Book Review: Sound by Kelly Bruno

When I first read Sound I was astonished by its striking honesty. The story of a young girl, Jessica, was able to permeate through layers of my emotion and eventually settle upon my heart. I’m not saying this lightly. At many points I had to pause to shed a tear. As a writer it’s not often a book makes me stop (aside from my own, when I’m lost in the throes of editing) and question my own life, and feelings. I see a great number of similarities with this book and Patricia McCormick’s Cut. Where Patricia’s character refuses to speak, essentially sound-less, Kelly’s character, Jessica, is tortured by sounds. As I am a slave to honest writing I am compelled to explain to you both the strengths of Sound and its weaknesses. This raises a problem for me. How am I supposed to mention weaknesses in a work that seems to be the first of its kind? With no comparison, and nothing else tied to my heart in the same way, I feel my criticisms would merely fall flat. However, if I am truly honest, there are times when Jessica seems to be the concept of a teenage girl, and not just a girl herself. I wonder though, if this “stock character” is merely a trope. Perhaps what one may see weakness — a fairly incomplex character — a sufferer searching for “some one like them” may feel at ease with the seamless consciousness. Another small point I will mention is that sometimes Jessica feels too sheltered from the world. Where she texts freely, seems to have a good working-knowledge of many things, she becomes confused by the term “ICU”. An otherwise unsheltered character seems to know little of this place, and I wonder if this is merely an oversight or shows a deeper meaning. Perhaps it is to contrast that Jessica thinks her Misophonia is the worst thing she has seen, but in other ways she is innocent against the world, and its tragedies. Sound moves forward freely. There is no moment where you feel the book is dishonest in its accounts of an unknown disorder. As a sufferer of this disorder I feel a great appreciation and empathy for the character. However, its comparisons to Cut are strongest in what I believe to be the books ability to show Misophonia as more than chewing rage, or a rage-based disorder. Jessica’s struggle is human. Any reader, especially young adults, would pick up this book and be thrown into the world, and the pain of Misophonia sufferers. At times the book becomes uncomfortable — as Jessica feels the strained relationships with friends and family. It is these uncomfortable moments that show Sound for what it is, a truly remarkable story of self-discovery when there is little information to discover. Author Kelly Bruno is a Special Education Paraprofessional that has shown empathy for persons with disorders through her career and home life. In Kelly’s family, there are a plethora of sensory issues. Sound is Kelly’s way of shedding light on Misophonia.  15-year-old Jessica believes that she is going crazy. Small, everyday sounds, like the sound of her brother chewing his food, or of a classmate clicking his pen, have suddenly begun to trigger within her an instant feeling of rage. She is afraid to tell her friends, her parents, or anyone, including the long list of doctors that her mother drags her along to, what is going on inside of her head. She is afraid that if she does, that they too, will then believe that she is, in fact, going crazy. Sound is a year long journey, from doctor to doctor, and of self discovery. View Full Product Info Here [product id=”1395″]

natural misophonia remedies and coping tips

Natural Misophonia Remedies

While there is no treatment of misophonia, persons with the disorder may wish to use natural misophonia remedies to help deal with day to day stress and to help cope with the disorder. While there is no blanket cure, the sensory system is complex, and could benefit from life changes. Even if your sensory system or misophonia cannot be helped initially by these actions, having an overall improved state of health can help persons to have a decreased threat drive, and respond to triggers with less intensity. “While there is no treatment of misophonia, persons with the disorder may wish to use natural misophonia remedies to help deal with day to day stress and to help cope with the disorder.” Of course, this will not be the same for any one, but the following methods could be beneficial. Healthy eating I personally eat organic and non GMO foods. While science does not entirely discredit GMOs I personally believe that since our sensory diets are so taxed, it is important to have a nutritious diet that is free from outside chemicals. From personal experience any food that has been processed or has chemical components will make my triggers worse. Perhaps this can be attributed to the nutritional loss that the foods have taken and the over-all decrease in health. In the future, a sensory study focused on nutrition could be beneficial to answer specific questions about diet and brain behaviour. Sensory Diet A sensory diet is a mix of calming, organizing and energizing activities that are developed by Occupational Therapists to help with sensory disorders. These may be helpful for regulation of misophonia and auditory over-responsivity.   Drink Water If your body is not well-equip to handle basic functioning it serves that it will be unable to better handle threats. The brain cannot function without water. It is essential that persons should be drinking enough water to help through the day. Most persons should drink roughly half of their weight in lbs in fluid oz. Avoid Chemicals Since switching to beauty products that have no chemicals I have felt better. “Scent” allergies and other allergies may be caused from the body overloading to olfactory (scent) triggers. As well, many of these chemicals can be harmful to general health. Aluminium, parabens, and other harmful products can be found in many conventional household items. While organic and chemical-free may sound scary at first, sites like Wellness Mama can be helpful when it comes to finding cheap, homemade solutions. There is also a growing market for these products, and as this happens, products become cheaper. Swimming Swimming is a great activity for sensory regulation. It is helpful both to relax and it provides proprioceptive pressure that has been known to help regulate the sensory system. Walking In Nature or Outside Getting away from the noises may seem like a “Duh” answer but it is more than just escaping the noises. Sensory information is accumulative and it is important to ensure that your system is periodically “reset”. If you are at work, perhaps taking a walk outside on your lunch break. Find Some Alone Time Since sensory information is accumulative it is important to reset your system even if you cannot go outside. Even if you have to take a few minutes to yourself in the restroom this can be beneficial for bringing your system back to a calm state and may make it easier to go back into the situation and handle the triggers. This may not work for every one, but it can be helpful for activities that you cannot skip. For More Tips Read this interview with Jennifer Kozek, LPC on holistic misophonia remedies. Do you have natural misophonia remedies or techniques that help you cope? Please leave a comment below, and we’ll update the page with ideas!

Misophonia Symptoms and Signs

Misophonia symptoms do not necessarily follow a strict pattern. Sufferers experience a mixed-range of misophonia symptoms and  triggers and are often faced with varying degrees of discomfort. If you believe you may have the disorder you can use this check-list. The following are common characteristics that have been reported by misophonia sufferers. Currently there are not enough studies and not enough diagnostic criteria to have a medically-vetted comprehensive list of symptoms. “Triggers” are usually sounds, but can also be visuals. Most of the symptoms involve an aversion to sound and visuals. These usually lead to a fight/flight response and an aversive reaction. While there is no official treatment for misophonia, you can find advice for coping and updated treatment intel here. When looking for a cure for misophonia it is important to understand that diagnosis may not be easy to obtain. However, you can contact a professional to discuss a possible diagnosis for misophonia. This may not be “official” as the disorder does not yet have diagnostic criteria, but an understanding professional can work with you to help find a solution. Dr. Linda Girgis, an MD, hopes that misophonia patients will discuss their options with their doctor, even if they are worried about stigma. If you believe you have misophonia, you can look below for the common misophonia signs and symptoms. Please note that since there is no official classification for misophonia, much of this is based on anecdotal evidence or small-scale studies. Aversion to sights/sounds Persons with misophonia are distinguished from other disorders because they are overly responsive to sounds, and secondly, visuals. (you can find a list of common misophonia triggers here). Whistling, chewing, tapping, leg swaying, clicking, and even improper spelling (such as text-speak) can also be noxious. Heightened anxiety due to fight/flight Persons with misophonia can become anxious awaiting triggers. Dr. Stephen Porges suggests in his podcast that misophonia sufferers are unlikely to “calm down” simply because triggers are no longer present. Like a switch stuck on, misophonia sufferers live in a constant state of fear, then fight/flight. Withdrawal from family/friends Since misophonia has been associated with persons closest to the individual (with family and friends being present more than other individuals), misophonia sufferers may withdraw from family events. Triggers can be traumatizing, and it can make relationships harder to maintain. Migraines While there is no solid proof as of yet, many with misophonia have reported migraines. This requires thorough research and the IMRN would love to study this further, if funding becomes available in the future. Lethargy Like migraines, there is no proof yet other than anecdotal evidence, but many with misophonia feel sick and lethargic. Dr. Stephen Porges discusses the “sickness” we feel in his podcast. Heightened Senses There has been research on Sensory Processing Disorder for decades. Persons with misophonia share an overlap of symptoms with SPD, though persons with misophonia suffer heavily from Sensory Over-responsivity, which is a sub-set of the disorder. These heightened senses can include: Trouble with touch (different fabrics and surfaces) “Scent allergies”. Many persons who are over-responsive become aroused (or even feel sick) when faced with noxious scents Sensitivity to lights. Commonly lights that arouse the sensory system are unnatural lights such as fluorescent lighting Sensitivity to hot/cold. Do you not like hot air in your face? Or cannot handle winter breezes? This may be a sign of a sensory struggle.

chewing misophonia rage

Misophonia is not just a chewing disorder!

So many people refer to misophonia as a disorder in which people aversively respond to chewing and breathing. There has been a culture that has conformed to the idea of “chewing rage”, unfortunately this does not tell the entire story. While there seems to be a high incidence of severe reactivity to chewing and other body noises it is important to keep in mind that misophonia also includes responsivity to other kinds of noises. In time research will reveal the mystery behind the noises that bother us. However, in the meantime it is always good to have on hand a short review of what the studies show us this far. What are the symptoms of misophonia? Individuals with misophonia are set off, or “triggered” by repetitive, patterned-based sounds, such as chewing, coughing, pencil tapping, sneezing, etc. Some individuals with misophonia also describe visual triggers. Are the sounds always related to chewing or “people noises”? Often people assume these are noises that  from other peoples’ bodies (such as chewing). However,  we really don’t know what features of the noises are causing the aversive responding. For example, it may be the repetition of the noise that is not processed properly within the auditory/neurological system, not the fact that “my friends chewing bothers me”. Is misophonia neurological or psychiatric? Misophonia appears to be a neurologically based disorder in which certain auditory stimuli are misinterpreted as dangerous or otherwise harmful. This atypical auditory processing may leads a fight/flight response, which leads to  emotional reactivity and psychological problems. Is there a cure for misophonia? Not yet but research looks promising. What different treatments or therapies are there? What therapies may exist the near future?  Right now, we know more about wasn’t doesn’t work than what does. Until we figure out the underlying neural mechanisms it is difficult to say what will help treat the condition. Psychological counseling may be helpful and earplugs that mask noise fitted by audiologists may help with daily life functioning. However, there is not an approved therapy at this time. What do I do if I need help? Try to find psychologists, counselors and audiologists through reliable sources such as medical doctors who have written articles on misophonia. As you sift through the many different press articles and support groups, etc. on the Internet make sure that you are corresponding with professionals who understand the disorder, who are connected to a university where misophonia is being studied, or who have been providing clinical services for misophonia or related disorders and/or who are willing to work under the direction of someone who can guide them. Most of all, go with your instinct when looking for help. If you feel that someone is treating you with disrespect or exploiting your suffering for purposes of profit, listen to your instincts.

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Earplugs? Headphones?

Sufferers of Misophonia spend a lot of time wearing either earplugs or headphones, depending on the situation. This makes it extremely important for them to pick the kinds that are the most effective and comfortable to them, to be wearing for long periods of time. I have read many comments on support groups, and tried them myself. These are the best rated so far, and some quick reviews. Keep in mind, that anything you put in your ears must kept clean, or changed out regularly. It is important for sufferers to be knowledgeable of how to take care of their ears, if they are going to be putting things inside them! Earplugs Earplugs must be worn for occasions where it isn’t socially acceptable to wear headphones, and/or when the sufferer wants to be able to somewhat hear what is going on around them. It is commonly preferred for them to be more discrete, and still block out as much sound as possible.   These silicone earplugs are commonly located in the fishing department of stores, and are made for sealing water out. They may have a string attached, but it can be cut off. Make sure if you decide to try this type, that you make sure you look closely and make sure it has three tiny cup things, and not two, because it makes a huge difference in sound blockage. They are very easy to put in, and don’t move. Sold at Amazon.com These waxy ones are moldable, block out sound wonderfully, and are preferred by many. They are usually found in the pharmacy department of stores. These are worth a try, but I urge you to be careful with them. Personal story: once, while taking a test in High School, I shoved a pair so far into my ear canal that I had to get it, painfully, surgically removed. Only seal them around the outside of your ear canal, and not push them inside. They also tend to loose effectiveness and need to be changed out relatively regularly, because they get dirty. Sold at Amazon.com     These foam earplugs are cheaper, still very affective, and are usually located in the pharmacy department of stores. they come in all kinds of colors, but sufferers commonly prefer skin tones. Personally, I have found that they irritate my ears after long periods of time, but others have found great success with them. Still worth a try. In the past, I have cut them so that they do not stick out of my ears. Sold at Amazon.com     Headphones Headphones are life savers in public. Whether a sufferer be going to the grocery store, or sitting in the waiting room of a doctors office, or worse, the dreaded DMV. Shudder Sometimes you just have to blast your favorite music and calm down.   So far, the most comfortable, and noise canceling headphones I have come across, are ones that have the plastic cup buds. They are lightweight, and can even be slept in, if small enough. They can come with a mic, so if you are on your phone, you can still answer calls. They are usually sold at dollar stores, and I would recommend getting the cheaper ones. No matter how expensive it is, with the amount of times a Misophone has to use it, and the frustration that usually comes with having to, they are bound to break often. Sold at Amazon.com   I have discovered that the over the ear headphones, can have a lot better quality of sound, and are very useful for blocking out especially intrusive triggers, when coupled with wearing earplugs underneath. Personally, however, after long periods of time, no matter how nice of a pair, they start to bother my ears. They make work for others though. Sold at Amazon.com