Erica - Coping with Misophonia through Advocacy and Environment Control

S3 E2 - 10/14/2020
Adeel introduces the podcast and his guest, Erica, who is teaching gymnastics virtually from Chicago due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They discuss Erica's experience with misophonia, highlighting her partner's sensitivity to her condition and the evolving challenges from childhood to adulthood. Erica shares practical advice on managing misophonia, including advocating for oneself, attending misophonia conventions, and utilizing soundproofing techniques. Addressing the importance of control over one's environment to reduce stress, Erica encourages open communication with others about the condition. Lastly, Erica emphasizes the value of practice in becoming comfortable with requesting accommodations for misophonia.


Adeel [0:00]: Welcome to the Misophonia Podcast. This is Episode 2 of Season 3. My name's Adeel Ahmad, and I have Misophonia. This week I'm talking to Erica, who's in Chicago. She's a teacher, and currently her main gig is teaching gymnastics virtually from home. We talk about all the things she works on, how her partner is extremely sensitive to her misophonia, and how miso gets easier in some ways, but more difficult in other ways, going from childhood into adulthood. She also gives some great advice toward the end on how to manage miso mentally, as well as how to advocate for yourself. Erica also talks about the Misophony convention she went to in Orlando a few years back. And this past weekend was this year's MISO convention, which happened over Zoom, for obvious reasons. It was great to see many of you and hear directly from you about the show during the podcast session and also about your experiences during other sessions. Looking forward to hanging out in person next year, wherever it ends up being. I even got a bunch of new interviews booked from people who were at the conference. Remember, you can sign up at And I'm also working on getting some written interviews going. when the new website is live, hit me up via email at hello at or on Instagram or Facebook at Misophonia Podcast and Twitter at Misophonia Show. We can do the interviews over email or DMs or whatever. All right, here's my conversation with Erica. Erica, welcome to the podcast. Good to have you here.

Erica [1:40]: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Adeel [1:42]: Yeah. Awesome. So, um, you know, why don't we talk a little bit before, before we started, but, uh, why don't you just, uh, yeah, tell me again, like where, you know, where you're located.

Erica [1:51]: I'm in Chicago.

Adeel [1:53]: Cool. Okay. And, um, I guess, you know, what kind of, what do you do in Chicago? Do you have a, you're working there in school?

Erica [2:01]: Um, so I am working a little bit, um, right now is an odd time as I'm sure it is for a lot of people. So I'm, I'm pretty much just working part-time right now. I'm doing only things virtually, um, which is a little funny because I'm teaching gymnastics, um, and like acrobatics from my home. into other people's homes so um that's been pretty interesting um normally like before this i i was like last year i was mostly like a substitute teacher and um i decided that that i would not enjoy doing that right now during time of covid so i'm not doing that and I'm trying to figure out what I would like to do for work or what I can do for work from home because I would like to continue doing that for now because I'm afraid of getting COVID basically.

Adeel [3:10]: Yeah, like we all are.

Erica [3:12]: Yeah, yeah.

Adeel [3:13]: This is an interesting week. Yeah, this will air in the future, but this has obviously been an interesting week nationally for COVID news. So let's back up a bit. So you said you were doing substitute teaching in like in a classroom setting, just like, you know, regular school kind of subjects.

Erica [3:29]: Like elementary school, like pre-K through eighth grade. okay and so uh teaching gymnastics this is something that you do uh kind of was it something you were doing on the side before and now it's kind of like your main ish kind of thing so i used to coach gymnastics full-time um several years ago and then i stopped and now i'm doing it basically like part-time it was something that i was doing i was doing many jobs at the same time i would I was nannying, I've always managed to keep a few jobs at the same time. So the good thing about that is that when the country shuts down, I still had a couple hanging on, a couple jobs left over. So I'm just sticking with these ones that I can do for now. So I had actually just started coaching at a new gym, gymnastics gym. in March. So I literally had been there two or three times and then we had to shut it down. So I haven't, I haven't been back since. And I also teach at a dance studio. And so I've been, I've been there for a couple of years, but it's again, something that I've just been doing one or two times a week. And I was lucky enough that they were so quick to transition things straight online. And I've been able to teach my acrobatics classes from home, like from, from March, like we've missed one week and then we were up and running online. So that was pretty cool. But yes, I was basically doing both of those things, you know, on the side and now it's what I'm doing. It's basically the only thing I'm doing right now.

Adeel [5:19]: Yeah. And the other advantage of doing, of having kind of multiple gigs is to bring it to Miso is like if something basically pisses you off, you can always kind of maybe shut that down and, you know, do something else maybe. Was that ever a consideration? Like not being 100% committed or being dependent financially on something that possibly could be, you know, a living hell?

Erica [5:46]: Yeah. I don't know. I mean, I don't know if it's totally directly connected, but, um, you know, I suppose so. I just, I'm kind of, yeah. Yeah. Well, I think I'm also like, yeah, I'm kind of like a perfectionist too. And I just have basically refused to settle for doing things that I don't love. Um, and that's kind of, it makes it hard, but it also is nice because I just don't want to, you know, settle for a job that, that I hate and I just am doing it for the money. So I've just kind of held on to like little things that, that I do enjoy doing. And, and then I, I'm basically right, like not ever 100% committing. So I can walk away from something if I start hating it. And, um, yeah i mean i don't know if any of my jobs i've ever left like specifically because of issues with misophonia but it's uh right it's nice to have that option i guess yeah and so um yeah so tell me about your misophonia um like how long have you had it uh kind of what's yeah what's what's kind of your origin story Um, so I've had it for basically as long as I remember the first, um, like the earliest age was like five years old.

Adeel [7:15]: Wow. Yeah. That's pretty early. I mean, it's usually around, uh, yeah. Late elementary, middle school. But yeah, I've, I've heard of five years, but that's, that is quite, that's quite young. Do you vividly remember kind of what was triggering you?

Erica [7:28]: I remember that, like I, I was having like other sensory issues at the time, like from as long as I can remember. Um, and I don't know if they're connected or not, but in my mind, I feel like they must be, um, I mean, maybe, I guess, I don't know. Um, I talked to like a therapist when I was in high school who thought I had like, uh, a, like sensory sensitivity disorder or something. Um, but yeah, so some things that were, that caused me a lot of anxiety when I was like very young were more like, um, clothes issues and like i could only wear my socks like if they were above my knee so i would buy like soccer socks or i'd have my parents buy me like soccer socks or like i wear like men's socks because like the sensation of them anywhere between like my calf and my ankle was just so irritating to me. I couldn't stand it. And I was also one of those kids who couldn't have tags in their shirts and I didn't like anything with embroidery on it and I could feel it on my skin. So I was very particular with those kinds of things. And I don't remember exactly how old I was when I first started having sound triggers. But I mean, I just, I know that I was, I was pretty young.

Adeel [8:59]: Yeah. And do you remember like, were there specific people who were triggering you?

Erica [9:06]: Yeah. Uh, my, my dad was my first one who, which I, I guess is kind of common from what I've heard, which is interesting to me. Um, cause I, I thought, you know, my dad and I have had like a kind of troubled relationship, uh, all my life. My parents are divorced. They've been divorced since I was three years old. And so, yeah, my first like big reactions and like problems were like eating at my dad's house is what I remember. And I would have to, yeah, like have, you know, music on in the background and most of the time, like, that still wasn't enough. And, yeah, that was the first, like, the biggest struggle. For a while, I feel like it was mostly just, like, related to eating, like, chewing and other, like, eating sounds and body sounds, you know, like, chewing gum and stuff like that.

Adeel [10:18]: Yeah.

Erica [10:18]: And then... Oh, yeah, go ahead.

Adeel [10:21]: Were you the only child when you went over to your dad's house at that age?

Erica [10:27]: I have a younger sister who was there, too. She was not as bad as my dad. I don't ever remember her being a really big trigger for me when I was younger. I know that sometimes, she's two years younger than me, and we fought often growing up. And I know there were some times where she would purposely, you know, do it to make me mad occasionally, which was so mean. But, you know, she was my younger sister, so I did it.

Adeel [11:02]: Yeah, so she knew that they could push your buttons that way. At your mom's house, did you have similar kind of triggers? Or was it strictly at your dad's? Or at least did it start there?

Erica [11:18]: Like my mom too, but my mom was never as bad as my dad. And I just, I don't know if it, I wonder if it's just based on the relationship that I have with the two of them. But I mean, in my mind, my dad's chewing is like significant, significantly worse than anybody else that I know. But it also, you know, could be tied to the emotional aspect of it. I'm not sure, but my mom would chew gum and she would like pop her gum and that always bothered me. And I think her eating would bother me too, but it was never as bad as at my dad's. Something that bothered me growing up at my mom's was like sounds. Another thing that triggers me is sounds that i can hear from outside of a room like if the tv is on in the next room or like at my mom's house starting in eighth grade we moved when i was in when i was in eighth grade i think or going into my freshman year and my room was in the basement and the living room was above my bedroom and so my mom was like watching tv i could hear like the muffled sound of it

Adeel [12:41]: yeah the bass and the muffled voices yeah yeah and i it drove me just nuts god yeah so it sounds like uh i mean um common common story that uh yeah yeah that's dad is kind of initial trigger but then the um yeah the triggers just kind of multiply and start to spread to different people Did it, and obviously your sister at some point picked up. Was it something that you, were you bottling it up or was it quite noticeable to everybody around you?

Erica [13:16]: Definitely to my family. But I don't know about at school or anything. I don't have any recollection of like being triggered while eating lunch in elementary school. don't know if it really impacted me that much when i was young and in school but as i got older um you know like in high school and things my friends knew about it at that point because i would like share with them but i would say that the majority of people that i was around in school or otherwise probably didn't know that it was something that i was dealing with i shared it with like a few teachers as I got older, but yeah, that's about it.

Adeel [14:05]: So how was the reactions to all these people along the way? Like, let's say your parents early on. Obviously, I'm assuming you didn't know what it was, but how did they, were they sympathetic? Were they freaked out or?

Erica [14:22]: No, like, I don't remember any sort of like big reaction to it. I mean, the way I would, I don't even know how I described it. I think it was literally just, it would literally just be me saying like, can you stop chewing with your mouth open? Like, please stop chewing. I don't think I was like very aware of, you know, like the common thread to me. It was just like mostly chewing. hearing things from the other room but i don't even know how i communicated that um like i just don't i don't recall other than just like can you please turn the tv down or you know my my dad would like buy my dad bought um these like bluetooth headphones that he was able to plug plug something into the tv and then hear the tv like in his like bluetooth which was amazing and I would make him use it because I actually went to go live with him for a year when I was in high school and he used that and I was very very grateful yeah but I know like I had a I had a teacher in high school who I remember this vividly I don't have a ton of memories of it affecting me when I was in school like I said But I had one teacher that I had for my freshman biology class. And I had him again my junior year for anatomy. And his room had a clock in it, as most classrooms do. But any time we took a quiz or a test, it would be silent. And I could hear his clock. That's another one of my... triggers is like clocks or like repetitive noises of like a fan ticking or something. And so it would be totally silent and all I could hear was his clock. And so I just told him, you know, all I can hear is the clock.

Adeel [16:29]: Did he do anything about it?

Erica [16:31]: He did. So every time we took a quiz or a test, he would take the clock off the wall and put it in a cabinet. Yes. I mean, I just appreciated it so, so much because, you know, the feeling of all of a sudden everything's silent and I have to focus on something very specific, but all I can hear is something else that's very specific. And just that anxiety just building and building. And I'm sitting here thinking, I have to take a test now, but I can't.

Adeel [17:05]: Yeah.

Erica [17:08]: He understood. I mean, I don't know how much exactly he understood, but he was, you know, conscious and understanding enough to.

Adeel [17:16]: He didn't want to see a scene.

Erica [17:18]: Yeah. Well, I mean, he was he's probably one of my favorite teachers that I've ever had in my life. And so he just he got it. And he just I would like look at him and look at the clock. And if he forgot and he would just go over there and pull the wall and put it in the cabinet. And that was it. Yeah, it was amazing.

Adeel [17:37]: Yeah, I don't remember when I was in school, clocks necessarily bothering me, but I'm taking a piano instructor now. And when I go into his studio before COVID, it's a tiny room and there's a clock ticking and I cannot keep a rhythm because it's like, so I have to like take it off the wall, shove it under a thick jacket or towel or something and just kind of not hear it. well i'll just remove the battery but then i have to reset the time it's painting yeah right anyways it's this is what we deal with um yeah so like yeah so for me it's kind of obviously that's that wasn't a trigger now it is how uh um you know how have you so you started with your you started with your dad's chewing obviously went into went on to other stuff uh you know post school how is has it continued to multiply and how has it kind of affected um uh yeah post high school post college

Erica [18:28]: It's in some ways I feel like it's gotten better and in other ways it's gotten worse.

Adeel [18:33]: Yeah. I've heard that. I've heard that kind of reaction too. Tell me more about that.

Erica [18:37]: Cause I think, um, you know, as I got older, some more triggers like developed and it was really bad when I was in like high school, college, right after college, where I just really didn't have control of my environment. in high school too because I was living with my parents or I was living in dorms and I was in classrooms and I really couldn't change much about those situations and so it just really felt like torture so when I was in right when I was in like high school and college I had very little control over the situation and so it was really it was at some points like really quite torturous like you know, there's nothing I can do about this. It felt like the end of the world. I remember like my roommates having parties and having people over and hearing the music downstairs and just like being so distraught and so upset. I mean, it was, it was terrible. It, I still remember like that feeling. And as I've gotten older, And I can choose where I live and who I live with. I can choose to live on the top floor in a small building on a quiet street. I can make sort of modifications of my living space to cater to my needs. So in that way, it's gotten better. But it's almost like my tolerance for this kind of stuff has gone down because I'm no longer used to dealing with it. And so if something like I used to live in a house where I had a neighbor. two floors up who would play like an xbox or video game of some sort and had it plugged in to some sort of sound system that was literally i could feel it down to yeah yeah and it was awful like i just have to leave the house so it's it's like now that i've now that i'm dealing with it less often it's almost like harder to deal with do you know what i mean

Adeel [20:53]: Right. Yeah. Yeah. Because it's you're not as conscious of it all the time. So you can kind of lower your guard.

Erica [21:02]: And then it's like, you know, when it does get you, it's like, I can't handle it.

Adeel [21:08]: Because, yeah, late high school, college, it is going to be you're kind of like almost. well you feel like you're free but you're actually it's kind of the word is kind of the worst time because you probably have roommates uh you don't have very much money or control in your situation and you need to like um you know you just it's stressful because you need your grades up because basically your the rest of your life is going to be defined by how well you do there

Erica [21:34]: so stressful you have like specific things you have to do you have to study you know i would try to like find quiet space in the library but almost sometimes i don't know if you've ever aka a dining room for other people but yeah yeah like quiet places almost could can potentially be worse because if it's silent and then there's like one specific thing that's like bothering you so it's just you know it's it's a very very tricky time yeah right

Adeel [22:02]: um yeah and it's yeah it's something that a lot of high schoolers and college kids are like oh my god are kind of worried about misophonia because um it seems like it could be the end it seems like the end of the world but it's something i want to you know and you're you're kind of um pointing this out quite well is that uh it does get better like you do have you do get more control later And maybe it's another reason to like, you know, try harder in school and keep your grades up because, you know, it opens up more options to you later on to kind of, you know, do what you want, do what you love. And so, yeah, so I guess, yeah, so you got out and yeah, you're able to now control your environment more. One thing I was curious about is what did your friends think? You said you shared it with some of your friends. You probably still have a lot of your friends now that you had back in the day. How have they been about misophonia? Are they sympathetic? Do they wonder what it is? Maybe some of them have it too.

Erica [23:07]: I've never known somebody on a personal level. level that has it too, except for a few, maybe like several years ago now, I posted something about it on Facebook and somebody that I went to elementary school with reached out to me and said, I have this too. And I was like, no way. I had no idea. Like, it's not somebody that I was very close with, but it's somebody that I was in school with from when I was, you know, in elementary school all the way through high school. And neither of us had any idea of each other, you know. No, but it was just really interesting to find that out. But the people that I did share it with, I feel like I only shared it with people who I was very close with. I don't even think it was out of a, I want to confide in you. It was out of necessity. If we're spending so much time together, I have to tell you this or else I'm going to be miserable and there's no way this is going to work. So, you know, I told a couple of like my very close friends when I was in high school. And, you know, I had a friend who this one time I went to her like lake house or something. And we were there with like her cousins or someone and we were playing cards and she was chewing gum. And she chewed her gum very loudly and clearly didn't realize it. And I put, I think I put headphones or earplugs in. I think I just played headphones and I was like blasting music, but also trying to play cards. And like, I don't know if you've ever experienced this before where you're like, I mean, probably you feel like they're attacking you. Like you're like, They must know. They know. Like this person knows. I've told her before. She's one of my best friends. So she knows this and she's doing it anyway. So she must be doing it purposefully. But especially when I was younger, I didn't have it in me to just say like, hey, do you remember how when you chew your gum, it really like makes me anxious? Do you think you could spit out your gum, please? I'd really appreciate it. You know, I could probably say something like that right now. But when I was like 17 years old, I just didn't. I didn't have that. I didn't, I wasn't able to do that. And so a lot of times I would just kind of, it would all like build up and then I would have to, you know, leave or I would get really mad. I never like would get really mad at my friends, but I'm more of like a, I'm more of a flight than a fight kind of person with this. So, but anyone that I've ever told has been, you know, interested and supportive about it. I've, dated some people who were somewhere more understanding than others. My boyfriend right now is very, very wonderful about it. Um, He is very careful when we eat together, but also he understands that we pretty much always need to have music or the TV on while we eat just in case.

Adeel [26:30]: Good man.

Erica [26:32]: Yes. Anytime he like slips up like a little bit, like he catches it and he looks at me, he just like freezes and he looked at me and sometimes like, He catches it before I do, and I don't even hear it.

Adeel [26:44]: This guy needs a YouTube channel to teach a course. This is great.

Erica [26:49]: Good for you. He's the best. Good for you both here. Yeah. I feel very fortunate to have him. He's been a really great partner and very understanding. We live together, and he was willing to go along with all of my very specific needs for us finding an apartment together. you know, he went, if I go to bed before him, he will put headphones in, he won't turn the TV on very loudly. So it's like, you know, finding people who are willing to accommodate your needs and like work with you. And I, yeah, I feel really lucky.

Adeel [27:28]: When did he find out that you had miso? Was it, that's, you know, right away or?

Erica [27:34]: Uh, yeah, I think I told him like pretty quickly because we, know we started dating and we would go to uh we would go to eat or something and at first it would maybe be at like a louder bar and so it wasn't you know it's not something that i told him like like the first time we hung out but pretty quickly i did because i just i can't i feel like i have no choice at this point in my life because i'm just not willing to sit and suffer anymore you know Plenty of fish in the sea. Yeah. Yeah. And the person that I had dated before him triggered me a lot. And at no fault of his, it was like his yawns triggered me. The way that he breathed, his snoring. And I... So I knew right away, like things that I had to watch out for. And I, yeah.

Adeel [28:31]: Was it someone who just, who you can't just keep a yawn silent? They have to kind of like, have to have a tone to it.

Erica [28:40]: He would, I, the only way I could describe it is that he would chew his yawns. He would yawn and then make like, it was never just like a one simple, like, I feel like typically people open their mouth to yawn and then they close their mouth. Oh, I think I know where you're going. He would open his mouth to yawn and then he would like close and open a couple more times.

Adeel [29:06]: Okay, yeah. Let's not get too detailed, but I think we all know what you're talking about. Yeah, that kind of yawn.

Erica [29:12]: Yeah, I don't mean to like trigger anybody who's listening.

Adeel [29:16]: No, you did the right thing. He had to go.

Erica [29:18]: Yeah. I mean, I felt so bad though. I mean, it's a horrible feeling because you end up asking people to like stop breathing. I mean, that doesn't make any sense. It's the dilemma that we have.

Adeel [29:33]: It's like, oh, is this worth even saying? Oh God, I'm going to sound like such an idiot. I mean, that's, yeah.

Erica [29:39]: Yeah. It's so hard. Cause what, I can't actually ask him to change that about himself. Like, but I really wanted to, I want to say like, you know, can you see a doctor about this? Because clearly like your breathing, not about the yawning, but like about the breathing and the snoring. Go talk to your doctor about how you, how you yawn. No, but I'm like, you know, maybe like you need to have a surgery or something to open up your airways so that you don't breathe so forcefully. And I'm, you know, thinking this and saying this at the same time, thinking like, this is outrageous. This is totally unrealistic and irrational, but, what else am I supposed to do?

Adeel [30:21]: Right. And did he, well, so did he know that you had misophonia? I mean, I guess he did, right? Yeah, yeah. When did you find out it had a name? When did you find out that misophonia is misophonia?

Erica [30:36]: When I was, I think it was like 2012. I was like 22. Okay. and so i was out of college it was like right after i graduated college and my sister sent me an article on facebook and that was the first time article probably i haven't yeah i don't know yeah and she sent it to me and i was like oh oh my gosh yeah it was something obviously i i had no name for it i had talked to like therapists about it before and nobody had a name for it like that and like i said before like i had a therapist in high school who said who thought it was like a sound sensitivity uh or like a um sensory like sensory sensory yeah yes sensory processing disorder right and i had a therapist in college who thought it was ocd And you know, so I had many sort of guesses, but this was the first time I opened this article and I was like, oh my gosh, this is it. And I just, I really, really thought, and I'm sure you hear this and other people have experienced the same thing, but I really thought it was just me. I didn't think it was something that other people had. I didn't think it was something that had a name. I just thought it was just me.

Adeel [32:03]: Or that it was neurological. You know, I mean, it's, you know, you could probably, some people probably think it's, it's like a bunch of people are very sensitive, but it's, it's amazing when you realize that no, this is a research is pointing to a neurological disorder.

Erica [32:18]: Yeah. It was amazing. It was amazing to me.

Adeel [32:23]: And so did it, was it something that you just like, you know, you just forwarded to like 100 people or is it just kind of, did it kind of change the way people, that you explained it to people and how they reacted?

Erica [32:37]: Well, yeah, I mean, I think, like, I didn't tell anybody on, like, a large scale right away, but it was nice to just be able to, like, have the language and say, like, I have this specific condition. I was able to describe it better. I was able to talk about it, you know, explain it more instead of just saying, like, I can't stand people chewing gum or, you know. just it was it was now i have this specific thing and the way it affects me and lots of other people are is like this and um it just seemed much more i felt more comfortable doing that too unless a little less guilty um knowing that i wasn't the only one and that i had like these very specific needs and demands of others uh so that was that was really really nice

Adeel [33:32]: Yeah, and that's interesting. You said guilt. I mean, that's obviously the shame and guilt is something that we carry with us. Just, you know, feeling guilty about feeling this way because it can kind of, you know, affect and ruin. other relationships friendships and or what have you so um yeah yeah it's it's kind of um it's it's uh yeah i can it can it's definitely impactful on multiple levels when you find out oh this is a real thing that's it's not something that you know you're just being an asshole it's uh something wrong with you um yeah it was it was life-changing for sure You mentioned a bunch of therapists who kind of like had kind of lateral diagnoses. Have you found anybody, any therapist or anyone in the medical field that you've talked to who's heard about it?

Erica [34:26]: So my current therapist has it.

Adeel [34:31]: Whoa.

Erica [34:32]: And it was a complete coincidence. So I can tell you... Going back in time a little bit, I went to the conference that was in Orlando, I think. Okay, yeah, I think there was one there. It was like the second one that they had, I think. And I... learned of an audiologist or something somehow i got connected to an audiologist in the suburbs around me and i went and saw her and she was able to give me like an official diagnosis and like a letter um that i could use for whatever i needed it for i don't think i ever ended up actually using it but it was nice that i just like had it in my back pocket um And then I asked her if she knew of any therapists or psychiatrists that knew of misophonia or had experience treating it. Because I was thinking, is there any medication that can help me manage this? Because I would sure love to just take a pill and have it go away. Of course, nothing is ever really that simple, but I hoped. And she connected me with a psychiatrist who hadn't had experience with it, but was willing to learn about it. And that didn't really last very long. He prescribed me some anti-anxiety medication, but it just didn't really work. it wasn't exactly what I was looking for and so that was kind of short-lived. But several years later, I just happened to be matched with this therapist just through my insurance. I actually was seeing a different therapist at the same location and didn't really feel like anything productive was happening and so I requested to switch to a different therapist in the office and turns out she has it too. and she's yeah i mean it's just a total coincidence um it's we haven't spent like a ton of time um talking about it it comes up but it's not like a main focus um but it's certainly interesting and next just uh yeah a very unique experience to just be able to kind of like mention it and not have to totally explain it. And she just goes like, oh yeah, I know. Like, oh, me too. But the very first thing that she ever commented on was that she has it too, but it doesn't really affect her as much anymore. And it doesn't really affect her like it used to. And part of me says like, oh, that's amazing. I want to have that experience too. And then the other part of me says, oh, I doubt that that will ever happen to me. But, you know, I just can't, I can't imagine, just like I almost can't imagine any sort of therapy or treatment actually helping is just, you know, a thought that I have. But it is a little encouraging for her to say, like, well, she's married. She has pets, like she's living a fully functional adult life. And it's not something that is, ruining her or holding her back. And, um, it, she, she made it sound like pretty minimal. Like it wasn't, it's not impacting her life on like a daily basis. And I was like, wow, well, that's, that's, uh, that makes me feel a little hopeful, you know?

Adeel [38:31]: Yeah. Promising. Has she, I know you guys don't spend too much time on it, but has she kind of like maybe, uh, throwing out some tips here and there or some, some kind of experience or some kind of ways she deals with it?

Erica [38:43]: You know, I wish that I could say yes, but honestly, not that I can think of off the top of my head. She's just very, very helpful, though, with just about everything. And she, you know, I've never had a therapist like this before, but I'll go to her with a specific problem, and a lot of times she'll use Google, or she'll say, you know i was listening to a podcast the other day and she'll go right there on her computer and pull up a website and he like here is a tangible solution or here's a research based idea or you know something that i can that i can use she's very like here's a resource here's what you can do with it and um I really admire like that way of thinking. And it's something that is really helpful to me as a person in therapy, because, uh, I've, I've been with several therapists who just will let me kind of like sit there and talk and complain, not, you know, not complain, but just like, just vent about things that are bothering me. And they'll, they'll just listen, which for some people is like, is what they, what they need. They need someone who just will listen and let them like talk, talk something through. But the way I like the way I operate is I need like a tangible solution. I need like an action step to take. And she's so great about doing that.

Adeel [40:15]: What are some, yeah, I guess we haven't, uh, we talked about, you know, uh, using flight as a, as a coping mechanism. What are some of the tools of, uh, that you use, uh, maybe even write down in like, uh, I don't know, types of headphones or, um, any, you know, I don't know, earplugs or what are some of the things, what are some things that you do day to day to, um, to kind of cope?

Erica [40:36]: Um, well, so right now I'm spending a lot of time at home. So it, uh, it's really only things that I'm, that I'm, experiencing in my home but um you know flashback to prior to march maybe um i always have headphones with me um i like i use the skull candy just um i got those yeah yeah like i have now i have the i have these bluetooth ones that i've been using um since i've been doing things virtually and like teaching and so i like can hear them hear my like students when i'm not right in front of my computer because i'll get up and demonstrate something in the middle of my living room and so i've been using those um now which and they're really nice because i can also play something play a podcast from my phone and like walk around my house and not have to worry about being attached to wires but Even before that, I just used like Skullcandy headphones that I just like the way that they fit in my ear and they do a really good job blocking out other sounds, I feel like. I've tried more expensive, like noise-canceling headphones, like the kind that go over your ears instead of in your ears, and they never were super helpful for me. So surprisingly, just these like ones that you can buy for like 12 from target yeah the cheap ones work i mean yeah yeah if you put some music in the background it's fine yeah yeah and um i always carry headphones with me or uh earplugs with me also when i go out to eat and i if i can hear somebody at like the table next to me or something chewing or yeah you know the person that i'm with is chewing and sometimes it's just easier like i can't i can't ask the person at the table next to me to change what they're doing you know so i'll just like pop an ear uh ear plug in and I also said if I'm at the movies or something and I can hear people eating popcorn, I'll put those in. And they work well enough to block out the little sounds around me, but I can still hear the movie or... when i was in college i could still hear my professor or like i would even put headphones in and not play anything just to like block out the sound a little bit i could still hear people talking to me um so that that helps me when i was at the conference in orlando i got to try those those little things that are kind of thing Yes. And those were amazing, but they're like so expensive. So I've just tried to kind of replicate that without actually having to spend that much money. I also have a white noise machine that I have in my house. I play rain sounds when I sleep. I have just like little different like like an air purifier in this room that I can like turn up. So I just try to put things in my environment that I can easily adjust bits of, you know, ambient sound. And, uh, that helps. I, I've also, um, in the apartment that I used to live in, I shared a wall, I shared walls with somebody else and I hung, I hung rugs on the wall or like blankets on the wall. Yeah. Like a little bit because if it's, you know, the vibrations can just go straight through like drywall or something. But if you put something to like dampen the noise, it helps. It doesn't help as much as I would like. So the only thing that really is truly effective for me is headphones of some kind. Or if that doesn't work, like I just have to leave. I just have to take my dog for a walk or something and just hope that. When I come back, it's stopped.

Adeel [44:52]: When you were talking about restaurants and sitting near people, I thought of visual triggers. Is that something that bothers you as well?

Erica [45:03]: Yeah. My biggest visual triggers are like blinking lights. So like, yeah, I don't know if you've talked to many people who have that.

Adeel [45:16]: No, I haven't. I don't think I've heard that one. Yeah.

Erica [45:18]: Oh, really? Okay, great.

Adeel [45:21]: You're just a freak. No, I'm just kidding. I may have a little bit, but I mean, it's rare.

Erica [45:27]: Are you ever afraid that talking to people about this or like other people hearing other people's triggers will like make them become their triggers too?

Adeel [45:36]: Yeah, that does come up a little bit. But I figure if you're listening, if you're like already 45 minutes into this podcast, you're, yeah.

Erica [45:46]: It's just too late for you.

Adeel [45:47]: Yeah, it's too late.

Erica [45:48]: No, no. so like if um if i have my computer closed and there's like a blue light on the side if my computer is like in sleep mode the light will just kind of blink slowly yeah and that bothers me so if i have any sort of like consistent like blinking light um that's my biggest one sometimes seeing people chew gum or chew while they're eating or people, like, tapping their foot. Something, like, in my peripheral vision, if I'm, like, trying to watch TV and my boyfriend, Joey, if he's, like, you know, bouncing his foot around or something.

Adeel [46:31]: Joey, stop it.

Erica [46:34]: Yeah, but he's so good about it. He stops.

Adeel [46:36]: Right, all right. This is a good one.

Erica [46:37]: Right, forgot about it. Yeah, so, yeah, so a little bit of that.

Adeel [46:42]: gotcha interesting okay cool well um yeah well i guess we're yeah we're like i said we're yeah we're almost kind of uh um been talking for for a little while this is it's been really it's been really useful um curious if you've uh do you have anything that you want to tell people um i mean

Erica [47:01]: There's a, there's a support group on Facebook that I am part of. I don't spend a ton of time on it anymore, but I know that it is helpful sometimes, you know, several years ago when I, when I was still like kind of searching and grasping for help and ways to like manage this better in my daily life, it was a place that I could go to problem solve and now every once in a while I will go on there and maybe like answer somebody else's question or just say like I know exactly what you're talking about I've gone through the same exact thing I've felt that way too and you know it's it's not uncommon you're not alone and also here's what I've done that has helped me or sometimes it's just You know I haven't found a way to help myself deal with that, but know that you're you're not in it by yourself, you know, and sometimes that helps to have like that sense of community. And then I guess the other thing is kind of what we've already said, like as you get older and you find more ways to to control your environment and make it more livable. I think it gets better and just. you know, the internet is a valuable tool and resource. You can literally just say like, how do I soundproof my door? And it gives you, it gives you ideas. And so I think just breaking it down into smaller specific issues that you need to solve instead of just like, how do I deal with it? You know, it's like, okay, this thing is bothering me. Let me try to do some research and figure out how I can help myself feel better about this one part of it or, you know, and kind of just break it down into smaller chunks is, is the way that I feel like I've had the most success.

Adeel [49:07]: I think this is some of the best advice I've heard actually on the podcast. Yeah. Breaking things down into chunks and not just kind of throwing your hands up. That's, that's key. I mean, that's a great strategy. Yeah. Not, I mean, I think people underestimate that, you know, how much they can, I mean, everyone knows the internet has everything, but like, yeah, you, you can basically figure, get tips on how to soundproof it, do all kinds of things to kind of make your life a little bit better. And it takes, you know, what, a few minutes of watching a video or listening to a podcast or something. Um, yeah, that's, that's key. And I think people don't take advantage of enough. And, uh, and the thing is like we talked about earlier, um, yeah, as you get older, take control of your environment. Um, um, you, you'll have that opportunity, but, uh, yeah do something you love do something you know you want to do keep your options open and um And you'll find that that'll at least hopefully reduce your stress level, having more control. And then stress, as we all know, is a huge catalyst. So it's just another way to kind of like to kind of help things out a bit. But at the same time, like we also talked about earlier, don't let your guard down too much because you'll feel like a knife falling on your head if you're not, you know,

Erica [50:25]: conscious at some level so yeah i would say also just one more thing is not to be afraid to talk to tell somebody or to ask them you know it's just not i know that we like feel guilt and feel shame and feel embarrassed and feel like oh it's so irrational that this thing is bothering me i can't possibly tell somebody to to change what they're doing but Honestly, you have nothing to lose. And if this person just says no or looks at you like you have three heads, you know, you're still where you started. You're probably no worse off. And if you get in the habit of saying something, just like sharing what you need with somebody, you'll get better at it. It'll become easier for you. It'll become less uncomfortable. And it will make your life so much easier. And you kind of will get used to it. And yeah, you just become more comfortable like asking for what you need. And I think it's worth it. I think it's worth it to go through like a bit of that like uncomfortable period until it just becomes more natural. Yeah. you can live your life better.

Adeel [51:45]: Then hopefully become, yeah, maybe reflexive. And it's just like, yeah, it's just what I do.

Erica [51:49]: It's just practice.

Adeel [51:51]: How do you, how do you kind of word it usually to people? I mean, you might, I know we probably talked about it earlier, but yeah, it's good to hear that again. Kind of, is there kind of a, you know, a few things you try to get out in the open first?

Erica [52:04]: Yeah. I mean, I just, I can just like, say i just say like i have this i miss when you shut the fuck up sometimes what do you want to say yeah for sure i mean if again if it's like a stranger or somebody that i'm going to be around for like an hour or a couple minutes or something like i'm not going to say something to them so you have to choose you have to kind of choose your battles right but if there's someone that you you know like you're going to see every day or even you're going to see for an hour a week and if you don't say something, you're going to dread this interaction with them for a long time. That's the kind of person that it's worth saying something to. You can just say like, yeah, I'm like, or, you know, when I'm searching for apartments or something, I've just gotten used to saying like, I'm really sensitive to sound. You know, these are the sounds that bother me. And yeah, so I'm looking for like a really quiet environment or I'm looking for like a quieter roommate or, I don't want to share walls with people, just being specific. If I'm going out to eat with somebody, I mean, there are some people who I just will not go out to eat with. I won't go out to eat with my dad. You can't force me. I won't do it. But if I were to go out with somebody who I know is going to trigger me, or maybe I don't know ahead of time, you know, I could maybe say something, but in that kind of situation, it might just be easier to like slip in your plugin. And then if they say something about it, you could, I could explain or, you know, or just, or just not, but I think it's just, I can either say I'm really sensitive to sound and just put it like that. Or I can go through the whole explanation of like, If they're interested, if I think that they're going to take the time to listen to me and try to understand what I'm telling them, then I can say, like, I have this condition. This is what it's called. My body has a physiological response to it. I get really anxious and I have like a fight or flight response. And, you know, some people find it interesting and some people are willing to help you and work with you and some people aren't. And you just have to kind of feel that out.

Adeel [54:16]: Yeah, the judgment call. Hopefully you have the intuition, but like you said, if you just kind of keep doing it, it'll come with practice. Yeah. That's great. Well, I almost don't want to end because I feel like there's more nuggets of information that will come out. But this has been great. Erica, this is super helpful. Great talking to you today.

Erica [54:38]: Yeah, thank you. And thank you so much for putting this together because it really, you know, I contacted you after listening to just a couple of episodes because I just thought, I never get to have these conversations. Like, literally, I can probably count on two hands like the number of conversations that i've really had with somebody who understood and it deals with this kind of stuff so i just was listening to the episode and kept on wanting to like jump in and say like oh me too or like yeah and and um so So thank you for doing this because I feel like it will help people feel less alone with what they're dealing with.

Adeel [55:17]: Yeah, I hope so. Of course, I appreciate hearing that. And yeah, like you said, I mean, the Facebook groups are great. I think we all find it great, at least at the beginning. And then they just kind of seem, you know, you obviously want to help people, but they're just kind of like, you know, you just hear a few sentences. So you don't really get to kind of... delve into the backgrounds of people. And this is kind of one of the reasons I wanted to do this. And also the, even to the conventions, those conversations that you have with people, you know, before sessions, after sessions, lunch, that's when I find the most interesting that you can kind of connect with people, hear about their backgrounds, but also kind of like, you know, um you know you don't have to explain it it's like it's just nice to talk to somebody who you just don't have to explain everything even though we've talked for an hour but um you know yeah we we kind of there's but we didn't have to talk about like the fundamentals of it right so how do you spell misothonia no yeah we exactly right um a little cool um well yeah thanks again erica yeah thank you Thank you, Erica. Some really insightful stuff, I thought. If you're enjoying the shows, please consider hitting the five stars on Apple iTunes. Music, as always, is by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and quiet.