Shades of Grey

Before you begin reading this, I need to preface my article by letting you know that my story contains some very sensitive subject matter. Please know that I am currently working with a team of medical professionals for my condition and they are aware of the thoughts and urges that I am experiencing. I am not in any medical danger.

Not all Misophonians suffer to the extreme degree that I do. We all have different, triggers and reactions, and different coping mechanisms. This is my story.

I live in darkness, a black hole; I am a prisoner to the sights and sounds around me. Like many Misophonia sufferers, in addition to audio triggers, I also suffer from olfactory and visual triggers, although my most severe triggers are audiological.

“Ignore it,” they say. One of the most absurd things you could say to a Misophone. Yeah, great idea, I never thought of that before. I used to get offended by that comment, now I just find it laughable.

When I hear a trigger sound, if I am lucky, I am filled with overwhelming rage. I exhaust every bit of energy that I have to fight the urge inside me to lash out or act on those urges. Lucky? How is that lucky? I consider that the mildest of my reactions, the alternative reaction is much worse and it what I want to tell you about today. Why do I want to share something so personal? I honestly feel that we need to raise awareness on Misophonia, to let people know that it is much greater than being “annoyed”. Much worse. People do not understand the severity of Misophonia or how it impacts a sufferer.

There are certain trigger sounds that completely bypass that rage and fury stage and goes straight to going postal. One of those instant triggers for me is whistling, all it takes is one whistle, that one single sound hits that button and it is a downward spiral from there. Imagine a zoom lens, I feel it zooming into that sound and me. Everything else is blacked out; I am in a dark vortex of pain and panic. I feel as if there is a sharp object being jabbed into my ears. My breaths grow short, on the verge of hyperventilating. There is no one around me, nothing else exists except me, trapped in that dark cage with that whistle, which grows louder and louder. I am in my own hell with the demons piercing my eardrums, the fight or flight escapes me. It feels as if I am in a trance, hypnotized by the sound, suffocating, desperately wanting and needing to get out. But I am trapped and there is no way out. Sometimes I am able to text my husband an SOS, he knows I am in extreme distress when he sees these texts.

It is during these episodes when my rage turns into destruction. I want to die, to be out of this pain. If I ended my life, I would not have to endure this agony. Thoughts of death linger in my head; unknowingly I reach up and start to self-harm. I do not feel anything; I do not even know that I am burrowing my fingernails into my neck. Am I subliminally hoping that I can cause myself a physical pain to distract me from the trigger? But, I do not feel the pain; I cannot feel the stinging sensation that I will feel in a few hours.

I have exceeded the panic attack and I am now in a total meltdown, tears are gushing down my face, my breaths are short, I am gasping for breath. Rationalism is non-existent. I cannot reason with myself, I have lost total control of myself. I want to die… period.

My husband has called and tries desperately to talk me down, talking me into taking deep relaxation breaths, a task I should be able to do on my own, but in this state, I cannot even think. After a while he is able to calm me down enough so I can breathe normally, he talks me out of that cage. I need to be calm enough to drive, to get to a safe place.

After we hang up, I sit in my car for a while just to make sure I am able to drive, and then I venture home. The episode is not over, not even close. I decide to take the scenic route home to avoid the traffic on the highway. Driving through the forest preserves, it is a perfect fall day. The sun is shining and the reflection of the color changing leaves on the trees in the lake is absolutely breathtaking. But this is not how I am seeing it. Tears are still streaming down my face, I am looking at this amazing view thinking, I wonder how deep this lake is? There is no bridge. It would be so easy for me to drive into the lake and I would not have to worry about the fall. (I am afraid of heights). I wonder how long it would take to drown? Oh no, what if someone finds me before I have accomplished my goal? Maybe I would just disappear…

The “logical” part of my brain is working, telling me I cannot kill myself. I have a husband, two wonderful kids and three dogs. They need me. Then I think about my cousin, who lost her teenage son to suicide about a year ago. Every second of every single day she struggles to fights through her pain and suffering, I see how much she is hurting, but I could never understand her pain. No one should have to live with that kind of pain. I cannot do that to my family, I do not want to inflict that kind of pain on them. I fight back for my family, for my cousin and for myself.

Moments later, I pull into my driveway. As I walk in the front door I am greeted with so much love from my fur babies. They are so happy to see me. I go to bed and snuggle with my little one as I cry myself to sleep as I feel the burning sensation of the scratches on my neck. I realized that I have a broken fingernail, did it break in my flesh? Great, guess I must have done it to myself again.

The next few days I am living in shades of grey. It takes me several days to recover from this episode. Several days until I have some color back in my life.

When I am in my calm safe place, I have no thoughts or desire to hurt myself, no depression or suicidal thoughts. All it takes is one single sound to turn my life into darkness.

Sadly, this is one incident of many. There have been many other similar situations in my life. As I said, I am working with a team of medical professionals, including a therapist and a psychiatrist. I am not giving up hope on finding relief. I will keep fighting for my fellow Misophonia sufferers, we need each other, we ARE survivors and we WILL beat this beast.

If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicidal thoughts, there are places that you can get immediate help.


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