could help you avoid the sounds as criteria for whether something is worth putting on that second list. If your family has a hard copy of what they’re hearing, they might be less judgemental and more understanding.

    You’re going to mess up relationships for a little bit, but if you approach things calmly I think your mom will understand. Remember taking care of yourself is not something you should be sorry for, and that misophonia is a real and painful thing that is worth making some adjustments to accommodate for.

    #1009048 Reply

    Mimick and exagerrate the lip smacking.

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