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MISOPHONIA - THE SOUNDS FROM HELL
Have you ever heard the sound of a spoon scraping the last remnants of food from the bowl, the sound of someone chewing, or seen the constant bouncing movement of someone's knee and thought, "I just want to punch you right now?"
You are not alone. Misophonia is severe sensitivity to specific sounds and actions. It often creates feelings of anger, rage, anxiety, and pure panic. As someone with Misophonia, it is hard to explain what it truly is and what it feels like. It is a personal hell that no one truly understands. No one but those who also deal with it. Yet, I will do my best to explain what Misophonia is like for me. Perhaps it will help spread light on this forbidden condition.
For many people, going out to dinner with friends or a significant other is a fun and relaxing way to spend time with them. You order food and drinks, converse, and laugh. In general, you enjoy yourself. Having Misophonia changes that.
Personally, I enjoy spending time with my spouse. We have a great time together. We rarely argue, and we thoroughly enjoy each other's company. I can say with all honesty that I have never experienced a connection as this before. And yet, all those feelings can go straight out the door if he eats next to me. Let me try to explain what this is like.
We head to our favorite restaurant, sit down, and order food and drinks. Everything is going great as we chat and flirt with each other. We look like a newly married couple enjoying a nice meal. And then the food comes out. As we begin to eat, I start to notice little sounds. Now these sounds aren't usually noticed by people too much. For most, it is simple background noise. But for me, this background noise is amplified x100. His chewing, although his mouth is shut, is louder than the table next to us. The sound of his knife and fork scraping against the plate as he cuts his steak is like 1000 nails being dragged across a chalkboard. And the loudness of his swallow...well I feel like I am going insane.
I do my best to ignore these sounds. I want to enjoy myself and not go through the same process that happens time after time. I breathe and attempt to focus on any other sound in the restaurant. If music is playing, I do my best to make my ears hear that over everything else. I hum and fiddle with my napkin in the hopes of distracting myself. And yet, once my mind has focused on the noises he is making, nothing will drown them out.
I can feel the panic start to build in my chest. That is when the irrational thoughts and feelings come. I want to do anything to make him stop. If I strangle or punch him then perhaps he will stop being so damn loud. Maybe if I sweep his plate off the table then he won't have any food to make these noises with. Anger. So much anger fills me. No, it's worse than that. This is a feeling of pure rage that cannot be described. The man that I love more than anything in the world sits across from me and all I want to do is hurt him. All these feelings and thoughts are rushing through my head but outwardly I remain calm. I am trying to control this with everything in me. I want to cry, lash out, or just do something. But instead, I sit. I sit and finish my meal with him. Once the meal is over and those sounds have stopped, the panic goes away and normal me comes back.
There have even been times when this reaction was brought upon by my own eating. Our own chewing is already so much louder in our heads and then adding these reactions on top of it is torture. None of this is my or his fault. Logically, I know that the sounds we make while eating are no louder than the average persons. It is simply amplified in my head.
This is my part of the story. Others have it so much worse. Misophonia can be so debilitating. While I am hypersensitive to several sounds, some people can't live a normal life because hundreds of sounds make them feel this way. Before we knew what was happening to us, we thought we were crazy or wrong for feeling this way. But this is not something we chose or can control. We are not taken seriously by most people. This condition has ruined friendships, relationships, and lives. There is no cure and little to none understanding of the condition. This can put the sufferers of Misophonia into depression or hopelessness. Besides having a cure, we need the support of our loved ones. We need you to understand that this is not something we can make go away. We cannot control this. Believe me, if we could, we most certainly would.
We do our best not to lash out or have panic attacks at these sights or sounds. But some days, it is more than we can bear. And on those days, we may say unkind words or do actions that we regret. Misophonia can bring out the "fight or flight" response inside us. If we feel we are not able to flee the situation, we will say or do what we can so that we do not lose our minds.
So, dear friends and loved ones, please stand by our side in our daily battles with Misophonia. We need your help, support, and understanding. There may not be a cure. But if we have you then perhaps it will help make it a little better.
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