This is the #31 edition of our My Misophonia Story series. This week features Lisa (15) from the UK. Each week we’ll feature a new reader story, so if you’d like to share yours, please drop us a line. Freya, take it away…
Where are you from?
I’m from Brighton, England.
What do you do for a living?
What are you passionate about / what are your hobbies?
I love rock climbing and Star Wars.
How old were you when you first realised you had an issue with certain sounds?
Back when I was about eight. I started to notice that I was hearing the sounds of my friends eating, and then couldn’t tune it out.
When did you first find out it was called misophonia?
Not long ago, maybe a year or so.
What are your 3 biggest triggers?
Eating, nail biting and general noises people make when they’re ill.
Do you have any other sensory quirks?
I have definitely got colour synaesthesia, which I didn’t even realise was a thing until a couple months ago. I just assumed everyone colour coded days of the week and their favourite songs. (Ironic though because I’m colour blind.)
Have you told other people about your misophonia and if so what was their reaction?
Most of my friends know I have a problem with certain noises, they don’t know it’s an actual thing with a name, but they stop biting their nails if I ask them to. My parents both know, but they’re general helpless. I eat breakfast before them and plug my ears at dinner and I’m very lucky that they don’t give me much bother about it.
What’s your funniest/most ridiculous misophonia-related moment?
Well, at the beginning of the year, I thought it would be a good idea to sit next to my asthmatic, basically-always-ill friend, in almost all of my lessons. Great. Luckily, she mainly sits on my left, and as I’m right handed my knuckle can be in my left ear and I can still do my class work.
What helps you to cope with your misophonia?
Okay, well my main strategy is probably one everyone has, and that’s the knuckle+ear technique. It’s very quick to adopt and can be done in most situations. I like to think I’ve got quite subtle at it too.
My other techniques include:
– Always having a tab open with some sort of white noise (or download some), and a pair of headphones.
– Try to think of something you like that sounds a bit like the trigger. It’s hard to explain, but for example I like the sound of running water, and often an eating noise can be turned into a babbling stream or something like that. Inane tapping can become the sound of a clock/metronome. It sounds mad, but honestly works so long as you aren’t looking at where the trigger is coming from. It’s weird what you can trick your brain into thinking.
– Always identify where the noise is coming from, not so you can stare daggers at who or whatever it is, but basically because otherwise I find myself getting in a complete fluster because I know there’s a noise, but I can’t find out where it’s coming from and therefore all noises around me start to sound very similar to the trigger. It’s quite crushing when you feel like it’s coming from all sides, this happens a lot to me on public transport as they’ll be one person chewing gum, but I won’t be able to see where, so all noises start to sound like gum chewing. (Also this means you can better decide what ear to plug).
– During class it’s very hard to deal with triggers, but I often try and start a conversation, or rely on other background noise.
– During exams is even harder. You can’t politely ask the guy in front to stop clicking his pen, or the invigilator to get a tissue and stop sniffing. Generally you won’t get an ideal seat in the back corner either. I find if you start the exam paper swiftly, and make sure you are as calm as possible before you go in (avoid triggers at all costs beforehand because they’ll make you really stressed out which is never a good place to start). I find that if I do this, the exam becomes my only focus, and triggers don’t become a problem until after I’ve finished and I’m checking through.
That’s all I’ve got really.
What are your misophonic superpowers?
I’m a great multitasker. I can be covering my ear with one hand and having a conversation as well as writing. I also have very alert hearing, I like to think I don’t miss much when it comes to noises.
What’s the single most useful piece of misophonia related advice you’ve learnt?
That there is science behind the reaction. “You’re not mad”
What’s your very best life hack?
Hear me out here. Chicken and marmite sandwiches are amazing, that’s all 🙂
Is there anything else you’d like to share with your fellow misophones?
If you’re like me and you don’t personally know anyone with Misophonia, remember there’s a whole community of like-minded people out there. 🙂
And finally! The quick fire round…
Favourite place you’ve visited:
The Big A.C. by New Street Adventure:
The Hobbit, J R R Tolkien.
Favourite work of art:
Ralph McQuarrie, his concept art for Star Wars is so amazing.
5 things you couldn’t live without:
My cat, my climbing shoes, doodling, my phone, football.
Wow! I really enjoyed reading your story. I’m delighted to learn that you are one of the lucky people who has synesthesia. I, too, always believed that everyone goes around with colored words, letters and numbers. I thought sounds set off colorful visuals for everyone.
But it doesn’t work that way! Most people don’t respond to perfume, for example, as a colored experience, and don’t pair the proper color of scent with the color of their clothes.
I’ve been tormented by misophonia since age 8 or 9 or so. It would be fun to think of synesthesia as a compensation, as a consolation prize, for having a dysfunctional nervous system.
Anybody else here have synesthesia along with misophonia?
For me, too, it was a gift to learn that there’s a reason for the misophonia, as well as other weird and miserable goodies. When I was a kid my mother would scream at me, “You’re bad! Willfully bad! You’re doing it on purpose because you’re wicked!” (My aunt was horrified at the way my mother spoke to me.) It’s such a relief to learn that I’m not a willfully bad person, but a person with a defective nervous system.
I say if my nervous system were a car, it would be recalled.
Thanks for posting your story. You’re not alone, and there are legitimate reasons why these things are happening. Let’s enjoy the colorful visuals while we’re struggling with those miserable trigger sounds.
It appears that I also have synesthesia! I hadn’t realised it was a ‘thing’ and had a name. I thought everyone had colours for words, names and days of the week, although I remember once asking a friend what colour she thought Saturday was and she just looked at me as though I were mad! (Incidentally, I think Saturday is brown.)