Home Advocacy Shaylynn Hayes-Raymond, Interviewed About Misophonia

Shaylynn Hayes-Raymond, Interviewed About Misophonia

by Misophonia International
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How did you get into the treatment of people with misophonia?

I have had misophonia since I was 18 years old. Many people in the community discuss that they have had misophonia since far younger, even younger than 8 years old. I want to specify that there is no current approved treatment for misophonia, and rather professionals are devising coping skills to help deal with the emotional toll misophonia has on relationships and daily life.

What do you find most interesting about the condition?

For me, the most interesting part of the condition is how hard it is to live with despite being such a “newer” unknown phenomenon. Those with misophonia, myself included, have several challenges from misophonia that often impacts every aspect of our lives. For example, romantic, family, and sibling relationships, workplace environments, religious gatherings, and really any situation where a trigger is present. What people without misophonia don’t understand is that there is rarely a break from this condition, and we are constantly mitigating a fight-flight-freeze response. It is exhausting.

Do you find there are patterns among people who live with the condition? For example, people being bothered by the same kind of noises, having similar reactions to triggers, a particular kind of therapy that seems to work better than another kind, etc.

Almost every person with misophonia has some combination of the same triggers. Some have all of them, some have fewer, and some have a mix. That said, the most common audial triggers are: chewing, tapping, sneezing, snoring, sniffling, pen-clicking, dog-barking, stomping feet, bass music, swaying, lawn-mowers; as for visual triggers which may or may not be the same condition the following are often reported: mouth movements, swaying, text speech or over use of grammar (u, r, ?!!, ur, !!!!!!, etc), legs jiggling/bouncing, among others. I personally have all of these triggers, although chewing for me is not as bad as it is for many others. There are no current treatments that have been approved, nor is the disorder in any diagnostic manual. I personally follow a coping skills approach based on sensory regulation, psychoeducation, and cognitive/narrative approaches to help mitigate distress.

What’s your best advice for someone who lives with misophonia?

I wrote out most of my advice for living with misophonia in my most recent book Misophonia Matters, that is to say that I have many thoughts, and a lot of advice on coping with the condition. To summarize it in shorter form I would say that it is important to remember that you are not weird or crazy for having misophonia. I also want to say that it’s alright to know your limits and stay away from triggering environments. If you find yourself overly angry and snapping at loved ones, it’s time to re-evaluate and find ways to communicate healthy boundaries. I provided a lot of worksheets in the book on self-advocacy, communication, and then learning how to recover from these negative emotions. Since there is no way to stop the triggers from causing a fight-flight response, navigating the condition is highly personalized.

Do you know if the condition is more likely to affect women or men or is it pretty evenly split?

Some studies say that misophonia affects women more than men. Others say they are mixed. Part of this could be due to the stigma that surrounds men seeking treatment for their disorders. I personally think that misophonia is more gender neutral than previously reported when you account for stigma and bias.

How can coworkers, family members (etc.) help someone who lives with misophonia?

I am currently working on a book about misophonia and marriage, but I thought of many strategies when writing my last book. What I came up with was that the best way for family members, co-workers, etc to help those with misophonia is to be open minded and believe the sufferer. There are of course some things that people cannot stop doing (such as breathing loudly or eating), but negotiations can be made to help mitigate these triggers. For example, eating could be reserved for one time in a break room where the person with misophonia does not go. The key take away is that interpersonal relationships between a person with misophonia and those around them requires sensitivity, accommodation, and above all it requires both the person with misophonia and the person without to remain calm and considerate in these negotiations.

Clinicians, family members, and people with misophonia can find free resources from the non profit I am director of here: www.misophoniafoundation.com if you are interested, we provide classes based on the Misophonia Matters book.


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