Miso-what? Misophonia - a form of decreased sound tolerance. I just learned that this is an actual condition the other day and boy am I relieved... let me tell you why.
I have amazing hearing. If you are three rooms away from me and you drop a penny, I will hear it. If someone's smoke detector is going off two houses away, I will hear it. In fact, I will get out of bed in the middle of the night and go outside to make sure that it's a neighbor's house and not mine that is potentially on fire. Seriously. You might be thinking, wow, that's incredible! And you'd be right, it is pretty cool. For example, if you're standing across the room, whispering to your friend, there's a pretty good chance I can hear you. Good for me, maybe not for you, right? Sometimes it gets me in trouble though when I accidentally laugh out loud at what you said and then you know that I could hear you. "How on earth did you hear that??" Yeah, I get that a lot.
But there's something else that happens to me that I've always hated and can't control and before Tuesday I never understood why. The sound of chewing makes me crazy. Literally. I mean violently angry sometimes. You know how the sound of nails on a chalkboard sends shivers down your spine? Well, sometimes I actually feel as though my ears will bleed when I hear that sound. Noises that typically just annoy other people make me literally want to crawl out of my skin. And when I say literally, I mean LITERALLY. When I'm tired or if I just woke up I'm even more sensitive. It's the chewing though that causes me to turn green and break out of my clothes in an Incredible Hulk style rage.
Ever since I was little this has been a problem. Some people chew more loudly or awkwardly than others. For example, my Dad's mouth is like a cavern, I swear the crunching in there echoes. And my brother eats like a grazing cow, smacking and smooshing and ugh god it makes me shudder. The worst thing of all is crunching. Carrots, pretzels, chips, oh my goodness it rocks me to the core. If someone is eating cereal three rooms away with the doors closed in between I can STILL HEAR IT.
I knew when I started this job that this was going to be an issue. I have never been in an open workstation environment with a lot of other people. Every day someone that sits a few seats away snacks on chips. Someone will eat a salad or some pita chips. Another person eats carrots in the afternoon. I wonder if anyone has ever seen my head whip around to seek out the offender, or the glare that I send their way. I am ashamed to even admit this, but I seriously get so angry that I want to punch something, or someone... it is absolutely horrible.
If you've not experienced this, it's impossible to understand. You might be thinking, just get over it! Learn to deal with it! Ignore it! You're insane! Trust me, I've spent my entire life learning how to cope with this. Thankfully I am allowed to use earbuds at work so if I'm getting particularly sensitive, I just put the music on. If my Dad sits down in the living room with carrots, I leave the room. Fortunately, he understands and doesn't think I'm a total freak show. I noticed that my Mom will try to chew quietly, which actually just drives me even more insane because knowing that she's trying makes me pay more attention to it. Plus, when you try to chew quietly, you end up having to chew your food longer... I'd rather you just chomp on it and finish it fast! But really, this is my issue and I try very hard to not make it known that I'm dying on the inside. I have learned very well to cope with it. I even have been trying lately to desensitize myself to it. If I notice someone is chewing and it starts to bother me, I deliberately keep listening and calm myself down. Sometimes though I just can't handle it and I have to leave the room or plug in my earbuds. You know all of those tv commercials where they amplify the sound of someone chewing... like Twix or Raisin Bran Crunch or Kit Kat? I have to change the channel!
It's strange because my own chewing doesn't bother me. At all. Strange, huh? The other day I suddenly felt the need to do a google search about this issue and right away I learned about Misophonia. I couldn't believe that this is an actual neurological condition. It's not very well known or researched and some people think it's a psychological issue from a bad childhood experience. I had a great childhood. I don't believe that in my case, this is true. I do believe that it's a wiring problem somewhere in there. I just have super sensitive ears. Right now, someone is talking and she's particularly loud and it's annoying, but it is what it is. I just try really hard to not let it bother me and if it is bothering me, use the music. Now that I know that it's a legit condition, I feel a lot better about it and I actually think that maybe I can work on that desensitizing thing. It's worth a shot!
I wanted to write about this in case there are any other people out there that are dealing with this. Know that you are not alone! And you're not crazy, this is real! If you're a person that knows someone that talks about their sensitive ears, please have some compassion. It's a very painful condition and it's no joke. I'm really glad that I'm not just a psychopath though, seriously.