Audrey - Marine Biologist Navigates Misophonia with Therapy and Support

S4 E4 - 3/31/2021
This episode features Audrey, a marine biologist living on San Juan Island, Washington, who shares her journey of discovering she has Misophonia, exploring therapies, and coping with the condition in various aspects of her life. Audrey talks about growing up with the condition, dealing with family activities, and her experience in masking the condition during school. She highlights the moment she realized Misophonia had a name, facilitated by an article sent by her dad. Audrey details the challenges of explaining her triggers to family and friends and navigates through her coping mechanisms, particularly emphasizing the role of therapy with Tom Dozier and the significant support from her partner who doesn't have Misophonia. Audrey's story also touches on her work environment, accommodations, and the importance of advocacy and awareness for Misophonia. The conversation ends with Audrey's reflection on her journey, emphasizing the relief in knowing she's not alone and sharing a bit about her life on the island and the pivotal role of her dream job as a marine biologist.


Adeel [0:00]: Welcome to the Misophonia podcast. This is season four, episode four. My name is Adeel Ahmad and I have Misophonia. And this is the show where I chat with other people who are also dealing with Misophonia. Today I'm speaking with Audrey, a marine biologist up on an island off of Washington state. Audrey just found out her condition had a name last year and immediately dove into learning as much as she could and seeking therapies. This also includes going to Tom Dozier, so this is an interesting follow-up to my previous episode with him. We also talk about all the usual stuff of trying to get through family activities growing up, as well as now as an adult. Find us on social media at Misophonia Podcast on Instagram and Facebook and now on TikTok or on Twitter at Misophonia Show. You can find all those links on the website and even contact me from there if you like. All right now, here's my conversation with Audrey. Audrey, welcome to the podcast. Good to have you here.

Audrey [1:07]: Thanks for having me. I'm really excited.

Adeel [1:10]: Yeah. So, you know, I like to ask my usual question kind of about whereabouts are you located?

Audrey [1:18]: Yeah, I am up on San Juan Island. So pretty much as close to Canada as you can get in Washington. So super Pacific Northwest.

Adeel [1:28]: Oh, I love that area.

Audrey [1:29]: Yeah, it's been just a dream. It's a pretty nice place to be during COVID because everyone's been pretty responsible and Yeah, our numbers have stayed down, so yeah, not bad.

Adeel [1:42]: Yeah. And so that's just so that's I know I used to live in Seattle briefly. Is that like even more remote than like Bainbridge Island and Vashon Island, like even more west?

Audrey [1:53]: Yeah, it is. Yes, I'm actually from Tacoma, so I'm pretty familiar with Vashon. And so I had never actually been to San Juan Island before I moved up here. And so I was thinking it would be kind of like that. But yeah, I think it's just more of a tight knit community and like everyone knows everyone kind of community.

Adeel [2:11]: How big is that community? Just out of curiosity.

Audrey [2:13]: I want to say there's like 7,000-ish. Okay.

Adeel [2:17]: Yeah, that's a decent size. Yeah. So, I mean, you have like commercial stuff and, you know, offices and shopping centers and somewhat. Yeah.

Audrey [2:27]: It's like the way that my boyfriend and I, because we moved up here together, described it was those really cheesy movies where someone goes to a small town. That's basically what our town looks like.

Adeel [2:37]: Yeah. The beginning of a horror story or a horror movie. Oh, yes. Exactly. Do you have to like then ferry to get anywhere or is there other like bridges to the... Yeah. Okay.

Audrey [2:49]: There are no bridges. So it's about an hour ferry to Anacortes, which is a bit north of Seattle. And then you drive from there. But it's yeah, it's kind of nice. I kind of like the remote feeling. Oh, yeah. Just everything you need is right here. And it's a little more simple living. But yeah, yeah, it's been really lovely.

Adeel [3:10]: For sure. And I guess tying it back to Miso, was Miso at all like a factor in what made you move out there?

Audrey [3:18]: No, so it was actually a job that I got. I'm a marine biologist, and I got a job working for the Whale Museum up here.

Adeel [3:25]: Oh, just like George Costanza on Seinfeld? Oh, exactly like that.

Audrey [3:30]: My parents are big Seinfeld people, so I grew up watching that.

Adeel [3:35]: Yes.

Audrey [3:36]: Yeah, so I got a job and moved up here, and it's just been a dream.

Adeel [3:41]: Oh, that's great. Okay, cool. Yeah. I mean, I guess being in a quiet town, it must be, do you have like a lot of space there? Is it easy to kind of like get your, get your kind of quiet space over there? I guess, especially in COVID in a remote area, it's gotta be pretty good.

Audrey [3:56]: Yeah, it actually has been really good. So I guess usually, like I said, I had never been here until I moved here. And I guess pre-COVID, it's a pretty busy tourist destination. Like even just people from Seattle will come up here for the summer. And so that's kind of the busy season. And that's what a lot of the businesses rely on is the tourism. So I guess in the summer, kind of May to September, it's just so busy and packed with people. And then because of COVID, a lot of people didn't come. more quiet and you can you know go to the beach and there's no one else there you can go on a hike and there's no one else there and I've just yeah I've really really loved that because it just helps you kind of connect with the island and if you need your alone time you get it and yeah great okay okay and um and I guess yeah I mean let's maybe go back to uh early days for you like uh when when did when did you start noticing you had you had you had dysphonia and you were having problems there Yeah, I probably middle school-ish. I think I've had a bit of OCD since I was younger. And so I've been very particular about things since I was younger and that has gotten better. But the misophonia probably around middle school and it was my mom. I love her so much. And so I feel so bad, you know, getting upset with her. But I think the first one I can remember is when she would clear her throat. And that, yeah, I probably maybe 14, 15, because I want to say it was going into high school. And that one is just, yeah, that has stuck with me.

Adeel [5:37]: Yeah. So, okay, so kind of middle school, early high school. And yeah, starting with a parent and math sounds, yeah, very much a classic situation. Oh, yeah.

Audrey [5:48]: Oh, we all know it well.

Adeel [5:50]: Yeah, yeah. Did things start to... Well, I guess, yeah, let's talk about what sort of happened. I mean, what did your parents think, I guess? Were they noticing that you're doing the glare, I'm assuming, and trying to leave the table and whatnot? How did that start to manifest?

Audrey [6:09]: Yeah, now that I'm really thinking about it, I'm sure that I made little, you know, sassy preteen comments of, you know, just asking her to stop and probably not in a very nice way. But one of the earliest memories that I have is probably freshman year of high school. And I just turned my headphones up all the way when we were in the car one time, because I had asked her to stop. And, you know, she was like, I can't help it. Like, please stop being rude. And, you know, all the typical things of, you know, why are you being so sensitive? I just blasted my headphones and then they were kind of annoyed that they could hear the stuff in my headphones. And so that memory is very vivid for me of just, you can't win. Yeah.

Adeel [6:53]: Yeah. And, and, and I guess did, did it start to affect you at school too around that time? Like socially?

Audrey [7:04]: Socially, so I've actually always been pretty good at masking it, and it wasn't until maybe February of last year, so February of 2020, that I had put a name to my misophonia and kind of started getting comfortable with, okay, here's this thing that I have, and here's this thing that affects me, and... getting a little more comfortable telling people about it. So up until then, I had always just masked it. So on the outside, it didn't seem like it affected me, but it did. And so in school, you know, if people were shaking their leg and I could see it or feel it, that would be a trigger for me. Pen clicking, gum chewing, just chewing in general, tapping, like There are a lot of things that... Yeah, yeah.

Adeel [7:55]: You get the mesokinesia as well and the visual triggers.

Audrey [7:58]: Yeah, I have auditory and visual triggers. So it's been interesting.

Adeel [8:05]: Yeah, okay. And you said around last year is when you start to put a name to it. Is that when you discovered that it had a name or was it just you decided that, hey, I'm going to advocate for myself a bit more?

Audrey [8:19]: Yeah, so I always knew. I mean, I think my story is really typical of a lot of us. And I always knew that there was something off and something just different about the way that I reacted to certain sounds. And... my dad was actually the one that sent me, I think it was just a screenshot of an article and it was just talking about misophonia and it was kind of talking about how misophonia is this new thing in mental health. And he just sent me that and said, I think you have this. And I was like, Oh, yep.

Adeel [8:50]: Yeah. And it doesn't take long to realize that you have it. Yeah.

Audrey [8:56]: It was, I think it was maybe the first few lines and I, it was just right on target that that was. that was what I had and that yeah from that point on I was looking into what misophonia was and who was doing the research and you know just what's out there because I had no idea before I just thought that I was weird and I was a little crazy and there was something wrong with me and it was something that I had to deal with so it was it was really nice to have an actual thing to say like that is what I have I am not alone and I am not crazy

Adeel [9:31]: Yeah. So did that start to change your, you know, your interactions with your family once they were also able to realize that, hey, this is real. It's not just you being a B-I-T-C-H or whatever.

Audrey [9:44]: Yeah. Well, kind of. So, you know, I've had issues with. my parents just asking them to stop doing certain things that trigger me and they just do not get it and there's been a lot of times where we're trying to have a family movie night or a family game night and someone is doing something that is triggering me and i just you know in the past it's gotten a lot better now i've learned some coping mechanisms but in the past it would just be that i would just hyper focus on whatever that trigger was And then I would try to ignore it and ultimately could not. And so I would either ask them to stop or I would have to get up and leave. And then no matter what I did, they would be upset because they wouldn't understand why I was asking them to stop like playing with their hands or like tapping their foot, which, yeah, it's not a big deal. But for someone with misophonia, it is. And they just didn't understand that. And then if I get up and leave, I'm being dramatic. And so. Yeah, so that caused a fair amount of issues.

Adeel [10:52]: So you kind of feel trapped sometimes. Yeah. Some situations, it's kind of like a no-win situation.

Audrey [11:00]: completely and there were so many times i'd go up to my room and i'd just cry because i was so frustrated and i didn't understand why i was feeling the way that i felt when they were doing very normal like human things and i wasn't upset with them for being upset with me i just felt really guilty and i felt really bad about myself because i couldn't control it and it felt like there was no out and so Even when I had a name and I could say, you know, you guys, I think that I have this thing and it would be helpful if you would stop doing these things that might trigger me. It still didn't really resonate with them because they don't have it. And I think it didn't seem as real to them as it did to me.

Adeel [11:42]: Yeah, it's funny because seeing that it has a name, like reading those first few lines, it does seem like a revelation until you realize that... in reality it's has a limited impact on kind of the yeah it does have a positive impact but it's it's not a panacea

Audrey [12:01]: But it did, it did change like everything for me. Just, I think mentally, I remember when I, after I read that article, I just Googled misophonia and I think I found the Misophonia Institute and I just sat in my room and cried because it was just this big release of I'm not alone. So, you know, it was, it was really life changing for me to have that, even if it didn't affect those around me.

Adeel [12:23]: Right, right, right. Yeah, no, absolutely. I think that's very common. And you said, I guess you said you start to pick up coping mechanisms, you know, in those kind of family events and situations. I guess, what are some of your favorite coping mechanisms now?

Audrey [12:43]: Yeah. So kind of funny. I went to, you know, I was listening to the podcast earlier today and the godsend in my life has been Tom Dozier. And he had told me, I think a few months ago that he was going to be on the podcast. And I look today and he was the most recent one posted.

Adeel [13:00]: Right. Yeah.

Audrey [13:01]: He's just been amazing because before. So I kind of said that I didn't. you know before i didn't know how to handle my misophonia i knew that it was a thing and i tried to deal with it on my own and so it was something where if i was in class and someone was bothering me i would pop headphones in or for tests i would bring earplugs if i was at a family dinner i would just get up and leave the table as soon as i could so it was more an avoidance thing or you know tuning out the noise rather than trying to find a way to actually deal with it and I thought that that was you know healthy and I was working through it and I was getting past it but in reality I was just pushing it away and not actually doing anything that would help me in the long run so I found Tom I think october or the end of september and i scheduled my first session with him and it was really really awesome he's just an amazing person um you know his work and just he he's just very kind he's very funny he makes you feel very comfortable and he's just been a lifesaver he let me and my partner do the first session together and for someone whose partner does not have mesophonia that was really really great but yeah some of my coping mechanisms that i've gotten from tom have been to do what he calls scuba breathing so doing those like really deep breaths where you have the inhale longer than the or the exhale longer than the inhale and then one of the things that he taught me was to kind of sit with your trigger and see it as a learning opportunity and you know give it the time and the space And just try to work through it rather than putting the headphones in or leaving the room, which is something that I totally did. And now if there's something that's triggering me, it's a little easier to sit and think of it as a learning opportunity and to work through it. And then he talked about this in the episode that you guys did. But one thing that I had never put together was that I am having a trigger, a physical response, and then the emotional response. And so I always thought... Yeah, which was really cool for me because we did a few exercises in my first session. And I personally like there's, you know, a bunch of different things that people can do when they react to triggers. But I personally hold my breath. I raise my shoulders a little and I clench my fists. And I had never noticed that I did that before. and so he did some triggers i think he was chewing celery and he was like do your deep breathing do not clench your fists relax your body and tell me what you feel and he like ate some celery and i didn't have as strong of a reaction and so getting in front of the physical reaction when i know that i'm about to be triggered or when i feel like i'm being triggered is so helpful and that's just yeah he's just been really really great

Adeel [16:25]: Okay. So then, uh, and so this is helping those, uh, kind of family events and stuff. Cause it is something that we've mentioned in the podcast has been like, um, if you're going into a situation like a meal or whatever, just, um, you know, trying to, trying to kind of tell yourself that, okay, this will be done like 20, 30 minutes. Um, just to kind of like tell your mind or prepare your mind in advance. Cause a lot of this seems to be as like your, your brain is kind of shocked by, by a sound. Um, is is is that kind of where where what kind of the the gist of what you're getting out of these that that particular tip like you kind of like uh kind of kind of like just instead of because you could you know you could yeah you could just sit with it but you you do you have been doing that with your family family movies right it's kind of You're kind of sitting with a trigger, but it still doesn't quite... Well, let's go to that particular situation. Have these exercises actually helped that situation? Like some of those family events?

Audrey [17:28]: Yeah. So I think Thanksgiving dinner and just being home for Thanksgiving in general, I was a little nervous because... Due to COVID, I've just been living with my partner and he has been really, really great about my miso. And we've kind of communicated my cues to him if I'm being triggered and he's just been wonderful. So I, for most of the time, am in an environment that is really miso friendly. And so I was really nervous to go home for Thanksgiving. And I did find that... I was able to get through Thanksgiving dinner and some of those game nights and movie nights a little easier. I'm still triggered and it's still a work in progress, but I'm definitely able to do my breathing. And, you know, one of the things that we also talked about was disassociating the trigger from the person. And so instead of getting upset, you know with the sound of my mom's chewing it is the sound of chewing and she happens to be doing it and then i can kind of go in the direction of well she's enjoying her meal like she helped prepare this meal it's so great that we can all be here together and spin it into a positive and then in addition to doing the breathing and kind of calming my body down it lessens my emotional response and the emotional response is still there but it's so much better it's kind of coaching kind of coaching your thinking process it sounds like exactly yeah

Adeel [19:02]: Gotcha. Okay. Okay. All right. Yeah. No, yeah. It's always good to interesting to hear how, yeah, how people are using a lot of these tips and sessions with folks like Tom. So that's interesting to hear, especially after the recent interview. Because, yeah, I mean, there's a – he is a little bit – not everyone necessarily agrees with all his techniques. So it's interesting to hear how it's working out for you. That's really cool that it's – that hopefully it keeps improving your ability to kind of get over the triggers a little bit, or at least – not have them bother you so much. Are you finding actually, one question I'm curious about is always like, are you finding any, as you're able to kind of think through triggers or at least try to cope with triggers, are you finding it's affecting the actual trigger moment is kind of less severe or is it your ability to come back to normal from after the trigger is faster, like your recovery period?

Audrey [20:10]: are you able to kind of like get a sense for that or is it just kind of overall yeah it's a little bit of both there are some triggers that have just completely gone away but those were my lesser triggers but there are like chewing is a big one I think for a lot of us so that that one is um that was definitely at the top of my list of triggers and so I'll use that one for example I'm able to kind of forget about it if i do my breathing and then tom gave me another exercise where you do it's like the five four three two one where you do five things in the room that you can see and then you go back through each of them and you just point out a characteristic of all of them and then you do like four things that you can touch and then you go back through and do what you can feel and then you go through the rest of the senses and so with the breathing and that I'm able to kind of get out of that head space of, Oh, I'm being triggered. This is panic mode. I need to leave. I need to run. And I'm able to just kind of come back into my body and get through it and then get past it. And I think having less of a response to a trigger also correlates to recovering faster. So yeah, those two things for me at least have gone hand in hand.

Adeel [21:33]: Okay, yeah, so you're not being, the intensity of the trigger is not as high, so you feel like you're able to recover faster, get back to normal.

Audrey [21:42]: Yeah, yeah, because there, I mean, there was a time in the summer that, We had a friend over and they were eating something that was really loud. And I just immediately was just, I'm being triggered, walked into my room, kind of started hyperventilating. And then I just had to sit there and it was hard to recover from. And so that experience versus how I handle chewing now is just a world of difference. So I, yeah, I think the two for me, at least definitely go hand in hand.

Adeel [22:18]: Gotcha. And so going back to, you mentioned something about your partner and yourself are able to kind of communicate your cues. Can you talk a little bit about that? Like, do you have certain like a gang sign or something or like, or how do you communicate that?

Audrey [22:38]: Yeah. So. That was one thing that if you are going to therapy or seeing a therapist for MISO, I would highly recommend bringing your partner into it because one of the biggest things for us was my partner realizing that I am not getting upset with him and I am not triggered by him. It is what the sound is or what the visual cue is. And so that was huge that, you know, me being able to say, I'm not upset with you. I'm upset with this trigger. And that was just really good for both of us to kind of establish and going forward. And we talked through, you know, some of the things that he does that might trigger me and, um, kind of worked through, well, what would you like me to do? when I'm being triggered because it, it was kind of a two way street. It was like, I'm going to work really hard to not be triggered by these things. But also if I am being triggered and it's not getting better, I do need you to stop. And so, um, for example, like if he's playing with his hands, sometimes that will bother me. And I used to put my hand on his hand and ask him to stop. And it makes him feel better if I just like gently tap his shoulder. So things like that. And, um, that's kind of worked for you know if he's tapping he has adhd so he's constantly fidgeting with things it's an interesting combo yeah it is a really interesting combination but it works you know if he's fidgeting with something or tapping the table or clicking a pen or chewing loudly, I can just put my hand on his shoulder. And that's kind of his cue that, oh, it's, you know, she's trying to get through it. It's not working. So I need to do something. And he's just been really, really great about working with all of this and yeah so it was just it was really nice to open up that line of communication because I had kind of voiced to him that you know this is something that I think I have and I don't really know what to do about it and then I found Tom and we were able to go in this together and just talk about how to deal with it together

Adeel [24:50]: Yeah, that's interesting. What about other people, like friends? Like, do you, have you told many of your friends? Is this something that you kind of, you know, tell anyone who's going to be a friend or do you just kind of keep it to yourself until, you know, it might become an issue? Just curious how you tell others about this condition.

Audrey [25:13]: Yeah, I, unfortunately, I still feel a little bit of shame when talking about it to other people. So, you know, my family knows and my partner knows. And I think I told one friend, but I still just have that little bit of, oh, they won't get it. I'm going to seem crazy. And then, you know, I get upset after because talking about it is part of the... process you know of making it normal and making it known that this is something that affects me so that if there is a time in the future I can say you know hey that actually triggers me and you know xyz but yeah I think I've told one friend about it and it was we were watching a movie or something and she was just kind of like moving her feet a bunch and that's one of my uh visual triggers yeah and i just you know i was like hey that's triggering me could you not and she was just like oh yeah totally and just stopped and so that was a really good first time to tell a friend, but yeah, I think I'm still, I think quarantine has made it really easy to not have to tell a bunch of people.

Adeel [26:24]: Yeah.

Audrey [26:25]: And, you know, cause I haven't been super social. I haven't been really seeing people. And so I think it's been easier to keep it to myself. And that is something that I want to work on because talking about it and advocating for misophonia is something that I would like to do just to make it more normal, because I know that that really, really helped me.

Adeel [26:44]: Yeah, right. Well, yeah, I mean, you got to do what you got to do. Yeah. You don't have to take that whole burden for yourself. But yeah, it's interesting. Yeah, it's always interesting, like, what people... um you know if and when people tell friends because it can be kind of exhausting to like have to go through the whole story and then wonder are they actually going to get it you know is it going to go over their heads or look at me weird or whatever but um yeah and yeah you're right it's it's also that kind of uh because we're we're kind of conditioned into thinking it's it's not a big deal and so there's that shame guilt of like well you know you're conditioned to No matter how much research we do, we're made to feel like we are causing an undue kind of burden on other people where, you know, in actuality, this is just a real disorder that we just need... We don't need, we're not asking for too much. We just need a little bit of, at least awareness. I mean, sometimes, you know, for a lot of people, it just kind of helps to know that the other person is at least aware of it and is willing to kind of like, you know, help out if, you know, if needed. And then somehow that can kind of reduce the stress and reduce the impact. I mean, do you find stress an exacerbating factor? And this might be a rhetorical question because it always is. But I'm curious if you've noticed stress with school or otherwise that has kind of caused a big problem.

Audrey [28:21]: Yeah, I do notice that I am much more easily triggered if I'm stressed or if I feel overwhelmed or anxious or whatnot. It is so much easier for me to just snap or to just completely shut down and walk away from the trigger and not do anything. the helpful things, which would be, you know, sitting with it and doing my relaxation and deep breathing. And so, yeah, and I, I am a person with anxiety. And so if I'm anxious or if I'm stressed, it is just really, really hard to see that extra stress as an opportunity to learn and grow. So that definitely, definitely plays into it.

Adeel [29:04]: Were you, you mentioned before you had OCD, were these like official diagnoses for some other, like for some of these other comorbidities or are these kind of, you assume you probably have these conditions as well?

Audrey [29:19]: Yeah, from just other therapists, because I see Tom for just miso and then I had another therapist just for life. Yeah.

Adeel [29:29]: Have any of your, has anybody else you've talked to already have known about misophonia?

Audrey [29:35]: No, no one has actually known about it. Yeah.

Adeel [29:38]: Gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah, it's always interesting to hear if, you know, which professionals know about it and which don't. Yeah, it's really interesting. It can go either way.

Audrey [29:52]: Yeah, but it is nice to work through. I mean, because one of the things that I brought up with Tom was some of my tendencies. When I'm more anxious, I tend to have a little more of that OCD comes out. And so he put me on strict orders to whenever I feel like doing one of those OCD type things, just don't do it. And it worked. I've noticed a lessening with that and my misophonia has also gotten way better. So, woohoo.

Adeel [30:25]: Gotcha, gotcha. Okay, okay. And have you, I mean, have you met other people who have misophonia or is it really actually, is it, yeah, I mean, other than maybe this conversation, have you talked to anybody else? Do you know anybody else who's got misophonia?

Audrey [30:44]: I do not. That was why I was so stoked when I found your podcast. Because it's pretty much the only space where I just feel really, really accepted. And it's just kind of like a breath of fresh air where we all have it, we get it. And it's very normal here. And I don't have anyone else in my life. I think my sister thinks she might... have it or she might just have certain things that bother her but once I became more comfortable with it and was noticing more things about my misophonia I definitely think she might also and we've talked about that a little bit but I think I've just done more research and looked into it more and I think I'm also definitely more affected by it but that's kind of the closest that I've come to to talking to anyone with it

Adeel [31:33]: Yeah, was it something that she was aware of that you had when you were growing up? Or was it something you kind of like kept between you and your parents somehow? I'm just curious if she witnessed a lot of the effects, I guess, of the miso.

Audrey [31:50]: Yeah, she had a lot of the same triggers that I had. So my mom clearing her throat or chewing. My dad chews gum kind of loudly, or in my opinion. It's probably normal to anyone else, but to me.

Adeel [32:05]: Oh, it's definitely loud, no.

Audrey [32:06]: Thank you.

Adeel [32:07]: Between you and me, he's out of control.

Audrey [32:09]: Just between us and everyone listening.

Adeel [32:12]: Yeah, right.

Audrey [32:14]: But yeah, and so she has those same... things you know when we're home we are you know she would say that she's annoyed by them and i would now say that i'm triggered by them so you know that's kind of a giveaway yeah it's it's the uh if you say you're annoyed you probably yeah right right right you don't want her to have it but the camaraderie you're like hey that's annoying right she's like oh yeah and i'm like yeah yeah cool that's normal

Adeel [32:42]: Right. No, absolutely. And, you know, I've done so many interviews that I feel like I'm pretty sure I've, yeah, I'm almost positive that I've spoken to at least one or two people from the Pacific Northwest. So if, you know, if you want to connect, I can try to maybe make that happen. That might help a little bit just to kind of like compare notes or at least just, you know, hang out post COVID. Quietly, obviously, but you guys won't have a problem doing that. get some white noise in the background yeah exactly that's a great thing one of the great things about being over there is you have the ocean at least you know yeah and then you're already in a in a small town so um where and where did you come uh you were from tacoma uh i guess is that where you grew up

Audrey [33:29]: Yeah, that is where I grew up. So from Tacoma and so a little bit south of Seattle for anyone who's not from Washington or familiar with the area. And that's a pretty big city.

Adeel [33:39]: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I guess... Yeah, I was going to ask how Tacoma was for MISO, but it's not really an interesting question. It's just a town. So you took this job, your dream job, you say. What's the situation like at work? It seems like it potentially could be pretty outdoorsy. Like, are you in a crazy open office environment where everyone's loud around you? Or like, how has work been for your MISO?

Audrey [34:14]: yeah work has actually been really good so i would say the only thing that really triggers me is one of my co-workers eats an apple every day and so that was just kind of a nightmare for me and it's a little better foods like that that are just very loud in general are still pretty hard for me and that's no fault of her i'm not upset with her And I usually end up feeling really bad after because I just am upset that I was ever annoyed. So that, I think, is the only thing that I can think of. But we had a small team of three. Are you working from home now? Or are you back at the office? yeah so still so we work out of um there are some there's like a lab facility that's associated with the university of washington so we have an office there and it's just the three of us and so it's actually kind of a dream for me simonia because i'm either working just one other person or by myself a lot of the time and You know, we're outside a lot. So work, you know, other than lunchtime is really, really easy. I am not anxious going into work that I'm going to be triggered by anything.

Adeel [35:33]: Yeah, that's excellent. Have you worked anywhere in the past that has not been ideal?

Audrey [35:42]: Yes, I... I worked at a vet clinic. So that is fine. It's kind of funny that dogs and cats, if they're making what might be an annoying noise, like continual barking, it doesn't bother me. Anything that they do, it doesn't bother me. But then people... people are another story so again it's just kind of eating and my boss used to talk with her mouth full which I mean she was so busy and working so much so it's so fair you know she had to eat when she could but

Adeel [36:15]: just for my trigger but that was a little difficult to get through but other than that i think that's that's the only trigger that i've had in the workplace which i'm really grateful for okay so you've never had to like ask for accommodations or anything from an employer maybe like at school or anything has have you ever had to kind of like mention it to any authority

Audrey [36:38]: Yeah, I wish that I had known that I could. So like I said, my partner had ADHD and we went to the same college. And so he got accommodation for his ADHD. And I was telling him about how I used to wear earplugs during tests. And I would sometimes have little mini like panic attacks during tests because I couldn't focus because someone would be tapping their pen or shaking their leg and just things like that. And he was telling me how you can ask for accommodation for that. And that is a valid reason to get accommodation in school. And I had no idea.

Adeel [37:13]: And you don't need it. You don't need a professional note or anything. It's just you just need to, I mean, claim it that you have a real condition.

Audrey [37:24]: Yeah. Yeah. Like even like test anxiety, you can get accommodation. And I just, I didn't think that my issue was valid enough, I guess, to go and ask for some sort of accommodation. It was more like, I can get through this, you know, I can deal with this on my own. It's fine. And I think that that would have been pretty helpful in retrospect.

Adeel [37:48]: Did it affect, do you feel like it affected your grades at all? It seems like you're doing fine. I'm just curious if you feel like it had an adverse impact.

Audrey [38:01]: Yeah, I mean, I got through college. I had good grades. It was fine. But the classes that were more difficult for me and that the tests then were more difficult, I think I definitely could have done better if I had a little more time and was in a quieter environment. area because that would have been the accommodation. You test basically in a room by yourself and then you get a little more time. And so I don't even think I needed the extra time. I just needed the quiet. Yeah. Having that distraction just probably took away five to 10 minutes from my test every time, which is so crucial.

Adeel [38:38]: Right, you probably could have done it in less time, probably half the time.

Audrey [38:41]: Yeah, which, yeah, so, I mean, it worked out fine, but I think that I would have not been so anxious about taking tests had I had the silence. It would have been a world of difference.

Adeel [38:57]: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Well... Yeah, Audrey, I guess I'm curious if there's anything, I know I said don't prepare, then that's totally valid. But I was curious if you had anything you want to tell listeners, especially I'm sure there's a lot of people like you who've never talked to anybody who's had me. So yeah, anything you want to share about just kind of what you've learned over your life, but especially recently.

Audrey [39:24]: Yeah, I think the biggest thing first, I wanted to thank you for doing this and for creating this space, because this has just been so, so lovely to be able to come to this podcast and kind of get out of my own head and feel like I have this little community.

Adeel [39:40]: Oh, absolutely. We're all rooting for each other. So, yeah, it's good to have you.

Audrey [39:46]: Yeah, I think that's been my biggest tip. That was one of the biggest things was just not feeling alone. And then not feeling alone led to not feeling hopeless about misophonia. And it led to not feeling like I'm going to deal with this for the rest of my life. And like, there's no way out. And so. I think the biggest tip or thing that I think someone with miso should do is seek out a community or just, you know, like a podcast or just an online forum. I remember I was on a forum probably the first or second day that I had heard of misophonia and it was some misophonia forum online and I was reading through some of the questions and one of them was from a middle schooler who they posted something like, I'm 11 years old. people make fun of me because I freak out in class when someone's chewing gum I can't focus on my tests and I don't know what to do help and a bunch of people just responded with just the most heartwarming things and we're just saying you know you have misophonia you're not crazy you're not alone here's what you can do and just gave this middle schooler all these tips and I just thought that was such a testament to what finding your people can do you know like that That kid probably, I hope that their worldview changed.

Adeel [41:04]: Yeah, I hope so.

Audrey [41:05]: I'm not crazy. I can get through this. Like this isn't the end of the world for me. I can find help. And yeah, I feel like that's how you deal with this thing.

Adeel [41:17]: Yeah, no, it's amazing that once you find out it has a name, you do that mega Google research that I'm sure you did. And then, yeah, then finding other people who have it, it's just like, I almost feel like you kind of know half that person already because our experiences are so similar. So it's, yeah, it's kind of surreal. And, uh, hopefully, yeah, hopefully it helps everybody out. And yeah, to, you know, if there's any other, if there's any 11 year olds listening, uh, it can seem scary. Um, uh, the number of triggers can definitely expand over time, but as you get older, you get more control over your environment as, um, you know, as, as I'm sure, you know, you're able to move to places you can, that are better for you, workplaces that are better for you. You're able to, you know, get your own therapist. So, um, So overall, it does get better.

Audrey [42:12]: Yeah, it definitely, definitely gets better. I mean, in the last year, I have just seen such a massive difference. And before, I just assumed this was something that was going to get worse as I got older and I would just have to manage it. And that is completely false.

Adeel [42:30]: Yeah, even though the number of triggers and the intensity can sometimes increase, but yeah, you can take steps to help cope. And yeah, until more research is done and we figure this thing out, I think, yeah, that and finding your people is the next best thing and definitely can help a lot. Yeah, great words to end on. Yeah, Audrey, I want to thank you for coming on. I'm glad we got connected and good luck with everything.

Audrey [43:05]: Thank you. You too. I hope all is well in your little corner of the world.

Adeel [43:10]: Thank you again, Audrey. Hey, I'm off to get my vaccine, so I'm just going to sign off early. I hope you're all doing well and get your shots soon. If you're enjoying the shows, don't forget to leave a little review in iTunes or wherever you're listening. Music as always is by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and quiet.

Unknown Speaker [43:44]: you