Ryan’s Story

“I’ve dealt with misophonia since I was a child. I think it started around the age of six or seven. My parents would raise their voices when reprimanding me and I would quickly cover my ears and beg them to stop yelling at me. They weren’t even close to actually yelling at me, but on top of having this disorder, I also have above average hearing. I hear one pitch above and one pitch below the normal hearing range. This was medically proven by an ear, nose and throat doctor I went to, but because my mother talked through one of my hearing tests at the doctor, they thought I was half deaf.

“I find my triggers have continued to grow over the years. Chewing was really all that bothered me, but once I went to college my triggers grew at a staggering rate. I’m now triggered by any kind of chewing; even knowing someone is going to eat in the same room as me makes me get up and leave before they start eating because I have anxiety knowing what’s about to happen. Birds chirping (this started during my freshmen year of college because birds chirped nonstop outside of our dorm room window), pens clicking, nails tapping, the text message clicking sound, heavy breathing, noise through the wall of any kind, but especially the bass in music or people’s voices, sniffling, someone clearing their throat – the list goes on and on. Basically my misophonia has gotten to the point that any sound, if repetitive, will make me freak out. It’s like I’m constantly alert and my ears are always searching for trigger sounds, which is why I sleep with headphones and white noise and a box fan on high every night.

“My friends and family have known something was up for so long because the second I hear a trigger sound I turn and look at them with this ‘if you don’t stop making that noise I will kill you’ look, and they instantly stop what they’re doing and apologize. Their apology after they’ve stopped making a trigger sound makes me feel bad because they shouldn’t have to apologize for doing normal things like eating. Logically I know they shouldn’t have to alter their behavior because they’re not doing it on purpose and the sounds that bother me are normal everyday sounds, but in the moment all I can think about is that sound, and if I can’t remove myself – which I most often do – I will lose my mind and freak out. For example, I used to live at college and I could hear my neighbors through the wall of my room, and because I couldn’t get away from it I flipped and started banging on the wall and screaming at the top of my lungs, all while shaking with anger and rage flowing through my veins. Afterwards I felt stupid for flipping out, but I couldn’t help it, I couldn’t get away from the sound, and after about five minutes it feels like people are making sounds to purposely piss me off. Needless to say my dorm director called me a handful and I no longer live at college.

“Since finding misophoniainstitute.org (and misophoniatreatment.com) and showing the research to my family, they are much more understanding, my mother more than my father (his chewing is my biggest trigger in the entire world – even when he chews with his mouth closed – and he’s constantly biting his nails or his lip or the skin inside his mouth). By the way, Tourette syndrome runs in my family, and my sister and father have it, so you can imagine how difficult it is to have misophonia and live with people who can’t help but do things repetitively. Basically I’ve come to the point that I spend the majority of my time in my bedroom, alone. I don’t mind being alone, and frankly I feel less on edge when I’m by myself because I know that I’m not going to hear a trigger sound. On the other side of that coin is the fact that I live with my family, but I rarely see them because I’m constantly in my room. Additionally, sudden loud sounds make me jump out of my skin, so at this point being deaf seems like the only way I would be able to spend time around other people.

“I would love to learn any tips or anything that may help me and decrease my isolation. I love my family and I want to spend time with them, but I find it impossible to do so.”