I'm an Artist with Misophonia

For those of you who may be unaware, misophonia is a neurological disorder in which particular sounds affect an individual on both a physical and emotional level. It was discovered and published in early 2017 that people with misophonia (predominantly intelligent, creative females...ohhh heeyyy!) have an abnormality in the frontal lobes of their brains. This abnormality somehow links the fight or flight response of the lizard brain all humans still have with the limbic (emotion) center of the brain. There is still very much to learn about misophonia, since research really only began in 2000. Very little is known about the disorder, probably because of sociocultural pressure to appear "normal" to peers and to avoid mockery. Trigger sounds cause severe distress, often inducing a fight or flight response from the person suffering from misophonia. Misophonia literally means "hatred of sound." Trigger sounds are usually made by other humans, but sometimes repetitive mechanical sounds do the trick as well. Everyone who suffers from misophonia has a unique set of trigger sounds and responses to them. Common trigger sounds include loud eating, chewing and popping gum, slurping, sniffling, coughing, compulsive throat clearing, etc. Individuals with misophonia often suffer in silence, usually due to unfortunate responses from others when attempting to thwart triggers or make others understand the condition. These unfortunate responses from others are usually difficult to overcome, especially since many happen in early childhood and are misunderstood by family members, teachers, and classmates.

I have suffered from misophonia for as long as I can remember. I had no idea what it was until I was 24. So for 24 years, I lived with this overwhelming problem that no one understood, not even myself. For so long I thought something was terribly, terribly wrong with me, despite having always been a straight A student who participated in many extracurricular programs. I have traumatic flashbacks to childhood memories of excruciating responses to trigger sounds coupled with disdain and apathy from my family and friends. Those two parts of the experience led to massive self loathing, depression, and relationship issues. Once I was finally diagnosed in 2014, the relief of simply having a name for my experience brought tears of joy to my eyes. Finally, I knew I wasn't crazy. Finally, I could begin to learn more about this part of myself that I had hated and done my best to ignore for so long. Finally, I was able to begin my journey of self acceptance and self love.

 

As I write this, it is January of 2018, so I have had a few years to process my situation and to seek help from specialists, therapists of all kinds, and family and friends. I have been able to rebuild the relationships that used to be so strained because of the lack of information on my disorder. My relationship with my father, in particular, was hanging on by a thread for years because of my responses to the sounds he would/does make. Navigating that relationship was incredibly difficult before I learned what misophonia was. Not only did he make sounds that both physically and emotionally disturbed me almost constantly, but also I hated myself for being incapable of having a loving, close relationship with my father because of sounds that seemed to not affect other people at all in the way that they affected me. So, you can surmise that self loathing was the only option for a long time. I am overwhelmingly grateful for the support, love, and time my family and friends have bestowed upon me since my diagnosis. In the last two years, I have attempted to translate my experience with misophonia through my artwork. That's been much easier said than done.

 

In order to allow my artwork to express my experience with misophonia, I had to face, attempt to understand, and learn to love the misophonia part of myself. That, my friends, is still very much a work in progress. However, I'm finally at the point where I can begin to translate the trauma of misophonia into images on the canvas. I am empowered by this. I encourage misophonics everywhere to seek help, trust yourselves, and attempt to relay your experiences with the world to the best of your abilities.

 

Peace and love, babies.