There are very rare instances when the slightest noise will set me off. Even if it is something as benign as one of my roommates opening the refrigerator door, it can sound like a thousand spoons clattering to the floor to me if I am in this state. For whatever reason, I didn’t think much of it until about three weeks ago when EVERY little noise I heard was painful for me, and I was in complete agony the entire night. Lucky me…I have been experiencing misphonia, and have had this condition since childhood.
What freaks me out the most is that my dislike of sounds when I am caught up in this nightmare can send me into so much anxiety that I must hide away until things return to normal. It was a tremendous problem for me during medical school, when I found that I had to wear earplugs while studying in public places or when taking exams. The mere sound of someone coughing would send me into such distress that it would take a massive effort for me to concentrate on my studies or an exam.
Misphonia, also called selective sound sensitivity syndrome, is usually set off by a small repetitive noise, causing the sufferer to become agitated, disgusted, panicky, and angry. Those who suffer from misphonia may seem to react excessively to soft sounds, such as the sounds of a person eating, or a dog barking in the background. This is considered a lifelong condition which is more common in females than males, and usually appears between the ages of 9 and 13. It is aggravated by emotional exhaustion, so those of you ladies who might have noticed that noises which would be considered normal can suddenly become jarring when you are in the middle of an emotional and stressful situation.
This is a very real condition, so if you think you might have it, talk to your doctor about getting tested to see if you have it. If you don’t want to go that route, you might want to read this very amusing article by Wendy Aron on how she handled her own case of misphonia: