Coping with Misophonia
For years I thought I was just getting cranky as I got older. I was bothered by just about any repetitive noise or sound; snoring, dogs barking, tapping, pen clicking, computer dings, and especially eating noises. Slurping, lip-smacking, and crunching were the worst. I figured I was just becoming an “old fogie”. Next, I’d be yelling at kids to, “get off my lawn”. But recently I came across the Misophonia website and was excited to find out that it isn’t just me and I’m not turning into a curmudgeon.
I work in your typical business cubicle environment. Low-walled cubes where sound travels easily throughout the floor. Some days are worse than others and if I let it, my work place would become unbearable. Everyone eats at their desk and unfortunately, I am surrounded by noisy eaters, but even if they weren’t noisy, I’d hear it. Eating noises seem enhanced and amplified to me. I can hear them over just about any sound. There is a woman who sits on the opposite side of the floor and crunches on vegetables every afternoon. She is over 50 feet away, surrounded by her cube walls, and it sounds like she is standing right next to me. I’ve mentioned it to people who sit near me and they must be very quiet and listen intently before they hear her. I have this almost unbearable urge to confront her and the others, but I learned early on to just cope with it and not say anything. A few years ago, there was a whistler on the floor. Again, it drove me crazy and I seemed to be the only one bothered by the noise. Others didn’t even realize he was doing it. I politely mentioned it to the whistler that it bothered me and I instantly became the “don’t make noise around him” guy in the office. I was kidded and joked about for a month, so it taught me to just keep my mouth shut.
I have found ways of coping with my Misophonia. Luckily, I can mask some of these distractions by putting on headphones and listening to music. At times, I need to turn it up to a high volume because I can hear eating noises through the music, but for the most part this works for me. If not, I simply remove myself from the area. I’ve taken bathroom breaks, went to the café, or just walked around for a few minutes until the noise maker stops. If for some reason I can’t mask the sounds or leave the area, I am completely distracted by the noises. It’s all I hear and all I can think about. My irritation levels skyrockets, yet I must endure.
It is strangely comforting that I have found out that I am not the only one. Knowing there are others dealing with this disorder makes me feel better about myself. I’m not crazy, I’m not a curmudgeon, I’m not overly sensitive, I’m not an a**hole… just someone dealing with a disorder that thousands of others must cope with. That gives me great comfort.