I sat imprisoned in the movie theatre, boxed in on every side with no option to move if I did not want to disturb the whole row. I felt rigid with stress, my heart was racing, my hands were clenched and I was trying to breath normally. I was sitting next to one of my triggers, a ‘sniffer’. Every audible sniff seemed to pound in my ears because he was right next to me. I was a captive audience. I forgot about the film, it was all I could do to not throw my packet of tissues at him and yell “blow your bloody nose!” Now for you who do not understand my reaction or know or understand Misophonia, it is:
Misophonia, literally in Greek “hatred of voice”, is a rarely diagnosed disorder, commonly thought to be of neurological origin, in which negative emotions (anger, flight, hatred, disgust) are triggered by specific sounds. The sounds can be loud or soft.
To the world of sufferers out there realising that there is a name to what they have lived with is a relief. I remember when my sister sent me a YouTube clip with a documentary on the symptoms of Misophonia. We were grateful to find a name for what we thought was our own over sensitivity or social intolerance. My daughter then admitted that she felt the same way about chewing and sniffing. My dentist also admitted that she had it, but thankfully it wasn’t about mouth sounds or I might have been attacked with the drill. What I had thought of previously as just being my own problem apparently was a diagnosed ailment.
Feeling rigid with anger or rage at being confined with the noise of sniffing, open mouth chewing, slurping, heavy breathing, audible nose picking, fidgeting, nail biting and a few others can reduce the sufferer into an emotional mess. Some cannot bear throat clearing, swallowing or scratching, so I felt relieved, vindicated and more informed when I understood more about why I felt this way. I realised why being forced to listen to an incessantly barking dog was such a torment to me, leaving me with my skin crawling with stress and the desire to knock the useless dog owner over the head. Misophonia in some cases can induce the flight or fight response in the sufferer.
It was interesting to read that there is not much treatment available, but there are treatments out there which try to desensitise the sound by retraining the reaction to the sound. I am not sure if that would work with me. I have tried to relax whilst listening to a neighbour’s dog barking by trying to turn it into a song with a beat to it, “woof bloody woof, bloody woof woof…would you please just shut that bloody dog up!??’ so that didn’t really work. The most recent sniffer seemed to be a little ungrateful when I kindly gave them a whole sachet of tissues as they rhythmically sniffed their mucus back up their nostrils.
Unfortunately I work with a lot of open mouth chewers. I just pretend that they are front loading washing machines and try to detach. Otherwise I leave the room with any excuse that I can find.
Many will laugh or snigger at my complaint. Yes you may mock, but having just returned from watching a movie with a cellophanist sitting next to me (a cellophane sweet unwrapperer) where I felt like yelling “just unwrap the bloody thing will you” whilst realising she still had a whole bag to get through, I reminded my self later that I was fortunate that they were not an open mouth chewer as well, or a chip cruncher.
I would love to know if there are any other sufferers out there, and for those of you who think I’m a neurotic old whinger, well count your blessings and if you’re near me, please eat with your mouth closed, use your hanky and don’t breathe heavily or I might just thump you with my handbag.
Do you have misophonia? What annoys you?
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