Misophonia is officially defined as the hatred of sound. This definition isn’t quite right. Yes I hate some sounds, but not all sounds. I still love music, I love the sound of a baby laughing on his stroller from the Baby Stroller Reviews, I love the sound of my cats purring. But there are some sounds that I hate with a passion. It’s not just hatred though, it’s more than that but it’s also less than that. How do I put this in words to make someone without misophonia understand? Imagine you are sitting at a table eating dinner with your family. If the thought of that made you flinch or filled you with fear, you probably have misophonia. If that’s true I’m sorry. If that’s not true, consider yourself lucky. That dinner table with your family would be filled with noises. Noises that most people hardly notice. The scraping of a fork against a plate, the chewing of food, the slurping of a drink, even the sound of someone swallowing or breathing. All these things and more make that dinner table hell for those of us with misophonia. I apologise right now, because if you have misophonia even reading about those sounds could cause pain.
Some of you without misophonia may be thinking “But everyone gets annoyed by these sounds”, stop that thought right now. Misophonia is more than annoyance, it’s wanting to scream because someone’s breathing too loud. It’s wanting to punch someone who’s smacking their gum. It’s wanting to rip your own ears off because you can’t escape the noise. Hey, if Van Gogh cut off his ear maybe I could too right. That thought goes through my mind more often than it probably should.
Those noises are everywhere. There is literally no way to escape them. Even those of us with misophonia make these noises, sometimes on bad days even the noises I make trigger me. We can put in our earbuds and turn on some music or white noise, but it doesn’t make the noise go away. So we go about our daily lives fighting back the urge to strangle someone every day. Sometimes I don’t even know how I’ve made it through the day. Sometimes I come home from school and all I want to do is scream and cry like a two year old. Sometimes I have panic attacks. Sometimes I can’t even stand the sound of my own breathing. But other times I’m fine. Sometimes I’ll be doing something and I’ll be able to forget that I even have misophonia. It’s not all bad, but it’s definitely not all sunshine and rainbows either.
So if I could define misophonia in my own words how would I define it? I’d define it as a disorder that makes the people who have it have adverse and intense emotional and physical responses to certain noises. These noises often include noises made with the mouth and small repetitive noises. Reactions to these noises may include violent urges to hurt those who are making the noise or themselves, sudden feelings of rage and/or panic, and intense anxiety. This is also a disorder which at the moment has no cure.
There may not be a cure. Not just yet. But I have to hope that someday there will be. Maybe not in my lifetime, maybe not for a century or more. But sooner or later there will be. Until then all I can do is this, writing. Putting my voice out there. Helping people understand. Maybe someone with misophonia will read this and feel a little less alone in their struggle.
This is my definition of misophonia. But I will not let misophonia define me.
Editor Note: There’s a wonderful study at Duke University that has proposed a possible treatment for misophonia. The best part, it’s starting in 2018! To find information on this study, or donate, please go here.Want to learn more? Join a Workshop with Dr. Jennifer Brout or Duke CMER at Misophonia Education.