I’m standing in line at the cash register in a clothing store in Orlando, when suddenly I hear it.

CRACK!

The girl in line behind me is standing so close she’s almost touching me… and she’s chomping hard on a stick of gum, then cracking it loudly in my ear every few seconds.

The hair on the back of my neck stands on end. She’s going to do it again, I just know it.

CRACK!

And again.

CRACK!

I start counting in my head, and it’s roughly every ten seconds, the loud, obnoxious chomping broken by the loud CRACK. The line isn’t getting any shorter:  the woman at the front has a bag of returns she’s complaining about, a supervisor is being called, and…

CRACK!

I literally cannot stand it.

No, seriously: I mean, I know it’s all the rage to use ‘literally’ to mean ‘figuratively’, but the blood is pounding in my ears, my hands are shaking, and I swear to God, if I have to hear this girl crack her gum one more time, I’m going to…

CRACK!

Yeah, that.

Instead, I turn and leave the line, abandoning my planned purchase and racing to get away from this hideous, repetitive noise, which is literally – LITERALLY – making me want to punch someone.

It’s not the first time this – or something like it – has happened.

living with misophononiaI, you see, suffer from misophonia: a little known condition which is probably best described as an extreme sensitivity to certain sounds or other triggers. One of my triggers, needless to say, is the sound of gum cracking – or being chewed loudly. Other triggers include things like:

–  the thumping baseline of music playing at a distance.

–  the tinny sound of music/radio seeping through cheap headphones.

–   GUM.

–   someone clicking a sweet against their teeth.

–   or hitting their cutlery against their plate with every bite.

–  whistling.

and on, and on and on.

And, I mean, I know what you’re thinking. You’re all, “Er, NO ONE likes hearing those sounds, Amber – enough with the special snowflake act!”

It’s true, of course – and it’s probably one of the reasons misophonia is so easily dismissed by a large part of the population. The fact is, though, for most people, those kind of sounds are a minor annoyance at best. For someone with misophonia, on the other hand, they’re like a form of torture, invoking a powerful fight or flight response…  which is why I ran out of that store a few years ago (So long, beautiful dress I never got to buy!) rather than turn around and scream at some poor girl to STOP CRACKING GUM ALREADY. Which, honestly, I was REALLY close to doing.

I’ve felt like this about certain sounds for as long as I can remember, and, just to add to the fun, I also have some visual misophonia triggers, too. Things like…

– hair twirling.

–  thumb twiddling.

–  foot waggling.

–  feet rubbing together.

So, basically any kind of repetitive motion happening within my eyeline, really. These kind of actions will all provoke that same kind of instant rage which makes me want to – and sometimes HAVE to – run away, just to escape it.

Sounds fun, no?

It isn’t, needless to say: not for me, and not for any of the members of my family, who’ve had to put up with years of being asked repeatedly to please, PLEASE stop rubbing their feet together like that, or I will LITERALLY DIE OVER HERE.

DEEP BREATH.

misophonia advice and triggersFor years, I assumed I was just an asshole.

So did most people I met.

Then, a few years ago, I came across a news article about misophonia, and all of a sudden, everything clicked into place. I forwarded the article to my husband and parents.  “Sound like anyone you know?” I asked. “ER, YES!” came the instant response.

It was me down to a T – it even mentioned the loathed foot waggling/rubbing, which had enraged me for my entire life, and which still prompts a physical feeling of disgust which I can only liken to the sound of nails down a blackboard, say. I’d never encountered even one other soul who understood this reaction, let alone shared it, but here I was, reading about it in a news article, and discovering there were other people just like me, all over the world. I mean, we couldn’t ALL just be assholes, could we?

(Er, on second thoughts, maybe don’t answer that…)

That article helped make me feel a bit less like a freak… but the jury was still out. My family all agreed that if misophonia was actually A Thing, then I definitely had it. But WAS it? A Thing, I mean? Or was it maybe just a Made Up Thing, designed to make all of us Absolute Assholes feel a little bit better about ourselves?

I wasn’t sure: and, of course, reading about something on the internet isn’t the same as actually being diagnosed with it – which is why I chose to keep quiet about my suspected misophonia, and to continue carrying earplugs with me everywhere I went.

Then, last year, I started seeing a counsellor in the run-up to my c-section, and one of the things we talked about was my phobia of hospitals, and just why, exactly, I was so totally freaked out at the thought of having to stay in one. So, we discussed all of the obvious reasons – the fact that I might, you know, DIE, being the main one – and then I sheepishly brought up one of my other big fears: that I wouldn’t be able to handle the NOISE.

Hospitals, you see, are noisy places. I’d already spent a lot of that year visiting my mother-in-law in the very hospital I’d be giving birth in, and I’d been totally horrified by the TVs blaring loudly in the wards, the music seeping out of cheap headphones, and all of the other sounds that never seemed to stop. I remember one afternoon we sat with Terry’s mum for over an hour, and the whole time we were there, some random piece of equipment emitted a loud BEEP! every ten seconds or so. I know because I counted… and yes, it really did continue for the full hour, by the end of which, I was about fit to be tied.

(And no, it wasn’t actually supposed to be doing that: it was a patient’s buzzer malfunctioning, apparently…)

I would not handle that kind of noise well: I knew it, but I was embarrassed to admit it, because… well, what kind of asshole complains about the noise of a place that exists to save your life, I ask you?

(Don’t answer that one, either…)

(I actually wouldn’t have complained about it, by the way. I had, however, done a bit of a recce around the hospital, and had decided that, if there really WAS music playing until midnight (Which actually happened in the ward my mum stayed in earlier this year…), I’d just go and sit in the waiting room for the rest of the night. Or the hospital reception. Or, you know, the car park or something. ANYTHING to escape the relentless THUMP! THUMP! of a partially-heard baseline, amiright?)

(Yeah, these are all rhetorical questions, OK?)

what it's like to live with misophoniaAnyway, I shamefacedly admitted to the psychologist that one of the things that was worrying me most about the hospital stay was the fact that I couldn’t seem to handle certain sounds without absolutely losing my mind. I expected to just be dismissed, as I always had in the past when I’d mentioned any of this to, well, ANYONE, really, but, much to my surprise, she looked up with interest.

“You’ve probably never heard of this,” she said, “But there’s a condition called misophonia, and…”

“OMG YES I’VE HEARD OF IT BUT I DIDN’T THINK IT WAS ACTUALLY REAL!” I gabbled incoherently, amazed that there was actually someone out there who knew what I was talking about when I said I wanted to murder people who click boiled sweets around their teeth before swallowing them.*

(*Not really.)

(*Yes, though.)

“Oh, it’s definitely real,” she assured me. “And it definitely sounds like you have it.”

I breathed a huge sigh of relief: FINALLY, I had a diagnosis! And it wasn’t just, “ASSHOLE.”

“The problem is,” the psychologist continued, “It really isn’t well understood. And there’s no cure.”

Ah.

There is that, of course.

There is currently no treatment or cure for misophonia, which didn’t even have a name until 2000. That means that all people like me can do is try to develop coping strategies. I, for instance, use ear-plugs a lot – or, at least, I did before Max came along. I play my own music or TV to try to drown out the thudding baselines and tinny speaker sounds that bother me so much. And, if I find myself in a situation like the one in that clothing store in Orlando a few years back, I get the hell out of it, as fast as I can.

And, of course, it’s not like ALL noise will trigger the fight-or-flight thing. For me, it seems mostly to be repetitive or avoidable sounds. So, if I’m in a nightclub, say (Lol! AS IF I’d be in a nightclub!), the loud music won’t bother me at all: I mean, I’ll obviously do that Old Person thing of going, “I don’t know why it has to be so loud! Because when I go out with people,  actually want to be able to HEAR them!”, but I won’t become incoherent with rage over it. If I can faintly hear the thumping bassline from a house at the other end of my street, on the other hand, I WILL BE LIVID. YOU WILL NOT WANT TO ENCOUNTER ME. Seriously, I’m the least confrontational person in the world, but if I can hear your bassline a-thumpin’, I WILL knock on your door and ask you turn it down. Then I’ll slink home and be so embarrassed I’ll want to die.

And that’s what it’s like to live with misophonia. I’ve been doing it for so long now that it was only a few weeks ago, when I read another blogger’s post about their own misophonia struggles (I’ve searched and searched, but I can’t for the life of me re-find that post, so if it was yours, let me know, so I can link you!), that it occurred to me that it might be something I should write about, if only in the hope that even one other person might read it and say, “It’s not just you, Amber: I think chewing gum in public should be punishable by death, too.”

Is that person you, by any chance? Because, if it is, you have NO idea how much I’d love to hear from you…

57 Comments
  1. OMG. This is my husband. I didn’t know it was an actual thing!

    His particular trigger is focused on the car; there’s a tiny rattle type noise if two internal panels don’t sit perfectly together and that noise I can barely hear drives him insane. We now always have a roll of anti friction tape in the car so he can fix the problem whenever it starts.

  2. Oh my goodness, I have this too. My mother cracks her gum and whistles and it makes me absolutely enraged. To the point where I have to take breaks when I go to visit her. Other things get to me too, but the gum and whistling makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

  3. HELLO, KINDRED SPIRIT! We don’t have the all of same triggers, but GOSH, I have been up all night in tears because of the thumping bass from a house party down the street more than once. My personal nightmare sound is Other People Eating. I’m the anti-social person in the office who eats lunch at my desk rather than sit in the break room with everyone else and their chewing sounds. My father in law loves nothing more than to tell stories with his mouth full of food. Which he pauses to reload before continuing his story. I have been absolutely beside myself on occasion at family gatherings. I have a two month old baby now and I fervently hope that the gross food sounds she makes will somehow cure me, but I suspect that it just won’t be a trigger because it’s something I’ve chosen to expose myself to.
    You’re definitely not alone, and I’m weirdly thrilled to find somebody else who suffers through the same torture as me. No jury I sat on would convict you for murdering a public gum-snapper.

    1. HIGH FIVE!

      I’m SO glad I’m not the only one who’s been reduced to tears by thumping bass – I have, many times, the most recent one being last week, when our neighbours had a new deck built, and the workies set up a speaker in the garden to listen to music while they worked. I immediately went out and asked them to turn it down (By which I really meant “OFF”), and they rolled their eyes, then grudgingly turned it down to a level that most people would agree was perfectly reasonable, but which reduced me to tears because I could still hear the THUMP THUMP of the bass inside my house. By the time they left, I was an absolute wreck.

  4. I struggle enormously with wanting to rip my own eyelashes out – like deep, passionate, red-eyed rage – at the sounds of any of the following: slurping of soup, hot drinks or cereal (hearing it aroundnoodles weirdly doesn’t bother me as much, perhaps because it feels unavoidable? Or perhaps in that situation I’m doing it myself and don’t hear it?), people who like to click pens on and off, tinny music (especially headphone seep), thumping distant baselines, any sort of friction squeaking (polystyrene squeak literally hurts my teeth and makes me howl; the thought of it is making my back shudder), really loud gum-chewing (the popping isn’t quite as bad, but it’s still not great) and the cat’s claws getting caught in or pulling up anything. Visually I want to slap anyone picking at their face – particularly if they wiggle their fingers in their ears. Obvs we all do it, no doubt including me, but anyone doing it for a long time gets death rays.

    I also thought it was a comfort thing rather than A Thing and I am feeling hugely validated by this post. Because since it IS a thing, I diagnose myself because HELL YES DEATH TO THE NOISEMAKERS.

    1. It’s interesting you mention comfort, because I think a lot of it does come down to basic manners/etiquette (Even without misophonia, I’d find it rude for someone to eat with their mouth open, or play loud music or whatever…), and I could never understand why other people weren’t so enraged by it. Then I finally realised that, actually, it’s not normal to feel actual RAGE over those things, and that I was literally not able to cope with them without feeling so angry I could scream – and yes, I felt totally validated too, when I finally realised it was A Thing!

  5. Chewing with open mouth. It is THE WORST. I will mentally punch anyone who does it. Also chewing hard candy, slurping, and sniffling (GET A TISSUE). I read about misophonia a few years back and it was a complete revelation.

    1. In my last office job, I sat directly opposite a woman who would chew gum all day with her mouth open. If I hadn’t had to leave for other reasons not long after she started doing it, I honestly think I’d have had to resign over it – I was seriously considering it!

  6. I have Misophonia too. Like you until a few years ago I thought I was just a horrible person, because what kind of a person feels like they want to harm their own family just because they are making a noise?? I was so relieved when I found out it was a genuine condition. For me it is mostly wet eating noises that affect me – chewing gum, teeth sucking and crunching crisps in particular, which can make mealtimes awkward – I feel so sorry for Dan because I’m convinced he is the loudest eater in the world and he probably is completely normal! Sometimes I just can’t bear it though and have to leave the room! There are a few other sounds, I completely get what you mean about the music, I had to move out of an apartment once because the neighbours constantly played music and I actually thought I was going to have a breakdown. I also for some reason absolutely cannot abide the sound of someone trying (and failing) to stifle giggles – it drives me to an absolute rage! And I can’t stand it when someone taps my arm or leg for attention – especially if they keep doing it over and over! It’s funny you mention about the visual aspects too – I have always been bothered by repetitive motion in my periphery too but never thought to connect the two. Dan has a habit at work of walking around in a circle to get his steps in while he was taking a phone call and I had to ask him not to do it near my desk (no, I don’t know why he is still with me either….!)

    1. Oh goodness, I forgot about the visual aspects! I was having dinner at a restaurant with my dad one evening. And maybe because it was empty except us, one of the waiters kept pacing the floor from the counter to the door, then back again over and over. I. Couldn’t. Bear. It. My dad didn’t get why it made me anxious and why I asked the guy to stop. The least of it was that it felt as if our not particularly private yet personal conversation was being eavesdropped.

      1. The visual stuff came first for me – I can remember being a little girl, and just being absolutely HORRIFIED by the sight of my parents waggling/rubbing their feet while they watched TV. I would beg them to stop, and they’d just be like, “The hell?!” It still drives me crazy, though: I remember I once got the aisle seat on a long-haul flight, and the person across the aisle from me got on, removed their shoes to reveal bright white socks, and then proceeded to rub their feet together for the entire flight. I had to sit twisted around to face the window the whole time, so I couldn’t see the constantly moving feet – I was almost in tears by the time we landed :O

    2. Music, I think is the worst for me, I think because I see it as an avoidable sound – like, people have to mow their lawns, maintain their properties, etc, so most neighbourhood noises don’t bother me, but no one HAS to play music loud enough for their neighbours to be able to hear it, so it makes me apoplectic with rage when it happens. We literally moved house because our house was semi-detached, but the one next door had always been empty, and, when it got sold, I was just like, “If the new people move in and I can hear their music or TV through the wall, I’ll probably kill them in their sleep.” Terry took this so seriously that our house went on the market the next week!

      1. I sympathise so much! My ex quite obviously thought I was just being a complete drama queen but it made me so, so miserable. He was out a lot in the evenings and at weekends and I would end up finding every excuse I could not to go home and sit there alone trying to ignore it. I genuinely was concerned about my mental wellbeing by then end – it truly has the power to make you feel like you are going crazy. I am so thankful now that I’m with someone who trusts that I’m telling the truth when I explain how much things bother me and tries to do what he can to help reduce the anxiety – I must drive him mad with it but at least he understands!

  7. I’m not sure I have misophonia exactly because my reactions don’t seem as strong, but there are most definitely tons of sounds I can’t stand: pen clicking, loud foot/finger tapping, any kind of oral sound (slurping, chewing, licking- that one to the point I can’t stand hearing my pets cleaning themselves), clock ticking… They either make me feel super nervous or disgust me so much I can’t keep hearing them. I’m most definitely the asshole that goes “can you PLEASE STOP THAT??” any time a classmate starts drumming on the table

  8. So it’s not just me. I hate repetitive clicking noises, beeps, tube drivers who keep yapping, one-sided cell phone conversations by people who tell you they’re “on the bus”, sudden screams and yells, sirens that just go off, people slurping their noodles (happens all the time in Japan), people licking their lips. And much, much more. Tinny noise escaping headphones doesn’t bother me too much, but when idiots insisted on playing their music through the speakers so the whole bus could hear… Distant basslines I can handle, but for a person who loves heavy rock I can’t stand music when it’s too loud.

    Living in London stressed the hell out of me, just the simple act of travelling across town and having to endure the constant noise. My partner remembers the time I yelled in terror because a police siren started out of nowhere as we walked past St. Pancras station. I do appreciate that’s a necessary noise, but can’t they build up gradually? That said, a certain amount of city hustle and bustle is manageable. But Glasgow is an oasis of calm compared to London!

    I used to work in a cafe which regularly had all kinds of noise going on at the same time – coffee machine, customers chatting, waitresses taking orders, dumb waiter door opening and slamming shut. I could handle that, but whenever the manager spoke to me I had to ask her to look at me when she did so I could separate her words from the din. So she would speak to me very, very slowly as if I were daft (I asked her if she would patronise a deaf person like that).

    Sea sounds and bird song for me, please.

  9. Snap – all of the above and a few more. Literally decades ago when I was taking an exam and the invigilator who was walking up and down the rows was wearing squeaky shoes I thought I was going to scream. I put my hand up after a long time of counting every squeak on her alternate steps and couldn’t even read the questions never mind answer them. She agreed to stand still and just observe (she didn’t like my suggestion that she could take them off). In another undergraduate final exam where there were only about 20 students for that option they put us in a normal room and it was a really hot day so the windows were open. The grass was being cut outside, there was a loud meeting in an adjacent room and workmen drilling in another room. Everyone else was writing furiously. I just cried and begged to go anywhere else. Our lecturer who was also invigilatibg managed to get the meeting moved and the workmen stopped, thank goodness.
    The sock rubbing is horrendous, as us men jingling coins in their pockets – I could kill them for doing it near me. Misophonia with bells on!!!

    1. I’m really glad someone else understands the sock rubbing thing: I have an actual, physical reaction to it – it’s like nails down a blackboard to me, totally unbearable!

  10. I am so glad I read this. I have suspected for a while I have this – I can’t be around someone eating cereal or gum, and I struggle to sit with the kids at dinner times sometimes because of the usual slurps and noises that don’t seem to bother my other half. I also get insanely irritated to the point I lose my shit if someone whistles around me and my eldest son does this strange yodelling noise that I cannot stand. It is interesting that there is a visual one because I know for sure I have that – my partner taps his feet and jiggles his legs about and it usually means I have to go and sit elsewhere because it enrages me that much. I don;t feel quite so strange now!

    1. I really, really hate whistling, especially when it’s that tuneless kind where the person just emits a loud PEEP! every so often. There’s something about the particular pitch of it that actually hurts my head – I genuinely don’t understand how people can listen to it!

  11. I feel you so much right now – I have misophonia as well. Well, I have Tourettes and most people with tourettes also tend to get misophonia, so yeah, I just can’t win.
    But that aside, you’re not alone. It can be music that’s too soft, chewing, the rustle of a skirt, someone breathing! It’s a tough one to live with, so I’m glad that you feel so comfortable sharing this with us and helping raise awareness xx

    1. That’s really interesting – I wonder if it’s linked to other conditions, too? Not the same as Tourettes, obviously, but I get focal migraines and am really sensitive to light: my counsellor told me it’s quite common in people who suffer from anxiety, but I’ve sometimes wondered if there’s just something about the way my brain is wired that makes it less able to handle certain things!

      1. I am really sensitive to light as well and need to protect my eyes, I did look really stupid though when my reactive lenses went dark in the least bit of light lol

      2. I’m not terribly sure about the link between misophonia and other conditions, but light sensitivity and sensitivity to the buzzing noise some lights make is linked to autism, asbergers and other such conditions. Often in special education classrooms in the US, the instructor will alter the color of the lights to help make them not so bright. I personally can’t stand bright artificial lights, especially fluorescent lights and the energy-saving bulbs that are out nowadays….They tend to buzz and emit a bright blue-ish color (as opposed to a soft yellow). Though most people I know can’t seem to hear the buzz? It’s such an issue for me in fact, that when my husband was building our house, he put dimmers on all the lights and we used wall sconces to avoid direct overhead lighting. We also put tons of windows in the house to allow for the most advantage for natural light. But you’ve got me curious as to if sound and light sensitivity are connected? Ticking clocks drive me crazy and so does when my husband listens to music on his iPad (the speakers are horrendous) and I usually find leave the house (take the dog out, run an errand) whenever he plays music through his iPad. Thankfully, it’s not that often.

  12. Gum doesn’t bother me, but does other people’s breathing count too? :s
    I work in an open office these days. I wear heavy headphones without music on them on busy days. Also, totally moving next month bc the store below my apartment has a cooling installation that vents all day and night. Audibly. Even in my bedroom on the top floor.

  13. One of the nicest things about being on maternity leave is not having to hear other people eating at their desks around me – especially crisps, rice cakes, apples etc… I’d send emails to the other manager going ‘argh I’m going to have to leave the room if that noise doesn’t stop’ and she hadn’t even noticed it. The worst is commuting though – it’s a tin can full of people designed to torture you with annoying sounds – the worst of which is people picking their nails. I’ve sat there and pointedly put my fingers in my ears next to someone doing that (they always pretend not to notice).

    I literally just had a conversation with my husband that started ‘the bad thing about you working from home is having to listen to you eating crisps three times a day’… (Why is he so obsessed wth crisps anyway and how has he stayed slim?!)

    I don’t react as strongly to quite as many things as you list but I think a lot of us have this condition to a degree. So it seems weird it’s so little discussed or understood!

    1. I’m embarrassed to admit that I hate the sound of someone eating an apple so much that if Terry wants to eat an apple near me, he either has to cut it into slices first, so there’s no loud crunching, or warn me in advance, so I can leave the room. If I ruled the world, I would seriously make it illegal to eat apples in public – right after I’d outlawed the sale of gum, obviously!

    2. Also, yes, I think it’s probably something that most of us are susceptible to in certain circumstances: Terry is one of the most tolerant people I know, but he cannot STAND the sound of a ticking clock (He actually wanted to take the batteries out of the one in his mum’s hospital room, because it annoyed him so much), and one time he was forced to sit opposite a foot rubber for a few hours, and afterwards said he could finally understand why it annoyed me so much!

  14. I didn’t know this was an actual thing! I though I was just really irratable and well, a total cow! 😄 skin/scab picking is the worst! And I live with a picker, to the point where he bleeds. If he keeps doing it, which he often does I have to leave the room or close my eye and reach over and hit his arm. (We’re at work and I just threw a pen at him for it)
    Feet! Also have to shut my eyes or leave
    Tinny sounding music, can’t even cope, I have to leave ask them to stop, it makes my skin crawl.
    Hair/eyebrows being brushed the wrong way, my friend all make fun of it but it makes me feel physically sick.
    People eating loudly, apples, gum…..slurping (I’m actually making myself feel really horrid right now)
    WHISTLING! Shouldn’t be allowed! It’s rediculous and makes me want to stick things in my ears and eyes.
    Lynsey xxx

    1. I think we should start a band and call it The Misophobes 😉 (There will obviously be no whistling or loud bass, though, because then we’d have to kill ourselves.) Honestly can’t tell you how glad I am it’s not just me!

  15. This is so interesting. My husband has always had certain sounds that he just can’t tolerate. Barking dogs is the worst one. Not a dog that barks a bit normally but the barking that just never ends. Also, pen-clicking, fingernail biting, and words used repetitively such as “like” or “you know”. He actually had to walk out of a meeting a few weeks ago because the speaker kept saying “you know.” I never knew there was an actual name for this.

    1. Oh, I hate repetitive barking, too, and it’s interesting you say that, because it’s one that crept up on me. A few years ago, we had a neighbour whose dog would be allowed to bark all day long: it was only after a few days of it that it started to bother me, but once it had, the dog only had to bark once, and I’d feel like my head was going to explode. I actually went and spoke to them about it quite a few times, and ended up threatening to call the RSPCA if they didn’t take the dog inside. (Which I’d actually have done even if the noise wasn’t bothering me, because it was snowing at the time, and I could’t stop worrying about it!)

  16. Yep, I definitely suffer from this too. For me, the triggers are generally any kind of repetitive clicking, tapping, crunching, smacking, chewing, slurping, snuffling or rustling sound – typing on keyboards, taps dripping, pen clicking, gum chewing, sniffing, etc. – and I also have the same visual triggers as you do. And oh dear me, second-hand music is excruciating – whether it’s the thumping bass line from next door, or the tinny overspill from someone’s headphones. Whispering, children’s voices (they’re so loud and high-pitched), and the sounds my husband makes as he breathes when asleep also set me off. You are not alone!

  17. I have known for years that I’ve got misophonia, since when I read about it. Some sounds just make me want to cry from frustration and disgust and I have to leave the room, that’s how much they disgust me. Some other sounds are just annoying. I’ve had some of these since I was a baby, and the visual misophonia too.
    I HATE people chewing loudly with their mouths open: just take smaller bites of food and maybe talk when you’re done chewing, it’s not nice to see your half eaten food spitted everywhere as you talk! Also, people chewing gum: do they have to do it open mouthed? Sometimes on the bus I can hear a person chew from the other end of the bus: a ten meters long bus. I refuse to think that it’s just because I have super good hearing (but I really do, lucky me), it’s the person who should, you know, just stop chewing so loudly the entire bus can hear it…
    It’s weird, some sounds have stopped bothering me so much with time, some other don’t bother me all the time (I don’t mind a group of people all chewing together, maybe because that’s expected, but when it’s a single person eating lunch on a bus, I feel hopeless, maybe because I can’t technically escape?). I have some coping mechanisms: I always have my mp4 and headphones with me, that helps. Or I just stand and get away from the noise, if I can.
    The sounds that enrage me the most are people smacking lips all. the. time when they’re talking: like, do you really have to do that all the time? Is it really necessary? But that bothers me only if it’s a video or a podcast. In real life? Smacking lips I don’t even notice. If I do, it means the person is doing it so often and so loudly no-misophone people find it annoying too.
    Other, lesser triggers are ticking watches (I can’t concentrate with ticking), TV sounds in the background when no one is watching it (feels like a waste to me), people doing obsessive repetitive movements (twirling hair, fingers rubbing together, basically every movement that is repeated ad nauseam for hours on end). These I find annoying, so I don’t know if they’re linked to my misophonia.
    Other sounds that drive me crazy are picking nails, people biting their fingers or sucking them or generally people with their fingers in their mouths (that can’t be hygienic if you’re on the tube). These are the kind of sounds that really stress me out, make my anxiety levels skyrocket and, if done repetitively, can bring me to almost cry out of frustration. I don’t think I’ve ever had the impulse to hurt someone, but I sure have had the impulse to just yell at them to stop.
    It’s not easy living with misophonia, people can get mad at you if you ask them to stop doing something all the time, especially if it’s something they do all the time without thinking, like picking nails and picking their nose. But with time I’ve devised many coping mechanisms and I’ve even overcome a bit some of my worst pet peeves.

    1. It’s interesting what you say about hearing, because I do seem to pick up on sounds that other people can’t hear – there have been countless times when I’ve started freaking out about music playing at a distance, and no one I’m with will even be able to hear it – or will only be able to hear it if they really concentrate. I wonder if there’s maybe something about our ears that makes us hear certain sounds differently to other people?

  18. Whistling is by far the worst for me, but another top contender is PEOPLE CLIPPING THEIR FINGERNAILS ON PUBLIC TRANSIT! You would not think it would be so common, but when I was taking the train every day at least a few times a week I’d hear the telltale snip snip sound coming from a few rows away. It was rough because the sound is sharp and loud enough to be heard even through my headphones.

  19. Honey. I am so glad you got your diagnosis. They give peace of mind that you aren’t being crazy. I have Trypophobia which is a phobia of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes or bumps. I get super squicked out by irregular holes. Like I run the other way as fast as possible. I feel fear and deep in my belly weird and anxious. I never know when it will strike. I am still learning what triggers it for me.

    Sadly there is no official diagnosis for it yet as it hasn’t really been studied. Even the word is more of an adopted name for this. Not going to lie, phobias suck.

  20. My understanding of misophonia (as a medic, though not specifically a psych) is that it’s quite often linked to anxiety. As I’m sure you know through experience, anxiety means you’re much more often in that “fight or flight” mode anyhow, and as such are more aware and responsive to triggers – social, noise, light, smells, perceived danger… All of them. Though there’s no cure for misophonia per se, addressing anxiety can help to lessen how much it affects you day-to-day. Obviously this is a conversation for your psych team and I’m certainly not trying to internet-diagnose. But doubling down on anxiety – meds, CBT or whatever may work for you, might well have the added bonus effect of helping out with this too. Good luck!

  21. It means the hatred of noise in Greek 😬

    Where someone with anxiety will focus in on any noise and it will make them feel so highly irritated that their blood pressure will go through the roof 🤬

    I live with two noisy eaters, I never eat in their vicinity, I still them on every occasion to stop being so noisy but with them it is just how they eat and so it will only quieten for a little while then just go back to how it was 🤬
    We have a carpet rubber in our family, one single movement is sufficient for me to explode 😳

    Other sounds that bothet me, soup and drink slurping 😬 someone eating a banana 😧 and the slightest lick of a finger 😬 why 🤬
    I do find it easier if there is other noise to cover the noises that irritate me, like TV, but visual accompaniments can still be left to see 😬
    My children have lived with me being irritated from the day they were born and can sometimes tease me, but thankfully they are adults now, and it is mostly just my husband who can drive me mad 😂

    1. I turn the tv on too when my husband is eating or doing other things that annoy me. It blocks the sounds out.

  22. I have this condition too! Well, I have Aspergers and ADHD, and most people with those conditions have misophonia as a symptom. I have so many of the same triggers as you do, especially bass thumping and whistling. I’ve known about it for years, but I actually had no idea visual triggers were a thing–until now, I never really made the connection between my misophonia and the panicked feeling I get when someone jiggles their leg or twiddles their thumbs, but it makes a lot of sense! (The leg jiggling thing makes me feel like a hypocrite, though, because like I said, I have ADHD, so I tend to jiggle my leg, especially when I’m overwhelmed by noise/visual triggers. Which can lead to things like me jiggling my leg because I’m so fed up with the person next to me jiggling their leg…)

    I’m really glad you shared this. Even though I know a lot of people have this condition, it’s always a relief to be reminded I’m not the only one!

  23. Gum doesn’t bother me, but the sound of TV from another room or a baseline in the distance will drive me mad. I go to bed before my partner every night and keep two fans on in my room in order to drown out even the hint of the tv sound. Otherwise, I lay there and boil in my hatred for a person I typically love.
    In one of my college classes, a fellow student was giving a presentation and was taking her heel in and out of her clogs for the entire thing. It drove me mad!
    I don’t think I have misophonia, but I do agree that some avoidable sounds/movements should be punishable by death. Especially keeping a TV on quietly in another room.

  24. I totally get this! I cannot eat with other people because certain sounds make me want to pull my face off. The worst is cutlery scraping on teeth, which I physically cannot stand and have to leave the room if I hear it. For some reason a fork is the absolute worst, then a spoon. Also slurping from a spoon. And the sound of my husband fussing his teeth has me with my fingers in my ears under the covers until it’s over. I can’t tolerate these sounds at all and they hurt my ears. I just thought everyone making these sounds has disgusting habits but maybe it’s me and I have a bit of this too!

  25. Oh yes, I belong to that club too. I cannot stand people chewing loudly, gulping while drinking, scraping teeth on eating utensils, people cracking their hands, fingers, gum popping, people clicking their nails on something, clipping nails, people rubbing anything that makes noise (pants, fabric, etc.) I feel badly about getting irritated and wanting to get away from anyone making these noises, but people who don’t have this thing really don’t get it. High strung, highly sensitive people seem to be more afflicted by this than others. It’s nice to know it’s a real thing and not just being “overly-sensitive.”

  26. A friend was kind enough to pick me up from the airport. He was chewing gum. After 5 minutes I literally screamed “If you don’t stop chewing gum I’m going to hit you!” It was a frosty ride after that but yes, I would have hit him. I didn’t know this was a real thing, I thought it was just me.

  27. Add me to your list. Mine is mostly people eating loudly, I occasionally have to leave the room when my husband eats because he is so loud. Argh

  28. Epiphany – just watching Victoria Derbyshire talking about pupil referral units working with children with behavioural issues. One little boy had to escape the classroom with only four pupils because of noise. He obviously has misophonia and knew what he had to do to relieve his obvious stress. The workers thought he had calmed down because they had distracted him, which is often used as a strategy, but it was because they took him to the empty (hence quiet library).

  29. I’m in total shock, Amber! Up until now I thought that I’m the only weird person who can’t stand certain things to the point that I’m in wild rage in just few minutes. Like the noise of someone eating – open or closed mouth, it doesn’t matter, the sound of the teeth chewing together drives me crazy. And the music… let’s just say that I have had few episodes of total rage against people with their loud music which I can hear through the walls.
    Your post is a lot more than a story for a condition you have. You gave the explanation for my weird reactions.

  30. What’s the name for when one hasn’t heard of a condition and then within the space of a month finds two different written accounts of the condition?

    While not misophonia, I read a (comic) book by John Porcellino in which he recounts the onset and diagnosis of hyperacusis…..they two sound a lot alike.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperacusis

  31. Oh my goodness, I’m just also realizing that when I had anxiety attacks as a child in school, it usually occurred when we were doing “silent work” in the classroom. And I remember hearing everything amplified. Like I could hear every single pencil writing on paper, or the teacher opening her desk drawer or the clack of heels as someone walked past in the hallway. It was SO LOUD. It also physically hurt and I would usually silently cry and not move an inch. Sometimes the teachers would become so frustrated that they would pick me up and carry me down to the principal’s office, which was just as bad because I could hear the rustling of their skirt and clacking of their heels and the sounds of voices come and go as we walked by the other classrooms. In hindsight, I can kind of giggle at the whole thing. What must’ve people thought as a teacher carried an extremely calm-looking eight year old covering her ears and closing her eyes across the school? People just didn’t know or think about kids having anxiety attacks at the time and in the place I grew up, so I hold no ill will towards any of the teachers or anyone at the school. It’s interesting to note, that I now know my anxiety is high when sounds and lights are really bothering me more than usual and that’s one way I try to keep it in check. As I mentioned earlier, only some sounds really bother me still (more when I’m more anxious), but lights continue to plague me.

  32. Oh God yes!

    My husband has to eat pasta in the other room- the hell away from me!!

    Also- heavy breathing, sniffing, someone rubbing the arm of a chair, even someone licking their lips!

    I have put the cat in the other room for cleaning himself in what most would consider silence but nope, I can hear it.

    I also perpetually wish I worked from home as there are 2 people at work who sound like they’re using an actual hammer on their keyboards. Older people- dunno if they are used to rickety old tryewriters where they had to hammer the keys ??

    I- no kidding- feel like vomiting when I hear it then murdering them with a soup spoon and even Rage against the Machine or Iron Maiden cannot distract me from it. I don’t have tinny earphones though. They’re pretty silent unless they’re in your ears. Luckily.

    But yes- have it. Its torture. And my cousin has it as well and we’re proud to be assholes!! Haha.

  33. Wow – I thought this was just me. Perhaps hyper-sensitive hearing, or being a really light sleeper – I just can’t with repetitive noise(s) like thumping baselines or just-on-the-edge-of-my-hearing aircon or similar; it’s like torture. This week some Air BnBers on our street in Edinburgh had a party with boom-ba-bah-boom music till 3 in the morning and I honestly got to a point where I was fantasising about going round there with a sledgehammer and doing some damage. (I didn’t, I hasten to add, although I did phone the police and the police did come and stop them).
    For me I think part of this anxiety is because the world seems to be becoming a horrible place where people do things like that 3am weeknight wild parties or playing stuff on their phones in, say, the quiet coach of a train with no headphones (what is that about?)?
    On the other hand (top marks for coherence for me here) I am now wondering about sensory stimulation and anxiety… Sensory (over) stimulation is an issue for people with autistic spectrum disorders and some other ‘special needs’ issues. It never occured to me before but some anxiety triggers I’ve experienced are to do with situations featuring noise/light/touch etc… Hmmm….

  34. So glad to know I’m not the only one who suffers from this. Gum popping or anything to do with the sound of saliva does it. The flow of liquid on a small scale is the worst – like filling a glass/cup of water makes me want to go violent. The other irritants are some types of computer keyboard typing, paper being rustled (including page turning) and recordings of over-amplified footsteps in nature settings such as leaves and brush.

    Radio 4 and NPR (like Radio 4) are the worst media offenders of all of these. They think they’re being so cleaver by starting human-interest stories with “ambient” sounds which frequently involves the pouring/flowing of water or footsteps in nature. Seriously. I have to switch temporarily to a top 40 station when they do that.

  35. My parents have this and I have it to a certain extent. My mum’s triggers are slurping, sniffing, grinding teeth, and tinny music, my dad’s are children whining and babies crying to name but a few. Mine are drippy noises (taps, leaky showers,) tinny music, distant basslines, tuneless whistling, and whinging/whining.

    My mum can’t listen to people eat cereal or soup, and if someone has a cold and keeps sniffing she has a desperate urge to tell them to blow their nose.

    A few nights ago I could not sleep because there was a mysterious dripping noise somewhere in the house and I could not find it. I did a raging circuit several times around the house and tightened all the taps and it didn’t make a difference. I have an 8 month old baby so every wink of sleep I get is precious and I was frazzled after that night. I still don’t know what it was but thankfully it’s stopped.

    Children whining is a huge issue for me. Asking a question or expressing a need is fine, but whining is not. I have to leave the playground or shop or wherever to get away from it. It’s very similar to my dad’s trigger. He’s ok with a baby crying if he can soothe the baby but if it’s a stranger in a supermarket with a wailing baby that he has no influence over he will abandon his shopping and leave the store completely to get away from the sound.

  36. I suffer with it badly. Knuckles cracking, foot tapping, chewing with mouth open, speakers in cars driving past, hearing the neighbours, etc etc.

    My husband doesn’t get it and tells me just to ignore it its not that loud… but literally my blood pressure rises and sometimes I want to cry the noises are too much. I hope soon it will be more recognised.

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