Home Coping I Crave the Sound of Silence

I Crave the Sound of Silence

by Vicki Sladowski

Silence soothes my soul, it calms me down when my senses are heightened. I love to be alone with my own thoughts and no one to distract me with trigger sounds or movements. Taking in deep breaths of positive thoughts, exhaling all of the negative as I fall into a state of relaxation.

I suffer from a disorder known as Misophonia. When I say “suffer” I do mean literally. Everyday sounds that trigger me constantly, are unavoidable. In addition to audio triggers, I am also affected by olfactory and visual triggers, the list of these triggers is much shorter, and they are easier for me to manage. I can close my eyes or look away when I am visually triggered, and I can walk away from an offensive scent, but I do not have windows in my ears that I can close. I have often wished to be deaf, and I have wished my ears had an on/off switch. How glorious would it be to shut the world off?

There are few doctors that know about Misophonia, there is no cure, no medication. Sufferers have to reply on coping techniques to help deal with their Misophonia. As few doctors are aware of the disorder, there are even fewer people that “accept it” as a valid disorder.  Misophonia is yet another object of ridicule such as OCD.  “Ha ha, clicking my pen gets a reaction from Vicki, let’s click, click, click away.” WRONG! Misophonia is NOT a joke!

How can you get people to understand what you are going through when you are triggered? I always try to explain it in ways that people can relate.

Think of an electrical outlet, you plug in an adapter, then you plug in your television, your DVD player, a phone charger, a lamp and the stereo. Then you decide you want to do some housework so you plug in a vacuum cleaner. What is going to happen?  Yes. Overload! You blow a fuse and now, nothing is working. Think of the brain as that electrical outlet, and the objects plugged in as sounds. Our brain goes into sensory overload and we experience a fight or flight response. That outlet has no control over what YOU plug into it. A misophone has no control over sounds that trigger us, and like that outlet, we will blow a fuse.

For some of us, when we “explode” we do not “work.” Sensory meltdown effects range in severity for each of us. No two misophones are alike. Although we share common triggers, the way we manage them is different. A coping technique that works for me, may not work for you. That is okay. Sure, it does not make sense, Misophonia does not make sense.

My explosion is a “meltdown.” I burst into tears, sob uncontrollably and after that, I am absolutely useless. I need to be alone, preferably in the dark to decompress, a process that will typically last for several days. I experience a “funk” or depression for days after the meltdown. Sometimes my reaction is sudden, other times it will fester, but rest assured, there is always a reaction. Even if I am able to “keep it together” at the moment, those feelings of anger and hatred will be unleashed.

For me, silence is essential for my well-being. I crave the sound of silence. The only sound guaranteed not to trigger me.

Want to learn more? Join a Workshop with Dr. Jennifer Brout or Duke CMER at Misophonia Education.