Archives for category: Rants

 misophonia-on-tvGuest blogger Marty reminisces about the days when he could watch TV without misophonia triggers. 

Subliminal Seduction

by Marty

By my mid-twenties I figured out how to cope with various noises, and misophonia was becoming a small part of my life.  I didn’t watch much television, but there were a few shows that made me laugh and if I was home, I would watch The Waltons with my mother.

During a commercial, a corn cob appeared and moved toward the camera and then underneath the camera.  When it was out of site, the soundtrack became an unbelievably long, loud, and ugly chomp.  Then the corn cob reappeared with a bunch of mangled kernels so that there was no doubt about what the sound was supposed to represent.  I got up and left.

Why was I so shocked?  This is the first time I heard a trigger sound on TV.  It was 1972.  Up until then, watching TV was safe.  I worried that this might be a trend.  The next few months confirmed this.  We were treated to apples and potato chips being crunched.  There was no closed caption or mute switch then.  I moved and the TV stayed behind.

Four years later, I was given a book, Subliminal Seduction by Wilson Bryan Key.   It was about tricks used by the advertising industry to trick people into buying their product. It has since been criticized.  But what I found interesting was his insider account of the above incident.  The advertisers association did not approve the ad at first.  They were afraid that it was so disgusting that there would be a backlash, a public demand for regulation.  There was no backlash.  Then they green-lit all kinds of eating and chewing noises.

My question is: If we were always such a tiny minority, why were there no chewing sounds between the beginning of TV, around 1950, and 1972?

Rent some old movies.  See how rare the triggers are.  One of my favorite movies was the BBC’s House of Cards made in the 1990’s.  I don’t remember a single trigger.  This year, the American remake was released.  It was one trigger after another.  People always had something in their mouths when they were talking and you could hear them chew barbecue ribs.  Why?

misohponia-at-the-gymGuest blogger Marty reminisces about a personal hero who found strength in silence. Oh, and he sorta looked like this guy.

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My Friend Neil

by Marty

I first met Neil in 1975, back when there wasn’t even a concept of misophonia.  We didn’t seem to have much in common.  He played college football and I didn’t even know the names of the teams or the rules.  We couldn’t talk politics for 15 seconds without getting into an argument. All we initially had in common was that we worked out at the same gym at the same time.

I worked out hard because it calmed me down.  If I used up all my adrenaline, the triggers were manageable.  If I maxed on everything I was able to concentrate much better.  A bi-product of this was that I bulked up seriously, and if I lost it, I scared people. That is not always a good thing.

The problem is that gyms tend to be noisy places, so I would try to go at odd hours when they were empty.  That’s when Neil showed up.  I was afraid that he would bang the weights and I would end up leaving, but he actually worked out as quietly as I did.  If someone came with him, they also worked out quietly.

One day a typical tough guy came in and starting banging the machines, then he dropped the weights on the floor.  I was quickly gathering my stuff up to leave when Neil got in his face.  He told him how hard his behavior was on the equipment and flooring.  He then said something about “inconsiderate” and “takes more strength to be quiet than loud.” The tough guy left.

Did I mention that Neil was extremely muscular?

He was bulked up about as much as anyone in those pre-steroid days. This was repeated many times over the next 3 years.  He had the weight room quieter than the last library I was in.

Neil not only lectured people about violating “his space” but violating others space.  He seemed to be irritated by rapid motion in his peripheral vision.  One day I was dead lifting and a guy started jumping rope so that the rope was about a foot away from my head at the closest.  Neil made him move.

Then Neil and his wife moved into my girlfriend’s apartment building.  I hated her building.  Someone beneath her always turned his stereo on loud at just the wrong time at night and let the bass shake the floor.

In the morning, the apartment to her side turned the TV on really loud at just the wrong time.  Then something happened.  They turned their sound blasters on and then off in a few minutes.  I later found out that Neil was pounding on their doors.  In two weeks, that building was quiet.

Did I mention that Neil was very muscular?

Was Neil being self centered and selfish?  Or was he actually doing everyone a favor?

I miss the guy.  Every time I go to a gym and some young punk slams the weights, I think of him.

photo credit: topbodybuildingtips.tumblr.com

Read my Misophonia mind.

Every wonder what someone with Misophonia is thinking?

You know, besides the constant, unrelenting repetition of the Mother of all Misophonia Thoughts: “SHUT THE F&^! UP!!!!??”

Behold, the Misophoniac’s mind, revealed.

“I’m gonna puke. If he doesn’t stop chewing like that RIGHT NOW, I seriously think I’m gonna hurl.”

“Is that music? I think I can hear music. Where the fuck is that coming from?”

“I can’t move to San Francisco, what if the walls are thin in my new apartment?”

“I miss going to the movies.”

“Baseball bat. That’ll show him. Baseball bat to the FACE to swat that giant wad of bazooka out his FOUL mouth!” (Foul. Get it?)

“Ugh, how can she be chewing gum? That is so unattractive for a woman.”

“Ugh, how can he be chewing gum? That is so unattractive for a man.”

“How can they fucking be chewing gum when they KNOW how much it bothers me???????”

“That’s it. I have to move out of this place.”

“That’s it. I can’t work here anymore.”

“That’s it. I have to break up with him.”

“STOP. FUCKING. SNORING.”

“Thank God for headphones.”

“I’m gonna move somewhere REALLY far away, like in the middle of nowhere.”

“What does everyone have against silence?”

“NO I DON’T WANT ANY POPCORN AND NEITHER DO YOU.”

“I know I just said yes, but the thought of going to eat Mexican food surrounded by a symphony of tortilla chips makes me want to die.”

And the loneliest thought of all……

“How can that NOT BOTHER you?”

What Miso thoughts are rattlin’ around in your head?

photo credit: foxnews.com but don’t hold that against me

Can you imagine wanting to cover your ears ALL DAY LONG?

Can you imagine wanting to cover your ears ALL DAY LONG?

5:30am.

I awaken to the sounds of my neighbor’s footsteps clomping on the floor above me.The fact that I can hear the sounds through my headphones, which are blasting white noise at full volume, sparks a massive wave of rage within me. It lasts through my shower, breakfast and commute to work, even though the sounds have long since stopped. I don’t begin to calm down until I’m miles away from the scene of the crime.

6:30am

It’s crucial that I leave the house before 8am, when my roommate wakes and begins playing the radio. If I were to stay – if I had the day off or wanted to sleep in – I would still be out the door in order to avoid the chance of hearing the radio through my bedroom wall. To me, the soft murmer of voices or muffled music through walls is most people’s equivalent to getting into a really bad car accident.

9:00am

I brace myself for the thud of bass music to assault my eardrums from the office next door. I plan my morning so that by the time the thumping begins, I will have conducted all of my conversations with my coworkers and boss, and be able to put my earphones in. I crank the volume up as far as it will go, being careful to choose not music I like, but music that will be the absolute loudest. No Jack Johnson for Misophoniacs, at least not when we’re out in the world.

11:00am

I can hear the music. I take my headphones out to be sure. Yes! I CAN HEAR THE FUCKING MUSIC THROUGH MY HEADPHONES!

11:01am

I storm out to the warehouse where the tunes are blasting. I rehearse everything I’m going to say to these inconsiderate MOTHERFUCKERS who don’t understand that SOME PEOPLE HAVE TO FUCKING CONCENTRATE at work.

Dear reader, remember: The triggered Miso mind is a petulant 4-year old child. There is no reasoning with it. It is not capable of empathy. All it can conceive of is making the offending noise STOP, and hating those poor souls who had the audacity to trigger its latent hate.

11:02am

I arrive at the offending area that houses the BEACON OF TRIGGERDOM, an old school boombox radio. The only person working there is a scary-looking girl that I’m pretty sure hates my guts.

She raises an eyebrow, as if to say “I DARE you to ask me to turn it down.”

I quiver, inhale…and puss out. We lock eyes, I turn on my heel, close to tears, and drag my sorry self back to my desk.

3:00pm

My co-workers favorite lunch is dry Ramen noodles eaten right out of the package. There are a few foods in this world that crunch more loudly than all others, and this is one of them. He takes his time too, drawing the torture out over a period of several hours. I can see his mealy little mouth working on the noodles like a neurotic hamster who hasn’t been fed in weeks.

PLEASE JUST FINISH ALREADY. I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU.

5:36 pm

Home. My experience will be determined by who is home, including both neighbors and roommates. If my upstairs neighbors are home, my headphones must go in. If both roommates are home, I must leave because they will both be watching TV in their separate rooms, and I can’t stand to hear the sound of two televisions (or two anythings) playing at once.

Victory! Only one roommate home, and no neighbors.

7:30pm

We watch TV. I have a glass of wine. I am at peace, for a moment, until….

“Do you want some chips?”

NO! AND NEITHER DO YOU!! NO NO NO NO NO

He strolls toward the kitchen and returns with my arch-nemesis in tortilla form.

Dammit.

I can’t leave right away, it would be rude. I must endure at least five minutes of chip-chewing before making my exit. I hope I won’t still be able to hear him from my room….

11:00pm

Bedtime. The one time it seems to be acceptable to ask people to “turn it down.” Apparently, for normal folk, the only time of day for quiet silence is during slumber. The rest of their waking hours must be filled with NOISE NOISE NOISE.

The TV is blaring in the living room. I know the precise volume at which I won’t be able to hear it through my pillow-barriered door. (pillows stuffed under the door make great noise absorbers, fyi).

“Can you turn it down a little?”

As if it were no big deal.

“Sure, no prob!” my roommate grins. I wonder if he plans on turning it back up the second I leave.

11:21pm

I can hear the TV. Or can I? I remove my earphones and listen in terror. I think I can hear it. Breathe. Breathe. Think of something else. Think about that guy from the bar. No, not him, the one with the green eyes. He was really….I CAN HEAR IT! I CAN HEART IT! I WILL NEVER GET TO SLEEP! DON’T THEY UNDERSTAND THAT SOME PEOPLE HAVE TO WORK IN THE MORNING? I HATE THEM I HATE THEM I HATE THEM…..

5:30am.

I awaken to the sounds of my neighbor’s footsteps clomping on the floor above me.

photo credit: benreed.net

Be less human and this just might work.

Be less human and this just might work.

“There’s a moment you know…..you’re f*cked.”

So go the lyrics to “Totally Fucked,” one of my favorite workout jams from the musical Spring Awakening. Little did Steven Sater know when writing the lyrics that he was actually describing a totally pivotal moment during a Misophoniac’s romantic relationship with a Normal Person.

At a certain point into the relationship – perhaps a few weeks if you’re with someone sort of ‘meh,’ or a few months if you’re with a major studmuffin – there comes a subtle-yet-earth-shattering shift that forever alters your tolerance levels.

Misophonia f*cks love in the metaphorical ass.

It looks something like this:

I meet David. He’s wonderful. He’s beautiful, and he adores me, and we quickly become enchanted by that completely disgusting, can’t-get-enough-of-you, texting 24/7, naming-our-babies New Love Fever.

I am so high off this fever, so out of my mind with desire, that it doesn’t even matter that he chews GUM. He is an avid, enthusiastic gum chewer. I am the sole beneficiary of his obvious oral fixation, however. He even chews gum while bestowing upon me all the benefits of a tongue made dexterous by 16 hours a day of constant chewing (and he’s somehow able to do this without getting anything stuck anywhere it shouldn’t be which, when you’re drunk with Love Fever, isn’t weird or disgusting – it’s talent!)

But I have Misophonia. I do. And one of my triggers, as someone inordinately sensitive to a very particular sound set, is the sight, sound, and smell of someone – anyone – chewing gum. As much as I tell myself that’s it’s “different with David,” it’s only a matter of time before Steven Sater rears his ugly lyrics, and I’m totally fucked.

It happens in the car. We’ve only been dating for two months. It’s a sunny day. He picks me up. I’m in a great mood. We have plans to go to the beach, then dinner, then maybe a romantic evening at a hotel (right. As if I could stomach an evening in a hotel with paper-thin walls).

I open the car door. He is chewing gum. As he always has been. And I snap.

My snap is internal, because in addition to be a Misophoniac, I’m also dreadfully passive aggressive.

Rage swells within me. I am filled with hate. Blood swells to my genitals – a reaction I will truly never understand, but apparently this is a common symptom of many Misophoniacs. My thoughts begin to swirl, and the conversation between me and my mind goes something like this:

Me: That’s it. I can’t fucking take this. We have to break up, stat.

Mind: Will you calm down? It’s just gum.

Me: I can’t fucking take it! I’m going to open the car door right now and roll out, ninja-style!

Mind: Why don’t you just ask him to chew with his mouth closed?

Me: That’s not good enough. I’ll still be able to see his DISGUSTING MOUTH MOVING and his JAW CHURNING and I’ll KNOW that he’s still CHEWING!!!!

(Keep in mind that mere hours before, that same “disgusting” mouth was between my legs at my own request. I say this not to be crass, but to illustrate the lunacy of the condition, and its ability to take over the mind and poison it).

Mind: Why don’t you ask him to spit out his gum?

Me: Because he shouldn’t HAVE to spit out his gum! He has a RIGHT to chew gum! Why the fuck does it BOTHER me so much? It’s not fair! Why can’t I just get over it?

By this point, David has begun to sense that something’s wrong.

David: Are you ok?

Me: (smiling unconvincingly) Fine.

But I’m not fine, and as David persists, I begin to pick a fight that has nothing to do with gum or Misophonia. I somehow manage to come up with OTHER reasons that I’m upset with him, resulting in a completely bizarre fight that makes no sense to either of us. When I finally admit that the real cause of my upset is his gum, he immediately whips the offending putty out of of his mouth like it’s been poisoned.

Matthew: “Why didn’t you just say so? Jesus, it’s just gum!

It is just gum. Its insignificance is so apparent, so obvious that allowing it to upset you is embarrassing. It feels shameful. It makes me feel so neurotic, so obsessive, so weak, so selfish. There is such pain in resisting what is, in not being able to accept the present moment in whatever form it takes.

In that moment, I know that I will also no longer be able to tolerate his snoring, or the bizarre way he eats sushi (with his hands….?). It’s over. My love is lost again, devoured by the Misophonic Monster.

How can a Misophoniac find happiness in love? Is it possible to find someone who doesn’t trigger you in any way, ever? Is it fair to ask someone else to change themselves for you, or even worse, to change themselves in order to accommodate your condition?

My thoughts always turn toward the other person – what’s fair to them, what is or isn’t “too much to ask” of them.

David had a right to chew gum.

But don’t I also have a right not to be miserable when he does?

photo credit: breakupadvicenow.com

Shhhhhhhhhhh

Shhhhhhhhhhh!

Upon learning about the upcoming first-ever Misophonia conference that’s taking place next month in Phoenix, and after considering actually attending the dang thing, my first thought was not about how much I’d learn, or the people I’d meet, or the possibility of finding a cure through a joining of like-minded professionals.

My first thought was “I wonder if people there will be chewing gum.”

My second thought was “How could anyone attending a Misophonia conference have the audacity to chew gum? Why haven’t they created a rule about this?! What if someone attending the conference doesn’t even have Misophonia, and is just there to learn about it, and has no idea how we feel about gum, and sits down behind me and starts smacking away like a cow chewing its cud?”

After the gum worries subsided (there must be a rule against it….right?), I began to worry about the hotel room.

What if the rooms have really thin walls? What if the person next to me listens to the TV at an intermediate volume and I can hear their TV through my wall? What if, even worse, they’re the type of person who LEAVES THE TV ON ALL NIGHT? WHAT IF I CAN’T SLEEP AT ALL AND I CALL THE FRONT DESK AND THEY DETERMINE THE TELEVISION TO BE PLAYING AT A REASONABLE VOLUME (WHICH IT TOTALLY IS) AND I WANT TO FUCKING KILL MYSELF?

I’m totally going to the conference, by the way.

That’s because the above reaction is so completely normal to me by now that it feels like dealing with a hangnail, or a nasty case of Athlete’s Foot. The thoughts and fears are merely inconvenient: it’s the actual “episodes” that fucking suck.

I am a very peaceful person, in general. I am decidedly non-confrontational, and go out of my way to avoid conflict. I’m the kind of girl that will probably keep having sex with you even if it’s really bad or I’m really bored, just because I don’t want to hurt your feelings (sometimes I feel like women like me are the only reason the human race has survived this long).

But when I get triggered – people chewing gum, the crackle of tortilla chips in a Mexican restaurant, popcorn at the movie theatre, the sound of thumping bass through my apartment wall – a murderous rage grows within me. It is so powerful, so potent, that sometimes I fear I might actually reach over and physically RIP the gum out of the offending party’s mouth.

If you are chewing gum, I fucking hate you. I don’t mean I actually hate you, I’m sure you’re a lovely person and everything, but in that moment I first see or hear you chewing gum, I want to both die and murder you at the same time.

I know you don’t even know you’re doing it, but you are TORTURING ME. It’d be the equivalent of me taking a shit, smearing it on your face and forcing you to eat it. I am THAT disgusted by the sight, sound, and smell of your gum. Isn’t that crazy? Um. Yeah. It is. That’s why there’s a conference.

(But seriously, can’t you just have a fucking mint and be done with it? Do you know who chews all day long and never stops? COWS.)

Misophonia or “4S” isn’t just “being irritable” or having a super-strange combination of pet peeves.

Pet peeves, dear reader, are born of the appropriate distaste you feel when someone uses the word “bro” or takes Twitter seriously or talks about the celebrities they’ve met.

Pet peeves are tiny, evil elves pinching you before running away giggling.

Misophonia is a giant dragon with really bad breath who must either be slain or run from as frantically as possible. So far, my only coping mechanism has been the frantic running (or walking really fast while steam escapes my ears like Foghorn Leghorn).

A lot of people seem to be interested in finding the cause of this condition. At this point, I don’t particularly care what caused it, I just want it to stop. It impacts nearly every area of my life. It affects where I can and cannot live, who I can date, how I interact with family and friends, and how I go about my day. I am a total slave to it, and my master is a bitch.