Ever since I was a teenager I have had this problem. (Andy would say I have LOTS of problems, but this time I'll focus on this one). I clearly recall, one summer afternoon, after getting off my housekeeping shift at the nursing home, sitting at the dining room table having a snack. My dad was seated across from me, doing paperwork. He was eating an apple. With each crunch, and breath between, rage sparked inside of me. Crunch. Breathe. Crunch. Sigh. Crunch. My chest tightened and I felt that was about to explode with insane anger.
"Dad!" I asked as calmly as I could, "Can you please stop eating. So loudly?"
This comment sparked my dad's own rage and suddenly we were in the middle of a heated argument which ended in me leaving the house for the night. This was the beginning of my "problem" with certain sounds. A illness I have been plagued with for years. A secret I've hidden. Well, sort of.
See, this is how it goes for me. I suffer from fits of rage when I hear specific sounds. No, I don't get agitated at the sound of a clock ticking in a silent room or the tap, tap, tapping of fingers on a keyboard. I want to punch someone in the face when I hear human sounds, mostly from the mouth, and usually when someone is eating. Or swallowing. Or breathing. I know, you are thinking that I really am crazy or making this up. I'm not! Trust me. Ask Andy, or my kids, or the friends who've come to dine in our home who have watched me squirm in my seat as we all share a bowl of chips and salsa.
I do not like snarfing and munching. I do like like swallows or sighs. I do not like chomping or slurping. I do not like sneezes or chewing. I do not like sipping or coughing. I have to be on my best behavior at the family dinner table each evening as my children smile and slurp and chomp with their itty bitty mouths wide open.
"Chew with your mouth closed, Love!" I cheerily chirp while concealing my balled fists under the tablecloth. I have warned Andy to steer clear of me when I am standing at the computer and he is enjoying a snack. My arm wants to fly from the keyboard to his head when he stands uncomfortably close to me, leans over my shoulder, and snarfs into my ear. "What are you lookin' at....mmnnnnnmmmmm....munchy munchy breathe?" Oh Lord, help me! Help me before I hurt someone!
Andy thinks that this is part of my imagination. I've felt all alone with my issue; like I am a freak. I had even thought about looking online for a support group until one morning when I saw a piece on the Today Show about several people who suffer from Misophonia. Well, this was double the validation for me. A name to my issue AND it was seen on the Today Show, the most accurate source for all news in my life. Misophonia, or dislike of sound, is a condition that little is known about and there is no known cure. Just my luck!
People, I am serious! To give you a better idea about my dislike of sounds, here's a great NY Times article that pretty much sums it up for me. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/06/health/06annoy.html. I still have yet to figure out how to manage my issue and hope that it never causes a fist fight like it did with Frank back in my teen years. I like what the afflicted Donna McDow suggests in the article, which is to say you have a headache and leave the table. This is a good tactic and an excuse I've used before for other reasons.Yeah.
Don't feel weird around me if we are eating together. I still love you. I'll just hate you for the 10 minutes that I sit across from you and you slurp your soup and much your crackers, and uh, breathe.