Christina - Journey from misophonia discovery to therapy.

S4 E21 - 7/21/2021
In this episode, Adeel converses with Christina, a fashion photographer based in the New York/New Jersey area, about their unique experiences and coping mechanisms with misophonia, a condition characterized by extreme sensitivity to certain sounds. The conversation starts with how they explain misophonia to others, touching upon the struggles of finding understanding and acceptance. Christina shares her journey, from growing up with misophonia without knowing what it was to discovering its name and a community of people who share the condition. They delve into how misophonia affects daily life, from the challenges of living in a noisy apartment to navigating social situations and relationships. Both discuss their coping strategies, including fleeing from triggering environments and seeking solace in their ability to control personal spaces. Christina reveals her experiences with therapy, highlighting the skepticism she faced when explaining misophonia to therapists and the challenge of finding someone knowledgeable about the condition. They explore the potential origins and triggers of misophonia, speculating on its connection to stress and the importance of self-care to mitigate its effects. The episode concludes with Christina expressing gratitude for the podcast and its role in fostering a supportive community for those dealing with misophonia.


Adeel [0:01]: Welcome to the Misophonia podcast. This is episode 21 of season 4. My name is Adeel Ahmad and I have Misophonia. This week I speak with Christina, a fashion photographer in New York slash New Jersey. I'll let her explain it. And I'll have Christina's Instagram in the show notes. It's Dio underscore Christina. D-E-O underscore Christina. We start off by comparing our elevator pitches for how we explain misophonia to others, and we end on speculating on what misophonia is. Now, this was recorded before the latest research paper from Dr. Kumar's group, so take everything I say with a grain of salt, which you should do anyways. There are still about a half dozen or so amazing episodes for this season coming. It's been painful having to wait to publish these for you all, but they're going to be worth it. And I'm super excited to record a whole new batch of episodes starting in September, which means I'll be opening up the appointment calendar in a couple weeks. Now, lots of people have expressed interest in coming on the show, so they'll get first dibs, but stay tuned. for an announcement on interview slots. Best way to be up-to-date is to follow on Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok at Misophonia Podcast, or Twitter at Misophonia Show. Now, if you're enjoying the show, the easiest way you can support is by leaving a rating or review wherever you're listening to the podcast. It really helps get this podcast in front of more sufferers. All right, now here's my conversation with Christina. Christina, welcome to the podcast. Good to have you here.

Christina [1:39]: Thanks for having me.

Adeel [1:41]: Do you want to first tell us kind of where Betsy is located? We were just kind of talking about that a little bit.

Christina [1:47]: yeah so i'm i'm from new york but i'm currently residing in jersey city and i just happened to pick the busiest noisiest section jersey city so that is where i'm currently residing trying to manage all the noises every single day that this apartment has so yeah i'm in the midwest on one of the first you know nice days of the year so obviously there's like leaf blowers going everywhere so um

Adeel [2:11]: but i think i think i'll have them relatively at bay for hopefully the next hour are leaf blowers like are leaf blowers like the main kind of like annoying noise because i guess people have yards over there where i'm at there are not many yards yeah i mean uh it's like i think the homeowners are smart enough to not have them it's the it's the uh we live near a college and so the uh Like the managed apartment rentals, for some reason they feel like they need to set an army of leaf blowers every day to kind of do that. Or at least the beginning of the season.

Christina [2:45]: Yeah, it's so interesting when environments have their own kind of special set of sounds. Like when you're in a really urban environment like I am, you have the super loud music, you have construction. But then I hear if you go even in more rural areas, you still have like dogs barking from your neighbors. all still like sounds like there's always kind of no matter where you live there's always kind of like a set of noises that you become familiar with i guess oh yeah i was just in the yeah literally yesterday i was at my in-laws deep in the country so it's all like deep in the country and so

Adeel [3:20]: it's um you know farmland so uh yeah so it's it's totally different there's it's uh it's obviously not the city shit but it's like some there's you know there's some birds that have you know kind of some unusual not as not the prettiest sounds especially when they come in like in in large flocks so yeah you kind of um

Christina [3:40]: yeah that's true actually i went to lebanon two years ago my husband is lebanese so he went to his very small town in lebanon right south of the border and i am from the bronx i have not heard roosters in real life but oh my goodness like yeah 4am i don't know what time it was but like the jarring sound of the roosters just going crazy i'm like oh this is This is interesting. But I do assume, though, more in the countryside. I guess I always fantasize that it's a little bit more peaceful. You have nature. It totally is.

Adeel [4:16]: No, it totally is. I didn't mind the birds. Some other people were kind of bothered by it. Not miso-level bothered by it.

Christina [4:25]: Yeah, yeah.

Adeel [4:26]: You know how it is. But, you know, they got those weird, you know, also, if you go into the, you know, if you go into some of the smaller towns, you got all the guys that need, you know, motorcycles and large cars to overcompensate for themselves. So you have to pass by all that stuff on the road.

Christina [4:45]: Oh, I still have that here. It would be like 4 a.m. in the morning, 5 a.m. in the morning. And like, I don't know what person with insomnia has issues, but they like go through my neighborhood sometimes, like rearing their engines. And I'm like, come on, guys, we are sleeping here.

Adeel [5:03]: I mean, aren't all women turned on by that?

Christina [5:06]: Absolutely not. That is definitely not the case. I speak for all women. We do not. Well, you mentioned your in-laws. Do your in-laws know you have misophonia?

Adeel [5:19]: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yes, they do.

Christina [5:22]: Oh, that's cool. Okay. So this is like what I wanted to ask you. Like I've just been thinking. do you have like not elevator pitch but do you have like a digestible short description to tell people people who haven't even heard of the word misophonia like what do you tell them yeah that's so funny

Adeel [5:43]: I don't have a go-to, but I guess I would use, I have some, I mean, the terms I would use in no particular order, they would just kind of come out as I, you know, organically would be like focused on the fact that it's a sound sensitivity. So it's like an oversensitivity. And I can't, so things like, I would probably say it's like super sensitive. I might mention it's a disorder. I'll definitely mention that lots of people have it. And definitely mention that it's far more than just an annoyance. and uh there was another thing uh i would mention um oh that i have uh the people with misappointments have uh problems processing certain sounds without necessarily saying sensory processing disorder because i feel like that needs to be maybe be um diagnosed but those are the kinds of things i would mention uh extreme sound sensitivity difficulty processing disorder just to kind of throw in the uh the fact that it's it's a little it's you know more of a we think more of a medical biological issue but you know I don't have to bring it up a lot because I'm you know at this point I tend to opt for the flight portion of the fight or flight interesting so yours more flights and ah that's so interesting so yours is like kind of more panic kind of thing yeah right it's more the uh internalizing and then thinking oh god i is this gonna end or do i need to leave as opposed to as opposed to the lashing out which uh you know the temptations are always there to lash out especially um I don't know, especially if you feel kind of trapped, like if you're sitting down at a meal, whether it's at home or a restaurant. But even that, just because the onset comes on so hard, I think for me, at least, I feel like I need to try even harder to shut down and try to look for a way out.

Christina [7:55]: That's really interesting. Yeah, it's interesting to hear how people react differently. Yeah.

Adeel [8:01]: Right. And then the whole explanation part. And this comes up, this has come up on a number of shows as well. It's just like, you know, at some point you're like, it becomes exhausting because you kind of know that you're probably, the probability that you're going to be dismissed or get that weird like deer in headlights kind of stare is... high enough that you're like this isn't even worth bringing up why can't i just what if i just get out of here you know just like that's kind of the easier ways i think all those factors are why i kind of tend to go for the flight sometimes it's usually not worth it in my mind you know what i i feel very similarly when i tell people like my kind of little pitches

Christina [8:41]: hey, I have a sensory disorder slash condition that it gives me a fight or flight response when I hear certain trigger sounds. Then usually the person's like, what are the trigger sounds? And then I say, chewing, coughing, sneezing. clearing your throat, certain people's voices. Like, and then that's when it starts, like, I stop myself from going too much. I usually just kind of say, like, mouth noises. And even though, unfortunately, as I get older, I have noticed the list has been getting added onto. Oh, yeah. But, yeah, sometimes it really depends. If I'm not going to be with people... an enclosed space and we're going to be eating, I think I should probably mention I have this in case I need to give them a heads up like, hey, we're going to have dinner together in your house. Can we just play some music? I need something in the background and I'll explain if needed. But for the most part, I've told some family members and it's very much like the careful balance of I don't want them to act too comfortable around me because these are sounds that they can't really control but at the same time it causes me so much distress instantaneously that I'm just always being stressed out sometimes though. Like it's the careful balance of like how much discomfort you want to be and how much, you know, you want to make the other person kind of comfortable if they really don't get it, which most people won't to a degree. So it's weird.

Adeel [10:19]: Yeah, no, no, exactly. It's like, yeah, you don't want to, then that's come up for two is like, you don't want to, uh, It adds stress on you if you think about people who have to walk on eggshells around you. And then that stress exacerbates your misophonia. So yeah, yet another reason to really calculate if I need to mention it or not.

Christina [10:49]: yeah i mean the issue with me though is that my response is extreme anger like i get very the fight just straight up just comes full force like i just want to wreck havoc if i cannot if i'm getting triggered i'm just so angry right away and actually say something or do you just kind of like clench your face So, you know what, it's been strange because of COVID. Let me explain. Before COVID, yeah, because, you know, I told you, I'm in the New York City tri-state area, essentially, and I would have to commute to Manhattan pretty frequently, and I'm going to tell you, public transit is the worst because, so you can imagine, you're stuck in a moving vehicle of some sort, train, bus, subway, and you're stuck with these sounds that you can't control, and people aren't wearing their masks back in the day, you know, like... Public transit was such a huge issue for me to the point where I sometimes wouldn't even go on the subway if I see someone chewing. It was so terrible. You can't just tell someone, hey, can you stop breathing? Like, if they're breathing heavily, you know, that sounds like a threat. Probably going to get punched in New York if you keep saying that to strangers. So before COVID, I was constantly being triggered, whether it be indoor dining or public transit, that feeling of trappedness. But then... Now that COVID is a thing, unfortunately, I've actually been getting triggered a lot less. So I don't, because of that, because there's more space between my triggers, even though unfortunately I have been getting a lot more triggers, I'm able to kind of like hold back a little bit. The frequency or the lack of frequency has been helping me because before I was just constantly on edge. and now not so much to a degree so it's like there's times where i've when i was younger i did say something to someone like some guy was chewing gum at barnes and nobles was trying to read something and like i snapped at him and he looked at me like i was crazy for like 16 and i just like ran away like like like stuff like that and um so you did both you did the fight and the flight yeah i did yeah compound there we go um and with certain family members especially when i was younger especially when i had such little control my environment i would say something but i didn't have the word misophonia back then they just thought it was like a quirk in my personality So I would say something. And unfortunately, a lot of times because they didn't understand, I would get dismissed. And like my first misophonia episode, I guess you could say, was just, it was awful. Like I remember like it was yesterday. So it's like, and I think you mentioned your podcast. You don't quite remember like the first time you've been triggered with misophonia, right?

Adeel [13:55]: I personally don't, not exactly down to the day. Some people do, but most people don't. It's usually just kind of around that junior high, late elementary school kind of time is when people notice something weird is happening.

Christina [14:13]: yeah i feel like pre-teen like i mean there's so much research that needs to be done this is so relatively new a new term compared to other you know disorders that's been studied for so long um but for me i was i was 12 and i remember like it was just it was so bad like i was trapped in a car with my dad and my mom would kind of like give him lollipops because we would drive to visit my brother in college and it was like a five hour drive six hour drive and my dad would like to drive at night so we'll get there early And unfortunately, he would just, like, eat these lollipops. And as you can imagine, lollipops are terrible when you have misophonia, to say the least.

Adeel [14:57]: Yeah.

Christina [14:58]: It's so awful. And as, like, I think I was 11 or 12, I was crying, and I was begging him to stop. I was so angry. And emotions were just overflowing. And I remember just kicking his feet because I was behind him. just kicking his seat just begging him to stop and he thought it was hysterical he's like yeah he thought because he's from an environment and generation that You know, you only cry if you have a good reason. That kind of thing.

Adeel [15:33]: Or, you know... If you're about to die or something.

Christina [15:36]: Yeah, like, you know, don't show weakness. Don't cry over something so stupid. And unfortunately, he definitely... I wish he had the emotional intelligence to say, hey, my daughter is super distressed. This isn't a normal reaction. Maybe I should stop doing whatever, you know, it's bothering her.

Adeel [15:54]: Yeah.

Christina [15:54]: That certainly wasn't it. So hours upon hours, and this is in the first road trip we took to visit my brother, I was trapped in this car, just really stuck and feeling trapped, feeling so angry to the point where I wish I would just like, I fantasize like opening the car door and just jumping out. i was like anything to make it stop yeah yeah you know so yeah and i remember you know and i spoke to my mom about this and she's she really apologized for not knowing like how bad it was and i've explained to her misophonia is and i'm not the only person who has this but um yeah but basically i remember like i think back about that sometimes and like i remember Like, I even feel emotional just thinking about it right now. It's crazy. It happened so long ago. Yeah.

Adeel [16:45]: Yeah, it had a huge impact. Was there ever a period before it was bothering you where you were doing those road trips and it wasn't bothering you and then suddenly it came on? Or was it from the first road trip to your brother?

Christina [16:58]: You know, I don't think we took any long trips like that. I don't, I can't, I can't remember if there was, and if there was, it wasn't to that degree. That was just like the first memory I had. But it was so bad that my whole body was reacting to the sound that even I knew back then shouldn't be causing me to get so upset and so incredibly angry. And yeah, so I don't remember before that, but...

Adeel [17:26]: Yeah. Did you start to spread then to, you know, eating at home and all the other usual places?

Christina [17:32]: Well, you know, what's interesting is that I didn't know the word misophony until I was like 24. So like I said, like my family just thought this was like a quirk in my personality. Yeah. It's a little different. I am. But but basically, I am. I don't remember avoiding. I don't remember it because I didn't have a label. I can't quite pinpoint when exactly I've been triggered besides certain very, you know, obvious cases like the Barnes and Nobles or, you know, the car, like driving the car. I just, I just remember like begging my mom, hey, if we're going to take, if we're going to take a trip with my dad, can we just not give him any lollipops? Do not give him anything to eat. Cause it's gonna, I just, I can't mom, I can't do it. And she was like, okay, I'll try. And I think for the most part she, she like did, but like, it's very different time back then. Anyway. So, um, I don't quite, it wasn't until like, I just remember bits and pieces throughout my childhood and adolescence that I had these kinds of outbursts or, or intense feelings of rage over a sound. But it wasn't until like my early twenties that I felt that it was, very problematic like i like it was distressing like almost every day kind of right

Adeel [18:54]: Yeah, I mean, it's not coming to me. I know I was bothered by it back then, too, but it wasn't, like, it was, first of all, I wasn't, I didn't really notice it. I don't really remember it bothering me at school, thank God. Yeah, right?

Christina [19:05]: Same, a little bit, yeah.

Adeel [19:07]: And so, but yeah, once that independence starts to happen around college post-college is when, yeah, things just start to blossom. And so... That's when it gets kind of crazy. Okay, so yeah, so it sounds like similar for you, right? Like it didn't do anything too crazy. Well, do you remember anything with friends where you're like, I can't hang out with that friend anymore?

Christina [19:34]: no because i wouldn't no i wouldn't really i well what's good about my high school is that you weren't allowed to chew gum so i never really had issues like quiet settings for me it's a quiet setting if there's no noise then that's when it's the worst when I'm hearing this trigger sound. But like for the most part, I mean, I'm from a very noisy family in a noisy environment for better for worse. And for the most part, there's always been like background noise.

Adeel [20:03]: Yeah, like noise in the background.

Christina [20:05]: Did you ever have like a nine to five kind of job where you're like in the office? Oh yeah, yeah.

Adeel [20:11]: yeah so like how did you like how did you deal with that because for me that's when i was like oh this could be a real issue i'm having a hard time here no that's good because i do want to yeah i do want to talk about your your line of work too but yeah but uh but yeah no i have had um so currently you know i'm a software basically you know engineer so right now i just work i'm here in my home office up on the third floor attic of my house so um But there have been times where I've been every kind of office, open office, you know, startup or like an office with doors and walls, offices with cubicles. and um yeah i mean honestly the the most recent job i've had like they uh in tech they their companies are generally pretty good about um a letting you wear headphones but b sometimes even giving you headphones because it's not even just the mesos that uh want that kind of quiet be able to concentrate so uh michael just gave everybody like nice headphones and so um but in you but yeah but if you're just kind of like naked out there in an open office it's it's kind of rough um i don't like eating like having lunch with with the team like i like going to lunch down the street grabbing something and then i'll just go back to my desk and not you know i don't want to sit around watching people eat um especially every single day so um And I always thought that I was just being, you know, I thought maybe back when I was younger, I was just bored by the older guys. But I think I just didn't want to, you know, literally just sit around watching people eat. And so, yeah, I've been in every kind of situation, but you gravitate towards the headphones and you gravitate towards the home office. And eventually, you know, that takes care of itself unless there's leaf blowers outside.

Christina [22:06]: So my newest, yeah, these floors, my newest, one thing I did learn about COVID, a lot of like classes or lectures, especially if they were recorded before COVID, they were all over YouTube and other, these other websites, if you like trying to learn a new skill. And what got me that I had to stop watching those classes, that if someone were to cough or sneeze off camera, I immediately had to turn it off because it caught me so off guard. So it's interesting because even in the virtual space with Zoom and video calls, my husband's working at home. If someone's coughing or sneezing, even then, I never not hear it. And I may not have the super instant reaction of anger, but it always like shakes me up. And it's just... I totally agree.

Adeel [22:56]: I totally agree. I watch YouTube all the time because I'm kind of like ADD in terms of like what I want to learn. And so it's... But sometimes it's not even... Sometimes it's even the video... The teacher, if they put like compression on their vocals in the wrong way and then you hear everything, um like at the same volume kind of like on the radio kind of like a radio voice um if you do compression the wrong way then you feel then you hear kind of everything as loud as your you know your loudest um you know speech and so sometimes I'll just hear I'll just hear throat sounds as loud as the talking and it's just I have to shut it off I've done I've definitely have to do that and that goes back I remember that um I remember one particular video I saw back in like i think it was like 2008 or 9 or something and that's kind of that's one of the few like real memories i have at some point um watching video on some programming language or whatever and the guy just like he just i just heard everything uh not just just speaking and uh i was like holy i think that's when maybe i start to like google around for like what's wrong with me yeah because i was on the computer anyways i was like yeah what's uh came across Mesothonia. How did you get to the point where you realized it had a name? Were you actually Googling for it? Not at all.

Christina [24:20]: Because I grew up thinking that I just had this thing and I felt so alone, especially as I got older. It's getting worse. I was a receptionist at the art school I graduated from the first year after my graduation. So anyway, receptionist at this office and one of my coworkers, we're just talking about like weird annoyances. and of course i mentioned oh when people eat popcorn or they chew i just want to punch them in their face like i said like yeah i just have this weird thing about me where i just can't stand the sound of people chewing and she looks at me and she goes my boyfriend has that you have misophonia and i'm like me so what like what is that and she's like you should just go to like go for it i'm sure you're gonna see and oh my goodness i remember that night It was so illuminating, but also kind of depressing. Illuminating and nice in a way that you have a community of people who know how it is to be triggered and feel so upset, angry or anxious over certain sounds that are otherwise normal to other people. To find people that are, yeah, they're like dealing with this. It was nice to have that community. But then at the same time, as I went down that hole on Reddit, and it was just, oh, sorry, I just cut my throat. When I went down the hole on Reddit, and it was just very depressing because there is this kind of, There's this kind of common thread that there's no cure and it gets worse as you get older. And you just have to kind of live your life the best you can with this. And, you know, I was hoping there were some kind of tools or... something i could take to help me but you know at least we're not alone but it is a very mysterious condition that luckily now a lot of research is being done but i want to say back in 2014 barely you know i was just happy we had this label but that was about it so that's how i discovered the word misophonia

Adeel [26:39]: yeah no that's that's interesting that kind of kind of word of mouth there um yeah you're right online and that's why it's still one of the reasons why i started this podcast is because online you can definitely you just kind of hear people when generally people go online to post something on the estonia it's they're in a mega trigger state so you see the work kind of the the most rantiest kind of uh darkest kind of um stuff which we all know about but um but yeah it's uh and yeah i mean i'm not saying that there are any radically new tools or cures or or anything but uh at least you know you're not really missing you haven't really missed out on anything usually what you've kind of um learned to do uh is you know you just have to kind of continue and maybe you learn some maybe you find some solace at least in uh in knowing that um uh and well one thing is like you get more freedom over time like you're not in your giant loud family anymore as you're getting older so what i try to tell people is like yeah i mean triggers get worse and there's no cure but at least you can kind of control your environment a bit more It's like, I'm an adult, I can control the thermostat in my house. I don't have to freeze all the time because my parents are too cheap. It's the same with sounds. It's like I can kind of control my environment a little bit more. And so that's the one thing we have while there's hopefully more research happening. And there is.

Christina [28:08]: It's so interesting you say the word control because that is a word that has been in my mind lately. And it's funny for me, how I personally have been trying to get better, not better, just try to adjust to what I have, you know, is accepting the lack of control that I have. And yeah, no, for sure, living on your own or like just now with your parents helps tremendously. But unfortunately, I do live in like the most noisiest apartment I've ever lived in my life. And there's so many, I don't get musophonia triggers, but I certainly do find just sounds like a, like my, it's weird. Maybe you have something similar where your brain can filter out noises that other people don't really hear. Like it just felt like they're, they filter out certain noises. I can't. So any kind of ambulance, any kind of someone's coughing across the street, my neighbors sneeze. I could hear that. It's crazy.

Adeel [29:05]: Through the walls.

Christina [29:06]: Through the walls. So it's like, you know, and one thing that has helped me was just kind of just meditating on the fact that this is what I have and I can't. I can't control it to a degree. I really can't. And just accepting that and just remembering that even if I do have a huge misophonia trigger in an episode, there's so many more moments of my day that I don't. you know so that's that's the only way to kind of one of the ways it kind of gets me through it because as you know it gets sometimes gets really stressful especially as things start opening up in this country and stuff like indoor dining is going to be a thing more and more and life will slowly get back to how it was before

Adeel [29:52]: Yeah, no, you're right. Yeah, most of our days are NAMI. So it always hits us every day. There's always something. But it's funny because none of us will want to think about it. But sometimes thinking about it in advance when there's no triggers is a way to kind of massage your mind into not being so afraid of what you're going to hear. Because that neighbor is sneezing across, you know, across the wall our brains think that something is going to come and attack us through the wall or something you know it's just like we can't we can't uh we can't um process uh dangerous things from these kinds of sounds like real danger from this illusion of danger is that for sure what's happening um do you want to maybe Do you want to talk a bit about what kind of what you do for work? You were a receptionist, but now you're, I think, a little bit more independent, right? I mean, in terms of like, you know, in terms of office space.

Christina [30:55]: Yeah, so receptionist was many moons ago.

Adeel [30:57]: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Christina [30:59]: But yeah, so I am... Right now, I am a freelancer. I'm a photographer. I specialize in fashion, beauty, and portraiture. Mostly fashion.

Adeel [31:08]: And we're going to have your Instagram because you do amazing work. Amazing work. Thank you.

Christina [31:11]: Thank you. I appreciate that.

Adeel [31:13]: I'm a bit of a wannabe photographer, too. So I admire really good work. So, yeah.

Christina [31:18]: Oh, thank you. I appreciate that. Yeah. And photography was always with me. But when I graduated art school... I looked down the real world and I was like, oh, that seems really harsh. I got student loans. Let me forget about photography and just get like a nine to five job so I could, you know, not be scared of being impoverished. So I quit photography for half a decade. I did not touch my camera. Camera was collecting dust. And I was just denying this part of myself. And I worked at a corporate office. I worked at Bloomingdale's, which is owned by Macy's. And that period of time was when I was like, ooh, this is a problem I have. This is definitely a condition that is always kind of lurking in the shadows. Because when you're in an office space... And we were in a dark room because I was a photo retoucher and you need to have like a controlled light situation to match colors of products, all this jazz. So you have that extra thing of like not really seeing what's around you, but then hearing these sounds. One of the worst triggers to this day. was when my boss, we're like, we're cool at the time, all's good. He kind of, so I was typing on my computer. I didn't see him come from behind and he was eating a banana. And he's just like, I don't, this is the slushy chomping of the banana. He was right next to my ear because he was kind of like, oh, what are you doing on the computer? And I was working, but like, he was just kind of being, I guess, funny. But he said that while he was eating, it caught me so off guard that I just kind of said something like I was just like, I'm just working. He walked away and literally I was about to throw up. I never had such a trigger. That was so. I had such a physical reaction of just, I'm going to vomit on my desk. All right, this is going to be something. Luckily, I was able to just breathe and try my best to calm down. It took like 40 minutes. I didn't even want to get up from my seat to go to the bathroom because I didn't want anyone to look at my face and be like, what's wrong with you? I'd be like, so many things. But basically, yeah, my worst triggers were in a workplace environment. and i don't i don't miss it so when i finally made the leap of like all right i'm actually a photographer and i'm good at photography why aren't i doing this um eventually i made the jump of being a freelancer and it's been a lot better commute a lot less into the city into manhattan and you know i make my own hours all that all that jazz Photo shoots, I have to be a little bit careful. I do editorials. So, well, before COVID, it was like larger scale. And we have food, so I always have music on. So it's been okay. It was okay as long as I had music. So, yeah, so that's kind of, yeah, that's what I do.

Adeel [34:21]: yeah no that's that's cool uh yeah it's great that yeah you've definitely gravitated towards having a bit more did you get to kind of like call the shots on the set yeah because you obviously probably can't wear headphones or whatever you because you're communicating with people um yeah so basically you're like

Christina [34:37]: Yeah, you're like head honcho, like you are the captain of the ship and you have to block pressure when you're doing a fashion editorial because you have a time constraint and you do need to feed people because if you're on set for like five hours, I like to feed people because I've had models tell me, yeah, some photographers don't bring any food and I'm starving. And that really affects the mood of the shoot. So, yeah, I always have music and that's why music is so important to me because. I get kind of obsessed with it. Like, I have playlists where I very, like, I specifically organize it in such a way. It just, you know, get the feel of the shoot. And so I would, I'll just have a lot of fun with making music and just cranking it up to a volume that's not super loud, but enough that people are eating on the side. Like, I'm not really going to stress out about it because I have that other noise factor.

Adeel [35:26]: Not enough that doesn't bother you. People know who's in charge, but it doesn't hurt their ears.

Christina [35:32]: Exactly.

Adeel [35:33]: The little common common people ears. Yeah, very good. Do you have like, do you? So I've talked to some people who I'm actually going to, yeah, probably share some one or two playlists of people who they've created Spotify playlists where it's all music that kind of gets going right away. There's no like, you know, crescendoing into a song so that it's like everything can kind of be kind of a go-to song do you ever think about the miso while you're kind of setting out organizing playlists or is it more just kind of mood for a photo shoot or wherever you're at

Christina [36:04]: I have so many players, so I will have shoots just for like the mood of the photo shoot. I'll have play. I'll have playlists where I'll just have certain categories like one called vibes for a young person name. But, you know, just like very kind of soothing, just kind of, you know, lower key music and have music where it's like it's rock. You know, I don't quite think about me so funny. I just kind of intuitively pick music that I know will generate a certain mood. And I really concentrate on music because it just affects my mood so much. And usually for better, especially if I'm having a misophonic outbreak, I have to calm down a bit before I can listen to music. I know some people would just try to ignore whatever's going on with them with music. I can't quite do that. But certainly music could have such a calming effect on me. So I kind of use that to my advantage.

Adeel [36:57]: You need to use it to kind of like reset a bit or... Sometimes, yeah. So you're in a creative field, and I'm wondering, have you met other people in any of your creative fields that also have misophonia? It seems like there are a decent amount of creative slash even engineering types that have misophonia. I'm curious if you've bumped into others.

Christina [37:24]: You know, I only have one friend, acquaintance, and she's in the culinary field. So no one that's like an art, like a photographer or other artist. That's why it's so interesting with this podcast. I'm so happy you do it because sometimes You know, I forget that there are people who deal with this because I don't really know anyone else. And I used to, like, send her emails like, hey, I had this one. Like, I really ran to her and I'm like, why am I doing this? Like, this is not fair to her, you know, because but we connected so much with having this this condition. So we would talk about it. And it was so nice to, you know, for each of us to have someone who understands this. And I knew her for a long time. And it wasn't until somewhat recently that I knew that she was struggling with this. I just posted something on Facebook a long time ago. She's like, oh, I have this, too, because I kind of I don't know. It's definitely me. So funny related. Just kind of like, you know, throwing it out there. And she was like, oh, I have this. Then we got into this huge conversation. And for her not to give too much of her story, but like she she kind of has it a lot worse. to the point where she definitely had to move. Even her partner at the time was extremely inconsiderate to what she was going through. And it really affected her life. And I think she's doing better because I think she moved to a quieter place and she has a new significant other as well. But it really goes to show you that when you have misophonia, it could really affect your life, your relationships, where you live. And she understood that. So it was really nice. But other than her, I don't know anyone else. And that's what I'm hoping with your podcast and just more information kind of comes about awareness. I'm sure there's so many people who have this and they just don't have a name for it.

Adeel [39:20]: So how about your significant other? So you've been obviously at home, like we've all been, and he's got his meetings, you got your stuff going on. And, you know, we talked about, you know, pandemic, you know, gets us away from a lot of our regular triggers, like, you know, the subway, but then, I think after, you know, I'm sure by the end of last year, everybody, miso or not, common people and not, were kind of getting tired of kind of maybe feeling a bit claustrophobic and kind of cabin fever. Was that kind of starting to affect maybe your miso at home at all?

Christina [40:01]: It's interesting because I lived in a much smaller apartment. The funny thing about me, I move every single summer. So the apartment that was last summer was significantly smaller. And there was kind of like this claustrophobic, I can't go anywhere without hearing. a meeting or hearing you know that was you know i just had to adjust it wasn't great it was also height of like pandemic stuff so there's a lot of emotions going on with that oh my goodness yes exactly and um now it's a lot better because we have a little more space and i'm so thankful and grateful that my significant other is understanding, you know, to a degree. Sometimes he, actually it's interesting because he doesn't really trigger me only when he sneezes. So when he sneezes, I just kind of like... have a moment that like I calm down. But other than that- Did it come in a series or is it usually just one? No, not a series. Thank goodness. Oh my gosh. Imagine if it was a series of things because I have met people who just like cannot stop using.

Adeel [41:09]: The allergies and it's around that time. Right. Yeah.

Christina [41:12]: yeah so luckily you know for him like i explained how misophonia is and you know he he he tried to understand he's like you know i it's only see this is the thing it's i think there's only so much someone could empathize because i think for other people it just sounds so ridiculous like i always kind of think of how the other person is perceiving it oh you can't hear people chew um what do you expect people to not chew around you you know what i mean like there's this element of like why why do you get triggered over these normal sounds and i can't answer that he never asked me that but i'm just i always kind of think of like how we sound on the other side and it goes back to our original conversation about uh yeah do we even bother exactly yeah but for him i i live with him so i'm like you know what let me Let me tell him. And it wasn't until like someone, I mean, I told him about misophonia, I think probably a year after we were together. And we weren't, well, actually, yeah, we were living together then. But it wasn't until recently that I have kind of told some family members or a couple of friends. I've been very private about it for the reasons that we've spoken about before. But he's been understanding and I'm really thankful for that.

Adeel [42:31]: What's been the reaction of your friends? I guess maybe especially your family.

Christina [42:40]: So my mom, she was so apologetic because she remembers all the outbursts I would have. And she's very conscious of it to the point where I feel kind of bad because we went to visit my brother in Michigan and we were at his house and we were eating. So I had to have the conversation to everyone being like, hey, we need to have music. We need to have some music. We're going to eat. And she was like, yeah, totally. And it was interesting. Actually, my sister-in-law, my brother's wife, knew what misophonia was. She was the only person besides my other friend. Yeah. So really, that was so awesome. But when I first told my brother, he was it was a little hard because i think he's very cautious with anyone's self-diagnosis themselves he's very educated he has a phd he trusts science a lot and he's very wary of like the internet i think and stuff like that so i get it but when he's like oh you have me so funny and then he would like do a fake chewing sound and i was just like you you react exactly how i thought dad would and that was like my little zinger and basically and basically but he but i have to say though like he actually It's so interesting with him because he was so respectful. Whenever we ate, he always had music. Even though initially he seemed like he was dismissing it, he was actually very respectful. So I really can't complain in that sense. But for the most part, I haven't really told that many people. That's why it was kind of hard for me to even be on your podcast because it's kind of like... A lot of people don't know I deal with this. A lot of close friends have no idea.

Adeel [44:25]: Everyone's going to know. The whole world's going to know. I'm going to buy ads on Facebook targeting all your friends.

Unknown Speaker [44:35]: That's so funny.

Christina [44:36]: Oh my God, that's so funny. No, but basically it's like, you know, it's, cause it's, it's, you always run through, you always like run into the risk of like someone not only dismissing you, but like taunting you as if like, there's no way you have that.

Adeel [44:50]: I hope in our age. Yeah. Right. Have you ever dealt with that? Um, no. Well, no, not that I remember. I hope maybe I've blocked those people out of my mind or I've, um, do them over the bridge or something. I don't know, but I, you know, I don't, I don't really remember that anybody doing that. I definitely hear about a lot of that happening, but more so when it's siblings growing up kind of thing. I've heard stuff like that.

Christina [45:16]: Yeah.

Adeel [45:19]: I don't. Yeah. I don't. Yeah. It hasn't been a problem.

Christina [45:22]: problem with me um that's good i'm so happy to hear like i know i'm never going to tell my dad like i just don't think he has the capacity to okay he's in the dark yeah he's in the dark and to be honest i rather him because like i don't see him that often anymore so it's i can handle it it's one thing if i was like living across the street from him you know but do you yeah did that do you feel like it affect i mean obviously it affected those road trips did it do you feel like that affected or caused any kind of distance between you and him or any of your family members that would not have been there uh now you mean like how um no because i i'm actually going through therapy right now so one thing yeah one thing i i I've kind of already accepted, you know, my parents, my dad for who he is. And I don't really hold any anger or distance from him. I do distance myself a bit, just knowing that the more interactions I have with him, sometimes I has more opportunity for him to kind of get under my skin. But for the most part. you know they didn't know what it was and we still don't know what misophonia really is and you know it's just i can't change the past so i just try to i just try to accept them because if i don't i don't want like the resentment or yeah the anger to take hold you know

Adeel [46:46]: right right did you start to seek therapy primarily because of this or was there were there other reasons uh and we don't have to get into them just curious how much misophonia affected that relationship and then the decision to go see therapy and whatnot

Christina [47:00]: sure and after i answer this i'm really curious to hear like if you like if you have heard any luck with therapy of yourself has you know have done therapy but for me um i went to see i basically was diagnosed with ocd which is just a label. Basically, I was just having certain compulsions and certain obsessive thoughts that were really affecting my life, affecting my relationship, specifically when it came to cleaning and organization. I thought I was just going to do therapy for like three months. I'm almost like approaching a year because one thing and I used to be really against therapy for whatever reason it could have been the environment I grew up in you know I had very strong family members who dealt with so much more than I feel like I've dealt with and they seem okay um that you know and that's a fallacy too but basically I sought out therapy because i wanted to get better and my life was getting really rough when it came to like i would freak out if i touched a broom like i would I wasn't able to wash dishes. I would just cry hysterically. And I just want to break every dish that was in the sink. And I'm like, this isn't normal. Like, I shouldn't be. These are really extreme emotions. And I figured, you know what? Let me get some help here because I don't think I could do this on my own. And then COVID happened. I literally had my appointment. On Sunday, the Sunday before the Monday of my appointment. Lockdown. Lockdown. So that was fun. So I was there left with my thoughts. Terrible, terrible time. But then as I went through therapy, of course I mentioned about misophonia. But that wasn't the main thing. My main thing was this thing I had with cleaning and these thoughts. But when I mentioned misophonia, I was very careful because one thing about Reddit, better for worse, you know, there are many times I've came across where therapists are very dismissive because they haven't heard of it. And also I'm seeing psychologists, just to clarify, like, oh, because they haven't heard of it. There's a lot of, you know. skepticism. Even my brother, who's extremely educated, has probably similar skepticism. But I'm very lucky that the person I'm seeing seemed very open-minded to it. And he asked me really great questions. He's like, tell me how it's like. And I explained to him. At one point, I think he may have suggested like, hey, maybe Maybe there's a way before you get really angry or you're feeling something, we could kind of just pay attention to that feeling and try to help it. But what I was trying to explain to him is that it's instantaneous. Just as if a glass were to break in front of you, you would have that jarring experience. when I hear certain sounds, that is what happens. And my instant reaction, unfortunately, is extreme anger. And, you know, I'm just trying to explain my experience, and I'm very lucky that he's been receptive to it, it seems. But there's not really much that you could talk out of to a degree when you have this, because... Like, I don't know. I don't, I mean, if I go to someone who's like specialized in misophonia, but that's also really rare, or at least around my area. But yeah, that's how my experience so far has been good in terms of the quality of care I've been receiving. But, you know, it hasn't really helped with the misophonia. That's still...

Adeel [50:44]: yeah it seems like it's more there was an acknowledgement and then there's some there's they're probably he's probably offering some kind of general baseline therapy advice um yeah this is not uncommon i i think most people i talked to don't have gone into therapy who have misophonia going to it with some other comorbidities like ocd or other anxiety or or something else and it may or may not be the even known by the therapist uh in some cases yeah um i i couldn't it's kind of honestly it's kind of i've talked to so many people i might as well i should probably write it down or something but i think it's all over the board uh yeah yeah and hey a lot of people are just maybe have like you said it's new so they've just started started the therapy so it's kind of like the jury's still at us too how well this is all going to work. So we're, yeah, we're heading, I mean, we're heading, we can keep going on and on and on.

Christina [51:39]: I know, but it's probably time, right?

Adeel [51:41]: I do, yeah. You know, I have a day job too, so. Yeah. But I should, but yeah, you know, we're up to an hour, but is there anything else you want to kind of share with anyone right now, insights or anything? I don't know, maybe you want to ask me before we wrap it up. Hmm.

Christina [52:00]: So in your, you know, you're not a medical professional. You know, we know this. However, since you have interviewed so many people at this point with your podcast. what do you have any just like kind of fun theory regarding what you think misophonia is most likely like what what it is and i know again not a medical professional but i'm just really curious anecdotally did you yourself i'm definitely smart enough that everyone should take me seriously so cool yeah i'm gonna take notes go ahead what do you think so wait my gut so my gut feeling is that uh so there's a couple different things there's like

Adeel [52:36]: you know the debate of whether this is kind of like genetic or learned i feel like my spidey sense just tells me it's um there could be something that you're born with but it doesn't necessarily get activated unless there is something in your environment that um that might be associated with uh i'm gonna use the word trauma but something that um it could be like very obvious trauma or it could just be um something that bothered you and then the sound kind of always associated with that thing or that person that kind of activates uh misophonia i feel like there's a combination of something that you're kind of you know something that's in your brain that you might be born with and or gets activated by some association with something that happens to you around the age of, and I think you're most susceptible around the age of puberty. And then what that thing is, I think is what that activates, it feels like it just activates something from our lizard brain that is meant to warn us to danger. And I feel like we get, this is what it feels like it is. It's like we're hypersensitive to something that feels like it feels dangerous to us. so I think somewhere in this kind of what it feels like to me and as to whether what we should do about it beyond wearing headphones I'm not sure but and talking to people about it and trying to convince our this is why I try to tell people to if we can lower stress because stress is an exacerbator and remind our minds but maybe before we sit down at a restaurant or at a meal that, okay, look around, there's nothing here that's going to attack you. The sounds are not going to hurt you. If you can do that in advance, and we never remember to because we try to not think about it unless that glass breaking sensation happens. If we can try to do that, that's kind of maybe our best hope for now. So those are kind of my thoughts as to where it might come from and why certain things kind of help us and how we can kind of best manage it. Does that make sense?

Christina [54:57]: that totally makes sense i agree and i do personally think that there is a genetic component to it my grandmother i suspect that she has misophonia actually she's always made such a big deal about people chewing with their mouths open didn't connect it until i read up on this you know so i i agree with everything you're saying but i also do think yeah like a little sprinkle of genetics is probably some factor is my is my guess um yeah and it's just um yeah and for and for people who are dealing with this like the best thing hands down with any issue sleep eat and stay hydrated because personally i am at my worst when i'm dehydrated if i'm really tired i i do notice a huge sensitivity than normal. So yeah, definitely just try to try your best to just like take care of yourself. And yeah, and I'm so glad that you have this podcast and we have a bit of a community to at least share tips and support.

Adeel [55:55]: Absolutely. Well, Christina, very great to have you on and yeah, good luck with everything else.

Christina [56:02]: Thank you. Take care.

Adeel [56:04]: Thank you, Christina. Fun chat. Make sure to please check out her Instagram at do underscore Christina, do underscore Christina. If you liked this episode, don't forget to leave a quick review or just hit the five stars wherever you listen to this podcast. Music, as always, is by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and quiet.