Do you want to explain Misophonia to others, but have trouble bringing it up?
When you know that you have to tell a person about your disorder (especially trying to explain Misophonia), it can be stressful – the anxiety, fear, and anticipation can be enough to keep your mouth firmly shut, and continue your suffering. However, it’s important that you go through with it. Keeping things bottled up will not help your disorder, or your life – I promise you that. Consider the tips below when you’re going to confront someone. You may want to adjust the conversation depending on whom you’re talking to, but these tips should help you when thinking about how to act, what to do, and what to say. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re not triggered at the time of the conversation. During a trigger, your anger is heightened and you may perceive the person as a threat. It’s important that you are prepared to explain Misophonia in a positive manner. No one wants to feel attacked.
- Prepare yourself with research and website links that can be helpful to explain Misophonia to the person you’re about to approach. Make sure that they will understand that it is a real condition, and that you are serious.
- Keep your mood stress-free, and ensure that you are relaxed beforehand. Try to have a bath, some tea, some light television, or something you enjoy before you have the conversation. If you’re stressed or tired, the conversation may go south quickly. It is important that you are in a good mood for the conversation.
- Choose a location in which you know there will be little to no triggers. Try to be somewhere that you and the other individual are both comfortable. If this is not possible, try to become familiar with the place beforehand (such as talking to the person in their office before-hand, and asking if you can meet another day, when you have more time, or are prepared).
During the conversation, your aim should be to keep it positive and informative. You should provide examples of what triggers you, even if they are not the same ones that trigger you in the environment with the person. It’s important that they understand it is not just when you are around this person, and that this disorder impacts several aspects of your life. Do not make it all about them.
- It may be helpful to print off articles that explain Misophonia, and what it is. Since research is minimal, some of the websites listed at the end of this book can be helpful for learning about Misophonia.
- If the person triggers you during the conversation, identify it but not in an aggressive manner. Excuse yourself, and explain that what they are doing is one of the things that cause a reaction. Politely ask if they can stop or if there is a way, they can adjust their behaviour. Make sure they understand you are not blaming them, but that the condition is serious.
- Do not apologize for Misophonia or make excuses. Say that it is a neurological condition, and that you have it. Be matter-of-fact, and explain that unfortunately there is no cure.
- Discuss a way that you can let them know you are being triggered, without being offensive, or turning to anger. If the conversation starts to go sour, or the person does not understand – excuse yourself. Do not let anger turn into a confrontation. Explain that you were merely explaining your feelings, and that this has a huge impact on your life. Leave before it becomes more serious, often leaving is a statement of its own.
Chances are, after you explain Misophonia to another person, they will still trigger you. It can be hard for a person to recondition things that they are used to doing, and even harder to remember. Unlike you, this person does not deal with Misophonia on a day-in-day-out basis, so it’s unlikely that it’s something they consider regularly. Do not blame them for this, and do not hold it against them. Unless the person is trying to trigger you and disregards your feelings entirely, you should be mindful that they are probably not out to get you, and that is merely a reaction from Misophonia.
- If you have to remind them that they are triggering you, be polite.
- Leave the room and if they ask why, explain that you’re being triggered.
- Try to remain positive; do not engage when you are angry.
Boss or Administration
Misophonia is challenging to discuss with others. Your boss should be a person that you trust and that you can approach with issues that involve your work performance and comfort in the workplace. For some people, their boss is intimidating and a person that they would rather not confront. Either way, it is best to go into this conversation prepared. You should explain Misophonia is a neurological condition that can’t be helped, though there is little information and no cure yet. Ask your boss if there is anything they can do to help, and assure them that, you are committed to the job, and are asking for the betterment of not just you, but your performance. If your boss is not supportive, you should be armed on the laws reflecting accessibility in your region.
Co-workers can be tricky. You have to play nice when you have a job. This is especially worrisome for those that work in an office environment. A lot of workplaces are starting to allow snacking on the job, and this causes a lot of triggers. Being polite can go a long way with other workers, no matter the situation. However, sometimes coworkers aren’t willing to stop something that they believe is ‘their right’. Approach the co-worker when you aren’t triggered and inform them that you have a medical condition, and ask them if they would be willing to help accommodate you. If they are not willing to help and further the situation, inform your boss. You should already have told your boss about your Misophonia and discussed the possibility of accommodations. If you are lucky, you may be able to convince your boss to speak with your co-worker. Remind everyone involved Misophonia a neurological condition that you cannot control.
I now refuse to spend time recreationally with people who do not respect my Misophonia. It was a hard adjustment at first – but the people who truly care about me are able to respect my condition. Friendship, like dating, should be based on mutual understanding and trust. You should not have to pressure your friend to respect your needs and wishes, and your friend should not feel attacked by your sudden rage at noises or visuals. Be sure to explain to your friend that you do not mean anything by your displeasure, and that you truly value their time and your relationship. Ask if you can have gatherings in trigger-neutral zones, and plan your outings so that the possibility of a trigger is minimal. This can be hard, since a lot of friendships involve activities that involve noises or visual stimuli. Try to pick outings that have noises that you are comfortable with. For example, I’m fine with the sound of bowling balls and pins crashing. Bowling is a great way to hang out with friends because most of the people I can see are standing – which means not shaking any body parts, and the rest of the facility is usually dark. A great friend will understand that you are not doing this to be nitpicky and will want to make you feel better. However, you must understand that they have emotions too, and that you should try not to attack them when triggered.
Those nearest and dearest are often the worst triggers. We spend a lot of time with our loved ones, and in general, we seem less forgiving when it comes to their behaviours. Day in and day out with the same people can be stressful for any situation. Even if you do not live with a family member, the intensity of the relationship can still cause Misophonia triggers to be worse. My first ever “trigger person” that I knew of was my mother. At first, every time she shook her foot, it was a major fight. We’re talking volcanic eruption on both sides. You didn’t want to be there when she played music and when she sang. I know it isn’t her fault that she does these things, and they never used to bother me. Misophonia doesn’t always make sense.
Ah, romance, the place where we’re supposed to accept the other individual regardless of their inconsistent behaviors. Misophonia is the devil in your ear nagging at you. Your partner clinks their spoon in a bowl, taps their fingers, or shakes their leg. Maybe they like to whistle. At first, you may try to ignore it, but eventually the triggers can become worse and worse. The honeymoon is over, and Misophonia changes all of your emotions. Like friends and family, you need to be able to discuss your Misophonia with your partner. Hard work and honesty are going to be the key in going forward. Your partner must respect your condition and the role it plays in your life, and you must understand and respect your partner’s emotions when it comes to being the trigger, and living their life with you.
Like family, these people are there on a day-to-day basis. However, unlike family, there may not be enough of a personal relationship that you can confront the individual in a positive manner. Sometimes our living arrangements are out of our control. You may be living in a dorm room, an apartment, or another communal situation. Money, and other uncontrollable forces often lead to the necessity of living with a stranger, or even an acquaintance. Ideally, we would never live with someone whom we didn’t have a good relationship with. Unfortunately, reality isn’t always a perfect picture. If you’re going to be living with a new person, you should discuss your Misophonia before moving in. Try to be sure that the person you’re going to live with truly understands your needs, and establish ground rules. Explain that you are not trying to dictate them and that you are merely suffering from a neurological condition. If they, or a current roommate, do not respect these ground rules, perhaps you should consider a different living arrangement, if possible. Living with your triggers should be only a last resort. While you cannot avoid triggers in every aspect of your life, the home should be a neutral place where you can relax and have a sanctuary, for the sake of your health and sanity.Want to learn more? Join a Workshop with Dr. Jennifer Brout or Duke CMER at Misophonia Education.