I am writing this open-letter on behalf of those that suffer from Misophonia. Family, friends, colleagues, you may have seen “memes” that have been shared explaining Misophonia as “annoyance” or “over-reacting”. This is hurtful to us. Misophonia sounds like a silly name, I agree. However, the condition itself is not silly.
Misophonia sufferers face a severe aversive reaction to sounds (and often sights/tactiles/other sensory stimuli). We need your support.
This reaction is like that of a bullet. You go from fine to completely distraught in seconds.
You cannot just “get over it”, “think it away” or “seek help”. Why? Because it is most-likely in the part of the brain called the amygdala there is not enough research yet to define the disorder let alone a cure. With this knowledge it can be a tough disorder to live with. A partner’s chewing, breathing, snoring, or pen clicking can lead to a minor meltdown.
We do not want to be angry. We do not want to be depressed. However, we are often trapped in our isolation. Our disorder preys upon our mental health. We do not want to snap at you. We are sorry that we’re irritated. However, we cannot control our feelings. Yes, we can try to communicate our disorder but we cannot stop the reaction we face when we are faced with a trigger.
We, as sufferers, ask for the same understanding and compassion you may show to a person with autism, Asperger’s, epilepsy, or any condition that changes quality of life. We are not lying or making this up. We are not trying to control you. We are not “sensitive” to sights or sounds. It is as though we are being trapped and then attacked. To us, and our brains, we cannot differentiate what is threat and what is “background noise”. To us, it is all a gun shot. Then, we are left to cover our bleeding and hemorrhaging wounds with ear plugs.
We know that you cannot cure our disorder. We know that you cannot help making noises sometimes. But we do not understand when you belittle us for it – or do not try. While we learn coping skills and await research, we are looking to you to hold our hands. We need your love now more than ever. This disorder may be based in “anger” but that doesn’t mean that love can’t win.
Please show us support and consideration. Don’t share memes that mock our disorder. Don’t tell us we are lying. Don’t tell us we are crazy. Have a conversation. Be empathetic. Together we can take away the rage and live together.
A Misophonia SuffererWant to learn more? Join a Workshop with Dr. Jennifer Brout or Duke CMER at Misophonia Education.