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I am triggered. What is triggering me, you ask? Noises.
Pens clicking, loud talking, heavy breathing, people
chewing, fingernails tapping on a hard surface; the list
goes on and on. I am the type of person that, when a
person near me is talking loudly (louder than a normal
tone) I will actually start to panic. I mean, I’m not even
exaggerating. I was recently in a situation where I was
surrounded by people who were talking excessively loud
and my heart started to pound. I actually had to abandon
what I was doing and leave the location, because I didn’t
think I could stand another second at said location. But
that was an extreme situation. Most of the time, when
I hear my trigger noises, it just causes me to become
I was curious to see whether this little condition of mine
is an actual condition or if it’s just me being weird. And,
as Jughead from Riverdale would say, “I’m weird. I’m a
weirdo”. But I wasn’t sure if my weird little self was the
only person in the world who got so triggered by these
noises that no one around me seemed to be annoyed
by. So I went to the place with all the answers—Google.
Well, after typing my symptoms into the search bar, I
came across a post on WebMD which discussed a condition
called Misophonia. The first line of the article “do
nails on a chalkboard make you cringe” caught my eye
and I immediately began to read on. According to the
article, people with misophonia suffer with a “strong dislike
or hatred of specific sounds.” Alright, I’m not weird!
Well, not for this particular situation at least. I read on in
the article and learnt that misophonia, also referred to as
the selective sound sensitivity syndrome (trying saying
that five times fast), starts off with a trigger sound. This
trigger sound can include the sound of chewing, breathing
or yawning. And, sometimes, these triggers can be
caused by repetitive movements, such as fidgeting or
wiggling a foot. The article went on to discuss the different
reactions these trigger sounds would cause a misophonia
sufferer to have, ranging from mild to severe. Mild
reactions include a feeling of anxiety, being uncomfortable
and having an urge to flee (demonstrated by yours
truly, when I had to leave a place that was filled with my
trigger sounds). Severe reactions include rage, panic,
anger, fear, emotional distress and—in extreme cases—
suicidal thoughts. Thankfully, I have not ever reached
that extent. But, depending on the noise, my reactions
can range from mild—with feelings of anxiety and discomfort—
to severe—with feelings of panic, emotional
distress and, sometimes, anger. And I know exactly the
noises that set off my reactions. Noises like chewing,
heavy breathing and pens clicking cause me to have a
mild reaction while loud talking is my number one trigger
for the more severe reactions. Thankfully, I don’t have all
the severe reactions—only panic, anger, fear and emotional
distress—but just these reactions are a pain the
neck. Or should I say ‘pain in the ear’. Haha. Okay, jokes
aren’t my forte. If they were, I’d be a comedian.
So what exactly causes misophonia? Well, according
to WebMD, “doctors aren’t sure what causes misophonia,
but it’s not a problem with your ears. They think it’s
part mental, part physical. It could be related to how
sound affects your brain and triggers automatic responses
in your body.” Oh great. People always tell me that I
need to be less sensitive. Clearly, my brain doesn’t care
what people think. “I’ll be sensitive to ALL these sounds,
I don’t care what people say,” it thinks. Yeah, thanks
BRAIN. Oh and you know what else I found out? This
condition is lifelong and is more common in women. Oh
that’s just lovely. Let’s just add this to the list of things I
have to deal with as a woman. Lovely, lovely, LOVELY.
(It’s not actually lovely, I’m just being sarcastic here).
Now, there are clinics that are meant for misophonia
sufferers but, no thanks, I don’t care to go to a clinic.
Thankfully, I have come up with methods to avoid hearing
these trigger sounds as soon as they start. I just put
in my headphones, put on my favorite songs and adjust
the volume based on the trigger. With my mild reaction
triggers I can get by, by listening to music at a volume
between 20 and 40, and—when I am in a place where
people are talking loudly—I’ll crank up that volume to
between 80 and 100. I’ll use music to block out sounds
in most situations, but when I need to concentrate—like
when I’m doing schoolwork—I’ll put on white noise.
White noise can be the sound of a waterfall, the sound
of a thunderstorm, the sound of blowing wind and much
more. My favorite white noise video is one that features
the noise of a standing fan, and has a total run time of
more than 11 hours. Unfortunately, sometimes, I’m in a
situation where even music or white noise doesn’t block
out the sounds. And in these situations, the only thing I
can do, is just leave that particular location.
So, I do what I can to avoid these triggers, but I ask
all of you—please be sensitive to the people around
you. I’m not trying to be rude when I say this, but a lot of
people suffer from misophonia And you just never know
when you are around one of these people because, let’s
be honest, it’s not like we are going to stand up and say
“my name is —- and I have misophonia!” So, please, let’s
leave the pen clicking, fingernail tapping, and unnecessarily
loud chewing and talking to when we are in our
own homes. I know I’d appreciate it and I’m sure other
people with misophonia would appreciate it as well. And
the alternative would be to buy me a good pair of noise
cancelling headphones ☺
(If you’d like to learn more about misophonia, visit
Photo Sources: Odyssey, and
What The Faculty

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