I’m sick….and I have been for some time.Â All along I thought it was just meÂ being an asshole, which unfortunately still is a distinct possibility.
For years the sounds of other people snapping their chewing gum and the sounds of other people eating…chewing, chomping, biting their fork…have driven me crazy.Â Â More than just the simple annoyance of these sounds, they trigger a feeling of anger and disbelief,Â so much so that I can’t NOT say something to get the person to stop.Â That’s the asshole part.
There is a recently recognized condition called misophonia which sums up my situation pretty neatly.Â I was so excited when I found out about it, that other people are as miserable as I am. Literally ‘the hatred of sound’ -misophonia can be defined as being super-sensitive to background sounds (for me gum snapping, pen clicking or open-mouth cereal eaters)Â that are generally ignored by other people.Â What defines this moreÂ than the individuals inability to block out the annoying sounds, is theÂ negative emotional response experienced as a direct result ofÂ hearing these noises.
Now, some people really freak out…straight rage,Â red faced, heart-pounding and/or shaking and the need to actually run away or attack…but I don’t get that physically jammed up. My reaction to these sounds isn’t as severe as some, but I definitely notice them and I am aggravated more than anyone else I know. Â I try to avoid the noises if I can…gum chewing has been banned in my classes (although not during holidays at my mom’s house…my Aunt Francis can work a wad of Dentyne so fucking loudly), I have to play music at a pretty loud level at dinnertime at my house, I won’t sit at the table when anyone’s eating breakfast cereal, etc.
So for someone like me who really likes to eat with other people around, it can be a drag.Â But eating around me is clearly no treat either…constantly eating under the threat of redirection because of whether you bit down on your soup spoon or not.Â So now weÂ turn the stereo up a bit more, to drown me out as well.