Recently I did something with misophonia (and misokinesia) that I had convinced myself for five years wasn’t possible. I took not one, not two, but four flights. Two of which were connections, but still. Due to my sensory processing difficulties I had been convinced that I was locked into a geographic area that’s only reachable by car, and certainly not by bus, which I still won’t use. I learned a valuable lesson from this trip: the things we’re afraid of are often worse in our heads. My fear of traveling wasn’t based on what did happen – it was thoroughly based on what could happen.
As a teenager who was depressed and had heavy anxiety, I always wanted to go to the US. I dreamt of New York – of flying away and seeing the world.
Misophonia made me think that traveling wasn’t possible…
As I flew from Canada to the United States, I made it through customs. I made it through waiting areas by avoiding them. I sat in corners. I ate sushi. I made friends with a girl who worked at the bank at the airport. The trip wasn’t just trigger-light – it was fun. I remembered the girl who loves people. The girl who loves planes and new experiences. That girl was having a blast – despite the anxiety before the trip.
On the plane I survived by wearing an eye-mask, having a neck pillow, and wearing earplugs with noise-cancelling headphones. The trip went by without a scratch. Once I got to the airport, I kept my headphones on and avoided areas with people sitting down (leg shaking is a huge trigger). Since airports are large, this was fairly easy.
The most liberating part of my journey was realizing that I could do it. Despite my misophonia which can be pretty bad, and despite all of the pain and suffering this disorder caused, I was able to fly to wherever I wanted. I can go wherever I want in the world – and I’ll be okay. I am not trapped by this disorder.
It’s important to remember that even though misophonia might feel impossible to live with, we do have choices. We can decide what matters to us and find ways to enjoy the world around us. Yes, we might have to use coping skills and we might have to avoid some situations, but that doesn’t mean that we are unable to go where we want.
It doesn’t mean that we can’t find ways to be happy. To see the world. To look out the outside of the plane window and almost cry for joy as you see New York from the plane for the first time.
Want to learn more? Join a Workshop with Dr. Jennifer Brout or Duke CMER at Misophonia Education.