They say, “It is better to love and lost than never love at all.” I wonder if the same holds true for hearing? I have often wondered what it must have been like to have had “normal”
hearing. What would it be like to sit at a dinner table without anger rushing through my veins? Or what is it like to be a lunch mom without wishing the 32 students you are supervising would choke on their food? That sounds cruel, I know. But I have no control over my thoughts or emotions when I am triggered.
I have suffered from Misophonia my whole life. I cannot recall a single moment of my life that was I was not anxious about imminent triggers or impacted by their sounds. Some sufferers did not develop Misophonia until their teen years, some even later. What is it like for them? One day you can enjoy a family meal, then the next day you look at your friends and family around that same dinner table with absolute disgust. How can you explain that? Misophonia reared it’s ugly head like dark magic. How do they feel? Certainly, they must experience a sense of loss and confusion. Why did this suddenly happen?
In my case, I do not know hearing any other way. People with normal sensory perception can experience hearing loss, typically it is a gradual process, which allows them time to adjust. For me, I seem to experience hearing enhancement. You would think that having one of your senses improve would be wonderful, not in this case. A Misophone can literally hear a pin drop, but to us it sounds more like a boulder, echoing through our mind, building anger and antagonism towards that little tiny pin. Feelings of loathing and disgust immediately wash over me, I need to get away as quickly as possible. Depending on my general state of mind, my reaction can vary. When I am relaxed I could be overcome with rage, but if I am stressed I could explode. As much as I try to control it, the more I hold it in, the worse my reaction will be to the next trigger. I become a ticking time bomb.
Just last week, I was having a discussion with a co-worker, when his walkie-talkie blasted a message. I jumped out of my chair. After that, all I could hear was his “yammering”, the sudden outburst from that walkie talkie echoed in my head, I could not focus on anything else. Once my senses have been heightened, every single sound just intensifies my rage. I left the room in a failed attempt to calm down. It was too late. When I returned I tried to focus on my work, but I continued hearing that loud static in my head. The background noises did not stop, adding to my misery. I punched myself on both sides of my head, hoping it would hurt enough so I could redirect my attention to the physical pain. My failed attempt was the last straw that led me to a complete meltdown. Crying and sobbing uncontrollably, I could not speak, I could not even stand up and walk away. I was frozen in my chair for an hour and a half until I could finally stop sobbing.
Physical pain is so much easier to tolerate, a couple of Tylenol and voila! The pain subsides. The emotional pain from Misophonia is not so promising. The emotional effects of a meltdown will last for days.
Some people experience a physical pain that goes along with being triggered. In my case, I typically get a sharp pain in my stomach, loss of appetite and a sharp pain in my ears. Fortunately, the stomach pain will last a few hours, the sharp pain in my ears will diminish to a dull ache that can last a few hours or a few days. Pain relievers provide no relief.
As I reflect on my initial question, I am almost relieved that I did not suddenly suffer from Misophonia. I think that losing one’s senses would be equivalent to losing a limb. Suffering from Misophonia is difficult enough without adding grief.