This might sound a little weird, but bear with me. I was looking online for ways to cope with stress and anxiety, and I found something that appealed to me. It’s as the title of the post states: interviewing your past and future self. I wanted to take this and apply it to misophonia as well. Because I enjoy writing, doing this as a coping mechanism would help me a lot. I thought I’d share my interview with you, and perhaps inspire you to do the same. I found this on bustle.com, and on the site there’s a few other things you can do to help overcome anxiety and stress.
I looked up from a book I was reading when I heard my name. A woman that looked exactly like me, but older, was standing patiently in the doorway to what appeared to be her office. She appeared to be in her 20s. The wait wasn’t even that long, I realized. I’d only been waiting for ten minutes.
My grandma and my dad told me to give them the book and go towards the nice lady. They didn’t seem at all surprised that the woman who called looked like me. I, a 10-year-old child, walked hesitantly over to this lady, and she smiled at me. She stepped aside and let me enter first.
Her office was visually pleasing. There were polaroid pictures taped to a wall on all sides of the room, with the dates below them. Some of the pictures had the lady smiling, either by herself or with her dog. There were pictures of random things as well, and pictures with other people. What surprised me the most were pictures of what looked like my tabby cat, Mittens. There was also a picture that looked exactly like the curtains in the living room of my house.
I sank slowly into the chair at the far end of the room, stationed in front of a a vintage wooden desk, confused, and wondering what was going on. Was I in trouble? Is she going to tell me that the noises I hate are just me seeking attention? Will she say I’m a bad daughter?
The lady sat behind the desk and smiled at me once more.
“I know you’re nervous,” She said, “but you don’t have to be. I’m not here to scold you. I just have some questions.”
I felt a little better after she said that, and I nodded. The lady brought out a notebook and pencil, and said, “My name is not important, so please just call me Ann.”
“Why do you look like me?” I blurted out. I couldn’t hold the question in any longer. Ann chuckled and looked down, as if trying to think of what to say. Then she looked back at me, a reassuring smile on her face, and said, “There are some things in this world that can be hard to explain. Kind of like what you’re dealing with. We’re here to talk about you, but I promise that in time, you’ll know who I am later down the road.” I nodded back at her, still very curious, but hoping she could help me with what I was dealing with.
“Alright, good.” Ann said quietly, and she got ready with her pencil and said, “Are you scared of anything?”
I thought for a minute, then said, “Yeah, I’m scared of a few sounds, I think. I get really mad when I hear my dad and my grandma talk, and then they scold me.”
Ann nodded as she wrote down my answer. “Alright, and what do you do when you hear those sounds?”
“I usually run to my room and cry and scream, and feel bad that I’m like this.” I replied.
Ann wrote down my answer, and as she was writing, I asked, “Are you going to help me?” Ann replied, still writing, “I am helping you, sweety.” She then looked at me. “By asking you questions, I’m making you think. Making you put things into words. Speaking about things that are bothering you, or that scare you, can help you think of something you might not have thought of before. Does that make sense?” I nodded, not fully understanding, but trusting that I could be helped in some way. “Further,” Ann continued, “talking about other things can distract you from those fears that you’re feeling, or that anger.” I nodded again and shifted in my seat.
“Alright. What do you want to be when you grow up?” Ann asked.
“A singer!” I said excitedly. Ann smiled back. “Why is that?” She asked. I said, “Because everyone says I can sing well, so I want to become a professional at it.” Ann wrote down my answer, still smiling. “I’m glad you have such aspirations.” I smiled proudly.
“Alright, next question. What’s your favorite memory?”
“When I got my cat, Mittens.” I said. “My best friend, Erica, gave her to me when she was a kitten.”
“Alright, I want you think about that memory and remember how awesome it felt to receive your kitten.” Ann said. I closed my eyes and smiled, remembering how tiny Mittens was, and when I held her for the first time. “Now,” Ann said, “do you think you can remember that when you hear those sounds again?” I opened my eyes again, and nodded. Ann smiled. “Good.” She wrote down a few more things, and then she said, “You’re free to go now, Sharon. I have someone else I have to meet in a few minutes.” I smiled, thanked her, and went back to my family.
Ann sighed and flipped over to a new page in her notebook. She wished she could play a more active role in Sharon’s life, but knew she needed to figure it out for herself. And she would find out if she did figure it out in a few minutes. She was getting ready to meet Sharon after she’s grown up. After she just turned 30. Ann hoped Sharon turned out alright.
Just then, she heard a knock on her door, and she said, “Come in!” The door opened, and there she was. Sharon, all grown up, waved shyly at Ann, and walked in. She looked very much like Ann, except for her hair. It was dyed a pretty pink, and was up in a braided bun.
“Sit down,” Ann said. “It’s great to see you again.” Sharon sat and smiled, and extended her hand. “It’s good to see you again, too.” Sharon said enthusiastically. Ann shook her hand, then said, “Shall we get right to business?” Sharon nodded. “My husband’s outside holding the baby.” Ann gave her a surprised look, and Sharon laughed. “I’m so happy for you!” Ann said. “Thank you!” Sharon replied.
“Alright then,” Ann started, and she got ready with her pencil and notebook. “How did you get to where you are today?”
Sharon sighed. “I’m tempted to go into full detail, but I know you don’t have too much time. So, I’ll try to be brief.” Ann chuckled and nodded for Sharon to go on. “I’m a much happier person than I was when I was 10 years old. I found out what I was dealing with was real. A lot of other people suffer from the same thing, and it’s called misophonia. I also found out about earplugs at 15, started using those, and then started using headphones when I was a little older. I think when I started college. It was around my second year of college, I think, when I decided to take control over my misophonia. I was coping, but not healthily. I wanted to change that. I used to hurt myself, but now I don’t do that anymore. Now I practice deep breathing techniques and have learned to listen to my misophonia at times when I have to. I’ve also learned to tell my misophonia ‘no’ sometimes, and sort of push it out of the way. Fast forward to now, I found a man who accepts me for who I am and is very supportive.”
Ann was very impressed at this. “That’s amazing, Sharon. So misophonia, you can control it better now than you were ten years old?”
Sharon nodded. “Very much so. And more healthily, as well.”
“That’s great.” Ann wrote down a brief summary of Sharon’s answer. “What advice would you give your past self?”
“Hmm…” Sharon looked away for a minute to think, then said, “I would say that everything is going to be ok. Even though you might have new triggers, you will always find a way to cope with it. I’d also say that there is research going on for misophonia, and that there might be a cure. But until then, it’s best to be as happy as you want to be. And though your dreams may change, that’s no reason to give up. Oh, and you marry your long time crush.” Sharon laughed at the end, and so did Ann. “Wow, not many people marry their long time crush. That’s awesome!” Sharon beamed.
Ann wrote down a summary of what Sharon said. “Alright, last question. What are your current fears and anxieties?”
Sharon sighed. “I think the fact that I know I’m going to die at some point, and that if I leave this world first, how will my husband hold up? I know he’s strong, but I still worry, you know? Then there’s also the fact that I know my husband and children and those I care about will die, too. I’m not looking forward to potentially hearing about their deaths, should they happen if I’m still alive.” Ann wrote down this answer, then said, “I notice there’s nothing about misophonia in there. Is it because you’re confident in your abilities to cope?”
Sharon nodded. “I think so. And also that there may be a cure. And even if there’s not, it’s not the end of the world. Not for me, at least. I hope a cure comes out more for other people to benefit from.” Ann wrote as Sharon spoke, and when she was done, she said, “Thank you, Sharon. You seem to have grown a great deal and are truly very happy, despite your fears.” Sharon smiled and blushed. “Thank you.”
Ann closed her notebook, stood and extended her hand. “You’re free to go. Thank you again.” Sharon stood and shook Ann’s hand. “Thank you again as well.” Sharon turned to leave, but stopped, remembering something. “You know,” she began, “I still don’t know who you are.” Ann chuckled. “You’ll find out eventually.” Sharon scoffed. “You said that last time.” Ann looked away sheepishly. Sharon laughed and said, “It’s ok. You just look so much like me….” Sharon trailed off, then shook her head and walked out the door.
When Ann was sure Sharon was gone, she sat back down and muttered to herself, “That’s because I am you.” She sighed. “I know what to look forward to now, at least. That’s great.” She stared at her polaroid pictures around her office, and couldn’t help but smile. She finally stood up and headed out. Back to the real world.