Living with Misophonia – It’s not that I want you dead, I just want you to not breathe

I’ve been sitting on this completed post for a couple of months. I haven’t posted it for a couple of reasons: first, despite attempting to have a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek narrative, I’ve created a mean-spirited, snarky one; further, this topic is one of intense sensitivity in my family, as I’ve seriously hurt feelings over things that are, to a normal person, not a big deal (but to me are very much a big deal). So putting that out in the beginning, I’ve decided to share this post anyway, though most of the examples have been edited out, which has left it a bit shorter than normal, and ending a bit abruptly. I am hoping that you, the reader, will understand it in the way that it was intended, rather than in the way that it was written (a tall task, I know, but please try to read it with some level of silliness…), and forgive me the awkwardness of the post, as I found that the more I wrote, the more I hurt those that I care about the most.


Oh darling,’ I pondered aloud, ‘could I ask –
A light little favour? A trivial task?
It’s nothing demanding, important in style –
Just something I’d like,’ I explained with a smile.
‘Most certainly sweetest,’ he said with a grin:
Through sorrows, tomorrows, or thickness and thin –
Whatever our fate or our destiny brings,
I’d never deny you the smallest of things!
‘So make your request, my intended, and know:
I’ll never refuse if it’s mine to bestow!’
I looked in his eyes as he waited above –
And tenderly whispered: ‘Stop breathing, my love.’

– reddit, u/Poem_for_your_sprog

My whole life I’ve been impatient with the audacity of obnoxious noises. Everyone is, right? Like that “teh” sound when people smack their lips? Or grown adults chomping their food? Of course everyone is. Like that terrible sound of somebody biting into an apple, or the rage-inducing sound of someone eating cereal. Everyone gets ready to break things when those noises are around. I mean, how is someone expected to listen to the awful racket of the person next to you breathing,  what kind of world do we live in, after all? Everyone understands that the vile, pandemonious tumult of someone typing should be banned from any decent workplace, right? Of course you understand that it’s perfectly normal for me to want to fly into an uncontrolled rage every time that electric guitar plays on that damnable commercial, right?

What? Oh… well… I’ve recently learned that the answer to all of those questions is overwhelmingly “no.” Huh. I guess that explains why I’ve hurt so many feelings over the years. I guess that explains why I’m such a difficult person to live with (ask my wife, kids, former mission companions, or family). I guess people really don’t understand why I want to shout or cry or break things when they BREATH too loud.

Misophonia is new for me, at least the word is. There are, like every disorder, different levels of misophonia. One website lists a 1-10 severity scale (I’ve shortened it a bit, for ease):

Group One:
A person may be aware that some sounds can be a problem or an annoyance but does not seem to have a significant negative experience with them. Some people have commented on a sound “getting on their nerves.”
Group Two:
People at this level have reported having or having had some experience with misophonia but they do not seem to have a strong fight or flight response. They feel discomfort but are able to withstand the trigger event without undue stress and may be able to remove themselves from the offending sound without significant effort (or possibly endure the event).
Group Three:
Level Three persons have reported experiencing a significant negative response that includes wanting to escape the trigger event, politely asking someone to stop making the offending sound or feeling on edge until the sound ceases. At this level, people find it is difficult to endure the trigger event.
Group Four:
A person with a Level Four reaction reports having had at least one distinct fight or flight response. The person may feel tense and look perturbed by a trigger. Such a person can feel intensified reactions as described in Level Three above. Also, covering or plugging of ears is reported. Som e people report crying as one of their significant reactions and others report wondering if they are “insane.”
Group Five:
At this level, people report having a powerful fight or flight response that can be expressed as panic. The response is immediate and not something the person can control; the offending sound may elicit strong feelings of disgust. It may seem to the Level Five person that the offending sound, if coming from another person, is being made intentionally or inappropriately.
Group Six:
A person at this level of misophonia may feel the need to “sarcastically” mimic the offending sound or snap at the person making the sound. Some people report having a need to scream. At this level, people have reported experiencing physiological reactions such as muscles becoming tenser.
Group Seven:
A person experiencing Level Seven reports not being able to be distracted from the trigger sound and needs the sound to cease immediately. They may remove themselves from the trigger event abruptly, inappropriately and/or verbally insist that the offending person immediately cease making the noise.
Group Eight:
This level generates an intensified level of stress (as reported by respondents). All of the symptoms and reactions listed so far are in play. A person may become verbally assaultive, may threaten some action that will make the offending sound stop or has other extreme thoughts about how to handle the situation.
Group Nine:
Level Nine seems to be marked by a very intense hatred of the sound(s) and can elicit a desire to strike out at or forcefully make the problematic sound cease using inappropriate or excessive methods. People have reported using some kind of self-induced pain as a distraction. Some people say they have thoughts about using violence and many comments left indicate how prevalent this reaction is at very high levels of distress.
Group Ten:
At this level of the spectrum, people report having had violent behavior. They say they have physically attacked another person or have caused themselves some significant degree of harm.

While I’ve only rarely gotten all the way to the ‘9’ point on the scale, and never to the ’10,’ I’ve also rarely been below a level ‘3.’ I hope to help you understand that I don’t mean to be a jack-ass when you are making those noises, I’m just dealing with some really intense feelings.

The solution, if you can call it that, is that I’ve taken to being that guy who wears ear buds wherever I go. I’ve found that by playing low level music or podcasts, I can still hear most conversations directed at me, while also relieving my psychosis by not hearing most of the ‘little’ things. Knowing why I do that may not make it any better, but it might make you despise me a little less!


One thought on “Living with Misophonia – It’s not that I want you dead, I just want you to not breathe

  1. Interesting! Did you know I really must be nuts because I know things sounds bug me! Did you mean to say these instead of three on number three? Love you! Mom

    Sent from my iPad



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