This year, I’ve been placed in the unfortunate situation of having to find a new job twice. Not only is it hard enough finding a job to begin with (I have complications beyond Misophonia: I’m pretty much stuck to anything that allows me to sit down), but there’s always that sense of anxiety about starting one when you finally get it. Then the thoughts of Misophonia kick in.
When I got my job earlier this year, it was in a call center, which involved credit cards and purchasing on the behalf of card holders. This means a lot of training time (five weeks to be exact) instead of the normal two days it takes to train a cashier, or a lot of other jobs that only require on-the-job training. This meant confined spaces and the potential for triggers.
I was nervous, but I hadn’t worked in almost a year and this job looked promising, with good pay. So I go to my first day, sit down with my classmates (small class, only eight; things are looking up) and instantly I spot Mr. Nose-Breather. You know the kind: breathe like they’re constantly active and haven’t cleaned out their nose since they were born. Oh, and the nostril sighs (because those are needed every fifteen to twenty minutes to show you they’re still breathing). So we’re an hour into the day and one-seventh of my classmates are triggering me. Not the worst odds I guess. We go into the class with assigned seating. Mr. Nose-Breather sits across the room, but still somehow manages to be louder than a jet engine. The woman next to me is an absolute sweetheart—until the gum comes out. Two-sevenths triggering me now, and we’re only an hour and a half into my job. There’s five weeks of this.
Within the next hour, Mr. Nose Breather discovers the free apples in the break room. He claims each apple has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee (apples contain 0mg of caffeine per apple), and has apparently decided to become a horse and eat every apple in his path. He even starts bringing bags of apples to work. I don’t know why apples were his thing—maybe I should have informed him that he wasn’t a horse and that apples don’t contain caffeine. Anyway, training class was now a litany of crunch-crunch, whistle-whistle, sigh, smack, crunch, sigh. You might be wondering how this description is productive, positive, or even relevant (other than serving as an insight into how my mind works when I’m triggered), but I promise there is a happy ending.
The solution was actually quite easy and comfortable; I was even able to obtain it without the uncomfortable situation of telling someone that he’s basically a machine producing every sound I hate. I found some nice noise-cancelling earplugs that still let in non-electronic voices (my job had high security, working with credit and all), and sent a quick email to my instructor:
I suffer from a condition called Misophonia, and some of the sounds in this class trigger me. This gives me problems with paying attention. Do you mind if I use ear plugs while in class?
Very quickly and discretely, I got a response:
That is fine. I looked it up and I’m sorry you have to suffer through this. It sounds like it’s difficult to manage.
From that day on I was relieved of my problem. I found that using the name of the disorder (or possibly sending an article about Misophonia) allowed the people it affected to look into it and see that it was a real thing. They were quickly able to see why I was having problems concentrating.
So there is hope after all! It just takes patience and the ability to educate others. People may never understand exactly what you’re going through, but at least they’ll be able to make sure that you don’t go through it alone.