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For more than a decade, I suffered from numerous mysterious or rare maladies. I saw internists, gastroenterologists, endocrinologists, chiropractors, orthopedists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, pyschiatrists, phychologists, dermatologists, urologists, osteopaths, and then three rheumatologists. Some of them offered relief for my symptoms, but no one offered a cause.
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While sitting idly at the hair salon today, trying to take the grey out of my hair, I was enjoying reading my copy of The Art of Fear. I was delighting in the fact that on January 2nd, I was sticking to my goal of reading for at least a half hour daily.
And then SHE sat next to me; old enough to know better, but not giving a rat’s ass. More than 40 years of age, she sat waiting for her grey hair to go blond again, while chomping, smacking her gum. If she spoke as angrily as she chewed her gum, she must be one hell of an angry woman. Not to mention that as a close family relative observes, “a woman chewing gum looks like a cow chewing cud.” And that certainly won’t help you make friends or gain a man’s interest.
When I was a teacher, one of my classroom rules was, “If I see it or hear it, it goes in the trashcan.” Actually, I have that rule anywhere I can get away with it. My stepdaughter Heather claims I ruined gum chewing for her for life. Now she can’t stand to see or hear peopIe chew it.
Today, I wanted to reach across and yank that damn wad out of her mouth and stick it on her phone that she was just as loudly tapping on. After three angry glares that netted me nothing, I did the only thing I could do: I started playing my solitaire game with the sound turned up 100%. This is the first time I have played an entire game with the sound on. The shuffling of the cards, the dinging that occurs each time a card is played . . . most of the time, it is annoying. For those fifteen minutes, it was delightful.
From Wikipedia: Misophonia, literally "hatred of sound", is a neurological disorder in which negative experiences (anger, flight, hatred, disgust) are triggered by specific sounds.
People who have misophonia are most commonly angered, and even enraged, by common ambient sounds, such as other people clipping their nails, brushing teeth, eating crushed ice, eating, slurping, drinking, breathing, sniffing, talking, sneezing, yawning, walking, chewing gum, laughing, snoring, typing on a keyboard, whistling or coughing; saying certain consonants; or repetitive sounds.
When I posted on Facebook earlier today about this woman and her gum, my page lit up with friends chiming in on how irritating these sounds are for them as well. I am not alone and I am not crazy.
Special thanks to Diana Bork for reminding me of the name for the condition!
Interestingly enough, this condition is very common among Lyme patients. I have no idea why.
Poor Jeffrey has to eat his cereal in another room. I can’t stand the clinking on the side of the bowl. Going to the movies is still difficult for me; all I hear is patrons unwrapping the cellophane from their candy boxes, or crunching the popcorn as it goes into their mouths. Whistling literally hurts my ears. Jeff shuts the door when he clips his nails.
At one point, Stephen and I went through Auditory Integration Training (www.aithelps.org) for this disorder. It was ten days of sheer hell, listening to loud, mostly reggae music that felt like nails on a chalkboard twice a day. For ten days. It did help, temporarily. But I was so angry during those ten days (a common side effect), it was amazing that Jeff survived. I tried it again a few years later and couldn’t finish the ten days. My brain literally hurt and I was too weepy.
I do know that as I heal from the Lyme, the misophonia improves.
I know that when I am stressed or tired, my irritability from sounds rises almost exponentially.
So for all those who can’t stand to listen to their spouses eating apples, or their children slurping their milk, you can add this to your list of weird diagnoses.
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