As some of you may know, I’m an adolescent, or a teenager. I’m only 16 but I’m not ashamed to admit I have been in quite a few relationships. There’s a lot of judgement surrounding this top which I believe is unfair. Adolescence is a period of time for learning and discovery. You learn to discover what’s best for you and how your mind works and how you communicate with other people. Obviously, illnesses or disorders – Including Misophonia – make the learning process that more difficult. These are surprising way to improve couple relations if you´re having trouble.
When I first realised I had misophonia, I didn’t tell anyone for years. I discovered it in 2013 and this year was the year I started telling people. I didn’t tell anyone at first because I thought it wasn’t a real thing. I thought that people would judge me if a doctor didn’t say it existed. I thought there was nothing anyone could do about it. I was wrong, however. Despite the lack of an official cure or treatment specifically for misophonia, there are lots of things I can do to help cope with misophonia.
When I started telling people, I only told my mother and my older sister at first. Unlike the majority of teenagers, I do not have a large social group. I don’t have lots of friends on Facebook that I talk to and I don’t meet up with groups of friends at weekends because I do not have groups of friends. After telling them, I struggled to tell my boyfriend. For his privacy, I’ll be calling him A for Anonymous.
At the time, we had been dating for around 2 months. Not long, I know, but I take relationships seriously. I told him I had a rare disorder called misophonia and naturally, he didn’t know about it. Never even heard of it. I don’t blame him, of course. Either way, I explained it clearly. I told him it was a (likely) neurological disorder that, when faced with certain sounds or ‘triggers’ I would respond with the fight-flight-freeze reaction as seen in anxiety attacks, and I could not control it. I didn’t know how else to put it.
I could tell he didn’t completely understand for a while, and that’s okay. I barely understand it myself.
I didn’t tell him my triggers at the time. Not for about a month. I didn’t tell him because he is a boy that likes to joke around and doesn’t take many things seriously. I suppose I didn’t trust him, which is a bad sign in any relationship. One of my triggers is bone cracking, like when someone cracks their knuckles. As if to test it out, he immediately cracked a knuckle and I swear I wanted to punch him.
I don’t usually get angry, at all, but at that moment in time I really wanted to punch him to make him stop.
After a while, he stopped. Thank God. He never spoke about my misophonia. He never asked me about it unless I brought it up, he never asked me about the triggers, never asked me how I cope with it. In a way, I’m happy he doesn’t. I’m happy about it because we had less serious conversations and I never have to think about it really. On the other hand, I’m concerned that he isn’t bothered by my misophonia. Or that he doesn’t seem interested. Or when I told him I started posting on this website, I was excited, but he seemed uninterested. I can’t say it’s a big deal, as I don’t expect everyone to be obsessing over me or my illnesses.
Despite all this, I’m happy. I’m happy with my boyfriend (we’ve been dating for almost 7 months now) and I believe he understands me. He’s always there to support me.
Similarly to me, many teenagers don’t have successful relationships. For adolescents with disorders or illnesses or conditions, whether it be learning disabilities, mental health issues, physical disabilities- relationships can be even more difficult. The conditions can interfere with how you communicate with your partner, how you interpret what they do or say, how you act around them and so on. No matter what your may have, or even if you do not have anything of the such, there are still ways to get advice on the internet.
For the teenagers reading this, however, I’d like to offer just a bit of wisdom from my own experiences.
When you’re in a relationship and you truly believe it is long-term, you should be open about your conditions. If you need to, you can wait a few months before bringing the subject up. A serious conversation is needed once in a while in relationships. Tell your partner it’s serious and explain it very clearly. If they have any questions, answer them without ridiculing them for not knowing the answer. It’s important that they know the things they need to know. If they do not take it seriously for a while, it’s likely not worth it. If they don’t care about your health, that is a huge red flag.
Overall, tell your partner anything important. This is advice for any age, really, but more important for teenagers as they tend to be less serious about their relationships and can end up in toxic or abusive relationships.Want to learn more? Join a Workshop with Dr. Jennifer Brout or Duke CMER at Misophonia Education.