Why I hate certain sounds

For as long as I can remember I react different around certain sounds compared to those around me. People who chew gum is one of those sounds that cause for an explosion of frustration and anger inside of me. It gives me goose bumps and forces me to leave a conversation. It’s a feeling of disgust that makes no sense at all. Rational I know it’s absolutely idiotic to feel this way, but my brain seems to miss a click and creates a crawling monster inside of me.

I can’t stay.
I avoided breakfast when I lived with my parents. “Stop overreacting” was a regular received comment. My parents had no idea what was going on and thus I avoided a nice breakfast with the whole family.
When I dine with friends I’ll always find the best strategically place to sit to avoid the ones that tend to smack (and the music should always be on). Sometimes to know people are going to eat is already enough to creep me out.  Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there.

People who keep tapping their pen, the breathing of someone who sleeps next to me, certain moan sounds (especially from babies), soft sweet pop songs sung by girls/guys who sound like they came straight out of a my little pony episode. It’s like a radar was installed in my brain that search for these sounds and goes mental once it finds them.

I’m not alone.
It’s a condition that was first given the name misophonia in 2000, but until 2013, there had only been two case studies published.[1] “Over the years, scientists have been skeptical about whether or not it constitutes a genuine medical ailment, but now new research led by a team at the U.K.’s Newcastle University has proven that those with misophonia have a difference in their brain’s frontal lobe to people without having misophonia.” [2] It also revealed that people with the condition have an abnormality in the emotional control mechanism which causes their brains to go into overdrive on hearing trigger sounds.[3]

If you have never been depressed you likely have troubles to understand people who are depressive. I guess it’s the same principle with these sounds. I shocked people around me when I told them that if people would keep on chewing and I couldn’t leave a room I was able to stick knitting needles in my ear. I would rather live in a world which is silent then to feel such hatred over and over again.

I’m happy to know that I’m not alone with this weird problem and that it’s scientifically proven. Unfortunately the last case study was published on February 3 2017. This means that there might still be a long way to go for a coping therapy.
For now, most psychological interventions focus on reducing distress or dysfunction associated with heightened sensitivity to sounds (e.g., anger, avoidance). [4]

What not to do.
Do not face your sound-demons. It might help some but others such as Tansley-Hancock [1] tried cognitive behavioral therapy, which required her to listen to recordings of trigger noises. Unfortunately, it actually made her more sensitive to a wider range of triggers.

What I do
Earplugs
When I dine with my boyfriend on the couch I wear my earplugs. Earplugs are my friends in bed, the bus and when I’m dining. I often tell my boyfriend not to keep too much account. If I have a problem it should not affect him. This is however, is extremely difficult, as you have the extreme urge to remove or run away from that sound.

Coffee.
I’m hypersensitive for a lot of food and coffee causes more frustrations and seems to have an effect on my sound perception. I guess it sounds strange, but since I’m using less caffeine my feelings towards sounds that have a mild-frustration (such a pen clicking) can be better contained.

Music
I love my silent world with earplugs, but I also adore my crazy big headphones that lock out most sounds of the outside world.

Focus and distraction.
Strangely enough I’m not continuously affected by these sounds. When I dine with friends and we all laugh and have a good time my focus is not slipping off to chewing sounds. When I feel relaxed I simply forget that I hate that clicking pen of some neurotic person in the background. When I drink wine my feelings for chewing sounds become less important.

I feel somewhat happy that I’m not crazy and many others around me suffer in the same manner as I do. I just hope there will be some sort of therapy one day that could eventually make me smile while dining with people that have never learned to chew with their mouth shut.

[1] https://www.newscientist.com/article/2120167-why-the-sound-of-noisy-eating-fills-some-people-with-rage/
[2] http://time.com/4659308/misophonia-noisy-eating-science/
[3] http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/news/2017/02/misophonia/
[4] https://iocdf.org/expert-opinions/misophonia/

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