Did the internet solve your personal puzzle or make it even more puzzlier?

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.

11 thoughts on “Did the internet solve your personal puzzle or make it even more puzzlier?

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  1. Lots of sounds annoy me but not the point of misophonia (first time I’ve heard of it). A child throwing a tantrum can really bother me as well, but I am really good at blocking out sounds that annoy me, so I just go to that switch-off place.

    Like you, I can get distracted from what I was originally looking for. The same thing happened in libraries.I’d get all distracted by the books next to the one I was supposed to be reading. I used to think that it was a form of procrastination, but now I realise that I can be a bit of a magpie – Oh look! What’s that shiny thing??? 🙂

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    1. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      I know the switch-off place well, I used to go there regularly when one or both of my parents were having a temper tantrum, perhaps we’ve been there at the same time and didn’t know 😉

      But with misophonia you can’t rely on the switch-off. For some reason it just does not work. In fact the more you try to tune out the sound the more you focus on it.

      The experience of it is odd because you’re fine and then the sound happens and your whole system goes ARGH!!! and you go from placid to homicidal in a split second, but then the sound stops and you’re fine again. It’s sort of a glitch in the matrix. Luckily the sounds which set me off are not regular sounds. Some people with misophonia are sensitised to regular sounds, and that must be so hellish to have your system freaking out like that on a daily basis.

      I sometimes think about what life would be like if we didn’t have our filters, there’s so much stimuli and for the most part we don’t notice it because it’s filtered out. There are flashing shiny things everywhere. If I didn’t use AdBlock I would not be able to use the internet.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes odd little coincidences occur. Last night I was watching an episode of Longmire, where a character in that show HAD misophonia. The night before I was watching Doc Martin, and again…misophonia in someone. I had never heard of the word prior to the Doc Martin episode, but I’ve known people who had it. Hubby had it, but only about a specific thing…chewing. He HATED how my father chewed his food. Over time I began to notice my father’s chewing as well..in a negative way. I grew up with the man and his rather casual way of chewing (he chawed on things, slurp, munch munch..) had never bothered me before. Tell me, is the condition catching? 😉

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    1. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      Wow, talk about synchronicity. Subjects do seem to do that once they enter the collective consciousness.

      Longmire!!! Love it! It has such a wonderful pacing. Slow. Steady. Sturdy. My fav character is Mathias.

      What you described isn’t Misophonia. While it is about being irritated by sound, and chewing food is a trigger for many of those with Misophonia, lots of people who don’t have Misophonia find the way other people eat and chew their food irritating. For it to be Misophonia there has to be a visceral irrational reaction to the sound and action, and a strong primal impulse to escape or attack the chewer even if you love the chewer.

      What you described is more along the lines of someone who just found someone else’s way of eating disgusting.

      There’s been quite a bit of scientific research into Disgust (probably more than there has been into Misophonia). We can, under certain circumstances, infect others with what we find disgusting, especially if those others are close to us and have to listen to us bitch (describe in detail repeatedly) about what bothers us.

      It’s similar to influencing someone else’s opinion about a TV show. If you really hate a TV show and someone else likes it, if you bitch about that TV show enough in the presence of the person who likes them, pointing out all of its flaws, they’ll begin to dislike the show too (or they’ll begin to dislike you for ruining the show for them). Even if they never quite end up hating the show like you do, you’ll have pointed out things about it which they’ll find it difficult to ignore.

      It sounds like your husband just found watching other people chew annoying. And based on your description the way your father chewed sounds like it was in your face and over the top. That would be annoying to pretty much everyone. Because he was your father you’d learned to tune it out, but your husband tuned you into it and after that you couldn’t tune it out again. If your husband also knew about your family history and story, he may have been using his disgust at your father’s chewing to express how he felt about that.

      Often with regular sound and sight irritations you can find psychological associations which are pertinent to the irritation. Someone you don’t like but have to put up with will be a constant source of different irritations, whereas with someone you like even their snoring may be delightful (until it starts to grate).

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  3. PS. I have to share with you: last weekend I was watching 1967’s War and Peace and suddenly find myself rushing to the iphone and googling “is Natalia Rostova a Narcissist?”, however, I already know the answer.

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    1. The Narcissist as a character in book and film is quite common, especially if it’s a drama. Narcissists make a great juxtaposition for the ‘hero’ and his/her journey through the story, and tend to make us want to read the book and watch the film to its conclusion (where hopefully the narcissist gets their just desserts and the hero wins).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh well, I can completely relate to misophonia. As for me, I hate small children’s noise while throwing a tantrum for not being given something their parents won’t indulge – and I always end up on the subway or supermarket line close to some family whose child is behaving just like this. I always google things I’m not sure of, such as ‘how to know if your eggs are already boiled?’ and get amazed at how many people before me had the poor judgement or lack of something better to do on their free time to devote an entire minucious explanations about it, lol.

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    1. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      There’s a kind of unofficial online protocol which goes something along these lines – if you have had a problem and did a search online looking for a solution but couldn’t find it (or what you found didn’t explain it in a manner you could understand), and then you solved your problem, chances are other people have had or may have a similar problem and since you’ve got a solution for it – share it!

      I think most people find the sound of a tantrum, whether thrown by a child or an adult, to be hellish for the ears and the eyes. Now if someone could figure out how to stop a tantrum really quickly and efficiently without offending anyone in the process – that would be problem solving gold!

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    1. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      Hmmmm? indeed!

      For.Dip.Cantab. sounds like a character in a Douglas Adams story. And F.A.I.L is a button on a space ship which should NOT be pressed but regularly gets pressed (and resets the entire universe) by those who have to press buttons you’re not supposed to press due to stop = go to their brains.

      Liked by 2 people

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