I recently watched an episode of 20/20 that was titled "Medical Mysteries" or something like that. I remember when I saw the title (it was on my dvr) of the episode, it sounded rather boring to me. I rather like hearing stories of crimes that have been solved...cold cases...etc. But, I was bored, so I thought....ok, let's see what mysteries there are this time. The very first story made my jaw drop to the floor and a great weight lifted off my shoulders. I finally knew what was wrong with me and I wasn't alone (and after talking about it on Facebook, I discovered so many others who are just as sick as I am...lol).
Misophonia. It is a condition where one has a sensitivity to certain sounds. Now this isn't a sensory issue where loud firecrackers hurt your ears. It is more of a particular sound like the clicking of a pen, chewing, the way someone talks. It can elicit reactions as little as a small irritation to violent outbursts. The girl they mostly focused on in the story was so sensitive to certain sounds that she cannot be in the same room with her mother unless her mother does not make any noise. She gets violent...will actually hit her mother at the sound of her own voice. Now this is extreme. They explained that most people who have misophonia do not go to this extreme.
You see, for years/decades, I have felt so.....weird....odd....mad at myself because the smallest thing can elicit a strong reaction with me. It started when I was very young. My father would do things that not only irritated me, but would make me angry. I was fairly scared of my dad (he wasn't violent or abusive, but he was a football coach so could be a bit rough), so I would hold in these emotions, but he would drive me crazy. What did he do? He chewed...the sound of him eating would drive me to the brink of insanity. The sound of his fork hitting the plate would make me mad. Dinner time was a stressful time for me as I tried my hardest to block out the sounds he made. I am not talking mild irritation...I am talking wound up nerves, stomach tied up, want to pull my hair out. You remember those Bugs Bunny cartoons when Bugs Bunny would get all twisted up??
Well, this was me daily. And it wasn't just the way he chewed or used his fork. My dad would often smack his lips, or click his pen, or tap the dashboard, or leave the turn signal on. I was a ball of nerves living at home because I never (well, I would on occasion), ever tell my dad he was irritating me. I felt guilty. He was my dad...I am supposed to respect him...and I did.
When I moved out, I discovered that there was more in the world that irritated me and it wasn't some ill feelings towards my dad. People clicking their pens, tapping, water dripping, foot tapping....all drove me nuts.
When I got married, I discovered new challenges. There is a long list of things that my husband (Matt) does that irritates me to the point of extreme anger. Luckily, I do not have the fear of my husband that I did for my dad...but I did harbor a lot of guilt. I am open with my husband about the habits he has that cause me great irritation....but that leads to other things like is there something wrong with our relationship that he irritates me so much!??!! He would wonder about it because the seemingly small things would drive me nuts. He would have to admit that small things in the world would drive me nuts, too....but it was harder to see that since we spend more time together and so his things were brought up more.
Matt has had to learn how to:
- Eat. I cannot stand the sound he makes when he eats. The swishing of the food in his mouth drives me bonkers and I do not understand why people do it. You can eat quietly...it is possible.
- Chew gum. Oh my gosh. Gum chewers are awful, awful people. Smacking their lips...the sound of that chewy substance sticking to the teeth and the sound of the saliva... He never really smacked, but he would chew with the sound of saliva and his teeth...he now has learned to chew it quietly.
- How to use a fork. I hate the sound of a fork hitting a plate. Why is it necessary? It sounds (in my mind) like you are using a shovel to eat your food. There is no reason for it.
- NO CLICKING HIS TONGUE. He had a habit of clicking his tongue when he would be thinking of something. No, no, NO!!!!!! This would drive me CRAZY!!!
- NO TAPPING HIS TEETH. Oh my GOSH. He would tap his teeth together all the time. BONKERS.