I suffered with Misophonia for 35 years...
Starting at age 12 my family's chewing noises drove me to tears from what -- at the time – seemed to be an illogical, hard to describe sensation of extreme discomfort that felt like torture until the sound stopped. It would be another 15 years before I heard someone describe my experiences on a radio interview. I can remember the relief in knowing I wasn't alone and that what I was experiencing had a name - Misophonia - or "Select Sound Sensitivity Syndrome". The relief was short lived however. As I found and connected with others having the same experience, we started to look for some thread of commonality that would explain what was wrong--and then fix it. Time and again, our hypothesis were proven wrong--some had trauma, others did not, co-occurring conditions such as Autism, other sensory sensitivities, eating disorders, physical abnormalities in the ear and brain...no common thread was ever found. All that was left was the cold comfort that others were suffering in the same way and that "coping strategies" were the only option.
Years later as I entered graduate school I made it my mission to learn all I could about Misophonia. It was also an opportunity to practice self-advocacy and those “coping strategies” as my school allowed eating in the classroom which was my own version of hell. If anyone was going to be understanding of my condition it would be aspiring therapists—and most were very understanding and accommodating however, even the most understanding would quickly forget and eat chips or other crunchy snacks in front of me. After one particularly painful interaction with an individual who was not understanding I broke down—the pain of my triggers coupled with the pain of social misunderstanding and rejection was a weight that I had carried for so long—it felt like a wound that was constantly poked and never allowed to heal.
Part of my journey to become a therapist included participating in my own therapy. I lucked out and found a wonderful therapist who introduced me to brainspotting and supported my growing interest in Internal Family Systems (IFS) also known as “parts work”. It was ultimately these two modalities that lead to huge shifts in my relationship to the almost constant feelings of guilt and shame connected to my Misophonia. I soon realized that my body was carrying the trapped energy of all the rage I had fought so hard to control when triggered. Shame – a survival instinct to prevent us from harm by more powerful others—was a very effective way to “keep it all down”. The drawback to that is I was stuck with all that negative energy. My body was in a constant state of tention and my brain was hypervigilent for the next possible trigger sound. Just like with my clients who have experienced trauma, I realized the key to healing is finding a way to release that energy – and I kept following that path.
I can now say with confidence that I no longer have misophonia. I realize what a bold statement that is. Unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that what ultimately freed me from it will be the same for you, but I can tell you that what I learned along the way greatly improved my life and gave me amazing insight into my own needs, values, and boundaries. The huge feeling of relief that brainspotting and “parts work” provided was key—and I want to share what I’ve learned with you to co-create a plan for meaningful relief and healing.