My name is Nikki and I am a 24 year old from Northwest Indiana. I recently graduated from Purdue University with a degree in business and I’m going into my 3rd month of clinical esthetics in Chicago, IL. From the outside I look like your average 24 year old. I have a boyfriend, a house, puppy, job…the norm. However, each day is a constant struggle for me and it has been that way for as long as I can remember. I have misophonia. Badly. A lot of sounds bother me, but the ones that REALLY fill my rage cage are anything that has to do with eating, gulping, sniffling, and coughing. The anger that fills me after hearing someone gulp a drink is indescribable. Nothing else on this planet makes me as angry as one of my triggers.
However, the most frustrating part of this disorder is the lack of understanding and empathy I receive from others. To other people, these noises are normal and go unnoticed. My absolute favorite is when people say “get over it.” My boyfriend is notorious for saying, “If you don’t want to get mad when I eat, then just don’t get mad.” This brings me to my next issue with Misophonia — being around the people I love. While eating dinner at home with my boyfriend, the volume on the TV is at about 40. Now, it’s natural for Colton (my boyfriend) to say, “I’m about to eat, turn the TV up.” Unfortunately, it isn’t always enough. I can still here his spoon clink against the bowl and his teeth while he eats cereal, which leads to my involuntary nasty look saying, “can you stop??” Sometimes he will offer to eat in our bedroom with the door shut. I feel helpless. I would give anything to have a quiet dinner with Colton…in the same room.
Next, my parents, who have been preparing meals for me since day one. Family dinners are always an absolute nightmare for me. My little brother is 6 and still learning to chew with his mouth closed. He likes to make a gulping noise as loud as possible in order to irritate me. Again, he’s 6, and that’s what little brothers do. This is normal behavior for siblings. However, it isn’t something that I’ve ever taken lightly or in a joking manner. What people don’t understand is how this disorder ruins quality time at dinner. I’m not listening to what my family is talking about because I’m trying to calm myself down. I am literally talking to myself inside my head. “You love these people, remember that.” “Don’t give a dirty look. be conscious of your face.” “Oh good, they are almost finished eating.” I get anxiety before dinner. Whether I am about to sit down at the table with my family or Colton and I are cooking something in our kitchen. I know that in just a few minutes, I’ll be overwhelmed with rage for the next half hour.
Last but not least, MYSELF. I can’t stand listening to myself chew. In fact, I don’t even taste my food the majority of the time in order to avoid hearing myself chew. When I eat, I keep air in my mouth, rather than suctioning my mouth around my food like most people do. In doing this, there is no “smacking” sound. If there is TV or music, I don’t have to be as careful. **true story: In middle school I was a football trainer (meaning I washed jerseys and gave the players water) and I bought a snickers from the vending machine before practice. I took too big of a bite and had to chew hard to break the bite up. The smacking sound was so incredibly intolerable that I spit the candy bar out and shoved my fingers down my throat to throw up the rest of the candy bar because I was so infuriated with myself. That is the first moment I can remember thinking to myself, “this isn’t normal.” Since then, it’s been sort of a joke with friends and they’ll laugh about various stories of me “freaking out” when someone is chewing gum or munching on a snack. However, at the time, it’s miserable for everyone. The person that’s eating is walking on egg shells, and I’m dying inside. It’s great.
There is little research on Misophonia, yet, over the years, more and more people have come forward with their triggers. I’ve watched YouTube videos, read online articles, and even reached out to others with Misophonia, but this isn’t enough. When I first started at my new school in September, we had to introduce ourself and state a fact about ourselves that nobody would know by just looking at you. I told the class that I had Misophonia (Secretly hoping these women would remember this around dinner time since it’s a night class) and I was surprised that a couple people knew what it was. One individual said “Wow, that’s really neat.” —— let me tell you something. Misophonia is not neat. It’s a nightmare and it’s ruining my life. Think about it, what I hate more than anything in this world, is done at least 3 times a day by EVERYBODY.