Singing Misophonia Away

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved singing. I would sing in the shower, sing in public, and sing at church. I joined a choir when I was still in elementary and remained a part of that choir up until I graduated from 8th grade. I sang in a choir in high school up until I graduated. Now that I’m in college, I am part of a youth choir that sings at different churches.

Singing has always been a part of my life. When I first started experiencing misophonia, I wondered how this would affect my singing. It didn’t. Not at first. I was okay to sing in groups and do a solo every so often with one ear plug in.

As I got older, triggers got worse, and words got lost because all I could hear was the trigger. It scared me. I didn’t think I’d be able to continue singing because the noises around me angered me so much. I almost quit singing. I had to wear headphones while I sang so I wouldn’t get triggered. I didn’t know if I was being too loud or too soft. I had to look at people’s lips to know if I was singing on beat, something I never used to have trouble doing until I started wearing headphones. The thing I loved best, I almost quit because misophonia just made it so much harder.

Fortunately, I couldn’t just stop singing. It would hurt too much. I sang when people bullied me and it made me want to disappear. I sang when I was happy, sad, or angry about something. I sang when I was in love.

I sing because it takes away the pain. I sing certain songs just lift my spirits. Other songs speak to me when I’m in a horrible mood, and then that mood just gradually goes away after I sing them. Sometimes, the person singing the song triggers me, which is frustrating. If that happens, I find a karaoke version of the song and sing it.

Singing a particular song after I get triggered helps me calm down. It’s called Gasoline, by Halsey. For those who don’t like to hear or read bad words, there’s at least two mentions of the “F” word in that song. But the reason I sing (and listen to) the song is for these two phrases: “Are you insane like me? Been in pain like me?” Another one of my favorite phrases in the song is “Do you tear yourself apart to entertain like me?” I can relate, because it feels like I try so hard to “entertain” people by being friendly and holding back my triggers (“Been in pain like me?”). They wouldn’t understand how much pain I’m in because normal, everyday sounds don’t anger people to the point that it can be called disabling.

Misophonia makes me feel insane. But after listening to and singing this particular song a few times, it just makes me feel better. It’s like I’m talking to the “normal” people about misophonia, only I’m doing so inside my head.

When I sing, misophonia is just gone. I’m in my own little world, singing to my heart’s content. Singing misophonia away.

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Jacquie Cranston March 21, 2017 - 4:47 am

Beautifully written Sharon. The ability to sing is such a special gift and you are so fortunate. I’m so happy that this helps to alleviate the burden of Misophonia for you. Music can be magical! I have always thought that if I could have one wish, it would be to have a beautiful voice, just one more way to express inner emotions. It sounds like we have several things in common, I founded and administered a re-entry program at San Jose State University for ex-offenders. I too love to write. I use my original nature photography to make greeting cards and started a small business with them. Thank you for sharing your story, and my very best wishes towards completing your degree. I think you are going to do very well!

Shaylynn Hayes March 21, 2017 - 4:49 am

Your story is wonderful, Jacquie!

Jude Sheldon Xavier July 30, 2018 - 6:33 am

I can relate to the part where you said, “As I got older, triggers got worse, and words got lost because all I could hear was the trigger.” It definitely is debating, I can tell you that from experiencing it first hand. I’ve always been really passionate about music, I was picked to sing in the school choir a couple of times for special occasions but our school would assemble a new choir every time we were preparing for an event so everyone gets a fair chance, but I couldn’t stick around in school much because the sounds I was being provoked by were debilitating not just emotionally, but psychologically and physically. The people I would get triggered by were those that were somehow associated to or were part of the same social constructs, upheld the same values and lived by the same culture as the people who had subjected me to abuse, indecent and sexual assault, which I believe was part of an occultist ritual or politically motivated but it left me psychologically crippled because I was unable to report it or explain it to anyone, even my parents. These people had a certain way to condescend as a collective like a mob devised to inflict psychological abuse and it has now reached to the point where I can’t even stand their presence around me and I can voluntarily suppress the motor tics and violent thoughts towards these people deriving from the aversive stimuli at the expense of mounting inner tension. Even though I know that these conditions are contrived and can be avoided, I only get forced into even worse conditions when I speak of the trouble I face with these triggers. I was sent to psychiatric institutes without my consent and was taken there by force and locked up there because I displayed a negative reaction to these triggering stimuli and because I was using cannabis to help with these symptoms. I’m still restricted from moving into a personal space or choosing to be part of a circle of my own liking, moving out and settling in a foreign country or into a soundproof room. I went from earning over 45k a month to $3.91 to $.4.69 once every two days. I just got a pair of chinese earphones which are jacked from one ear only a week after purchase and I’m occupied with triggers for as long as I’m awake and they fade out to a certain extent only at night with the expense of sacrificing my sleep and my health but it’s the only time I can really have to myself. But music has always helped me get through though times, as the triggers got worse with age, they started erasing parts of my conscious and subconscious memory often, when a trigger is repetitive, the words do get lost. I stutter and I stammer and my speech starts to slur and words start getting mixed up. These triggers induce cognitive impairment but I’m always looking for time and space to recover and treat myself somehow. I’ve learned to say “no” and not feel pressured or obligated to participate in society’s constructs and rituals and no matter how much society wants to restrict me or discourage me from occupying myself and involving with music related activities, I’ll always try to mask these triggers with either recalling or performing my favorite kind of music.

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