Have you ever had a question about yourself which you decided to pop into the Google search box and see if the internet has the answer for you?
And did the internet solve your personal puzzle or make the puzzle even more puzzlier?
Usually when I pop a question about myself into Google…
1 – I end up forgetting what I was asking as soon as the results come up because I get sidetracked by an interesting tangent (which may eventually re-connect to the original question and remind me of it: Oh, yeah, I asked that question… I wonder why I was asking that!?).
2 – I get distracted by my reaction to the results which don’t answer my question at all (Google is pretty good at sticking to the subject and finding relevant results to the terms in your search, and at least these days porn or some other commercial product isn’t always the answer as it once not so long ago was).
There is nothing quite like getting annoyed, frustrated and angry to make you completely forget what was bothering, troubling, perplexing you. Maybe that’s why humans react with anger so often… to minor things… it’s a way to get away from ourselves, to stop focusing on what’s wrong with us (a concept which is distressing, particularly if we’d like for there to be nothing wrong with us) and focus on what’s wrong with someone else (a concept which alleviates our distress and may relieve us of the burden of thinking/feeling that there is something wrong with us – in other words: “Aha! There’s nothing wrong with me at all, it’s everyone else who is and has the problem!”
However sometimes, like last night, I find an exact answer, and stay focused.
Last night something minor happened to which I had a major reaction – My partner had a bowl of cereal and I had the sudden impulse to murder him for having that bowl of cereal.
It’s not last night, it’s not him, it’s not our relationship, or even him having a bowl of cereal which inspired my sudden irrational madness, it’s the sound of the metal spoon hitting the ceramic bowl.
(Just in case you’re wondering, I did nothing while experiencing the sudden surge of killer rage. I stayed still and waited for it to pass as I knew it would as soon as the sound stopped)
That sound is a trigger-tone for me. That trigger-tone bypasses the rational mind and wakes up the primal fight/flight response.
For more on Misophonia, this is an excellent article by a scientist who experiences the condition and has looked into the scientific studies of it (and seems to find scientific studies as irritating as I sometimes do): Do Chewing Sounds Make You Crazy? The condition has a name—misophonia—and a very small but contentious community of researchers. By Megan Cartwright
I’ve been aware for many years that sometimes my ears can be overly sensitive to certain sounds.
It happens most often when I’m physically and mentally tired (my dyslexia also becomes more pronounced under those circumstances).
I didn’t know it was an ‘official’ condition (which is being partly blamed on the brain, a part of it known as the Anterior Insular Cortex) with a name.
Even though I now know that it’s that… I’m hesitant to apply that label to myself (in a similar way that I’m still reluctant to admit that I’ve had C-PTSD for most of my life, although that might be partly because I had it before that label became mainstream and so… I have my own terms and conditions already in place for my experience of it).
I prefer to figure out my own personal puzzles, and not rely on what others have figured out. I realise that I’m probably doing the being human thing the hard way… but that seems to be the way that I do it. I do however appreciate the new data to add to my own. This particular bit of data came shortly after I’d asked myself (but not Google) a personal puzzle question, and it seems to be a piece of an answer.
I’m fairly certain I know why I have Misophonia.
I have a specific memory of when my ears went from just being things I hear with to things I experience pain with which makes me want to lash out and stop what’s causing me to hear pain.
It was a gradual process with a peak moment. After that peak moment my experience of hearing changed… but the change had been a long time coming. A flip was switched, but the finger which flipped that switch had been moving towards it for years, practicing the action before it did it.
It occurred during a very stressful time in my life. Stress which every atom of my being felt. One of the things which intensified the stress was that I was required to not express my stress at all. I was not allowed to have thoughts/feelings/emotions/reactions. I was supposed to remain in neutral, calm, pleasantly smiling (unless otherwise instructed) apathy while having the stress of others dumped on top of me repeatedly.
I felt trapped.
I’ve always felt trapped (a feeling which comes courtesy of growing up with narcissist parents), but this was the usual trapped squared and boxed.
I no longer had any of that thing called ‘hope’ of figuring out how to escape the trap which had alleviated the trapped feeling before. It was a This is Your Life – to be forever trapped, you did this to yourself by being an idiot and there’s no way out for you, you’re karma-action=consequences-fucked kind of trapped squared.
Fight or Flight wasn’t an option. Neither one made any difference other than to invisibly bruise me as I tried to get out of a box which was made of firm blockage. There were no options other than being trapped.
And my brain kind of broke to save itself.
When how I heard things changed, it changed the way I listened to the narcissists in my life. I no longer listened to their words, to what they were saying (which didn’t matter because they repeat the same thing over and over even if they use a variety of words to say it and make it verbally appear as though it’s not the same conversation for the umptimillionth time) but instead found myself hearing the sound they were making when they talked.
That shift did eventually help me get out of the trap…
Misophonia is one of those weird conditions in which you’re totally aware of it being weird when it happens. You’re completely conscious of just how irrational you are suddenly being.
You know it’s you and not anyone else.
Sure, you could ask others not to make the sound which is triggering primal survival in you, but… it’s sort of embarrassing and shame-inducing to do that. And you have total cognitive empathy about how ridiculous your request would be if you were on the receiving end of it: “You want me to stop breathing because it’s bothering you, making you want to smother me silent with a pillow, sure thing, sorry about that, I won’t do that around you again!”
If you do decide to ask someone not to make the trigger-tone sound they’re making…
(my partner has tried to eat his cereal more quietly, and has done an amazing job with it, but really… he shouldn’t have to do that, he should just eat his cereal without having to worry that it’s bothering me. My Misophonia is basically holding him hostage and sucking the fun and joy out of him eating cereal)
you usually have to explain to them why you’re making the request, and…it’s the kind of explanation which you know isn’t going to make sense, you’re going to sound crazy (and that sound for some reason doesn’t trigger the Misophonia?), and it is going to require even more explaining, and it will never ever make sense.
It doesn’t make sense to you. Thus. You most likely won’t be able to explain it in a way which will make sense to anyone else.
And your explanations make it worse… make you feel even more WTF is wrong with me!
If the other person doesn’t have the same condition they’ll relate it to their own experience of irritating sounds and then… they’ll wonder why you can’t just put up with it as they put up with or shrug it off as they shrug off the sounds which annoy them.
It’s not dissimilar to trying to explain a narcissist to someone who has never met or been in a relationship with a real narcissist, and their idea of a narcissist is of an annoying egotistical vain bore whom they would just ignore – why can’t you just ignore your narcissist too and stop your fussing.