Just before Christmas, I totally lost my shit. I had been living in a house that had the insulation of a tent, in a party zone that was growing as Bali started to open up. My sound sensitivity (misophonia) was on crack. Every second of my usual worry time was taken up, not planning for an exciting future or thinking about taking risks and stepping into the great unknown, but with totally mundane obsessions about sound. I was trapped in a cycle of obsessive thinking about the following:
- The noise of the new beach club being built down the road
- The guy next door carrying an angle grinder
- The rooftop bar across the road
- A dog wandering in my hood
- Anyone making any noise which showed that they are alive
Yes, these are the worries that were shaping my life and entering into my thoughts every spare moment. I was spending more and more time with my headphones on, pumping white noise at full volume to block out the sounds of an ever-increasing number of annoying things building up around me.
Then one night, all of my greatest fears came to fruition; the rooftop bar had a massive party, the music was pumping into my room, my headphones weren’t powerful enough to block it out and they had already gone past the 10pm curfew. This was a party that even Indonesians in the local area complained about, and the Indonesians I know generally don’t give a shit about noise. I left home at some ungodly hour, yelled into the sky, checked into a hotel and the next day when my adrenal glands were still working overtime, I went to the doctor to ask for medication. She gave me Xanax.
Living life with sound sensitivity is not fun. Xanax was not the solution. Although I slept for 12 hours straight, my husband thought I was dead and it was not restful.
I looked again to find more solutions. Firstly I had to find a new house. Done.
Then I had to find someone who could understand my condition and teach me how to manage it so I didn’t have to live my life with headphones on.
So I am now embarking on a 10-week journey with someone who works with a combination of NLP (neurolinguistic programming) and hypnosis which is called Sequent Repatterning therapy and I am going to write about my experience here.
What I have learned so far is that misophonia (which means hatred of sound) can actually impact all of the senses. For some people it’s tastes or smells, for others, like me, it’s visual and sounds. No one is born with misophonia, like many neurological conditions, we acquire it in childhood in response to an experience or a bunch of experiences.
All of us grow up in certain families who we rely on to keep us safe, and as we become more aware, we use our kid brains to make sense of the world. If our parents divorced, we may think that we are to blame. If our mum yells at us, we might think we are unloveable. No matter how great your childhood was, you most certainly acquired behaviours to deal with the world that you were creating in your unconscious mind. Misophonia seems to be one of those things. Somehow my brain thought that it was keeping me safe. In the adaptations I made to keep me safe, I developed this neurological condition which was and is totally outside of my conscious awareness. Oh for a time machine.
As a kid, I drove my family mad with my sound sensitivity. I didn’t know what it was, I just didn’t know why one brother had to breathe so heavily, why my sister scraped her fork on her teeth, why my little brother had to make annoying noises when he played with his toys. The only relief I got at mealtime was to start a fight and then mum would send me to a different table to eat alone; what seemed like a punishment to her, was a dream for me. The problem with the dream though was that it didn’t match with my “people pleaser” sensibilities. I didn’t want to upset my mum, or upset my little brother when he was happily playing, but I didn’t have the language or any kind of knowledge to explain something that was happening to me.
According to the Sequent Repatterning website, we have three core needs that lead us to self-actualisation where we achieve what we desire and misophonia fucks up with each of those.
- Attachment – being with others and caring for them. It’s hard to care for others when they are sniffing or snoring and it’s really hard to be a parent when you are wearing headphones. It makes you feel alone and outside of the norm.
- Control – our ability to make choices. Misophonia limits choices of what I can do, where I can live, where I can go for fun, where I can travel to. Sometimes you just want a cave of your very own to live in but there goes need 1 and 2.
- A need to be comfortable – to experience minimal pain and discomfort. Misophonia takes away the feeling of comfort and life can feel like you are living on a pin cushion.
When you have all three needs met then you have a “perimeter of safety” and you can achieve your desires and be happy. When you don’t, life becomes one where you spend your time worrying about dumb shit (see above).
So let this journey begin, I can see why this is happening which gives me some clarity and awareness so watch this space to see what happens next.
If you suffer from misophonia or any kind of sound sensitivity, let me know and we can go on this journey together.
You can visit sequent-repatterning.co.uk if you want some more information.