What It’s Like To Suffer From Misaphonia, The Hatred Of Sound

Flickr / Al Ibrahim
Flickr / Al Ibrahim

I’ve been hearing more and more recently about the misaphonia phenomenon that has become public knowledge all of a sudden. Misaphonia is a rare mental disorder that plagues people all around the world.

This disease is so newly recognized that Microsoft Word doesn’t even identify it when I type it out. But people who have been diagnosed with misaphonia are going public, making it a trending topic in today’s society.

The word misaphonia translates to “hatred of sound,” but it turns out that this hatred of all kinds of noises goes so much deeper than a simple translation.

I have had misaphonia for as long as I can remember. Some of my trigger noises include snoring, gum-chewing, food-chewing, loud breathing, smacking of lips or the sound of a voice with a frog in their throat. These are very common triggers of misaphonia, but some others include teeth brushing, laughing, crying, belching, hiccups, yawning and countless others.

Symptoms can even go as far as certain syllables, letters or words that people use.

I am totally aware that this disease seems like complete bologna. It appears like a bunch of medical crap that whiny people made up to rationalize their pet peeves. The word is even pronounced with the word “phony” in it. How real can it possibly be?

I know that most people who aren’t sufferers of the condition dislike these so called “trigger stimuli” to a certain extent also.

But the difference between the simple distaste for these noises and the impact it has on people who have misaphonia is astonishing.

As someone who suffers from this disease, I was plagued by the inability to enjoy a meal with the people I love. The slightest slurp sound or grinding of teeth has led me straight into a loathing oblivion where I’ve had to constantly remove myself from the location with many apologies to the people at the table.

That is what misaphonia becomes: a lot of removing yourself from situations where you know you will be exposed to the sounds.

It’s not something we can help. I have tried for years to suck it up and deal with it. Through my youth I tried going to sleepovers with my friends and falling asleep as quickly as I could to avoid the possible sounds that might ensue during the night, but it never worked. As a biologically programmed night owl, my inability to fall asleep always led to the eventual midnight pickup and my mom bringing me home to sleep in the comfort of my own room.

All my friends and family were worried for me when I went to college; I would have a roommate who would inevitably make noises in their sleep. I was nervous too. I stocked up on industrial earplugs and hoped for the best.

Unfortunately my roommate turned out to be a snorer. Things got so bad for me that I would be up in the middle of the night crying hysterically in the corner of my room with a pillow over my ears, rocking back and forth in the fetal position. That’s how bad misaphonia can get. And that’s not even the worst of it.

This is misaphonia: an uncontrollable burst of annoyance and rage that cannot be terminated unless the noise stops or we leave the area immediately. It is inexplicably hindering to every day life.

Noises at the office can throw us into a fit, noises that the people we love make can hinder us from spending time with them and the every day pleasure of enjoying sounds is completely taken away from us.

It may be hard for people who do not suffer from misaphonia to understand the extent in which this disease can affect us, but it’s very real and very frustrating.

Trust me, the people plagued by this psychological nuisance wish nothing more than to not be bothered by simple noises. It drives people away and we receive dirty looks and negative vibes from a majority of people who have been unlucky enough to encounter us in a bad way due to noises.

People who surround us begin to feel massively self-conscious about the way they breathe or eat or even sleep. Our loved ones are all too aware of the pain it causes us and through our pain we cause them discomfort. It is a never-ending cycle.

My mom used to get mad at me all the time before she understood that I have a serious issue tolerating certain noises. She used to say to me “How are you going to get married? How are you going to accept someone completely, noises and all?”

I’m still figuring that out. I haven’t had too many problems with relationships because I’ve dated people whose noises haven’t really bothered me too much. But it is a hard topic to bring up in a relationship. I’m always afraid I’m going to be looked at like I have ten heads or at least a diamond tiara on my head.

What people who do not have misaphonia need to understand is that this is a real condition that affects people every second of the day. Medicine is still in its early stages and there is cognitive therapy that can be done to lessen the impact of triggers, but finding places that specialize in it is extremely difficult. Most people just live with it and find ways to avoid certain noises, which is much easier said than done.

I’m not looking for people to rally together and find a cure for this condition. I’m sure tons of people are saying that it is all in our heads, which it is. But so is bipolar disorder, so is borderline personality disorder, so is schizophrenia. Misaphonia is a mental disorder just like any other mental disorder.

I just want people to understand that it cannot be controlled. Our hatred of noises is something that we wish could be fixed, but unfortunately it does not work that way. Misaphonia can be a living nightmare. You become a prisoner to the noises. But I’ve found focusing on the sounds that I do like hearing is great therapy to me.

Like music, I love the sound of all music. I usually am listening to music wherever I am. It helps ease my mind and mask the noises that surround me. I sleep with earplugs and with the television on. My close friends and family understand it to a certain extent, but they will never know for sure whether my feelings are legitimate or not. No one will.

Have patience with these people. We don’t want to be this way. Understand that it is a serious issue rather than a false claim.

Misaphonia is making its way to the spotlight and soon enough, people will better comprehend what this condition really means for the people who suffer from it. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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