A few years ago my friend sent me a link to an article about a disorder I had never heard of. She said, "I think this is what WE have!!"
She was right, and chances are if you're a 30+ woman you might have it too.
Now my friend and I joke about who has the worst case of Misophonia—a hatred of sounds (not all sounds, but certain ones like chewing, slurping, nostril whistling, repetitive pen clicking, etc.). Though I know she actually wins by a long shot. If we're at the movies and she can hear the sound of popcorn munching (um, hello, we're at the movies) we have to change seats. The sound of candy wrappers being crinkled has us relocating again. Loud mouth breathing? Yup, we move away from the troll who dares to inhale. And don't even mention gum chewing or god forbid gum smacking in her presence or she'll take you out.
Misophonia is an actual disorder, NOT a twisted figment of our imaginations intended to drive our spouses nuts or keep them under our thumbs.
The "struggle is real" as they say, and you are not alone.
My husband gets miffed when I ask him to close his mouth when he's chewing. Sometimes he gets defensive and he'll say something like, "Seriously? This is the way I chew!" Sometimes when I'm really upset by him slurping his tea, he'll try to sip more quietly. He knows I can't control it, though I swear I try!
When he accidentally scraped his plate with his knife one night—more than once—the sound made me so angry I raged. He could see I was legitimately upset so he apologized.
I feel horrible for being so horrible. The poor man is simply trying to feed himself.
I explained several times that it's not his fault. He's just trying to live his life and life makes sounds. But it's also not my fault. I'm not being dramatic. I'm not trying to be mean or critical. I love my husband. I just can't stand the annoying noises coming out of his face. And it's getting worse.
There are now new sounds that suddenly make me crazy. Like the sound of the mouse pad on the laptop being clicked while my husband is surfing the net. Why?! Why do I find that sound so enraging? Misophonia, that's why.
There are some humorous elements to this affliction. I mean, have you seen the viral video (at the end of this post) making people cringe and laugh around the internet?
But living with Misophonia on the daily is not funny. It's an actual pain in the ass.
I don't want to glare at my son in the rearview mirror for innocently hiccuping in the car. And I certainly don't want to snap at him and say, "Hold your breath!!" in a sharp tone usually reserved for drivers who are texting.
Unlike other psychological disorders where people hide their symptoms out of shame, Misophonia has become a talking point that is bonding women. Yes, men can suffer from Misophonia, but it seems to be an epidemic in woman in their early thirties to late fifties. Every single one of my girlfriends nod their heads in passionate agreement whenever we discuss having this disorder.
I shared this video below online the other day and my women Facebook friends were all "YES...this!!" And my men friends were all, "Oh god, THIS is totally my wife."
People have blogged about the symptoms and posted links to "Do you have Misophonia?" online quizzes, and shared articles about how to treat Misophonia. Spoiler alert: There's no "cure" but Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help alleviate the symptoms.
So there's nothing totally new here but what I want to add to the conversation is this — why does this disorder seem to peak in mostly woman, around my age? And what's the psychology behind why only certain people's sounds bother us? My daughter slurping her apple juice doesn't bother me at all. My husband slurping anything and I have an extremely negative physical response.
And what of new offenders? My son's noises never bothered me before, but now that he's a teenager, him clicking the keys of the computer while playing a video game suddenly bugs me. What is THAT about?
And strangers. I used to be mostly oblivious to their sounds (unless it's clipping toenails or whistling... that has never been okay). But just the other day a lady in my yoga class was making a repetitive grunting sound and I swear to god I wanted to roll up my mat and hit her with it. Am I a monster?
I'm trying really hard to be more "mindful" yet I seem to be getting more impatient and snappy and Misophoniany.
Is it age? Is it hormones? Have the years of ineffective multi-tasking finally blown a fuse in my brain? What the actual hell is happening here?
Do you have Misophonia? What sounds bother you most and is it always the same people whose sounds offend you?