Disclaimer: Suffering exists in this world in many different forms. On this blog, I will share what it is like to live with misophonia. I have loved ones with cancer. Loved ones with crippling addictions and other sturggles. I am in no way saying that my life is worse than anyone else’s. Life can be a challenge for every creature on this planet, and my story is just one example of that.
Today I went to work. As I walked out my front door, I checked once more that I had at least one pair of earplugs on me. As I got on the subway, I made sure my iPod was blasting music. I sat down to notice a woman facing my direction on the car was chewing gum. I looked down at my lap to avoid seeing her chomp down over and over again. Soon it was my stop and a feeling of relief washed over me as I walked quickly through the doors of the subway.
Later, I sat at my desk at work. I had my earplugs in because a coworker was chewing gum. She bit down, causing a popping sound to fly from her mouth. Air pockets in the gum, I suppose. Hearing the sound makes me sit straight up. It’s all I can think about, that sound and how to escape it. It creates a loop of panic my mind that makes it very difficult to focus on anything else. I begin to resent the source of the sound — in this case, my coworker. Why is she always chewing gum? She looks like a bimbo with such a large wad of gum in her mouth. Can’t she spit it out already? It must be completely flavorless and unsatisfying by now. Etc.
The earplugs are my salvation, although some believe they might make one’s misophonia worse over time. Earplugs also make it difficult to communicate with my colleagues. I am constantly being tapped on the shoulder when someone needs my attention. People think I’m strange. I just tell them that I work better with earplugs in; it helps me concentrate. I feel that nobody would understand me if I told them the truth.
During a meeting in the conference room, a coworker taps her foot vigorously, and I can see the movement out of the corner of my eye. I have to rest my head in my hand in such as way that I’ve blocked my peripheral view of the foot tapping. I wonder if anyone thinks I look strange doing this.
When I get home from work, I wear earplugs if I can hear my housemate clearing his throat in the other room. I hate that noise. I also have to wear earplugs if I can hear my housemates clanking their silverware and plates together while they eat or do the dishes.
I wonder how bad things will get. I have heard misophonia gets worse with age. Will I be able to withstand a typical office environment? Is it possible to sustain a healthy romantic relationship with this condition? If I ever have children, will I end up resenting them for the sounds they make? Will I distance myself from them? Will there ever be a cure? Will I become a hermit — a completely miserable shut-in?