For a change of pace, I thought I’d try something a little bit educational today.
I recently learned a new word: misophonia. Its literal meaning is “hatred of sound”, which is an issue for those of us with sensitivities to certain types of noise. They may include sounds like the thudding from a passing car whose stereo is cranked up, startling sounds such as screams from children, and crowd noise.
While misophonia is not uncommon among the general population, it’s rampant in people with bipolar disorder. I’ve been this way my entire life. What child doesn’t like birthday parties? Me, that’s who. Popping balloons and loud games were torture for me. As an adult, I also become quickly overwhelmed by ringing telephones and other routine office noises, which makes it difficult to focus at work. And repetitive sounds, like barking dogs, can make me crazy if they go on for too long.
Needless to say, living in a world where noise is a constant companion can be hellish. I’ve had to learn to go into a quiet room and turn on a fan to block out sound; the other thing I do is put in my noise-canceling earbuds and listen to calming music on my iPod. Either is preferable to flying into a homicidal rage, and it doesn’t take very long to get my emotions under enough control to return to the festivities. I also avoid places and situations where I don’t have the ability to manipulate the environment, such as loud concerts and large gatherings.
Some of it I’ve learned to live with, and some of it I’ll never be able to tolerate if I live to be a hundred years old. But while misophonia does limit me somewhat, I take comfort in knowing I’m not alone in this. I don’t know what the statistics say about the number of people who have it, but I think it’s safe to say there are a lot. Our world is too loud and too intense; let’s bring down the volume a little, shall we?