How Should We Act When We’re Being Triggered?

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I must confess, like most if not every person with misophonia, I’ve had violent fantasies when someone makes a trigger noise. Despite my usual positiveness about getting through my days with misophonia, I can’t deny the fact that I have violent fantasies as well. “How do you deal with that?” One may ask. I’m not one to tell everyone what they should do to deal with someone triggering them, but through my personal experience, I’m hoping people will at least take it to heart.

I am currently in a choir at my local church. Every now and again, someone from the choir triggers me, whether it be my fellow choir friends or the director himself. When that happens, depending on how bad my misophonia is that day, I imagine grabbing the music stand and hitting that person with it to shut them up. Or I imagine grabbing the back of the person’s head and slamming it into the music stand several times. It gets pretty graphic. In real life, of course, I wouldn’t do that, ever. I love all of my friends in choir and couldn’t imagine hurting them. But having misophonia leads to very violent thoughts, and I feel horrible for thinking them.

Never have I gone up to a person and told them “Please stop breathing that way, you’re triggering me” or “Please eat quieter, you’re triggering me” or “Please leave, your mere presence is triggering me”. To me, that’s just rude and uncalled for. I have, however, informed most people I know about misophonia, and I feel a little better once they know about it. It encourages dialogue about it and gives me the chance to refer them to this site, Misophonia International, so they can have a better understanding by reading other people’s experiences.

Some people, however, have other unhealthy and unacceptable ways to deal with people who trigger them (in my opinion). I have seen people post pictures of their triggerers–is that even a word?–and call them terrible names. I’ve seen normal “vent posts”, which I normally scroll past if I don’t want to read it, describing their violent fantasies about the person triggering them, how rude they are, and how they should learn some manners.

I can completely understand how someone with misophonia can say “they need to learn some manners” because certain sounds fill us with rage, and to the ordinary person, they don’t realize the sound they’re making is causing such discomfort. And that’s the key. They don’t realize that. Rather than post a picture and bullying the trigger person behind their back, I believe a better way to act is to start a conversation. If that seems daunting, simply don’t post a picture. Just vent about it, turn up your music, and be done with it. The reason I feel strongly about this is because I have been bullied several times behind my back. It’s not right to post a picture of someone and say “learn some manners you ignorant [insert uneccessary bad word here]”, because they don’t know you’re being triggered.

Once again, this is all my opinion. What you choose to do with it is up to you. Because I’ve been bullied, I don’t like seeing other people bullied. How we act when we’re being triggered by someone will give either a good or bad impression of people with misophonia. I’m not perfect. I make a face, I sigh, I leave if I have to, I mimic the sound, my face goes red, and I want to shut that person up. But in the end, it’s not that person’s fault. They don’t know we have a neurological disorder. Only by educating other people will we get anywhere. Education > Public shaming/bullying with a picture.

Sharon Mousel
I graduated from Vincent Memorial Catholic High School in 2014, and now that I’m in college, I have been taking classes at Imperial Valley College and San Diego State University. This was made possible due to a partnership between the two schools where I can access everything on both campuses and graduate with my bachelor’s in 4 years. I am currently a junior, and I am studying Criminal Justice; I will now only be going to SDSU campus, as I have graduated from Imperial Valley College. I like going on the computer and hanging out with friends, and my wonderful, supportive boyfriend. I love practicing photography, writing, and singing. I’m known to be really shy, but I’m always trying to go beyond my comfort zone.