Whistling in public should be outlawed and so should lawnmowers, chewing gum, and pretty much anything else that gets in your face. Okay, this is never going to happen. But, I have a reason that has nothing to do with simply being annoyed with people who have poor manners – like those that chew like cows – I have Misophonia. I’ve found myself longing for the days where chewing gum was outlawed and sitting still was considered the best possible behaviour. Okay, maybe not that far – I’m terrible at sitting in one spot for too long – but you get the picture.
Misophonia is more than just hatred of sound (despite the name, yeah, I don’t like it either), it’s also more than just intolerance, and it’s way past annoyance. For sufferers of Misophonia, sounds that disappear into the background for others actually activate the fight/flight/freeze part of the brain, and our haywire amygdala decides that your apple is actually a machete that has been tasked with dismantling our sanity bite by bite.
While Misophonia has been used as a meme, it’s kind of the new “I totally have OCD”, for those suffering with the disorder, it can be pretty devastating. Imagine if you could never go to restaurants, or if going out to bars and clubs were far too overwhelming. Then, imagine if you also had trouble watching television because every commercial has been created by sadists that want nothing more than to waterboard you until you spend every dollar on their products? Movie theatres? You mean popcorn crunching hellpits? That’ll be a no from me too. Socializing with this disorder is pretty much impossible.
I can’t come up with a way to express how much Misophonia impacts me other than simply saying that sounds (and many visuals) are fucking torture. Living with Misophonia and trying to explain it to people who think I’m just “super sensitive” and need to “get over it” makes it even worse. Listen, if I could get over Misophonia – I would. I support research whenever I can, especially the amazing work of the International Misophonia Research Network – the studies at Newcastle, Duke, and the finished study at NYU. I’m completely invested in finding a cure for this disaster of a disorder. Except, for the now, there isn’t one. No amount of fairy oil is going to make me stop crying when some old man decides that jingling his keys, change, and wind chimes (they must have wind chimes in their pockets, why are they so loud) is of the utmost importance.
It’s not the public’s fault for knowing nothing about Misophonia. Hell, the information on WebMD, Wikipedia, and pretty much every other “reliable” (super unreliable but for some reason trusted) source is flat-out wrong. Many of these pages were written before there was even literature on Misophonia, but you know, okay then. The research itself is starting to get better, but the world is oblivious. If you’re interested in the research on this condition, you can check out the recently published Literature Review (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2018.00036/full#h12 ).
Misophonia exists in this weird place where many people don’t even know what they’re suffering with. We might think we’re crazy when sounds start to drive us up the wall. We might think we’re super weird when whistling brings us to tears (it happens more than you think). Hell, we might start fantasising about a Fallout shelter and designing every aspect inside our heads to the point we’ve hit obsession. I know I did, until I realized that bunkers need fans, and the spinning blades of fans are a super bad visual trigger. Guess that idea is out.
For now, my only hope seems to be research. Hopefully, within the next few years we can figure out what the hell is going on and find some relief. For now, I’m just fucking sick of sounds.