So although I'm still a teenager, I've struggled with Misophonia for over 4 years now. And it really sucked. For the first few years after I found the term Misophonia, it progressively got worse and I got new triggers and it was to the point where anyone eating was enough to fill me with rage, especially my family members.
We went to 2 different therapists. For me, they really weren't helpful because they only sympathized and wanted me to express my feelings. Problem is, I already knew how I was feeling. We did neurofeedback. I know a lot of people are skeptical about it, but I learned a lot about how my brain works as a result and although it didn't "cure" my misophonia, I think it did help a bit and knowing how and why my brain reacts this way was very useful to me. I was offered medication, but refused. I didn't like the idea that it would change my brain and I wanted it to just be "me". I do know a lot of people who have been helped by that, so maybe it's worth a try if you want to.
Yet now I can confidently say that I'm on an upswing right now. The only people that trigger me is my dad, two sisters, and my mom (but primarily her). It's not been easy. There's been a lot of crying and screaming and dark thoughts and emotions yet here I am today. And to be honest, I can't pinpoint exactly what helped me. I'm not cured, nor do I think I'll ever completely get rid of it. What's more, I think (and to me is the most important) I can prevent myself from developing new triggers or trigger people. But I'm pretty it was mostly me who "saved myself".
I'm a very Introspective person, so I think a lot, and deeply. And one thing that's helped me to put it into prospective was when I was watching a Marvel movie, and I found a very significant metaphor. I know a lot of people compare their miso to "Hulking out" and I agree. In every way, shape and form, Misophonia is exactly like being the Hulk. You can be normal one minute, and then a trigger (for Bruce, a life or death situation but for us it's something our brain THINKS is a life or death situation even if it's a harmless sound) causes you to turn into a raging, uncontrollable monster (flight or fight response) and that could be a danger to you and others. Sounds just like it, right? Once I realized that I remembered that Bruce also had serious problems controlling his Hulk in his first few movies. Didn't matter how irrational the situation was, you get the green monster. But somehow he had an epiphany and now he generally can control it. And so can we.
How? One of the quotes that really stuck with me was when Bruce was asked this question by another character and asked why he wasn't angry (in other words, triggered) and he says
This might not be significant to you, but being me on an upswing found truth in this. I still, and always will, notice the sound of people's eating. Even if they're not triggering me. But that's not a bad thing, it just is. The only thing that makes it bad is our reactions. Bruce is saying that he will notice anything that makes him angry, but he has learned to control that response.That's the thing- I'm always angry.
Of course, that is WAY harder than it seems. But along with that, I've also seen a new therapist (I hate to call him that, he really isn't one, he also struggled with Misophonia when he was younger but never knew until I told him what it was called) and he has REALLY helped me to put it into perspective. A lot of what he says sounds lucrative until it's explained, and obviously understanding and doing it are different things, and he understands that. I'm just not there yet, but knowing these things are helpful. The gist of it: (and I can explain more about any of this if you want me to)
- We are not broken. We really aren't. "But this is a proble-" To have problems is to be human. Don't pity yourself. You are not defined by your misophonia.
- Miso triggers are like making shadow puppets. If you were to show a baby a shadow puppet of a monster and it doesn't understand that it's just your hand, it's going to get scared because the shadow looks like a monster and monsters are bad. For us, eating is the hand and the bad feelings are the shadows. Shadows and hands are not the same thing. We need to learn to separate them.
- Emotions change- we all have our ups and downs and yeah. We will be angry. And we will be sad. And we will be happy, and jealous, and scared, and everything else because we are human. You will have good days, and bad days. All of it will pass with time. And that's okay.
-The key is, that I've figured out and he has told me, is to separate my emotions from the sounds. Obviously it's not easy and I'm not saying it will be easy to you. But that's how it is. I notice the sounds of every stranger that is eating but I've learned to take the emotion out of it. What's left is just a harmless noise. You can try to abstract the noise into something more pleasant if you're trapped (I did this a long time ago when someone was eating chips, and pretended it was a noise that wasn't a trigger (for me, I thought of a bag crinkling)), it's not perfect, but it might work.
I started being able to do this will the smaller triggers for me that I noticed but didn't have much emotion to it, like friends eating. It also helps to have a positive setting (my friends are amazing, we always get along, so to me it's a very happy thing) and one day, I noticed someone was eating loudly. But miraculously? It didn't bother me. I was already in a good mood and I ultimately "distracted" myself and now that I took the bad emotions out, I'm left with happy feelings and a sound (obviously this sound won't be a happy trigger though lol)
In this was I think I can prevent myself from getting new triggers. If I hear eating and think of the scary, rage inducing shadows, I'm missing the point that it's just a hand. If I think something is probably going to trigger me I realize it, stop, compose myself to the best of my ability, and think more positive and/or ignore it (but not in a scared, defeated way). It sounds stupid but I'm sure I'd have a lot more triggers if I haven't been doing this. Now that I understand these concepts and that this new sound that sounds scary to my head but doesn't have a shadow yet, I can figuratively "shine a light" on it and bam! No more shadow left. Again, it's not easy, but it's worked for me so that's why I'm sharing it.
Back to Bruce and the Hulk, he also was desperate to have more control.
and that's what I've learned to do. It won't be easy, I won't be cured, there will be bad days but if I can aim it 90% of the time then I think it's worth it.No, no, no, not control it, but, I don't know, maybe aim it?
So I really hope I can help people because I've been there. It's not easy. I'm not saying it will be easy or quick to make these changes. But once you do, I promise you you'll be where I'm at but the first step is to understand these ideas and believe in them. It won't be instant, but if you try to apply these only when you feel controlled, maybe slightly uncomfortable and not a Hulk I think you might be able to see a difference. If you want more detail on any of this I'll be more that happy to respond and hopefully help people.
Always keep fighting. You are not alone.