Misophonia…Can destroy everything

tormLike a tornado Misophonia takes everything in its path, it damages marriages, friendships, work relationships and in many cases the way you feel about yourself. Misophonia takes no mercy and that is a frightening way to live.

Imagine just wanting to live a happy carefree life. While this concept is challenging for the easiest going person, when you have a disorder that causes you to live on eggshells, it is virtually impossible. I have suffered from Misophonia my whole life, so I do not know what it is like to be able to hear things “normally” without those intense feelings of anxiety and rage. It is not possible for me to walk into a restaurant and enjoy a meal. I walk in with feelings of extreme panic knowing that I will be surrounded by triggers. I always seem to be seated next to the loud talkers, people talking with food in their mouth and let’s not forget the clanging of the dinnerware. Please, don’t get me started on the triggers of dinner companions.

Friendships for me have always been very challenging. It did not take long for someone to trigger me and cause me to snap. I have had a handful of life-long friendships. Frankly, that works for me. I would rather have a few true friends than a bunch of fake ones. Most of my friendships have ended due to my “bitchy blow-ups” caused from my friends being “annoying.” At the time I did not know that I suffered from an actual disorder. Many friendships faded in the dust due to my Misophonia. I suppose they were not true friends, anyway.

It was only recently that I shared my condition with my oldest and certainly my dearest friend, Vicki. Expecting to be met with the typical disbelief, I was very relieved to hear that she was familiar with Misophonia. Vicki is my rock, understanding when I need to vent about my miserable day and she also recognizes the toll that Misophonia takes on me physically. Most importantly we can always depend on each other through good times and bad.  I pray that our friendship will not be another casualty to Misophonia.

I used to enjoy volunteering, however, to avoid triggers I tended to do most of the work myself to avoid dealing with the other parents, which created quite a bit of animosity. I always preferred working “behind the scenes” to avoid crowds and human contact. As more people started getting involved, my anxiety became absolutely unbearable and I had to step down and a very inopportune time. Suffice it to say that I burned a lot of bridges. More relationships destroyed by Misophonia.

Work relationships are also a challenge. We are taught that we need to be polite and respectful of people. Even in a normal situation, this is not an easy task, add Misophonia to the equation and it is a recipe for disaster. Studies show that our we are triggered most by the people we spend the most time with; I would say spending 8 hours a day on average with people would qualify. Although I try to hold my feelings in, you reach a certain point where you explode. I have been told I am “snippy”, “snappish” and “curt.”  Interestingly these traits have earned me a reputation, which works in my favor. Apparently, employees are apprehensive to come to me, because I am “mean.” To other people, it may seem as if I have ruined those relationships. I see the positive side, fewer people to avoid.

Personal relationships, well that is another story. Honestly, my Misophonia did not affect those as much. I always avoided lunch and dinner dates. Fortunately, at the time, my triggers consisted primarily of eating and mouth noises. You cannot avoid eating forever, eventually, you get married and have to share meals together. My husband makes so many triggering sounds while he is eating resulting in too many meltdowns to count. Misophonia COULD have destroyed our marriage. But it didn’t. Not that our relationship is indestructible but my husband cares enough about me and our relationship to learn about Misophonia; to be more understanding of my needs. We do not eat meals together, and that is okay. He sees the signs that I have been over stimulated and he takes a step back to allow me the time that I need to decompress. We have vowed to fight my Misophonia… together.

The relationships with my children have also been affected by Misophonia. Although they learned at a very young age not to eat noisy food in front of mommy, they still have seen the monster that I can become when triggered. They have witnessed my tantrums of rage, my meltdowns and my tears of sorrow. I pray that it is not too late and that they understand that it is my condition that has made me say the hateful words I said, throw things and act like a raging lunatic. I have always wanted my kids to have happy memories of me, but my thoughts are consumed with the fear that many memories will be of “mommy’s Misophonia meltdowns.” In my heart and mind, that is total devastation caused from Misophonia.

I would say that my relationship with myself has radically improved since I learned that I have an actual disorder. I no longer hate myself for my actions, I am not happy with them, but I have recognized that I suffer from a debilitating disorder that affects everything in my life. I am able to recognize potential triggers and avoid many situations. I have accepted that I am not a monster, I am a Misophone and all of the negative behavior I have demonstrated is not a reflection on me. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Accept that you are you, and that you are a very special person.

Other people may not understand or accept Misophonia, this is a simple fact that we cannot control. I know it is real, I live with this brutal reality 24/7.  Just as I have to accept my condition, I have to accept that their beliefs are their choice. How others see me does not define the person that I am. So don’t let it define who you are.

As you can see Misophonia is very much like a tornado, it can cause complete devastation, but YOU have the power within yourself to “prepare” for that “storm” by finding coping and relaxation techniques that will help you face Misophonia.

I think the best advice I would give someone is to accept who you are, accept Misophonia and fight like hell to raise awareness. No one is going to fight this battle FOR you, if you are fortunate enough to have someone in your life that understands Misophonia, they can fight the battle WITH you.

Vicki Sladowski
My name is Vicki and I am a lifetime sufferer of Misophonia. I grew up thinking I was a mean, hateful monster, only recently did I learn that I have Misophonia. Like most sufferers, when I found out I had an actual disorder I was so relieved to know that it is not my personality, and most importantly there are people who UNDERSTAND what I am going through and I how I feel. We are not in this alone.