Claire O. - A journey from teenage triggers to hope

S3 E4 - 10/28/2020
The episode features a detailed conversation with Claire, who shares her journey living with misophonia. Her onset didn't occur until her teenage years, which she believes may have spared her some early trauma. Initial triggers were primarily related to eating noises, first noticed around friends rather than family. Growing up in a large and often loud Irish family might have shielded her from more intense reactions early on. Claire discusses the evolution of her triggers, especially in social and work environments, including coping mechanisms in a high-pressure financial sector job. Eventually, discovering the term 'misophonia' led to a significant turning point. She emphasized the importance of openness and communication with family, friends, and colleagues, which has generally been met with support and understanding. Claire also highlights the positive changes in work flexibility post-COVID-19, allowing her to work from home, reducing daily triggers significantly. The conversation concludes with an emphasis on hope, the power of sleep, and the difference a supportive community can make.


Adeel [0:01]: Welcome to the Misophonia podcast. You're listening to episode four of season three. My name is Adeel Ahmad and I have misophonia. This week I have our first guest from Ireland. Claire has lived on both sides of the Atlantic, but is now back home in Ireland. I think you'll be able to tell this was a fun conversation. She actually comes from a large family of misophones, which you'll hear about. She has tons of tips she uses for dealing with miso. that you're going to want to hear. And some great stories about dealing with miso at work, like the sniffling woman and the bull-begging man. Great stuff. About seven minutes in through my usual mic was having problems, so I switched over to AirPods. So you might notice a difference. Not as good, but still works. I have a whole bunch of interviews going on via text, message, and DMs. A little too many at the moment because they're so good and I want to focus on fewer at a time. But please hit me up on Instagram at Missiphonia Podcast or on Twitter at Missiphonia Show if you're interested in doing non-audio, text-based interviews. The new website will be up shortly with all these. All right, so without further ado, here is my conversation with Claire. Yeah, then I guess I'll just jump into it. Claire, welcome. Welcome to the podcast. Good to have you here.

O [1:24]: Thank you, Dean.

Adeel [1:26]: And yeah, so let's tell the listeners where you're from. Get that out of the way.

O [1:32]: Yeah, I am from Ireland, a city called Cork, right down in the state of Ireland. I don't know, have you heard of it?

Adeel [1:40]: You know, actually, Cork, yeah, I think one of my neighbors across the street, he's got relatives up in Cork. He's mentioned that a number of times. Sounds like a great place.

O [1:52]: It is. It's great. Not everybody knows this. People usually know Dublin, but it's the second biggest city in Ireland, right down in the south.

Adeel [2:00]: Okay, cool.

O [2:02]: And I moved home last year after 14 years away in London and New York. So it is so lovely to be back. An absolute delight. I love being back in Cork.

Adeel [2:15]: That's great. And it was at, I guess, so yeah, I also like to find out kind of what people do for work. I guess you were, were you kind of traveling around for work mainly?

O [2:25]: Yeah, I worked in finance. So I... I first did a decade in London working in equities. And then through that, I had the opportunity to move to New York and transfer with my company. So I did that in 2015, and it was absolutely incredible. And actually, that's what, of course, America is so good at being, you know, progressive and doing things ahead of other countries. And that's where I went to my first... Misophonia Convention. Now, as I say that, I went to the one in Minnesota a couple of years ago. As I say that, I realised I should probably tell you something first, which is that when I first realised that it was a thing, that there was a name for it, I was in my mid-twenties and I found it online and in my head pronounced it Misophonia. And that told my family and everything. We've all had that moment where it's illuminating. And then years later, like nearly ten years later, I go to the convention in Minnesota. I'm sitting there and Marta Johnson is making the opening remarks. And two things happened. The first was I felt completely overwhelmed because it was just this acknowledgement of it, you know, and everyone in this room collectively acknowledging it, like it being real. And I felt sort of tears coming to my eyes and I was like, oh my God. And then it was like, Claire, get your shit together. Oh God, sorry, I shouldn't curse, should I?

Adeel [4:06]: No, it's fine. Okay.

O [4:08]: I was like, get yourself together because if I start to cry, I'll start to sniffle and then I'll have to remove myself from the convention. But the second thing that happened was that all of a sudden I was like, oh my God, it's not pronounced. And I've told everyone that it's pronounced misophonia. I mean, we just call it my miso in the family.

Adeel [4:30]: Hey, whatever works.

O [4:33]: So I have since tried to correct it, but there's so much Muslim memory from calling it miso that that might happen on the podcast. So... I realize that's quite the tangent to have started off on, but anytime I speak, I'm going to be tempted to say mysos, so I may as well just get it in there.

Adeel [4:49]: That's probably the least of our auditory worries. Don't worry about that. We'll get into, I'm sure, it must be much nastier things to listen to. but uh but i just want to say i was in that room too and so that was my first convention i'm actually here in in st paul so i was the minnesota convention was my first one and i had all the same um feelings you know it's just like that it was uh intense it was like i was trying to i i could feel that everyone's trying not to kind of like lose their you know lose their ass and uh yeah i was right there um someone there feeling the same thing so that's that's amazing

O [5:28]: It was an insane moment. It really was. Yeah.

Adeel [5:32]: Yeah. I went to the, I went to the one last year in Denver, which is actually what, which is actually what inspired the podcast. I just started like the week after I came back. Cause then you can bump into the same people and that kind of confirmed that just talking about this stuff with, with others is. Yeah.

O [5:51]: It's so therapeutic because, because it's such a funny thing with the, condition, I never know what to refer to it as, actually, but it is it's that it's so quirky, you know, it's there are I know there is there's consistencies in terms of how people suffer and what the triggers are, but it's such a lawless sort of condition at times where, you know, you'll have explained to someone saying news, learning about it, how it works, and then you might be out with them and they'll say, but why isn't that annoying you now? And it's because there's so many sort of environmental factors that can influence it or how you, you know, how much sleep you've had, all these small little things that make it really difficult for other people to understand how, oh, one minute it can be fine and another minute it can't and oh, a noisy room is actually okay now. And so, yeah, no, I find it super therapeutic to listen to some of the guests that you've had on and just find it so relatable, you know,

Adeel [6:55]: normalizes us you know how far back does it go for you i'd love to hear about also eventually how how how kind of um i've never had somebody from uh international high finance on the podcast so um thinking um you know billion the tv show billions and uh boiler room and stuff like that so um well it's funny

O [7:16]: Well, okay, actually, so we're jumping right in. I jump around all the time.

Adeel [7:20]: I just said two things.

O [7:21]: So your first question was the earliest memories of us, I guess. And for that... Do you know, after listening to a number of your other guests, and actually I picked this up a little bit at the convention as well, I realised I was really lucky because I did not get on set at a young age of six or seven. It was definitively my teenage years. And for that, it meant I really only had a few years in secondary school, so high school for you guys, and then college in that environment where Because I recognize that the challenges of that environment where you're young, you can't control it. You have to stay in the classroom, you know. So I thankfully, yeah, the onset was, I guess, my teenage years. And it was the classic, you know, people eating. And funny enough, it was actually a couple of girlfriends in school where I really noticed it. And I know normally it's the family environment first. And I wonder, did it... I've been thinking about this I wonder was I slightly shielded from the aggressive fight or flight trigger because I grew up in a classic Irish big family so all meal times were loud anyway you know or there was some argument going on. I mean, I don't know, like for sure my siblings and my parents all trigger me, but I just don't remember getting as intense a fight or flight at that age at that time. It was almost, it happened with school friends first and then obviously it escalated over time with my family as well. But yeah, my only theory for that is that it was such a loud environment that it didn't allow for the obvious.

Adeel [9:23]: Yeah, maybe you just always had background noise at the house or something.

O [9:27]: I mean, it was chaotic.

Adeel [9:29]: Yeah, it's interesting. And then at school, it's probably like, okay, you've got to focus.

O [9:36]: Yeah it was well in particular now to be fair there wasn't really much eating during class or anything that went on in school but it started with like lunches I'd go to with my friends and there was one girl that would clash her teeth off of the cutlery or the silverware as you'd say and I just remember that was like a really really early one where I just... just couldn't couldn't handle it at all and then I remember one time and I tried to explain it but I didn't have the words to explain it or you know I didn't know what it was But he had tried in some way to explain that this was something that really annoyed me. And I thought, oh, God, teenage girls. I remember at one point she took me aside and explained to me how it really hurt her, how I couldn't find a way to eat with her, you know, things like that, and all the drama of it. But yeah, so then through college, it was similar. It was primarily all around eating noises and sniffling. um and then as you all know just over time through my 20s added lots of triggers and of course then i went into um an open plan office environment which yeah high finance money throwing around everywhere you don't i don't know if you remember this from the minnesota convention um but um dr johnson she said at one point that um it brings a whole new meaning to the phrase familiarity breeds contempt and that resonated with me so much because you know in in the London office in particular we sometimes do these um seat rotations uh just to mix things up or if we we'd had new people hired and you know I'd always be so excited by it because unless someone's a definitive trigger person when you first meet them, like, you know, you just know even by the look of them that they're going to be a trigger person, but some people they fly under the radar and it is this whole familiarity breeds contempt where you sit beside them. You're like, Oh, this is great. She's a delight. Oh, she doesn't make noise when she eats all this. And then, you know, months later, you're like, why does she keep curling her hair like that? And then I would learn to recognize it to where I'd, noticed something and then I think to myself oh no here we go because I knew it was about to be you know filed away that my brain has caught it and added that to the list but I will say now to be fair the first few years of working in London in the open plan office and it was a first I worked on a quite a small trade for it was that was definitely challenging Um, and in, in part, because I still didn't know that it was a thing. So it was a particular day at work when I don't know if I was particularly tired or hungover or something, but the guy that sat beside me came back to his desk with a load of food and I just lost the plot. Uh, and I just got my things, walked out of the office, got the tube home at the subway home.

Adeel [12:54]: And yeah.

O [12:55]: sat in my apartment and i was just like this is not normal like this is not normal that i cannot function and i just started randomly googling things and that's when i it came up yeah so you basically had a you were kind of having like a panic attack basically yeah yeah i was just like this just this can't be normal um and it's so interesting now because when i think back on that i guess i was around 25 or 26 at the time and i think it's i i'm hopeful at least that the generation coming off of that they won't ever have to wait that long to learn because at that time there wasn't any smartphones or anything or we hadn't gotten to this sort of habit of um you know any thought or question we have these days you can just throw it into google you know no thought goes unanswered or question goes unanswered um whereas this was a case of you know i went home when i opened up my laptop and tried to do some research you know um and it was oh my god i mean i've heard people on your podcast talk about that moment where you learn it's a thing it's amazing yeah i know you can't stop you can't stop researching it you're just busy oh yeah i found it actually uh so first thing i did was tell my family because um i have four siblings and in our five so we're a family of seven in total um and my dad has it and oh okay my east and of the siblings four of the five of us have it wow okay i know it lest there be any doubt that there's a genetic trait going on like it's a definitely five of the seven family members now the only thing is that mine is by far the most severe

Adeel [14:46]: Do they all still have it? And it's just a lower level? Okay. Just a lower level. I was just talking to somebody else for an upcoming episode. And she said, I mean, you'll hear it actually probably a little bit before yours. But she still has it hardcore. Like hers went up and her brother's went down. They both had it around the same time at the age of seven or eight. And his is practically gone. Hers kind of kept going. And her dad and their dad, their dad had it too. And this is kind of where we're just kind of like speculating on things like whether, you know, the whole nature versus nurture and maybe hers is a little bit more, you know, maybe there's, we're just totally speculating, but like maybe hers is a little bit more genetically and then her, his was more instilled because, you know, I'm sure their dad kind of like. Because he picked up on things. Yeah.

O [15:39]: That's so interesting. Because I've never heard of someone going down

Adeel [15:45]: No, I know, that's like a... Someone should underline his praises. Yeah, yeah, we need to like surround him at the next convention. But it's interesting. So, yeah, because you said that nobody was, you didn't really notice it getting triggered when you were growing up. And lo and behold, like your whole family basically has it. What did you notice? I'm just curious what you noticed growing up. Did you notice it at all or was everyone just kind of like... There was so much chaos that it was... I did, I did.

O [16:16]: I mean, I guess it was more the first triggers where I noticed a fight or flight. I just remember being more the school ones, but it was in very quick succession and that it would have crept into the family environment as well. And I just, I guess I... It was all the eating noises again. So we'd have fights over that. Yeah, we'd have fights over that. And then because I was one of the older ones, I would have moved. I left Ireland after college. I went to London. So there wasn't as much time, I guess, where I was being triggered all the time by my siblings, especially because the two youngest ones would have been probably like kids. who tend to trigger me less when I was leaving home. Now, it's very different today because we're all adults today. So today, you know, if we have a family dinner, then they're, like, they are very good. It's like Claire's mezzo. Now, they're good also because they do actually understand it.

Adeel [17:23]: Yeah, this is amazing. Yeah.

O [17:26]: So they don't have it as aggressively, but they are so patient and accommodating, you know, if we'll have music on, if there's... if we're having dinner together or if we're going out to dinner, um, you know, where does Claire need to sit type thing. And in this cruel twist of fate. So I have quite a lot of visual triggers and my mom does not stop moving God lover. Um, so, uh, one trick that we have is say, you know, with a family of seven or if all of us are out together, that if I sit on the same side as my mom and have someone in between us, then I don't, see the visual triggers you know for on the same side of the dinner table um and then if i'm one person away from her so yeah they're very they're very commonly understand that calculation yeah yeah we've all done that yeah don't be in my uh field of vision and yeah no one will get hurt exactly but no they're good and even like recently we had a little night away from my just the females of the family for my mum's birthday and my youngest sister We were figuring out what way we would carpool. And she said to me, oh, look, you know, my hay fever is a bit bad at the moment. And so it was a combination of her not wanting to stress me by, you know, sniffling, but also her not wanting to be stressed by not being able to sniffle because of her hay fever. So she said, look, no, I'll just, I'll drive up on my own. And I was like, okay, great. Thanks for that. So yeah, it definitely does help. During lockdown, I lived with my other younger sister and I even noticed that we'd, like we're very open with each other then, you know, we'd be like, oh, can you, do you mind not doing that? Oh God, yeah, sorry. Because we both understand it. And then sometimes you'd watch a movie and we'd both have a little bit of chocolate and I can tell that, you know, we're both just letting the chocolate melt in our mouth.

Adeel [19:31]: Does that help? I mean, even, even though you're, even though you're doing things that trigger, doesn't it, does it, does it maybe help just knowing that at least the other person is, uh, sympathetic? Does it reduce the stress level? Right. I mean, it's like, you don't have to, cause a lot of it, it's just the fear that something's going to happen. And that's a lot of, I think a lot of what the visual is about.

O [19:50]: It's just like, uh, you know, it's a hundred percent worse if you're, if you've the fear that a trigger is coming or if you, feel that you're in an environment where you can't, not control it, but be open with the person you're with. You know, that you can't ask them to make an accommodation, which I know is hard over time. Like, I struggle with that, with constantly asking people to make compromises. But I would say that I have found the most positive aspect was telling more and more people. i mean obviously like friends and family but um that's really helped because if they're your friends and family they do want to help and they do want to be supportive um and yeah so i think that's been really helpful for me over time even in the workplace actually um the as soon as i

Adeel [20:50]: understood that it was a thing um i think that really empowered me as well to rather than hide away from it to actually be more vocal about it and so yeah yeah i'd like to hear about that because you're you're i mean i don't know it's maybe it's uh stereotypical but you know your work environment i'm visualizing pretty intense uh I don't know, maybe also very kind of male-oriented, just type A kind of environment. So it's like, talking about these kinds of things, is this like, do you feel comfortable, you know, they're just normal doing that? Are people receptive or is it?

O [21:31]: Yeah, well, so I was a lot better at it in New York. So I would say that when I moved to the New York office, that was our headquarters and it was a proper big trade floor. And that was a much easier environment because it's almost like the restaurant thing, as long as you're not focusing on one specific noise, I know. But having just a noisy backdrop is actually helpful because it does muffle things. London was more challenging because it was a smaller trade floor. And actually, for a trade floor, it was quite quiet sometimes. Or not sometimes, like it just wasn't noisy all the time. And definitely we moved offices at one point and I just couldn't, I was just so devastated because, you know, everyone, you're on the trade floor from early in the morning, so everyone would eat at their desks, like breakfast included. And when we moved to offices, they had proper, like... like not plastic plates and spoons and things it was proper crockery and i was like you have got to be kidding me everyone's gonna be around me eating their cereal in the morning um so i would try to just little tricks that i learned over time so sometimes in the morning you know when the research comes out and you're so i was in sales you'd go through the research and then you'd prepare your email or for your client calls. So I would often just put in earphones. So I love brown noise in particular because it's a little bit more soothing or less harsh than white. So I would do that and try and time it around when people would be eating their cereal or I'd choose that time to go out and get a coffee or just little sort of protective measures. And then I was lucky enough to um well yeah i sat beside two close friends in the office and i told them and they were very supportive and and also the girl i sat beside um who's still one of my closest friends it's just a very minimal trigger person so i definitely got lucky there um but there has been so many instances like there was a one woman that sat across me for ages and wouldn't stop sniffing. And at one point I just remember like standing up really aggressively and like passing over a box of tissues and be like, Angela, do you need a tissue? And she like looked up at me innocently. Cause you know, you can get really worked up in your head thinking she's doing it on purpose. She's definitely doing it on purpose. And then there was another instance. So this actually was one that made me tell more people because there was a guy who that would really aggressively bang on his bowl. And I just remember one day, and he would sit with his back to me. I remember one day he was doing it when he was eating and I just swiveled around my chair just to give him the glare, you know, just because even though it won't stop it, I just had to give him the dagger, you know? And I did that in the safety of, I know he sits with his back to me as well.

Adeel [24:40]: Oh, okay.

O [24:41]: Yes. In that moment, he swiveled his chair around to talk to someone and literally caught me bang on with my dagger-eyed hair. And so he, like I said, I don't know if it's like a type A thing or a male thing, but he basically was like, what the F? And immediately messages me on the internal work chat. I was like, okay, I've had enough. What the hell was that? and i was like oh my god so um i apologized and i just said just let me explain and then i tried to explain a little bit what it was and then find like a link. I often link to something if I'm telling someone that they can, you know, it also makes it real. I think if you can show an official website or something, you know? And he wrote me back the nicest message because he said he was just so relieved because of course I give out the dagger eyes all the time, but I don't think people notice that much.

Adeel [25:48]: And

O [25:49]: and in the morning meeting when we'd all sit around the table and hear the research of the day I remember right he would um if I don't know if I should describe it in detail but it was something about when he would drink his cup of coffee with the lid on yeah there was yeah so um he had so he wrote me this message about how his wife is actually called Claire he was like Claire this is such a relief to understand this. I've been telling my wife Claire at home that there's this Claire in the office that hates me and I don't know why. I was like, oh my God, I'm so sorry. And he said, is this why you give me these evil looks in the morning meeting as well? And I was like, oh my God. And then I realized how, okay, turns out not so subtle with my dagger eyes. And then I explained about the coffee cup. And after that, if we were in the morning meeting together, he'd look over at me take the lid off his coffee cup and put it down beside the cup and just drink without the lid and i was just like you're such a good guy and but it just changed our relationship completely because sometimes i don't know if this happens to you sometimes it can really muddy the water sometimes between if someone's a trigger person and then i'm like i just don't like them don't i also don't like them especially if they're not someone I'm not close to, you know? And now I get to really like him. So that was just a really telling moment for me where I was like, okay, you have to tell more people because people are okay making small accommodations. Like it was no skin off his back, you know, to take the lid off the coffee cup. And yet it made such a world of difference to me. So it was really good for that to happen actually. And it empowered me to tell more people then. So I would say that it was, to answer your original question, yeah. So London was definitely more challenging because it was a bit quieter, but I was lucky with where I sat and I would tell more people. And then in New York, definitely the bigger trade for was better. And we went back to people ate out of paper, plates and things from the canteen. So that was a relief as well. But of course, you know, all the little group that I sat beside on the trade floor over time, I had to tell them. But they were, you know, they became my close friends. So you'd laugh about it. Like I'd go to a meeting and come back and like Meredith would be, oh, we had a crisp party while you were gone, Claire. Right.

Adeel [28:33]: It sounds like you've had, like, really good luck. Well, not just good luck. I mean, you've kind of spearheaded it, but you've been able to communicate with people and really change your environment. You know, it sounds like obviously after you took some work, but you got there.

O [28:51]: I was going to say, don't get me wrong. It's been the depths of despair moment.

Adeel [28:56]: Oh, yeah, we know that.

O [28:57]: Because I definitely have it quite... I know I'm high off on the scale, especially I have a lot of visual, but and actually having long hair helps as a female because I find that I, if I put my, you know, it can protect me from the peripheral vision if I keep my hair down.

Adeel [29:19]: I thought you just said you shove hair into your ears so that you can't hear.

O [29:26]: No. So earphones in the ears, but then if I have my hair down, it can protect me a little bit as well. And so, no, I do. Yeah, for sure. It's been super challenging over the years in the office environment. But I just you learn tricks of the trade. I think telling people really, really helps. And. Yeah, and I think I've been lucky with the people I've sat near as well. I've been really lucky that they've become friends. And then it's just it's easier then to tell them as well. There was one insane trigger person in the New York office. I mean, everything about him was a trigger. And there was a plan to do a seat move and they wanted to put him beside me so that I could sort of mentor him and things like that. And basically I had, I thought of another, logical reason why it didn't make sense why I wanted to put another member of our team in between us and then I had a friend of mine in the office speak to the head guy and reinforce that view and so we sort of between us sort of navigated it but it i mean i think at that point if if they had put him sitting beside me i would have then had to go to my boss and actually say look actually no you can't and meredith meredith was like she will resign if you put him sitting beside beside her um so so yeah i've just yeah i think i've learned how to navigate it um and that's i guess what i would i would try to encourage people as well to um try to as much as they can um instill that sort of control over their environment and and tell people and see because i i really haven't met that many bad apples that have um been super dismissive of it um it's so yeah that's the one thing people are intrigued you know if yeah Like they might be like throw their eyes to heaven or just think, or maybe they say stuff behind my back, I don't know. But for the most part, you know, I think people are generally supportive. Again, I guess I've been lucky in that respect as well. But yeah, what I'm hopeful as well is that there are some silver lines with COVID in terms of everyone, who's been able to work from home, has worked from home. And hopefully that will mean that employers will be more open and flexible so that people with misophonia will be able to go to their bosses post-COVID. And whether they want to tell them that they have a condition or not, at least their employers should be more open to a more flexible work environment. And I think that will probably take the edge off as well.

Adeel [32:37]: Absolutely. And you don't have to be home like five days a week. But if you have at least the option to be like, like you took off that one day or or even if it's like a set, a fixed schedule of like, you know, a couple of days a week or something, I think that could really, like you said, to take the edge off the rest of the time where you could be like, all right, at least I don't have to be here tomorrow to deal with that. Jack, who I'm going to murder.

O [33:04]: His name was Jack. Did I say that?

Adeel [33:09]: I don't think I mentioned his name. You mentioned so many people, I don't even know which Jack you're talking about. Oh, the real, the real, the one who was about to get mentored, quote unquote. Yes. Right.

O [33:25]: What was I going to say? Oh, yeah. And actually, I work from home now, which is amazing.

Adeel [33:29]: Yeah.

O [33:29]: Irrespective of COVID. I moved back to Ireland and so the company I worked for actually had an office in Dublin which they sort of put on the table or suggested would that be something I would be interested in because I wanted to move back home that's why when the primary reason I left New York was to move back to Cork so Dublin is not commutable with Cork so I unfortunately just had to say no no and I wanted to take some time off so I took a year off And then this job came up with the firm where I can work from home in Cork. And in a post-COVID world, I will do some days out of the Dublin office as well. But for the most part, my job will be working from home in Cork, which is... I can't even tell you with the delight.

Adeel [34:20]: And is it the same company that you've been working with for a while? Yeah. That's great. I mean, that's a great lesson for other music fans. If you can find a good company that's making strides or making strides to help hang on to them and don't burn any bridges and then you're able to do things like take a year off or...

O [34:40]: um and then come back and get with it you know in a pretty kind of accommodative situation i guess uh for sure for sure it's been i i actually have to keep pinching myself i only started back work with them in the summer and i would you know wake up and sit down at my desk some mornings and and just smile yeah how how do i pull this off you know i get to live and work and and still work for them. So that, yeah, that's been a huge positive.

Adeel [35:08]: Yeah. Another thing is that, you know, a lot of people, uh, you know, I talk to people who are pretty young, maybe still in school or, or just out of school. And, uh, you know, one of the big lessons is like, yeah, you, you think it does get better, especially if you're able to create an environment. Um, I don't give up.

O [35:24]: I couldn't agree with you more. I couldn't, in fact, so I've in some of your more recent podcasts, um, I felt like, so now I'm getting ahead of myself because it's sort of like the signing off question that you ask people. Is there any sort of message you want to leave them with or whatever? And that is like the big thing I really want to say to any younger person suffering is that it definitely gets easier. And it just gets easier because in part, I think the way just sometimes growing up can get easier. You know, you just get a bit more self-confidence or you know you're not riddled with insecurities like you are in your teenage years um but you have more confidence to tell people and you do gain more control over your environment it is really only in a sort of school college setting that you're sort of locked into these classrooms And then with the workplace, there are accommodations that can be made. There is working from home. Look, it's never going to be everything. I mean, meetings can be an absolute nightmare or, you know, lunch meetings don't even get me started because in America, they love to throw chips in with all lunch meetings.

Adeel [36:35]: I hate eating with my coworkers. I don't know why.

O [36:37]: That's brutal. But yeah, no, it does. It definitely does. get easier. And I think you just learn more little tricks or more, more ways to cope as well. What are some of yours?

Adeel [36:52]: So obviously, yeah, you've got super long hair, it sounds like. And what is, what is, what is, besides being like Chewbacca kind of situation?

O [37:04]: It's not, it's not Chewbacca. I know. Do you know what? I do know that I look like an absolute a crazy person when I'm on a plane, because when I'm on a plane, I will have, you know, earbuds in and then the overhead headphones, and then I'll have a hoodie up so that, you know, to get rid of the peripheral vision. And I mean, I know it's great. Hoodies are great. Yeah. Hoodies are great. But I just know that I look absolutely totally like a maniac. So yeah, coping mechanisms, I've heard you say this before actually and it was something I picked up from the convention which it sounds so simple but I do think really helps to decompress before you enter a potential trigger situation because I remember it was in one of the little breakout sessions we were talking about this about how you can walk around full of tension and braced you know like braced for a trigger and sure that's just a terrible position to put your body in and also it it means you really will jump when that trigger comes like your your whole body like i'm doing it now even as we say it and i found that just that little tip of actually before you walk into the office at work just take a few deep breaths um and it just it it it does allow you to cope with it a little bit better. I have a great little CBT, you know, cognitive behavioral therapy trick that someone gave me as well before, which is to, which helps to wind yourself down. So sometimes I even do it after work if I've had like a bit of like an adrenaline boost from work that, so wherever you're sitting, just take a moment and think of five things you can feel. So, you know, like, you know, I feel like my foot on the ground or whatever. So five things you can feel, four things you can see, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. And you run through that exercise in your mind. And because the reason that I find it helpful as well as breathing techniques, sometimes my mind won't sit still when I'm trying to calm it. And I find that Sometimes it just doesn't work that well. Whereas this exercise, for some reason, because you're being forced to focus on the five, four, three, two, one things, it actually just works quite effectively at winding down your brain. Or at least it works for me. So that's another little trick that I use. I've tried everything, though. I've tried the CBD oil, which I don't know if it works or not, but I think the placebo effect works.

Adeel [40:06]: So you find it does?

O [40:08]: I find it does, yeah. And I'll do that before even something, say like, you know, we get together quite often as a family. We're all based in Cork. And before a family event, because of course your family are major trigger people, I'll take the CBD oil. uh uh so that yeah i used that a little bit um and so those are sort of the more practical well not practical but the sort of decompressing cbd oil ones obviously i use headphones all the time and do you know i tried the did you see at the convention they the um the hearing aid yeah yeah So I did the trial on that, actually, because I was curious. But I gave them back afterwards. And the reason why they worried me a little bit was because I don't like the idea of having too permanent a crutch in my ear. Because then when I take it out, everything's amplified, you know?

Adeel [41:15]: That's exactly my concern, yeah.

O [41:17]: Yeah. So I will always have my earphones with me, you know, my wireless ones or earbuds or the overhead ones, but I will try to only put them in when I need to have them in so that I don't become this person that constantly has earphones in yet. So, and brown noise, I think is great. And then what other little tricks? Oh, like family dinners, things like that. Or even when I go call over to my parents and just catching up and having a cup of tea, just the first thing I'll do when I go into the kitchen is we'll put music on. um and then death metal and uh i know all sadly no it's my mom will love a bit of like class killer oh yeah so we just have to wrap up the volume and then oh so always have packed the tissues with you then you can offer someone a tissue if they sneeze oh yeah And actually, it's very interesting in our family. Like, my siblings definitely are milder than me, but all of our households, if you walk into any of them, there's packets of tissues all around the different rooms. Nice. Yeah. So, yeah.

Adeel [42:26]: Just grab it before it starts and do your business, and then we can talk.

O [42:32]: Exactly. So that's another little one. Do you know what I miss actually? Because there really isn't that much sushi in Ireland. And I found that sushi restaurants were great because, I mean, I know there's sometimes... the little bit of soup the udon and yeah yeah well no but it's yeah so god no i'd stay completely away from that but if you have a pure sushi restaurant where people are ordering just sushi then it removes the silverware and the clanging because everyone just wooden chopsticks yeah yeah and you're not really cutting stuff up you're just kind of basically tossing fish in your mouth and uh it's and nothing makes a lot of noise exactly yeah So I do miss that because I found that that was a good one. But that's a good tip for people if they have to do lunch meetings. Like I would have to sometimes do client lunch meetings and I would just, the default was always to do sushi.

Adeel [43:30]: Do sushi and make sure nobody orders miso soup.

O [43:33]: Yeah, no miso soup.

Adeel [43:34]: Tell the restaurant, no complimentary miso soup. I'll tip you extra if you don't bring any goddamn complimentary new socks here.

O [43:44]: This is it. You've got to find the way. But you know what? It's another interesting little COVID silver lining. Don't get me wrong. I know there's so much devastation with COVID, but we'll take our wins. And I would say that working from home is one, especially because there could be sort of longer-term positive implications from that. But also... Now we've gone back into a bit more restrictions here in Ireland at the moment, but over the summer when we'd ease things up, you'd go out to dinner and there was more spacing between tables in restaurants. And then also because everyone has to wear masks, people can't walk around stores chomping on food. There's just less people publicly eating as well. So I find there's these little nice meso or meso-friendly COVID silver lining.

Adeel [44:44]: Oh, absolutely, yeah. Yeah, we should start making a list of them. I hadn't thought about some of those, but those are interesting things that, you know, people are talking about, like less handshaking and all this stuff. But yeah, these are a lot of meso-friendly habits that may continue. Yeah, which would be great.

O [45:08]: Yeah, even like you don't see people if they're chewing gum and things like that.

Adeel [45:11]: Yeah, right. And yeah, spacing between... Spacing between tables, yeah. Have you, other than your family, have you bumped into many people who have been like, oh... I have that too. You know, I have. It sounds like you're talking about this all the time.

O [45:28]: I have diagnosed many people as well. But I, you know, funnily enough, two of my really close friends have it by complete coincidence. So it was actually one of my best friends from college. When I started telling her I don't think it was in college when I would have told her. She would have known I had maybe noticed the funny thing about eating. But it was when we moved to London. She had also moved to London. And she, yeah, what she noticed was that she said her sister... was the same, her younger sister, who I'd met a few times. And now her younger sister is also one of my closest friends and she has it as well. And so I diagnosed her. But she has sometimes slightly different triggers to me. And she definitely isn't as open. I think people have to, I know, cope with it in different ways. Mine is definitely the more open, the better. Whereas I have found this, I think even with my, my dad is the same where, you know, if you don't talk about it, it doesn't exist as much or something. There's, you know, and not that they're in denial, but there is a more of a, if I don't acknowledge it, it's not as, it's not as big or something.

Adeel [46:52]: Can I stereotype the old Irish kind of, I don't know, British, Irish, whatever old school white kind of country. Yeah.

O [47:02]: yeah the sort of story catholic whatever yeah um because actually it is funny with my dad one time because i didn't want to sort of push him on it like i mean i i definitely know a bunch of his triggers but i just i do remember at one point saying to him you know you know, do you, do you have visual ones as well? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker [47:26]: It's like, okay.

Adeel [47:27]: Wow. Okay. Interesting. Yeah. He just gets it right away. Yeah.

O [47:34]: He's never, um, he, he, he has definitely somehow found a way to sort of just swallow it a bit because, um, I definitely have to ask people at all times to make accommodations. Whereas, um, he he wouldn't talk about it as much and and to be fair now i know you we've used the stereotype of that sort of older school irishman but my dad has four daughters he has got a long way in being like open and talking about things yeah um but he uh yeah he definitely he he wouldn't ask people to make accommodations after even the family members about it he just sort of somehow is able to suck it up, but I definitely don't have that strength. I definitely have to ask people. But yeah, so my, anyway, back to another tangent. So a really good friend of mine has it, and then another friend of mine, it was actually weirdly my first boyfriend when I was a teenager. And then we, Cork is really small, so we just then stayed friends all through like school and college. And We lost touch a bit in our twenties and then he was visiting me in London at one point and I had then since learned the name of the thing and I was telling him about it and then he was like, you're kidding me. I have that too. So it was just this magical moment where I was like, oh my goodness, what? And then we were like comparing like triggers and things like that. So yeah, just random coincidence, but two of my close friends have it. Oh, and I was in a relationship with someone who had it too. which again was a random coincidence. It was someone I met through work and he was definitely milder than me, but I have to say it really helped things. It was almost like, you know, say like with my family as well, where you're both aware. So you're both very understanding and accommodating. Like if he had said to me, oh, can you stop doing that? I'm like, oh my God, sorry. And it things as well. I mean, we must've looked like freaks sometimes because if say we were on like public transport together or on a plane, so we'd both have our headphones on and we would message each other on our phones or like I'd write him a message and show it to him. And I think if anyone was observing this, they'd be like, why can't you take off your headphones and talk to each other like normal people. But it was, yeah, I think it really helped the relationship I mean we since broke up but not for any sort of money or reason but I think it helped because it didn't I didn't have that guilt of asking someone to be making accommodations and it didn't put any strain on things now to be fair that shouldn't discourage anyone who's dating someone that doesn't have misophonia you know because I've definitely had moments in the past of So I'm single now and I've had moments of thinking, oh God, it's not fair to ask someone to take that on. But all of my friends and family that love me will always say, Claire, everyone has their stuff. Everyone has their stuff. At least you know what yours is. And it is always good just to remember that perspective as well, where the accommodations that you ask people to make they're typically not big, you know, they, they can be the smallest little accommodations for them and make a world of a difference to you. Um, so I think that's also worth bearing in mind, um, because it's obviously massive what's going on in our heads, but you know, I have a friend who finds the whole thing entertaining. Like if she sees me, like my eyes dart, you know, in a room to some trigger, like her favorite response is, oh my God, who is it? What is it? It's like a game, you know? So instead of her being like, oh God, what's your problem now? You know, or who is it? She just finds the whole thing really entertaining. So I think, you know, we have to trust in people as well. their trust in the goodness of people so yeah I have come across a good few people and even from telling people at work in the London office there were a couple of people definitely milder as well but it's funny because once you then explain to them what it is you know I'd get these random emails then from one of my colleagues like just he'd be on the train and he'd be like Claire, you wouldn't believe what's going on on the train right now. And it's nice then because you know that you've given them the name of the thing that's annoying them. And you've also given them a little outlet where they can now message you to vent about something that they've experienced. So, yeah, I do think it's more prevalent than, you know, I guess at some point we realize there'll be some study on what the actual numbers are. But it's... Definitely.

Adeel [53:01]: Yeah, we're in the early days of this. For sure. In terms of research and awareness. So, yeah, I think we're all aware, you know, most of you and I and a bunch of us are just kind of on the forefront, you know, just letting people know about it. By the time it's probably too late for us, you know, everyone will know about it and the world will be a much quieter place. And we will have suffered for everybody else.

O [53:30]: I know, I keep imagining, because there are certain situations, of course, that is as valuable as you can do about, for example, like a plane. And I always like imagine this world where I can get on the plane and show them this little card that says, you know, I've got misophonia. And then they'll be like, oh, of course, ma'am. And then like, we have a silent cubicle for you. So imagine that will be the dream. But you're so good for raising the awareness with the... with the podcasts. That's such a genius idea. I love podcasts and thank you so much for doing it. I've had talked to myself of how I could do more because I currently, besides telling people and diagnosing them, I don't, I'm not on any social media. I don't exist in that world at all and would be very reluctant to. So sometimes when I listen to your podcast, I feel a little bit guilty that I should be trying to do more.

Adeel [54:33]: Yeah, Claire, why are you saying this? No, that's totally understandable. More and more people are just kind of reclaiming their independence. But I think, yeah, I mean, wherever you are, if you can find some people that just... um beyond that kind of text circle text message circle or or or just kind of like meet up at a you know unknown quiet place um i'm gonna have a thing i definitely want to do more yeah no i mean this isn't so good and you know you alluded to earlier that you're you've already kind of like hit your uh your message for the mess for the community but is there anything else that you want to tell people um about your story that you think is... Oh God, I think I've been waffled on long enough. Yeah, no, it has been told gold all the way, but yeah, I'm just curious.

O [55:27]: Oh, that's very kind of you to say. Is there anything else you want to say? No, I definitely wanted, because of course I've stolen my own ponder now, but it was just what I said earlier about... It gets easier. It does. I do think it improves. And I do think it's an important message because when I was at the convention in Minnesota as well, and I saw, you know, that was the first time I realized that there really was some younger folk or that a lot of people, the onset was younger than it was for me. And I just thought that's a lot to take on when you're that age. So I do think that in as much as we can to get that message out and to speak to younger kids about it and so that they understand because to have it so young and then to go through your teenage years with all that that brings, it's super overwhelming, you know? So, so yeah, no, I just really wanted to leave people with a positive message. And I think that the way the world is moving in terms of, technology and flexibility and I think it can only get better as well you know and that's not to say look I know it's there are just awful despairing dark moments with this um with this thing that we all have but um it's it's it's manageable you know um and um and and have faith in people I think because I've definitely been really positively surprised by colleagues friends family um you know people that I've encountered they've for the most part been super supportive and accommodating and so I think that's so I would really encourage people as well to be as open as they can about it yeah that's great and I really love your tips on like just

Adeel [57:30]: I always forget to do it too, but walking into a room and, you know, taking deep breaths or doing whatever exercise you need to do. I wonder if there's like an, I hate to bring up, you know, technology for the sake of technology but like something like that something to kind of like buzz you or remind you to kind of uh every so often or maybe it senses that things are getting loud and you know until you know it gets you to calm down or something like that but uh but yeah just taking those times however you remember remember to kind of like take a breath uh that's that's another great tip yeah and i think it's just how like

O [58:06]: not even healthy but it's good for your body as well like it's you know it's not it's not nice for your body to to walk around full of tension and brace for something you know so um i think it's just it's a good once you get into the habit of it as well it's helpful because you you don't realize how much um Like you can, your body can be tense and you can be completely unaware of it, you know, because we just, we're so used to doing it. So just even once you start to get into the habit of it, it makes you more aware of how often, maybe how often you brace for things. Yeah.

Adeel [58:40]: It's like when you go to yoga and you have no idea of how tense you are until you're like, until they keep telling you to relax. And you're like, I am relaxed.

O [58:49]: oh god um i was oh yeah i was gonna actually ask you because um you've done so many of these and you ask everyone um i think for you know their coping mechanisms um was there any that surprised you or is there any that's like your you know top tip that you would recommend

Adeel [59:11]: yeah i you know i need to this is exactly what i need i'm this is one of the things i need to review for before the uh oh i'm just front running so no i mean i need to like i i have all the i've i've been doing transcripts and stuff to discuss so i can just kind of breeze through everything but i don't think there's anything uh i mean you had a lot of good ones today actually i mean you know hoodies and hair blocking vision and the deep breaths that's when i this deep breath is when i bring up a lot um people um yeah i mean talking about it with people uh just having tons of earphones i mean it's nothing that we i mean honestly like i was nodding along to a lot of it's like yeah it's the usual suspects yeah plus you know yeah and so there isn't anything even in terms of things people ingest or CBD, there's nothing really that's been consistent other than the usual suspects and reducing stress level. Yeah, sleep.

O [60:18]: Oh my goodness, the difference that sleep can make.

Adeel [60:21]: yeah or rather the difference that lack of sleep can make yeah and i'm not i'm one who's like you know chronically just uh over you know obviously i'm doing podcasts of freaking uh you know i know actually as i said it i was like oh my god i should really let you go now because it is midnight um and i'm gonna i'm gonna start my day over here so imagine that yeah i can't imagine if i was uh this sleep deprived and going into an office anyway but yeah, nothing revolutionary yet. And I've talked to like, you know, a few, you know, doctors or whatever, but again, nothing revolutionary yet. So I'm not holding a kind of, I'm, you know, I'm not holding my breath for anything. And so it's just, yeah, it's just more of the usual suspects, I guess. It's finding more people. If you can surround yourself with more people who have it or, or can accommodate, just gravitate yourself towards them.

O [61:17]: yeah exactly exactly and i i do notice that even um uh even more so i guess partly because i work from home but moving back to um to cork i mean almost everyone that i hang out with knows the drill you know and it's it it it is lovely you know it's yeah um it does help uh So, yeah, I do.

Adeel [61:46]: I do. You worked hard to get there.

O [61:47]: I mean, it's not. Yeah, I don't want to. No, go ahead.

Adeel [61:52]: You worked hard to get there. Cool. Well, I want to, yeah, let's end on that positive note. I'll probably cut some of my babblings out here.

O [62:07]: Oh, mine too, please.

Adeel [62:10]: Yeah, I just want to say, I'll do the official, like, well, Claire, thanks. Thanks for coming on the podcast. There's been a lot of great tips here. You know, you kind of zoomed into a bunch of experiences at the office and at the home that I'm sure a lot of people can totally relate to.

O [62:28]: Thank you so much for having me. It has been an absolute delight. And thank you so much for doing the podcast in general.

Adeel [62:37]: Thank you, Claire. One of the longer conversations, but worth every second. Season three interviews are almost all done, being recorded, but do hit me up if you want to be on the show. I could squeeze in a few more, or we will get it all set up for season four. If you're enjoying the show, please consider hitting the five stars on Apple iTunes. If you don't like the show, feel free to rant on social media or send me feedback at Music, as always, is by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and quiet.