Claire - Exploring Misophonia through Art and Meditation

S2 E2 - 5/6/2020
In this episode, Claire, a visual artist from Northern California, shares her insightful journey with misophonia, including the psychological aspects of managing it and her meditative and breathing practices for coping. Claire discusses how she anthropomorphizes her misophonia, calling it 'her' as a way to build a relationship and communicate with it, a strategy that has been pivotal in her healing process. She highlights the challenges of growing up with misophonia, particularly how it affected her social interactions and academic environment, and how she had to pretend to be a different person to cope with the stress. Her artistic work, inspired by her experiences with misophonia and synesthesia, serves as a form of documentation, capturing emotions, relationships, and energies. Claire also mentions the importance of having a supportive community and how it has significantly alleviated her misophonia symptoms. The episode concludes with Claire expressing a desire to write a book about misophonia, focusing on stories of empathic behaviors and possibly paranormal experiences associated with the condition.


Adeel [0:01]: Welcome to the Misophonia podcast. This is episode two of season two. My name is Dilmat and I have Misophonia. We have a particularly epic episode this week. Clocking in in about an hour, I talked to Claire. a visual artist based in Northern California. There's a lot of super insightful stuff in my conversation with Claire, particularly on the psychology of dealing with miso. We talk about how she separates herself from her miso in order to build a relationship with it as part of her healing process so she can communicate with it. Super fascinating. We also get into her meditative practice and a breathing technique she finds really helpful. And there's a bunch of good stories in here you don't want to miss. I kind of let Clara run the conversation, as I try to do with everyone, but I do just want to point out there are a few examples of strong language, so this is not quite safe for work or small kids. We also briefly describe a couple of her triggers, without making the sounds, of course, but just wanted to warn you there. And finally, there's a reference to thoughts of suicide in discussing her past. It's just briefly in one sentence, but I wanted to point that out too, since you never know the state of each one of your listeners. If you're at a particularly low point, please turn this off and talk to someone or call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. All right. Right now, set aside the next hour for this conversation with Claire. I'll just jump into it. I want to say, Claire, welcome. Welcome to the podcast.

Claire [1:33]: Excellent, Adeel. Thank you so much for having me. I couldn't be more excited to talk about this. I can't believe that we're finally getting a platform to talk about it. Thank you so much for starting this. And I know it's going to help a lot of people. I think it already has. So thank you.

Adeel [1:49]: No. Oh, yeah. No, thank you. Thank you. Yeah, you're welcome. Yeah. And this just came up because people wanted to talk about it. So I just felt like turning the microphone on. And you are and we'll get into kind of what you actually. Yeah. Why don't we talk about where you are and then what you do? Because it's interesting. You're you're you're also a Miss Phonia advocate as well. So I'd like to hear about that.

Claire [2:11]: Yeah, my advocacy around it is a little bit, it's not quite on the level of yours. And I'll talk about that a little bit in a moment. But yeah, I live in Northern California right now. I'm located in Grass Valley. It's this beautiful little artsy mountain town. And I came here. I'm not from here originally. I came here because of a mental breakdown that was related to misophonia. um so i had been i'm originally from the pacific northwest so washington oregon but um before i came to california i was in louisville kentucky for a short while about a year and a half and um had some really hard things happen to me there and i had just been diagnosed with meso right before i moved there so i was about 25 when i was diagnosed and moved there and um didn't have any resources there around it. And my partner was not the best. So it was really challenging. And my mom and her husband came to visit me maybe a year and a half after I'd been there. And my mom looked at me and she was like, you're not OK. Like, you have bags under your eyes. You've lost 40 pounds. Like, are you OK? And I was like, I don't think I'm OK. um and it was just i was facing triggering situations in my home life and i was unable to talk to my partner about it i was facing them at my work life and had no rights there around this and i tried quite hard yeah when i was in kentucky i worked for a very well-known uh grocery uh market that I don't know if I want to really say their name now, but I don't want to get sued. However, it was really disappointing because I spoke to my boss about it, and he was like, you know, this isn't covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, so there's literally nothing I can do for you, and I don't have time to deal with this. Get out of my office. So it was so bad that I would be at the register checking people out and would just be in tears because I was triggered. So when my mom came to visit, she was like, oh no, you're not okay. And so I had to completely leave my life there behind and move here and live with her and her husband for about a year and undergo some really intensive therapy. I'm curious, I haven't listened to all of your interviews. Has anyone spoken about doing hypnotherapy?

Adeel [4:48]: Not too many. I'm trying to think back now.

Claire [4:51]: I don't mean to put you on the spot. It's just an interesting way to combat this.

Adeel [4:55]: No, I don't think anyone has gone through it. Have you gone through it?

Claire [5:01]: I did, yeah. Oh, it was so interesting. And there were pros and cons, I'll be honest. The people that were helping me, I don't think they've... I mean, no one fully understands what misophonia is, so they did their best, but they kept trying to regress me to... like an instance or an event or like some traumatic thing that had happened in my past that caused this to happen. And we just couldn't find anything. And I would tell them after every regression, like, you know, I just, this has been with me forever. I don't think that this is, because of something that happened at least in my case perhaps that's the case in other people maybe they have a predisposition genetically and then they do have environmental triggers that cause it but i just felt like this would has been part of me since i came out of the womb so they tried really hard to find that But ultimately, what we ended up doing is we just focused on relaxation because my central nervous system, and I think most people with me so understand this, our central nervous systems are so hyperactive all the time. Our satellites are turned on all the way to 11. all the goddamn time. So yeah, ultimately they were like, we can't figure out how else to help you. All we can do is try to help your central nervous system regulate and try to find a more normal homeostasis. So that was really my experience with them. And they, I'm trying to remember the name of their group, but they're located in the UK. I believe right outside of London. So I know that there's been more misophonia research done

Adeel [6:47]: that's been done actually in the uk that's been done more that more has been done there than in the us which i find really interesting but yeah dr kumar i think is based there yeah there's been some interesting outcomes coming from there yeah i would really really like to meet him my goodness yeah yeah i think he he a couple um conventions a couple of meetings about conventions ago i know he spoke virtually from from london i think it was two two and then you could probably find those uh

Claire [7:16]: video online but uh but he might i think he's probably got more uh more recent uh research or he's working on stuff now but uh oh nice yeah i will definitely see if i can find that video thank you very much yeah so yeah the hypnotherapy it it helped in other ways it helped um It helped with more grounding things. I didn't feel quite as lofty or in the air, so it helped with that. But really, you know, when I moved here, it took me a few months to find... find my groove um because it was so bad like the misophonia was so bad in the level that like i was considering what i think a lot of people with me so have considered the the end of it all and um that's just that's so so sad and so unnecessary and So when I moved here and started the hypnotherapy, that was one angle. But also like I found another just regular therapist to talk to once a week and I still see her. It's been almost four years that I've been seeing this one therapist here in town. She's been incredibly helpful with it. She wasn't incredibly familiar with misophonia, but she did some research on it, which I really appreciated. There's so many professionals that I talk to, whether it's my physician at my doctor's office or... you know, a pharmacist or whomever, no one knows about it and no one really cares to find out about it. And so when my therapist, I'm just going to say her first name, Deanna, when she took the initiative to actually find out more about it to help me, it was one of the first moments where I felt like it was okay to ask for help around this.

Adeel [9:06]: Yeah, it's always odd to hear when people just get the blank stare from any medical professional. It's like, you know, stuff is changing. Stuff's getting discovered. You should be kind of on the forefront of this. Yeah, we're at least have an open mind. Yeah, exactly. So, no, it's great that she did the research.

Claire [9:28]: Yeah, I was very grateful about that. And so I think it kind of helped her figure out a way to help me. And ultimately, what we do in our work is... we go in and we well at first we had to build a relationship with misophonia because for so long i had hated it resented it wished it wasn't there um you know i think like a lot of people with me so i i wished i was deaf for most of my childhood because it was so so hard and stressful all the time um so we decided to start talking to the misophonia part and that gave me some some room to kind of separate myself from that part of me and to look at it you know from the outside then from the inside a little bit and to form that relationship and and tell it that no i don't hate you i know that you're actually this really old part of my lizard brain that's just trying to protect me and you just don't know that you're doing it wrong and that's okay It's amazing how when different parts of you inside are in conflict, they just ruin your life. They just know how to shut things down. Building a relationship with that part of me was a huge milestone in the healing process because I don't hate misophonia now. I don't hate that part of me anymore. In fact, it's become this really strange barometer for interaction with people. And this is part of what I'm curious about with misophonia. I'm curious about this magnetic, almost spiritual, energetic connection about it. I noticed when I was really young, I would get triggered by my parents when they were in heightened states of emotions. So I think there's an empathic quality to it. I could be totally off base. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm weird. Maybe everybody else doesn't experience this.

Adeel [11:35]: And that's fine. I'm sure other people do. Yeah, that's interesting. Yeah, keep going. I was going to delve into kind of your past as well.

Claire [11:41]: Yeah, I would love to keep talking about it.

Adeel [11:43]: Yeah, yeah, please.

Claire [11:45]: um so i grew up in spokane washington sorry i didn't say that at the beginning you said pacific northwest so i figured somewhere yeah somewhere around there yeah so eastern washington and spokane is lovely um don't move there don't ruin it but i used to live in seattle briefly so uh yeah the whole area is super nice yeah isn't it gorgeous yeah i love i love washington known for evergreens and serial killers but anyway um so yeah so i was born In the late 80s, I'm 31 now. And so in the early 90s, I mean, nobody knew anything about misophonia at all. So growing up was challenging like it is for so many people. And it was around five years old, I think. Yeah, it was around five when I started to get triggered in a way that was physiological. um because before that i would notice sounds that i didn't like but it didn't start to affect my body until i was about five and i'm the oldest and i have one younger brother who's four years younger than me so i was i was about i was four when he was born so you know there's a lot of new energy in the house with a new baby and my parents are stressed out and My brother had acid reflux really bad as a baby, so he cried all night. It was really hard. So my parents were just effing exhausted all the time. And that's when I started to absorb their stress. And it was the oddest thing. My dad is a gum chewer. Chews gum like it's his job. And he'd be a millionaire by now, you'd think. But that and the dog licking were my two biggest ones as a kid.

Adeel [13:31]: Right. Yeah, I've heard that one too.

Claire [13:33]: He would chew his gum and I would see his jaw muscles just clench. And I apologize for any people with visual triggers. But that's when it would start and it would just make my stomach sick and hurt, but also really hot in the chest and just so uncomfortable, so angry.

Adeel [13:53]: So you had the visuals right away, pretty much kind of hand in hand with the misophonia.

Claire [13:58]: Yeah. And I didn't know that until a couple of years after I had been diagnosed. I mean, I knew it, but I didn't know that it was actually a recognized part of misophonia.

Adeel [14:08]: The visual part? Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Claire [14:11]: And not for a while. Yeah, because dad, the visuals with the gum chewing, and then my mom has this weird thing where she moves her feet a lot. Like when she's relaxed, she'll just like rub them back and forth together and make this, oh, yeah, I can't stand that one either. I can't look at her feet. Yeah, so it was around that age, around five when it started. getting bad and what was odd is you know I'm I'm a really assertive person and I have been for a long time ever since I was little I've just been kind of a go-get-it kid and I would tell my parents you know I'd say please stop doing that that really bothers me please stop please stop and no one took me seriously no one listened I got in trouble And it sucked because I was a really well-behaved kid. I was really smart. I got perfect grades. Socializing was a little bit hard because I got scared. after a while to talk to people because at home I would express myself and I'd get shut down so after a while like I became really shut off and distant from people and started to do a thing that I think a lot of people with misophonia and a lot of I would say women in general do is where we project this outward appearance to the world of like You know, you got your shit together, you're doing fine, you're happy, you're smiling, and inside it's this really painful personal existence. And yeah, that started really young, probably around eight is when I started to pretend to be happy. But yeah, my goodness. I did notice, though, that physiological pull during a trigger moment, that's when I would feel what the other person was feeling.

Adeel [15:58]: You said earlier that you were kind of, felt like you were pulling in your parents' dress. Is that what you're talking about? Yeah. Okay, gotcha.

Claire [16:06]: Yeah, sorry if I'm a little off track. This is all so much and it's also connected.

Adeel [16:10]: Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is fascinating. I haven't heard that dimension before. So it'd be interesting to kind of dig a little deeper into that.

Claire [16:18]: Of course, yeah. I'm noticing now that I look back on my life and how triggers affect me now. It's little micro actions that people make. that make noise but their micro actions are based on their anxiety usually that so i would say maybe like 65 of my triggers are human-based sounds actually probably more than that i probably closer to 80 and 20 are like mechanical things or like a faucet dripping or something like that um but yeah generally it's it's human made mouth sounds or you know ticking clicking um stuff like that but Now that I know that people have things like social anxiety and an array of other social disorders, just being a human is hard, man. And so our stress manifests in different ways. And for some of us, an output is physical movement that makes a sound. And other people pick up on that stress through the sound. I don't see why...

Adeel [17:26]: that would be uh i don't know that makes sense to me yeah it's like a domino it's kind of like a domino yeah some of the dominoes are more sensitive than others it seems like absolutely I'm curious, kind of as you were saying, as you were getting older, it was hard to connect with other people. It was hard to make friends. And were you getting triggered a lot in school?

Claire [17:48]: Yeah.

Adeel [17:49]: And picking up other people's stresses from people? Or was it starting to just kind of be just an onslaught of me?

Claire [17:59]: I mean, it's kind of all of those things. Being a really high functioning, intelligent person was hard. It actually might have been easier if I didn't have so much expectation around my academic performance. So because, you know, I was expected to sit in those rooms and take in those lessons and be around all of these sniffling, coughing kids all day. Oh, God. oh yeah, I have this memory of being in the second grade taking a multiplication test and this boy next to me named Riley couldn't stop sniffling and I looked at him and I said, stop sniffling! And then I got in trouble because the teacher thought I was cheating and I was like, no! I just wanted to shut the fuck up. Yeah, right. Yeah, so that was... That started early. But I learned quickly to stop saying things around it. So in my teenage years, it was a little bit different. it was odd you know i had these two sides of myself where you know the miso side was always there but it was like that shadow part that i didn't let anybody see but it dominated almost every choice i made and it sucked because i was a really good athlete i played volleyball softball i was a cheerleader and i was involved in a lot of extracurricular activities but every step through every motion i made every single everything i did was so much harder because of this and i couldn't talk to my friends about it and um so i i kind of just grit my teeth and got through those first 18 years um and yeah we learned to bottle up really really well sadly man Yeah, that's heartbreaking. Yeah, but the testing, like, if I had to think about going back and going through schooling like that again, I don't think I could do it. And it makes me respect and admire that me that was able to do that at that time. Like, she didn't know any better. She also didn't know that she could just give up and not do it. She didn't see any other way. So... Yeah, got through it. And then college was a little bit different. So when I was a freshman, I found out that I have synesthesia as well.

Adeel [20:19]: Synesthesia, what is that again? I know I've heard that.

Claire [20:22]: It's very interesting. So basically, your sensory neurons are so... There's an exponentially more amount of sensory neuron connections in your brain than the average brain. So for example, I see letters and numbers and color. So it's like the senses overlap. Yeah. So I see letters and numbers in color. I see music and colors and shapes. And they're kind of like these interesting moving tapestries.

Adeel [20:49]: Actually, we had another interview, John, from... back in yeah like late last year he he he also has he's talking about he's a musician as well so he was talking interesting seeing uh music and colors and just had him but he didn't get his um and you can listen to the podcast episode but he didn't actually get his uh misophonia until i think in his early 40s like much later in life Oh, interesting. Also related to his wife having a child and them having kind of issues with sounds and whatnot. And so there's some interesting parallels there. But anyways, I digress.

Claire [21:24]: No, that's so interesting. Yeah, moments of stress in our lives. I mean, if... I don't know, man. It seems to me that if we're not able to communicate these needs, those moments of those times of stress are exponentially worse.

Adeel [21:37]: Right.

Claire [21:38]: I notice now that when I have I have a beautiful community of friends and family now that I'm able to talk to about this really openly, like so openly now that like all I have to do is look at my best friend and be like, and she's like, oh, my God, sorry. Yeah. And then like that's we just move forward. There's no. it doesn't even i don't even get the physical sensations as much anymore around the people that i trust now if it's people that i've that i've had issues with in the past around this like my my father specifically who for years and years and years and years and years i had to try to convince that i wasn't crazy i mean Our relationship is complicated, but the gaslighting for so long has caused... I don't think that part of my brain is going to be able to relax around him around misophonia. I haven't... This is one of those things where actions speak louder than words. You can say you understand, but unless you fully listen and actually realize how your actions bother someone or affect their reality... I just, I don't know. It's just really hard to feel heard or comfortable around people that don't take it very seriously.

Adeel [22:55]: You get that fight or flight response amongst people who you don't totally trust, but that's great. If you're on friends, if you're on people who you know are going to help, it's amazing how just that knowledge helps a lot.

Claire [23:14]: Honestly, it cuts misophonia by 50%, in my opinion. It makes it 50% better.

Adeel [23:21]: Even if they do a trigger, it's like somehow your brain knows that this is not going to kill you or have some adverse reaction.

Claire [23:30]: Or I know this person loves me and they're not doing this on purpose. And it's safe for me to say something.

Adeel [23:36]: Yeah, exactly. That's key, just knowing that. So you have a great community around you. Are there any misophones in that group too? You know, there are.

Claire [23:51]: which is so interesting. I have met more people here in this tiny mountain town with Misophonia than I have in Portland or Louisville or Spokane, all the different cities I've lived in. And maybe it's just because people are here. People here are pretty open. I'll admit this is kind of a hippy-dippy community, but I love it because people know how to talk and they're not afraid of their feelings. And so... I work at a cafe and I'm in the public eye. I have a really big personality and I'm always talking to people. So I don't have any problem talking about misophonia at work or around people that are around me in my daily life. And so it's become quite a well-known fact that I have misophonia and I talk to people about it all the time. People come up to me at the cafe all the time and they're like, oh my gosh, I have this thing. I heard you have it. Can we please talk about it? I've actually had that happen three times. I had that happen three times between Thanksgiving and the end of January.

Adeel [24:53]: Amazing, yeah. Something's changing in me. Yeah, yeah. And people like you, I think, are, yeah, helping to do that. Just regular people who are willing to talk to people about me. And so how do you, so yeah, tell me, so when somebody asks you, you know, about it, for the benefit of people out there, how do you explain it?

Claire [25:16]: Oh, that's a good question. I love that everybody explains it a little bit differently. I explain it as a sensory neurological disorder that affects the way that I process sound stimuli and my lizard brain, the really ancient part of my brain. sometimes makes me think that it's an emergency situation when it's not when i hear a certain sound and so um when i ask people you know to be mindful you know if someone's chewing gum loudly around me and i just ask them to stop i'll be like you know i've got this thing and um i don't expect you to understand but it affects me in this way and i'm just really curious if you'd be interested in maybe not chewing gum right now i'd be happy to buy you a pack of gum later but that would really make my existence more comfortable in this moment um and i i I'm noticing that if you bring it to him in a really kind and respectful way, people are much more open. Like, oh my God, yeah, I had no idea I was bothering you like that. I'm so sorry. Of course, I'll get rid of that. But then there are people that are like, what? You're insane. No, fuck you. Get out of my face. So I think it's all about the way you approach it.

Adeel [26:26]: What do you say when you get that negative reaction? I'm just curious because I'm sure a lot of people get that and they're curious.

Claire [26:36]: I'll give you an example of how I didn't handle it super well.

Adeel [26:39]: Yeah, I'm sure everyone's been in that situation too.

Claire [26:43]: Yeah. And I think that this particular example is a good testament to how everybody's fighting their own fight internally. I found a lump in my breast when I lived in Louisville on top of everything else. And so I had to go get it looked at. And I was at the doctor's office. and there was a man in the waiting room with me and he was playing a game on his phone that cell phones are really hard to man all those little noises that they make oh my god so he was playing this game and it was making noise and it was god i was so stressed out and i thought you know what i'm just going to politely ask him to please stop and I came up to him and I was like, you know, sir, I know that you're probably going through stuff too right now, but like this sound is really, really, really bothering me. Could you just turn your phone on mute, please? And he looked at me, laughed at me, and then went back to his game. And I stood there in front of him and did a classic me thing where I folded my arms and I was like, are you fucking kidding me? Really? You can't be nice. You can't be nice. I just asked you so nicely. And then he started crying and he got up and left. So it was like one of those situations where it's like, oh, maybe he was waiting for someone that was getting, you know, having something checked out and he was really worried and really scared. And the only way he could handle his reality in that moment was playing that stupid fucking game that made me want to kill myself. So it was one of those moments where I was like, oh, my God. I am the only one that can control how I feel about this because no matter what, no matter what kind of reaction I get, whether it's what I just got from that guy or whether it's a really kind person being like, oh my God, you're right. I'm so sorry. No problem. I'll quit doing that. At the end of the day, I have to trust myself. to take care of it at the end of the day I'm my own advocate at the end of the day I'm the one that puts myself in or takes myself out of situations now I understand that you know if you're on an airplane and you can't fucking leave because you're in the middle of the air in a metal tube you know you can't run away you can't get rid of that stuff but the you know as long as you know that you're You're on your side. I think that's the biggest one. And that came from building a relationship with Misophonia because I don't hate it anymore and it doesn't hate me anymore. We trust each other now. We're a team now. And in fact, it actually helps me determine who I want to be around and who I don't want to be around. It's been a great barometer for... who i want in my life and it doesn't that doesn't mean to say like oh if you chew gum i don't want to be your friend or whatever that's not what i'm saying it's the how people react to my bringing this to them um is a good indicator of what kind of relationship we would have if that's someone that i actually want in my life or not so in a lot of ways this has been a huge blessing i don't it's a great bullshit meter

Adeel [29:47]: Right. Yeah. You take a second look or think twice about who you're going to invest a lot of your time with.

Claire [29:54]: Yeah.

Adeel [29:55]: So that guy, I'm just curious. That was not the reaction I expected he was going to do. He began to cry and then he got up and left.

Claire [30:03]: Cried.

Adeel [30:04]: Yeah, and we were... Did he say anything as he cried and left?

Claire [30:08]: I said I was sorry.

Adeel [30:08]: Yeah, okay, gotcha.

Claire [30:10]: Yeah, I was like, oh my god, I'm sorry, and he left. And I just thought, man, it's so easy to get angry. It's so easy. And he and I both got angry. And then we both got sad. And... I think something really important to remember is that people that do the triggering things most of the time. Yeah, they're making that sound because something else is happening with them.

Adeel [30:34]: Yeah, it's something that I'm sure you picked up on because because of your kind of your origin story of pulling in other people's stress. So you probably sense.

Claire [30:43]: yeah that's called and that's called empathic tendencies empathic yeah um i'm not sure if listeners know what that is or not um it's not really very widely talked about um and the more we learn about you know the the electromagnetism of the heart and how you know if we're within six feet of each other our heartbeats start to synchronize and why wouldn't we pick up on other energies that are that are really strong within other people's bodies. I don't see, I don't see why we wouldn't, I don't see why our brains wouldn't, um, pick up on that and then filter it through our own little fucked up systems.

Adeel [31:22]: So what are, um, I'm curious, uh, you know, you're in the public eye a lot. Um, just doing what you do.

Claire [31:30]: Um, I guess I haven't talked about what I do. I'm so, I'm so sorry.

Adeel [31:34]: Yeah. Yeah. Let's just do that. Yeah. Let's do that. Yeah.

Claire [31:37]: I am a visual artist. I'm a painter. I do a little bit of sculpture work, but primarily a painter. Yeah, and great stuff.

Adeel [31:44]: I'm definitely going to be linking to it in the show notes and everywhere. So definitely want to follow Claire on Instagram. But yeah, continue.

Claire [31:51]: Yeah, so I do that. And then, you know, I mean, being an artist is incredibly hard. So most of us have to have like three or four other jobs that we do. And one of my other jobs I do is I work at a cafe in town. And it's wonderful because I'm an extroverted introvert. So being an artist is perfect for the introvert side. And getting that socialization is wonderful for the extrovert side. But it does cause some issues with me. So it's been great. practicing ground for seeing how I want to live in the world with misophonia now. Now that I've built that relationship with it, where we trust each other, we don't hate each other, this job was kind of me stepping back into the world after my big breakdown and being like, okay, this is my new experiment. Let's see how we do. um and i i think going at it from that perspective as well was really helpful instead of this being like oh my god i have to do this i have to make this work everything's gonna suffer if i don't i'm gonna suffer if i if i don't the world's gonna end if i'm not perfect all the time blah blah blah um but just yeah coming at it from like an experiment like oh let's see how we do with misophonia in this new scenario and you know looking at it more objectively like that um Like I said earlier, it gives you a little bit of distance between your true self and the misophonia part of yourself. Helps you manage a little bit better.

Adeel [33:20]: Yeah, I want to hear a little bit more about that. Are there any practices that you do to visualize misophonia? How do you separate that? Do you wake up in the morning and think about it and then meditate maybe over it? I'm just curious how you do that separation.

Claire [33:38]: Yeah, that's a really good question. I've had a meditation practice for about 10 years. So this kind of came naturally to me, this looking inward and piecing out, parceling out which parts are old, young, happy, unhappy, whatever. And a lot of this started in therapy. So I didn't have this skill set until I met Deanna. And she was the one that was like, you know, people often view themselves as one thing. and if that one thing doesn't operate perfectly all the time then that one thing is a failure and that's not true are we do have true selves but there are so many other parts inside of us that are working for their own goals for um they have their own ideas about things they have their own belief systems and a lot of the time they're in conflict with each other so a great example with misophonia stuff is you know when you're a kid and you undergo really traumatic situations where you're being triggered that part of you that little you that's getting triggered in that moment kind of splinters off and it stays that young and it stays that person as you age it stays with you but because it wasn't fully integrated and healed at that time when it got triggered that part of you kind of stays that age Until you go back and revisit it and help it heal and whatever. So I didn't know about any of this until Dr. something. I'm not going to tell her name. I almost said her name. Until Deanna told me about this. And so she was like, okay, we are going to get in a meditative state. And then I'm going to ask you to close your eyes and find where you feel this misophonia in your body. It all starts with feeling. So before you can identify or separate out any parts, you try to see where you feel them in your body. So if you're angry about your parents' divorce, you get in a meditative state, you go inward and your therapist says, you know, where do you feel this in your body? Or you ask yourself, where do you feel it in your body? And then you go from there. Because once you know where it resides, then you can ask it to come out and talk to you. But it takes some time. And if you've been mean to that part for a while, like if you're like, fuck you, misophonia, you make my life miserable. It's probably going to take some coaxing to come out and like really let you look at it. Because everybody hates that part. You hate it. Your family hates it. Your friends hate it. I'm assuming. So rebuilding that trust is, I think, the first, biggest, hardest, most beautiful, most helpful step in helping with misophonia.

Adeel [36:24]: Interesting. Okay. Wow. Yeah. And how long has it taken to kind of get to that point?

Claire [36:33]: Well, when I do something, I really do it. So I don't know for the average person.

Adeel [36:37]: As a lot of musicals do. We're really intense in many ways.

Claire [36:43]: I'm just going to give us all a big brag. We are all so smart and so good.

Adeel [36:48]: Hear, hear.

Claire [36:49]: Here, here. I'm sorry, what was your question?

Adeel [36:53]: I'm just curious, yeah, how long have you been, you may have mentioned, how long have you been working with Deanna on this? How often do you meditate? How often do you think about this? Because I imagine it's not just a once a month kind of thing, just curious.

Claire [37:08]: No, no, it's a practice. Yeah, well, first off, I see Deanna once a week, and I know that some people are like, oh, I don't want to go every week. That's too much money. It's too whatever. It's too whatever. I work my dick off to make my life work so that I can go to therapy every week. And you have to prioritize it, number one. So, yeah, once a week at least, I would say, is really helpful. But the other things, you know, meditating, I like to meditate either in the morning when I wake up or I really like to meditate at night before I go to sleep. Part of why I like being an artist as well is when it gets dark outside, your pineal gland in your brain starts to release melatonin and DMT actually as well, which is why a lot of artists and musicians work so well at night because we get all these new imaginative dreamy things flooding our brains. But that's when I really like to meditate because that's when I'm able to see things symbolically a little bit better so getting in that quiet meditative space and it takes a while to really let your body relax into it it takes you know about 15 20 minutes of sitting there with breathing before your brain really starts to hit those yummy theta waves. And that was a huge part of my healing process with misophonia. That's where we would talk outside of therapy with Deanna. So we would talk with Deanna and then I would come home and I would meditate. I call her a her. I've anthropomorphized her. Misophonia. It's easier for me to relate to it that way. And so I'd get in a quiet space and do the breathing. I'm not sure how knowledgeable people on this podcast are of the meditative breathing exercises, but one that I really, really like, especially when you're triggered, and if so like if i'm sitting down to start a meditation for misophonia purposes i'd use this breathing technique but i also use this technique when i'm triggered out in the world um and there's so many different breathing techniques but i like this one because it's easy it's square breathing so you breathe in for four counts you hold for four counts you breathe out for four counts you hold for four counts and so you repeat so in four four four four four four um and it it relaxes your central nervous system and um i can usually feel my brain um i can feel like a rush of either serotonin or dopamine flood into my brain because all that serotonin is in the lining of your stomach so when you do that those really powerful breathing exercises in the meditative state it's really helpful and then that's where I asked her to come talk to me and I say you know I'm really struggling with this one thing for example last fall I have this customer that would come into the cafe all the time And I don't know if he had a tick or what it was, but he sniffled so much that I would have to leave for like, sometimes I would just have to leave work and not get paid that day. And which is hard on my employer. It's hard on me. It makes me look bad. It's hard on my fellow coworkers. But I would go home and I would do this square breathing and get into that state and be like, okay, what do you, how, Misophonia, how do you want me to handle this right now? How am I supposed to handle this? Because he's bothering us and I don't know. I don't know. I need your assistance here. You're the one that knows the most about misophonia because you are misophonia. Tell me what I need to do. And I usually get answers, and they usually come in pictures. The beautiful thing about meditation is, yeah, it's all in symbolic imagery. And it's different for everyone. Everyone interprets it differently. We all have our own internal vocabularies around it, those of us who do practice. And so when that was happening to me, all she said to me was, ask him to leave. That was it. Just ask him to leave. And part of me was like, oh, my God, that's terrible customer service and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And she was like, that is the only way that this is going to be okay is if you ask him to leave. So he actually didn't come into the cafe after that, which was so crazy. So I didn't have to do it, but I was ready to do it. Yeah, and I have to say something really quick here. My employers here in town treat me better than any employer ever has around misophonia. They understand that there is nuance to life and that not everybody... but he knows everything and that we all know how to take care of ourselves. And they trust me to take care of myself when I get triggered. And I am forever, forever grateful. That's great.

Adeel [42:10]: It sounds like you've seen definitely both sides of that spectrum on the employer reaction side. So I'm glad you found a place.

Claire [42:18]: Yeah, working in an office. Man, that's so hard.

Adeel [42:22]: And how is it now? Is your cafe open with all the stuff going on?

Claire [42:30]: No. Sadly, no. We're a craft roaster, so we're still roasting beans and selling them like that, but primarily now the cafe is closed. However, oh my gosh, I'm kind of a Jill of all trades. I do a little bit of everything, and I'm also a cook, so I have my own little... food line it's called butterfly provisions you can find it on instagram we'll definitely link to that okay cool thanks yeah but i've been doing um like sandwiches for local delivery but i make other pantry items like pickles and jams and things like that so yeah that's that's been really fun since the cafe has been closed and it's been nice to go see people too but i i really hope everybody out there during the covid thing with me so is hanging in there this has got to be just so tough i'm really lucky i live alone Um, so I don't have to worry about being around, um, abusers or trigger, you know, people that make trigger sounds or anything like that.

Adeel [43:26]: So, um, I did want to kind of maybe see if you want to talk a little bit about how, um, how you've expressed me. So in your art.

Claire [43:35]: Oh my God.

Adeel [43:35]: There's some amazing pieces that I've seen go through your Instagram. So I just have to, I don't know if you want to talk about just kind of the background or just kind of maybe a couple of pieces in particular, whatever you want to do. I'd love to hear a little bit about that.

Claire [43:45]: Sure. I'd love to talk about it. Um, Also, it's just so nice to hear someone ask me to talk about misophonia in my artwork.

Adeel [43:53]: I think you might be the first person that's ever asked me that. Everyone should be going on and looking at your work. But yeah, please, I'd love to hear more.

Claire [44:02]: Yeah, well, so when I first was diagnosed, I didn't know how to process it yet. And so what happened was I ended up, I got really overwhelmed. And I was like, you know what I need to do? I just need to figure out visual vocabulary that I can use to describe what I'm talking about so like for like a year and a half all I did was make symbols that mean things to me it was kind of like my own little hieroglyphic system and then after that I would start to build these these pieces around that language around that vocabulary and some of that has been left in the past and my work has changed over time but it was that initial like i don't know how to say this so i have to make my own language to say it like that was the starting point of being like oh I'm going to be able to find a way to talk about this. I didn't know yet, but I knew that I could if I worked hard enough. So now, you know, the work is abstract. Sometimes there are figures, human figures in the pieces, but they tend to be what I see in my meditations, honestly. Many times over the years, I've talked about my artwork as feeling like this marriage between a download from something bigger than me and well i guess it's not a marriage so it's this download from something bigger than me but it goes through my lens of perception so no matter what happens that true that raw information is going to be tainted because of whatever spin i put on it but i've been able to understand things about my spirituality through misophonia and that's what i see in my meditation so i see this It's very dreamy. There's a lot of clouds and moving colors and shapes. And the misophonia for a long time was these red, hot balls of energy around my ears. If I would do a painting of a person, it would be these big, kind of abstract, hot, mean-looking things around the head or around the ears. And a lot of it had to do Or it would be around the throat as well because that would represent not being able to communicate properly around this. And then obviously around the head and the ears was just agitation from misophonia. But one of the things that comes up in my work a lot are snakes. I paint snakes a lot. And that freaks a lot of people out. Some people really hate snakes and they don't like my work, which I understand. But they're pretty abstract, so they're not that scary. But snakes come to me in my meditations. So similar to how I use that area to talk to misophonia, I also use that area to commune with other more spiritual things like many people do. And that's when snakes come to me. And they're my guardians. They tell me things. They give me advice. And sometimes they're just there just so I know that they're there. They're kind of like my protectors. I usually have one on my right shoulder and one on my left shoulder or around that. um and they're never menacing you know this the serpent holds so many different cultural connotations around the world but to me it's um like this limitless knowledge that they hold they're not temporal creatures you know i'm i'm learning a lot about snakes through my art but um they hold some they're wisdom bearers and so when they come to me in my work It's almost like they're just with me, with Misophonia. They're just like, hey, you're not alone going through this. So we're just going to be here while you're doing it, while you're experiencing this and trying to paint about it. And so that's really what my work was for a long time, was just giving the viewer a snapshot of what my life felt like in that moment. That's all it was. It's kind of like documentation. the most like the the misophonia stuff was mostly documentation there wasn't a whole lot of i don't know there wasn't a whole lot of uh imagination happening there it was very i mean you look at it and it seems imaginary and whatever but it's to me it's a really like rudimentary documentation of what was going on and part of this is synesthesia as well because i'm able to visualize emotions and relationships and energies in a way that, I mean, I think we all interpret it differently, but like I see them. So that's what I'm documenting. I'm not really making stuff up. I'm just, I'm painting what I see in my fucked up brain, I guess.

Adeel [48:53]: Yeah. Interesting. It's really striking, colorful, but yeah, really, really interesting stuff. Yeah. Hopefully everybody checks it out.

Claire [49:00]: Yeah. There is one piece in particular that, I would specifically ask people to look at. I don't know why I called it this, but, oh no, I do know why, sorry. It's called Pinky, and I'll post it on my feed, so it'll be up towards the top. I'll repost it. But I called it Pinky because misophonia has kind of felt like another appendage, another digit on my body that I am now able to utilize. but it was one that was there for a while. You know, like when people have like an extra nipple or an extra finger or something like that, and you're like, oh, that's so weird. I wish that wasn't there. And now I'm learning how to utilize it. So yeah, that's the one I would want people to look at.

Adeel [49:42]: Because I see there's a, on your Shopify, I think it's a Shopify store, in your catalog, there's like a Misfun Amusing section, but I don't see Pinky there. I'm assuming there's probably more work that's not here.

Claire [49:56]: Oh, yeah. Where is that painting in there? That one might be in a previous body or the next body.

Adeel [50:03]: Well, I think people should be thumbing through all these. Yeah, each piece is just so colorful and bold. That's fascinating to look at. Well, we'll find it or yeah, you can post it on your Instagram.

Claire [50:14]: Cool. Yeah. My website is Pupo is not spelled like poop. It's P-U-P-O. So And my Instagram is also just my name, Claire Pupo.

Adeel [50:29]: We'll link to that. Awesome. So, yeah, I guess, yeah, maybe we should start to wrap up. But is there, you've said so much golden stuff. Is there possible, I know that there's sometimes probably even, you know, lots more gold that you can say. Is there anything else? Actually, one question I was curious about is actually when you found that misophonia was a thing and had a name?

Claire [50:53]: It was my therapist when I lived in Portland. Yeah, I was 24 and I had been in therapy for, I had been seeing her for like two and a half, almost three years. And I was finally telling her about this part of me. It took me so long to be like, I have this weird thing with sounds. And then once I started – because, like, even in therapy, I was scared to talk about it. I was scared that she was going to think I was insane or think I was paranoid schizophrenic and throw me in an asylum or whatever. That's not even how life works anymore. But I had this really antiquated fear. But she was the one that went out and found out for me.

Adeel [51:33]: Okay, okay.

Claire [51:35]: Yeah, because she didn't know what it was either off the bat. And she did some research and found out. And she spoke with someone in the UK. I can't remember who the doctor was, but they were like, yeah, this patient totally has that. And she was like, well, you can go to the UK and get properly diagnosed or you can just take both of our words for it. And that's what you have. And I was like, yeah, I'm fine with that.

Adeel [51:54]: Yeah, it's interesting because Carolyn also has Dr. Marcia Johnson, who is the preeminent, I think, one of the leading advocates.

Claire [52:04]: Yeah, absolutely. And it's funny, I reached out to her when I lived there.

Adeel [52:08]: She's amazing.

Claire [52:09]: And she got back to me twice. She's so nice. It didn't work out, us getting together for a meeting. It didn't work out, sadly. But yeah, badass lady.

Adeel [52:17]: Oh, absolutely.

Claire [52:18]: My gosh, so thankful.

Adeel [52:20]: Cool. Yeah. Any, any other kind of final parting words? And I'm sure people are going to get in touch with you on Instagram, but yeah, curious to see if there's anything.

Claire [52:27]: I really hope so. You guys, please talk to me. I, so at the beginning of this year, I was starting a new project. I was starting to write a book about misophonia and obviously with the COVID stuff, things have been, I mean, everything's been thrown into wax. So, but I'm still really wanting to do that. And the, the ankle I want to take on it is, is I want to know about your stories of kind of what I was talking about with those empathic behaviors. Like I want to know if your triggers are caused by someone else's anxiety, or honestly, I want to know if you have had any kind of psychic experience around misophonia. I want to know if you've seen weird stuff around it. I want, or just in general, I'm here for your stories in general too, but like, I want to know if there's any other, like, I guess paranormal is the best word. I kind of don't like that word, but anything out of the ordinary around your experience with misophonia, that's what I want to know about.

Adeel [53:24]: Cool. Well,

Claire [53:25]: Pretty please.

Adeel [53:26]: Send me an email. Yeah, well, tell us your email and then I'll have it written down anyways.

Claire [53:30]: Yeah, it's claire.pupo at

Adeel [53:35]: Excellent. Cool. Well, yeah, thanks, Claire. This has been fascinating. Thank you. Actually, pretty eye-opening for me in terms of how you kind of separate your miso. I've been thinking about that a lot. That actually got me thinking about some memories going back too. It gives me a lot to share.

Claire [53:58]: Oh my gosh, that is so exciting.

Adeel [54:01]: I'm sure other people listening will as well. Curious to see what other people say. If you want to leave comments or whatever on our Instagram or Claire's. Be interested to hear what everyone thinks. Please do. Thanks again, Claire.

Claire [54:17]: Thank you. Thank you again, Adeel, for giving us this platform. This is so important. Thank you. Thank you.

Adeel [54:23]: Thanks, everyone, for listening. I hope you enjoyed that as much as I enjoyed talking to Claire. Let me know what you think on our Instagram or Facebook at Missiphonia Podcast or on Twitter at Missiphonia Show. I'm about to mail out another batch of stickers, so please send me your mailing address by emailing hello at Got another great competition coming next Wednesday. And until then, wishing you peace and quiet.