My Magic Ears

My name is Susie and I have magic ears. My mommy bought them for me because noises hurt and make me mad! So mad! I just want to punch a wall! I am 10 years old and I have Misophonia. That is a very big word that means that certain sounds make me very angry.

A few years ago when I was 5 years old, my mommy picked me up from kindergarten and I was always in a really bad mood. As soon as we got home, I started crying. Mommy would ask me, “What’s wrong Susie?” I stayed very quiet. I did not know why, but all of the other kids were so loud, always clanging pots and pans together during playtime. Then during recess, they played jump rope, laughing and screaming. It hurt my ears, I hated recess. One day, I screamed, “Just shut up!” Everyone stopped playing and stared at me. I ran to the other side of the playground where I found a big tree. I sat down under the tree and started to cry. That tree became my special place. Every day at recess I would go sit under my special tree, away from the other kids, away from their giggles. I made it my own special game, staring up at the clouds and making special wishes. I wish my ears did not hurt. I wish I was normal like the other kids. I didn’t have any friends; no one wanted to talk to the weird girl by the tree.

I hated going to school. Kids were always being so obnoxious: tapping their pencils on the desk, sniffling and coughing. Some days, I would get so upset I would run out of the classroom and start punching myself in the head, pulling my hair and crying. Miss Sull, my teacher would come after me, “You cannot just run out of the classroom anytime you want, Susie! Now you need to go back in that classroom and sit down.” She would say. “But, Miss Sull, I can’t.” “Yes, you can, Susie, now go!” I followed her back to the classroom, crying. This was my routine for the rest of the school year.

Mommy and daddy have had several meetings with the principal. The principal told them that I have behavioral problems and that I was just trying to get attention. No! That is not it; I do not want attention. I just want to be left alone!

When it was time for spring vacation, I was so excited. However, my excitement did not last long. Now I am at home with my little brother, Joey. Joey is the most obnoxious brother that a girl could have. He loves to torture me. He walks around whistling all day long. It is like he does not know how to do anything else. “Joey, STOP!” Like the noises from school, I started to cry and could not stop. Mommy and daddy thought I was being a spoiled brat. I am not. I try…I try so hard not to let it get to me. I cannot control myself.

Lunch time! “Joey, stop chewing like that! You sound like such a pig! Mommy, tell Joey to chew with his mouth closed!” Mommy would look up, roll her eyes, and say, “Oh Susie, you need to just ignore him and eat your lunch.” “But mommy…”  Mommy snapped, “No! Just ignore him and eat your lunch!” Sigh. After a few minutes, “Mommy, I am not hungry, may I be excused?” I marched off to my room and burst into tears. Later that night I heard mommy telling daddy, “I don’t know what’s wrong with her. She is so moody, she has a tantrum over every little thing.” Great, my parents do not love me either. I am not lovable. Everybody hates me. Even I hate me.

One Thursday afternoon we had a substitute teacher, Miss Joseph. Jimmy, a boy who sits next to me started tapping his pencil. “Please stop?” I said quietly. He continued to tap his pencil even harder. “JUST STOP IT.” I ran out of the classroom into the hallway, where I was crying and pulling my hair. Suddenly Miss Joseph came up to me. “Please do not make me go back in there.” I pleaded. Miss Joseph sat down on the floor next to me. “I just need you to take some deep breaths, Susie. I will breathe with you. Come on, let’s take a really deep breath together. When you exhale, push that anger out with the air.” She sat with me for a really long time until I finally stopped crying.  She calmly asked, “Are you ready to talk?” I nodded my head. “Can you explain to me why you ran out of the classroom?” She asked. “I don’t know. Jimmy was tapping his pencil and he just would not stop. I just had to get away from him.” Miss Joseph looked at me, grabbed my hand in hers, smiled and said, “Don’t worry, Susie. I think everything is going to be okay.”

We walked down the hall to the nurse’s office and she gave me a glass of water. Awhile later, my parents walked in. I was so afraid that I would get in trouble again. Why can’t I just behave myself? Why do my parents always get called up to school? They are going to be so mad at me.

Miss Joseph told my parents that she had a chance to observe my behavior, “I think that Susie may have a disorder called misophonia.” She then explained that misophonia is a condition that makes my brain process sounds in a way that is different than everyone else. People with misophonia can become irritated, enraged, or even panicked when they hear ‘trigger sounds’. My parents listened as she explained the different kinds of trigger sounds, and the reactions people can have. Mommy said, “Wow that sounds just like Susie, what can we do for her? Is there a cure?” She asked.

Miss Joseph said that her sister also suffers from misophonia and she was going to share the phone number for her audiologist (that is an ear doctor). Although there is currently no cure for misophonia, there are different things people with misophonia can do that can help them in their everyday lives. She suggested a pair of noise-cancelling headphones that help block out trigger sounds and said that with a note from my doctor, the school will let me wear them in school? Really? Can something help me?

A week later, we visited the audiologist and after she asked me a bunch of questions, she did some hearing tests, she confirmed that I do have misophonia. My mommy bought me a pair of magic ears. When I put them on, I can’t hear all of the sounds that trigger me. I love my magic ears!

Today, I am 10 years old, I wear my magic ears everywhere. Now, because of my magic ears, I love to go to school, and guess what? I even made some friends. All because of that special day when Miss Joseph came into my life.

Vicki Sladowski
My name is Vicki and I am a lifetime sufferer of Misophonia. I grew up thinking I was a mean, hateful monster, only recently did I learn that I have Misophonia. Like most sufferers, when I found out I had an actual disorder I was so relieved to know that it is not my personality, and most importantly there are people who UNDERSTAND what I am going through and I how I feel. We are not in this alone.

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