Misophonia – The noises that turn inside

by Anna

Having spent most of the day unsuccessfully hiding away from the irritating noise of my partner’s computer game I now have turned my music up in order to eradicate the loud crunching of crisps. For those of you who haven’t heard of Misophonia or in fact experience an overload of noises as highly unpleasant, will likely think that I must be a rather annoying person. While this might still be true, I am no hypocrite in assuming that I don’t create noise myself, I have only recently found out about this relatively new condition with relatively little that can be done about it.  I would like to bring this topic up for others who might have similar experiences.

The first time I can recall as an increasingly major irritant was my mum’s eating, possible around the age of 10. There was just something about the snacking noise and the way she sucked air through her front teeth that made my limbs all fidgety and I grew increasingly restless at mealtimes and other occasions when she produced any such noise that I often had to get up and pretend I needed to do something or go fetch something or if that wasn’t an option I tried to chew louder than everyone else. I even told my brother once in secrecy, repeating my mum’s annoying chewing noise and gesture, which seemed to take the edge of my physical sensation and told him not to say anything. His eating didn’t bother me at all.

Then I remember staring at granny’s yoghurt pot which wouldn’t empty quickly enough to put a halt to the horrible scraping noise the spoon produced along the walls of the pot together with the clicking noise when making contact with her teeth and the slurp upon licking the spoon on withdrawal only for the whole scenario to repeat itself. I felt disgusted and suppressed the felt need to hit her, or myself… an overwhelming sensation of electricity in my body after certain noises produced with her mouth…

At school I remember a girl sitting in front of me in class who had a habit of opening and closing her hair clip with an irritating click, with her disgustingly thin fingers. I had a hard time concentrating on the lesson, clenching my fingers under the table and fidgeting silently in my chair.

Chewing gums should be banned anyway. Who invented them and for what purpose exactly other than to irritate humanity senseless? The noise, the constant noise. The movement, constant jaw movement, mouths opening, tongues exposed, weird pulled faces. The amounts of times I have asked people to stop chewing only for the answer to fire back a less than empathic: “I can do what I like!”

When I had the chance I would arrange for the TV or some music to play so that the noise of eating wouldn’t be too overpowering. The older I got, the more I noticed the accompanying sensation of arousal together with a trigger noise. This made me feel very insecure and I worried that maybe there was more wrong with me than I had thought. How was I supposed to explain to anyone that I not only was very sensitive to people’s eating but also was I feeling it in my genitals? I didn’t know what to do about it.

At some point I remember realising that I seemed to focus on certain noises or movement after I had noticed them and found them to be annoying. It was almost as if I began to look for more of it. I tried to find a way as to not focus on it but found that difficult. So the more I noticed it the more overwhelming sensations I endured. Soon I began dreading approaching mealtimes and even events that were days or weeks away, where I knew that a certain trigger would await me.

The closer I am to someone, as in a partnership for example, the more likely I am to exert physical violent acts like slapping, pushing, pinching together with angry looks and annoying comments of how loud they eat or breathe. The need to say or do something grows so strong that at some point I can’t help but say something. As soon as I expressed my outrage and anger I feel guilty and silly for making the other feel bad about something that they can’t help. Everyone makes noise while eating. Though I do try and eat as quietly as I possibly can, so that I don’t sound as much of a hypocrite.

I often feel overwhelmed by noise or people and withdraw, literally shut down, sometimes even more literally simply run away. I get annoyed easily with tiny things. The mere rustling of a sweet rapper… Even though I may feel exuberantly happy, as soon as a certain trigger noise hits my nervous system my mood goes straight down. It takes a little while to perk up again, usually after some time spent in peaceful silence.

This might go hand in hand with my recent blog about introversion, or it might be an extension of it. Who knows. I believe that awareness of one’s own feelings and perceptions is the first step to dealing with any condition. I do hope this blog will help those who have similar experiences and those who have to deal with others who have this condition.

Check out www.misophonia-uk.org for more information on the topic.