College misophonia sufferers face troubles that many students have never imagined.
I’m a college sophomore, soon to graduate from my community college (yay!) And from my time there–2 years–I have had to deal with countless triggers from other classmates and from the professors themselves.
Let me tell you, it’s HARD to concentrate on a lecture when your own professor triggers you. All I hear is the trigger noise and the screaming voice in my head telling me to “just leave and forget school and go live in the mountains with your boyfriend where it’s nice and quiet and no one can trigger you”.
But alas, reality kicks in sooner or later.
For the past two years, I’ve been wearing earplugs to school and bringing a pair of over the ear headphones along to put on during lectures. The headphones ruin my cute outfit, but I gotta do what I gotta do.
This year, I had the brilliant idea to pick five 3-hour classes (four of them are once a week, hence why they’re longer. I took an American Sign Language class that was twice a week and the class was about three hours) and one regular class (twice a week, usually an hour and 30 minutes). So I have had to wear my headphones for most of those classes, and man did my ears and head hurt from wearing the headphones for such a long time. But, it was either wear the headphones or never step foot in class again. No pain no gain, right? ?
When I wore the headphones, I didn’t play any music or white/brown noise because I wouldn’t be able to hear my professor. I tried it in one of my classes and I was lost the entire time. I go to college to learn, not to get lost in my comfortable world of music and brown noise. My aunt always tells me to “get out of my comfort zone”, so I suppose I’m doing that on a daily basis already by not letting my misophonia control me so much at school, even if she doesn’t think I am.
Sometimes, when I’m having a really bad misophonia day, headphones don’t work either…I can hear a trigger noise through my headphones and I feel like I’m going insane. I mimic the sound and sit there trying to retain what my professor is saying, but I never can, so I have to go through my book and skim the chapter we covered.
I don’t have a huge problem with classmates being triggers. There’s the occasional foot tapper, the one that eats during class, the two people whispering to each other during class, and the one weird person slurping water from his HAND (yep, that happened once!), but my headphones drown most of that stuff out. It’s the professor that’s usually the main problem. I can still hear my classmates, but not as much as I would if my headphones were off or if I wasn’t wearing earplugs.
I fear one day I’ll say to myself “I’ve had enough” and just quit school and get a job somewhere that only requires a high school diploma and an Associate’s Degree (which I’ll be getting soon!). But I know my family would be disappointed, and my boyfriend would worry about our future together, so that keeps me from being dumb. For now, anyway.
In the end, the way I cope isn’t the best, but it’s all I can do. I’ve tried going to an audiologist for assistance (hearing filters), but that didn’t go as planned because they never got back to me. I rely on earplugs 24/7 and headphones for situations where if I leave due to a trigger, I’ll feel rude/miss out on something. I know putting in earplugs for long amounts of time can’t be at all healthy, but what else can I do? Would I be willing to try going without earplugs? Only if there was a better alternative. Like the equivalent of earplugs, but they work like earphones and filter out all the offending noises. ? I hope this was a good read, thanks for reading!Want to learn more? Join a Workshop with Dr. Jennifer Brout or Duke CMER at Misophonia Education.