While most of the United States (and overseas) is sheltered in place, we face many new challenges. For those with misophonia, there are specific issues that are likely arising. The purpose of this post is to provide some tips for anyone who is suffering. Recently, along with Misophonia International, I did a free workshop in which I asked people to write in questions on this subject. I will provide a link for those of you who would like to view it at the end of this post.
If I had to pick one theme that emerged from the workshop, it would be "all bets are off." In other words, due to this unprecedented experience, now is the time to avoid triggers. Now is the time to be patient with the person or person(s) with misophonia in your house. If you have misophonia, now is the time to remember that the others in your household are also on edge!
- Make it acceptable for your family members or loved ones to avoid eating together. For reasons unbeknownst to researchers, chewing is often the first and worst trigger sound. Whether you are a parent of a misophonic child, or a spouse, or roommate of an individual with misophonia, allow for this process at this time. This doesn't mean that it always has to be this way, but for now, it may be best.
- Use headphones and/or sound generators as much as possible. While audiologists warn that "blocking" with headphones may cause your hearing to eventually become more sensitive, we have to keep in mind that we are dealing with a finite time period. Taking care of your nervous system and emotions are key right now.
- If possible, make sure the misophonic in your household has a safe place to go when triggered or overwhelmed. This can be any room in the house, or can even be a DIY tent. Children with misophonia often feel better in covered spaces that they can make their own.
Being Patient with the Person in your Home with Misophonia
- Try to remember that the misophonic in your house is truly overwhelmed and try to extend as much patience as you are able.
- If you are parenting a misophonic child, it is alright to explain that explosive or otherwise undesired behavior is hurtful to you (or to a sibling). However, wait until your child has calmed down before doing so!
Being Patient With Your Family and Loved Ones If You Have Misophonia
- While it is difficult to avoid falling into the blame trap, do your best to get yourself out! Remember it is the "sound" or the "visual" that is triggering you, not the person. As we know the sounds or visuals of some family members or loved ones may be worse than others. However, if you have fallen into the narrative "My ________ is triggering me" or "My _________ is my worst trigger," try to rewrite this narrative this way: "It is the sound that is triggering me." This helps to depersonalize sounds and family members, or loved ones and this helps with de-escalation.
- Develop a hand signal and share that with your family, or significant other. When you feel you are triggered, give the hand signal and leave the room until you feel that you have calmed down.
I hope these tips are helpful, and if you would like to view a free video on this subject, see Coping With Misophonia During the Pandemic.