Misophonia is a tricky illness to deal with because I never know where or when I am going to encounter one of my “trigger” sounds. A triggering sound is one of those main noises that slaps my Misophonia awake and puts my entire psychological and physiological self on alert.
One of the most difficult parts of my day to get through is my commute to and from work. I take the bus, and even though the bus ride itself is actually not that long, it has the potential to be the worst twenty minutes of my day as I am essentially trapped inside the bus with no control over my surroundings, the people, and possible triggers. This is why I, and I imagine most people with Misophonia, always travel fully prepared – or as fully prepared as we can be – for any situation we may find ourselves in. My own emergency kit (not literally a kit, I just throw everything in my big tote bag) contains the following: one big pair of over-the-ear headphones (black), one small pair of earbuds (purple), two sets of earplugs (bright neon traffic cone orange), and my phone, of course. My phone is the most essential, acting as a wall that blocks out unwanted sound (and unwanted conversation) as well as providing a salve to my ragged nerves, but the headphones are a close second. Earbuds do not do as good a job at covering all exterior sounds so they are only for use in the rare instance I forget to pack my headphones in my bag.
Although, filling my ears with “good” sounds to block out the “bad” sounds isn’t always my favourite option, and neither is using earplugs. I’ll explain why. Last night, my new upstairs neighbour was having an extended conversation with someone right above my bedroom, where I was trying to sleep. I could hear his muffled voice well enough that it very quickly drove me crazy. So, I had to wear earplugs so that I could actually relax and fall asleep. But, the way that these foam earplugs work is that you roll the body of the earplug between your fingers to narrow that cylindrical end, then you slip them inside your ear canal, and then the foam expands to fill the space. While this makes the earplugs pretty effective at quieting most outside noises, it also causes a pressure inside my ear. This pressure caused me to wake up with a headache. Having a headache made me reluctant to put my music on when it was time to commute to work, so I left my headphones in my bag until I was seated on my bus and could tell if I was going to need them. Fortunately, aside from one lone sniffle from the girl sitting next to me, the ride was blissfully trigger free and I could give my head a break.
I’m at work now, and as my biggest Misophonia trigger is the sound of my coworkers banging away on their keyboards, I will have to keep my headphones and music on pretty much the entire day. Its not going to be fun, as my head is still in pain. But, its what I have to do.