A little while ago, my good friend and choir director took me home from choir practice one night, and he said something about my misophonia that made the efforts I put in to fight misophonia feel validated.
He said that it seemed like I could control my misophonia a little better. He noted that while I still wear headphones, he thinks I’ve made a huge improvement. I replied and said I agreed with him. As the years have gone by, I learned a lot of coping mechanisms, what triggers me, how long it takes for me to calm down, and what I can do to reduce stress. A lot of it has to do with my mindset.
My life is not without the daily struggles that misophonia brings, but because of the way I look at things and deal with them, it has seriously helped me have more control.
Let’s take a situation in which I’m triggered by something. Maybe someone is chewing gum very loudly next to me. I take a deep breath and put on my headphones, turn on some rain/thunder sound effects and leave, if possible. I distract myself by focusing on the rain/thunder and scrolling through social media. After a little while, I’m ok again. That’s on a good day. If I was already in a bad mood, this may have taken longer, but would be fine eventually.
And that’s already huge progress. Several years ago, if I heard a trigger I’d intentionally hurt myself and hit things. Only about a year ago during church services, I would have to leave the room at a certain time if a priest was too triggering.
Let’s take another situation. I’m in a meeting and headphones aren’t really ideal in this situation, but no one’s going to throw a fit if I need them. I’ve talked to my supervisor/boss about misophonia and they are understanding. Instead, for the time being I just wear earplugs. The meeting starts and the person speaking is already triggering me. I take a deep breath and adjust my earplugs. I focus my attention on what is being said rather than the sounds the person is making. They seem to know a lot about what they’re talking about, and have solutions for their issues. They’re talking to everyone else and making sure everyone is heard. I know that at some point, I will become mentally exhausted, and I will need to put my headphones on before that happens.
It’s hard to know sometimes when my brain has had enough. I’ve learned the hard way that waiting until you are so enraged and triggered to the point where you just walk out and leave in a horrible mood is a bad idea. It’s led to me being more on edge, sensitive, and annoyed with everyone around me. Reducing the chance of that happening has been one of my priorities when it comes to controlling my misophonia. “Control” isn’t the best word to use, because there’s only so much I can do until I can’t, but it’s the best I could come up with. “Reducing” may work. Reducing the way misophonia affects me. I like that.
Before that conversation in the car with my director, I was just doing what I thought was best for my mental health and didn’t think a lot about how it affected my life. I am utterly amazed at how far I’ve come. I am very thankful for that conversation. I smile more. I laugh more. I’m more laid back. I had a positive mental attitude about dealing with my misophonia before, but it was still in its infancy. I even started a blog called Misophonia Weekly that focused on the positive, but I unfortunately fell away from updating it very much. It’s something I want to go back to, because keeping up that blog and staying positive helped so much, and I didn’t fully realize it until that conversation. More than staying positive, I learned not to fake positivity, and that it’s totally ok–human, even–to not be positive. I wasn’t bitter or overly negative, but it was more like, “I’m not ok, but I’m gonna deal with it by meditating.” Or going for a walk. Or reading. Or letting myself cry and feeling better afterwards.
I don’t want to isolate myself from people. I think that’s the other main thing that keeps me from letting misophonia taking total control over my life. I’m an introvert, and need my alone time, but I refuse to isolate myself. I want to do things with people I love and care about. I want to go camping, hiking, go to the movies, go out with my friends. I want to take chances. I want to do scary things and laugh about how scared I was, and that things turned out well. I want to live my life. Misophonia is not going to stop me.