Jon - Unique Insights from Alaska

S1 E9 - 1/8/2020
This episode of the podcast features an intriguing conversation with John, a high school teacher and doctoral candidate living in remote Alaska, who offers a unique perspective on misophonia. His journey with misophonia began only a couple of years ago, well into adulthood, triggered by a period of intense stress and anxiety following the birth of his second child. The constant state of vigilance and tiptoeing around the house to keep noise levels down, combined with the challenges of postpartum complications and anxiety episodes in his wife, heightened John's sensitivity to sound. He shares how managing his daughter's attention-seeking behaviors and sensitivities around eating contributed to his growing awareness of sound. Throughout the episode, John delves into ways he's learned to manage his triggers, including the benefits of having an understanding family, employing techniques like humming to mask triggering sounds, and contemplating the role of environmental factors like a nearby oil drilling operation and its low-frequency hum. John's reflections offer valuable insights into coping mechanisms, the impact of environmental sounds on misophonia, and the importance of understanding one's personal triggers.


Adeel [0:01]: Hello, and welcome to the Misfonia podcast. This is episode 9. My name is Adeel Ahmad, and I have Misfonia. This week I'm talking to John, who lives all the way up in a remote part of Alaska. I thought this was just a fascinating conversation, probably because John's origin story for Misfonia is very different from what we're used to hearing. His symptoms began just a couple years ago, well into adulthood. He's a teacher and a researcher, and he's spending a lot of his extra time over the last two years learning about misophonia, and he's got some interesting new insights that I hadn't thought of or even heard of before. As always, hit me up via email at hello at or on social media. Lots of free podcast stickers are still available, so please keep sending me your mailing address. All right, now let's get started with my conversation with John. Welcome, John. I'm glad to have you here on the podcast. Thank you. Thank you for having me. So, uh, yeah, first I guess, uh, maybe tell me, tell me a little bit about where you are located.

Jon [1:06]: I am in, uh, South central Alaska, the banana belts, if you will, where it still hasn't really frozen yet, which is surprising because so many of the, you know, the Eastern and Midwestern states are a lot colder than us right now.

Adeel [1:24]: Um, What temperature are you at right now? We're right about freezing. I'm in Minnesota. We're about 32 Fahrenheit.

Jon [1:33]: Let me check. Because I teach online, I've got dual monitors going on here. Oh, yeah. Click over. 34 degrees, it says. Okay.

Adeel [1:43]: I have four today. Yeah, we're colder. Barely, but yeah, we're colder. All right. Now that we got our weather small talk out of the way, so what do you do? You were telling me earlier that you're in online education. Are you a teacher? Are you on staff?

Jon [1:59]: I teach high school English. I also kind of design courses and I only teach part-time because I'm also working on a doctorate in educational technology. So kind of like trying to, you know, really pursue that whole online course design thing. That's really kind of where, not necessarily by choice, but that's where a lot of things have just led me. And because, you know, when you're doing like a graduate degree and teaching at the same time, it only makes sense to do your projects on courses that you are designing so you can kind of double dip in a way. Right. And so I've been doing a ton of research starting my dissertation this semester, actually.

Adeel [2:53]: Yeah.

Jon [2:55]: And... And I'm more interested in the psychology of motivation, things like that, and how we can use course designs to most appeal to people's intrinsic motivation, or at least what we call an integrated motivation. as opposed to like, oh, I've got to do this to get a credit. We want people to actually want to be educated.

Adeel [3:26]: I've talked to a bunch of students already, and at least one of them is doing online education. And we touched on a little bit how one of the motivations might be actually misophonia and not sitting in a class where everyone's eating something because no one's eating meals anymore. They're just waiting for class to start eating. Is that kind of part of the equation in what you're studying?

Jon [3:53]: Well, it wasn't. And maybe it could be a focus of future research. Because I kind of started this doing the basic coursework because I really only got symptoms, I'd call it, about two years ago, which is kind of when I was finishing up being a classroom teacher. And I'm...

Adeel [4:18]: very very fortunate to not be a classroom teacher anymore because i would not be able to handle that um yeah exactly and and so yeah so a lot of people i mean a lot of people i've i've talked to you like they're uh well you know as i'm sure you know you've been uh researching on reddit but a lot of the system system symptoms start around you know middle school, pre-puberty time. I'm fascinated by your symptoms having started a couple of years ago. Do you know what those first triggers were? Can you correlate it to anything?

Jon [4:51]: I did think about it and it definitely coincided with some serious things. And that was, we just had our second child. And our first child was already like five years old and was kind of very much used to being an only child. And used to getting all the attention, consequently. And so we were having some... I'll call them postpartum complications, you know, hormonally induced things that were giving my wife a lot of trouble and manifesting itself in kinds of anxiety, panic attack type episodes. And we were kind of just really just walking on eggshells for months and months because, you know, the baby crying could be a trigger So if the baby has just gone to sleep for the night and something wakes her up, there goes the night. And that might mean for me that I have to kind of take over depending on how my wife's feeling. Same thing if it's like afternoon and the baby's gone down for a nap. If anything wakes her up, watch out. I mean, the baby crying itself can be a trigger, but... I, as I started to think about it, I realized that I was, you know, and we were all kind of in a bit of a survival mode. I mean, obviously we weren't literally struggling to survive, but just being under that kind of stress and anxiety and stuff and just like, oh, you know, let's not have, you know, more panic attack type episodes, any anxiety type stuff where... You know, it really, it, I don't know. I should have rehearsed this or something, but it was a very difficult time. And because I was hypervigilant to sound, period. You know, we don't want to make any sound. We're just completely quiet if the baby's asleep. So I was just hypervigilant, not wanting, you know, just shutting the door super gently, just everything, just on tiptoe, no matter what I was doing around the house. And it's a small house. We tend to have small houses around here because they're easier to heat. Easier to keep warm probably. So that's great for being easier to heat in the winter. It's not so great when you're trying to avoid waking the baby because you don't know what's going to happen if the baby wakes up and freaks out because she wasn't an easy baby around that age anyway. you know, with the teething and colicky-ness. Colicky, yeah. What ended up happening is, I mean, obviously, yes, I'm hypervigilant to sound, period. But, you know, my other child being five years old... not used to not having all the attention, would just do things in order to get attention, the attention they were used to receiving. And so that could be any number of sounds that end up becoming triggers that were like, do you really have to be making that sound right now? And it builds and it builds. And one in particular is just the clucking tongue, which I'm sure... I'm sure that is a sound that really does it for a lot of people. And I found that some sounds do and some sounds don't. And, you know, commonly it's mouth sounds. And, you know, if she's eating an orange in my vicinity, it's going to be problematic. Or if anybody's eating an orange in my vicinity at this point. But I don't think... compared to many people, I don't think that our situation is, is too bad because I've talked to her about it. She understands and it doesn't. You're a daughter. Yeah. Yeah. She's seven now, but, and, and she understands. And that doesn't mean that she, that it's always present in her mind. I mean, she'll still do things and I may just have to leave the room or plug my ears or, you know, that type of thing. But that if I mention it to her and try to do it in a calm and polite way, then she's, oh yeah, sorry, I forgot. And I think she gets it. So that's nice. I find that not a lot of sounds outside of the house are really much of an issue. I did have some problems at a... at a work meeting a couple of weeks back because I was in close proximity. We have four times a year. We're all in the room around the oval table. And I had on the drive up because it's actually because of where we live. It took me like an hour and a half to drive there to get to the meeting. And I got stuck behind a school bus for part of that time. So I was late. And they had saved me a seat at the table. And it was a seat between two people who... Well, one of them has a very distinct timbre to her voice and also has a very high volume to her voice. And so I, at one point, you know, because... you know while okay so i i would say i have misophonia because of you know select few sounds but i there are also other things and and i know that a lot of other people have concurrent issues with you know like like myself also synesthesia or other kinds of auditory synesthesia That's what you associate. It's basically when your senses kind of get crossed. You might associate visual things with certain sounds or sounds with visual things. Okay, I thought that was mesokinesia. Maybe I'm just getting my terms confused. Maybe that's a new term for it. I don't know. I haven't heard that one yet.

Adeel [11:42]: But you're talking about visual triggers.

Jon [11:45]: No, not a visual trigger thing. The most common type is like people associate the letter a with the color red and that is um and synesthesia is when you like you see a letter and it puts a color in your head that's the most common i actually i actually don't have that type mine is uh i do actually have number associations but i also have it's more of a musical um synesthesia and and you know i've read up on this as well and and and i've noted that there that a lot of people have both uh synesthesia and misophonia because they there was speculation that they kind of used some of the same or similar types of neural pathways but what happens in this in synesthesia is um of course i don't know everything about it it's it's still being researched but it's it's not necessarily a conscious thing but people use it as a way of helping their memory or making learning easier and so like when people have those alphabet magnets on their fringe which, which some researchers speculate is the cause of many people's synesthesia is the A is always red and the B is always, I don't know, orange or something.

Adeel [13:10]: I don't know because I think I have those downstairs somewhere.

Jon [13:13]: Yeah. And so, and so what happens is somebody has starts associating the color with the letter as a way of helping you remember what that letter is. So it's, it's kind of a learning aid. And so for me, um, Yeah, and there are a lot of different kinds of synesthesia, but for me, it's mostly musical. Because when I was in college, for a couple of years, I majored in music theory and composition. And as we were getting really, really deep into music theory and just tonal harmony and things, I started to associate different chord types and chord names with colors, the color that that chord feels like a certain color to me. And so if I hear a certain song or if I'm writing a song or playing a song, different chords, chord progressions, and even musical keys have a distinct color palette. where I might have a song or hear a song where it's got lots of two, three, and six chords music. Some musicians will know what I'm talking about. And that might, to me, have a very blue and purple palette, whereas stuff written in the key of D major with major chords will have a more yellow-green palette and on and on. So I think... And I think usually when people make these associations, it's an unconscious thing. But I think what I was doing when I was learning that is I was trying to find a way to remember which kinds of chords, which keys, which progressions evoked those kinds of feelings, if you know what I mean. I found that I also... kind of pretty much at the same time, started to, so while there may be specific sounds that are triggers for me, I also started to be unable to process like more than one sound at a time. So I started to get, and that's, and more so than the misophonia, that's why I'm really glad I'm not a classroom teacher anymore. Because when I have competing sounds, especially ones of different timbre and different character, I just can't. I just can't. I just can't process. And so I was sitting there at this meeting between two people with very unique timbres to their voices and just different volumes and speech patterns, and they were not in harmony, if you know what I mean. And I just sat there at the table, and I literally plugged my ears when they were talking. And I don't think that anybody noticed because everybody was so involved in their own conversations at this point that I just sat there with plugged ears and my boss was right across the table from me. He never said anything. And I don't think he even noticed because he was looking this way and looking that way.

Adeel [16:29]: Right. Yeah. Yeah. You know, I've heard it was it you think it's a matter of I know there are some people who like they I guess they have trouble like if they're in a large room, they can hear conversations going on everywhere at roughly the same volume. Maybe not exactly the same volume, but it's hard for them to. to um distinguish like i guess what you're talking about distinguish between different the different sounds and conversations in a room and it kind of drives them crazy um i've heard one therapy for that is which i don't recommend necessarily is to kind of like listen to a loud music for a long time and just kind of like dead in um and this is he's actually a licensed therapist giving this advice um to just kind of like numb the ears a little bit to to kind of like

Jon [17:16]: I guess I have well and I have read somewhere that if you listen to music for I think 45 minutes was the if you listen to music for 45 minutes it kind of just dulls your senses period

Adeel [17:31]: Gotcha.

Jon [17:32]: Which I could understand. For me, it's not that hard to avoid those situations because they don't happen very often, at least not anymore, because I work in an office by myself with noise-canceling headphones. But I was watching a video on YouTube recently, and the music in the video itself... And it could have been the way that it was panned. And I've noticed that a couple of times with other songs. If things are panned in a weird way from left to right and right to left, that really I can't take it if I'm wearing headphones. But just there was something about the different timbres within a single piece of music that I just had to stop watching the video. Because there was... Was it synthesized? It was a percussion instrument in particular that I don't know I honestly don't know what it was about it, but I was just like, oop, stop. I can't watch it.

Adeel [18:32]: Do you know what the instrument was?

Jon [18:35]: It was something kind of piercing. It might have been like a woodblock kind of thing. Maybe it was slightly metallic. I don't know. Because I didn't listen to it for very long, and I didn't go back to it either.

Adeel [18:48]: Interesting. I mean, I'm a musician as well. So it's just fascinating to hear how you describe, you obviously can describe sounds on a much deeper level than most people. So it's interesting to hear how you've kind of thought about how your senses can process.

Jon [19:04]: And while I may get kind of sensory overload issues at times, typically music doesn't, cause any problems to me because most music that you listen to it's it's it's all meant to work together it's all you know roughly in harmony I haven't really I can't say that I've listened to much like noise rock or or anything or anything atonal or um anything microtonal either If I'm used to hearing your standard harmonies, that's what I continue to hear. Not a lot of pitch bending and things like that.

Adeel [19:48]: Do you use music as a mask?

Jon [19:53]: I definitely do. I do have some go-to pieces on my iTunes on my laptop or iPod. We have an old like the first generation of the, I touched iPod. I got to, you know, if I'm going to be like on the exercise bike or something, I'll put that on, but I do have some go-to pieces, you know, either, uh, some of them are, I, you, you call it classical. Some of them are kind of more modern indie rock kind of stuff, but definitely more tonal, definitely very tonal, uh,

Adeel [20:34]: Right, right. All the layers of sounds match. That's what I'm used to. So then you have headphones pretty much at all times?

Jon [20:43]: Yeah, at work I've got these, and at home I have kind of a similar pair that they aren't as good at noise cancelling, but they have very good sound quality. And they're kind of puffy around the ears, but I've used them for like 15 years now, and they're just kind of starting to lose their puffiness.

Adeel [21:03]: Um, any, any other, uh, yeah, any other, I don't know, do you use any other mechanism? Um, some people have, do you pump white noise at all or brown noise or anything into your ears? Um, or you know enough music probably that you, you got, I don't do white noise really.

Jon [21:19]: I, if I'm going to, I guess maybe, maybe it's a model that if I'm going to drown something out, um, Well, and I guess some people like white noise just as background. But if I'm going to have headphones on, it's going to be like something I like hearing. Right, right, right, right.

Adeel [21:37]: And so let's talk about your office space there. So you got that hum next to you, but you got your headphones on. Do people come barging in? Very rarely.

Jon [21:49]: Very rarely. Well, and usually my door is open, but my office is adjacent to the library. So it's always very quiet in there for the most part. although there are many musical instruments in there. And there is a student that likes to come in and play piano sometimes. And sometimes... Oh, there's a piano room? It's just the library itself. It's also kind of the music room. It's a very small community school. It's like they multi... People wear lots of hats and so do rooms, I suppose. And I find if I'm listening to something on my headphones and he starts playing piano, I just have to pause it because I can't focus on the...

Adeel [22:33]: It's going to be a little dissonant.

Jon [22:36]: But for the most part, when I'm in my office and when I'm working, there is pretty much constantly something on, whether it's music. When I grew up, I was a very avid skateboarder. And I've actually recently started getting back into that, which is fantastic stress relief exercise, all kinds of great things for me in that sense. But YouTube is full of really well done skate videos that don't have sound, don't have music, I mean. So I like to have like playlists of these, you know, they call them like rough cuts. where what i'm hearing as white noise is the sound of rolling and then the pop of the tail and then maybe grinding along something so they are it's a unique set of environmental sounds that to somebody who grew up skateboarding and who i i have nothing but like fond memories of these sounds and nothing but positive associations having these skate videos just playing as a perpetual playlist is, it is my white noise, I guess. You know, I say I don't use white noise, but I use that as white noise. I don't know if it qualifies.

Adeel [23:59]: You know, interesting. So the rolling of the wheels on pavement and starting and stopping and dropping, it's almost like a reverse misophonia for you.

Jon [24:10]: it's the sounds that started that sounds that you associated from when you were around middle school puberty but have a positive yeah and you can use that it's just they are to me the sounds are music like i love it like and so that's a so typically if my headphones are on it's music or it's that kind of white noise so yeah so i mean when i look at you know forums or places where people are talking about the misophonia i know that i struggle from time to time but i also feel so lucky to have the job that i do where this is my work situation and i

Adeel [24:55]: on such rare occasions do i ever have issues at work got it yeah and that's where you spent most of your time and you probably need to be the most focused so that's that's great yeah i mean i'm a software developer too so a lot of software companies they will just give employees headphones whether they have misfire or not it's just something that they do and um people give open office environments a lot of, a lot of crap, which I think we all should, we should all kind of jump on that bandwagon, whether they, they're doing, you know, people are, are kind of cooping on it because it's funny or not.

Jon [25:29]: They don't necessarily, we're supposed to encourage collaboration, but that doesn't necessarily. Right.

Adeel [25:37]: No, that's like a, yeah, it's kind of a superficial way of trying to promote collaboration. But in those environments, people tend to wear a lot of headphones. So that's kind of the good thing. And those environments tend to be now they're kind of a mixed spaces. So they'll have little booths and little phone booths and little breakout rooms. So yeah, whatever works. Being a student I heard is challenging, but there are, at least it's a few years in most cases.

Jon [26:12]: Yeah, I was just trying to imagine being in a situation and, you know, I have not been, like I did my master's degree entirely online. So I don't know what it's like. And I don't know if at, you know, how popular the lecture hall thing still is, but I could imagine like what I would do is I would, I would just, I would have my laptop and I'd have headphones and I would get a really good like directional mic. And if somebody who's up there lecturing and I don't want to get the sounds of all the people around me, I'd have the headphones canceling that out. And I'd have that microphone, you know, pointed at that person and I would sit in the front row, whatever, you know, just to, so I could,

Adeel [26:57]: That's a great tip. Anyone listening, a good directional mic pointing right at the... That could be placed even if you happen to be not sitting in an ideal spot. You can put the microphone in an eye right at the front and have it directionally point right at the professor.

Jon [27:13]: Just because then you could be kind of canceling out all... Well, not all, but as much of the extraneous noise as possible and just focusing in. And if you're running it through your laptop, you could also be you know, you could always be recording it for, for later reference and things like that. So.

Adeel [27:31]: Hey, I think if schools should maybe just do that across the board and, and, uh, for that as a, uh, that's relatively cheap way to kind of, um, help out, help out some students that are suffering. I mean, or a student could do it and maybe an enterprising student can sell it to them. Yes.

Jon [27:48]: Um, lecture hall survival kit, you know, like, right, right. And, That's a great tip. And even, let's see, when I was doing undergrad, that was like early 2000s. I didn't have that many classes that were like, you know, big, big lecture hall situations. It's mostly kind of classroom size. And actually I did, I did my undergrad in geography with environmental studies focus. And so, so a lot of, a lot of classes, we were at computer stations doing GIS stuff. um or we were but a lot of the times even then you know we were just at individual computer stations and uh most people were kind of just focused so but uh not every not every school is going to be like that I imagine that high school would be a lot worse because you would have to... And having been a high school classroom teacher and a middle school classroom teacher in the past, and from the teacher side of things, depending on where you are, depending on the group of students you have, and you've got classroom management to worry about, where you don't want to grant something, special things for one or two students that everybody else is going to want. And then that's going to create social problems. Well, why can't I have headphones on? You know, if he can have headphones on. Because you're eating your stupid idiot. And I don't know if you have to have it in the DSM to have it be something. What's the DSM? The official book. It's the book that if you have a diagnosable thing, it's in the DSM. And so to get special education um accommodations i don't know i'm not a special ed teacher i've had to you know sit in on a bunch of iep meetings in the past where different students with different issues get to have different accommodations and there's a lot of students that like let's say they've got such and such problem they're allowed to use speech to text in certain kinds of assignments or they're allowed to use audio books or they're allowed to do this or allowed to do that, depending on what their learning disability is. And I don't know, and it might vary from district to district or state to state, but I would imagine that in a lot of places, if you had a you know official diagnosis you know which maybe maybe people have a hard time getting that for misophonia um but if you had that and you took it to your school's special education department and said listen you know i've got this issue i'd like you know to see if we can work on some accommodations that you know most most special ed teachers are eager to help in situations like that and of course there's the obviously the stigma of being considered special ed if it if it makes all that different i mean people could be special ed for having hearing impairment and that doesn't mean they're not intelligent people or anything like that it's just just what they've got um or vision impaired or cerebral palsy or you know all kinds of things i've seen i've seen students with cerebral palsy operate a computer this is back i was working part-time in schools as an undergrad to pay for college and i remember working with this cerebral palsy kid who using his head to manipulate a wand next to his head which controlled his computer he you know he was in middle school and he aced his spelling test just like that like way faster than all those classmates You know, because he had a really, he was a really smart kid. He just wasn't able to express it in normal ways. But, so back to what I was saying, is if you have a diagnosis, I imagine that a special ed teacher department would be eager to get you those accommodations. Because not only is it like in, it's in everybody's best interest, especially... And this is where things might get a little bit tricky. But in virtually every state, you have big standardized tests usually towards the end of the school year. a lot of schools are eager to get any student that really needs accommodations like you know speech to text or something like that to really make sure those students have those accommodations for that test because if the results of that test gets skewed you know let's say that test doesn't really show what that student knows and the test scores end up being lower simply because that student didn't have an accommodation then that makes the school look bad, right? Their school rating goes down. I mean, depending on the kind of school system. That's funding. I mean, it's connected to lots of things. So, you know, I would advise anybody in, you know, especially, you know, I imagine it wouldn't matter if it's public or private school, but I imagine that any student in, you know, K through 12 education, talk to your special ed department, talk about getting accommodations. Because they want you to have accommodations if you need them. Because that's only going to... In the long run, it's going to make that school look better. And not in an artificial way. It's not like it's going to... It's not like it's going to make your test scores higher. It's just going to make them more accurate. Right.

Adeel [34:11]: Levels the playing field a bit. Yeah, it makes it more accurate. That's a good point. Hopefully educators or administrators... I think that...

Jon [34:21]: There's much that can be done, you know, especially in schools. If they are high trigger areas for people, this is something that could be easily done. And most people, like, listen, I can provide my own headphones. Like, the school doesn't even need to buy them for me. Just let me wear them, you know? Right, right, right.

Adeel [34:44]: And at your school, so as a, not as a, well, I guess you're kind of a student. Did you get accommodations where you're working now or you've kind of self regulated yourself into your environment?

Jon [34:56]: We don't have, I guess in some of the earlier classes that I was taking, we would have synchronous live meetings where everybody's kind of in the same online meeting room at the same time and you're talking about this or that. I find that when you're in When you're doing like a graduate program and these are all kind of slightly older adults, they tend to be a little more conscientious and people, if it's not your turn to speak, you have your mute button on. So I didn't really have any issues, but it's also such an easily controlled environment for you as a participant to just take your headphones off. if too many people are talking at the same time or if somebody's microphone is, if somebody is eating, eating soup while they're doing it or something.

Adeel [35:50]: Oh God. Oh, good. Yeah. Well, yes. Well, speaking of eating and whatnot, I'm sure you have friends outside of school and work. Have you talked to, like, how is your, you know, have you talked to anybody else?

Jon [36:11]: I have talked, I have kind of, I did mention it at one point kind of in the staff lunchroom year. Like, oh, you know, I've got a couple of auditory processing issues that they're actually new, you know, but it's sometimes, you know, sometimes I just have to plug my ears. Don't be offended.

Adeel [36:31]: Yeah, okay. No, that's a direct point.

Jon [36:34]: And, you know, like, we have... No, I mean, we have just positive... Um, we have very positive relationships, uh, just the, the people in this building. So, um, because it is, like I said, a small community, kind of small school. So, um, there's, there's no room for being catty or anything like that. It's just, everybody's pretty supportive. And I usually, what I do is I just, I just go in there and keep my lunch up and bring it to my office typically.

Adeel [37:05]: I was also a desk eater too. Now I work from home. Early on when I was doing internships, I didn't understand why I hated eating in groups. I just always thought that my coworkers at the time were super boring, but I think it was a little bit more than that.

Jon [37:26]: I don't know if you saw, because I did see on the Reddit group a few weeks back, somebody from... what was it, King's College London, I think, was doing a really in-depth survey. Yeah, I haven't done that yet. And they actually contacted me for follow-up. I need to remind myself to email that guy. But some of the, well, I mean, it was very informative in one sense because it kind of gave me ideas of what other people go through and having to gauge my own uh reactions to things and then the way the questions were phrased also had things like you know um the way the questions are free suggested that a lot of people attach it to manners and politeness and like and and i try i try not to do that but i I do find myself, maybe around the house, if it's my daughter eating an orange, for example, it's like, I think I told you about this before. It's good manners in general to eat with your mouth closed.

Adeel [38:54]: Yeah, I definitely make that association. And maybe that's one way to, without smothering her with the misophonia of baggage, trying to suggest that or trying to promote.

Jon [39:07]: And I really do. I try to be as patient and understanding as I can. And I think, you know, like I said, compared to I think what most people go through, I have a pretty good situation apart from having a small house. That's like that's my only my only real bummer.

Adeel [39:25]: Did your wife also pick up a misophonia during during that time or was it totally different situations? And for you, it was a misophonia.

Jon [39:34]: For her, she had some different things. Different things, okay, yeah. And that's been improving too. I mean, it's something that I think we're both slowly working out of. It was just a very traumatic time in general. and it's it's i find that i think i am getting a little bit better the more aware i am and if i can be um i'm not sure what the right word is but if i can be conscious of it as it's happening and try to kind of just talk myself through and kind of just try to be in control like you know this is not intentional you know this is you know these are people that you you know whether it may be in the lunchroom at the school or at home it's like these are these are people that like you that want you that don't you know want you to feel like this and and i I find the more that I do that, the more it works. It's not instantaneous, but I think I feel like I'm getting in greater control where I don't, if I, you know, of course I can always plug my ears or leave the room or cover it up. But I think if I want to test myself and see if I can endure it, I think I can, but it does require that, that kind of metacognition thing of, you know, this is what's happening. and these are the people you're with, and they are not intending to do this, and, you know, it's just a sound.

Adeel [41:18]: You know, just try to... Yeah, and people talk about... Yeah, people also talk about in those situations where, you know, if people are eating, well, lunch will be over in about 20, 30 minutes if I can just kind of get through there. It's all good on the other side. I can retreat back to my cave of bliss. Yes. So... And another thing is mimicking, too. I don't know if you've heard of that.

Jon [41:43]: I have, and I did see something about that on that survey. Oh, the survey, yeah. And I don't personally mimic, but what I have done a couple of times is I will... I just, depending on where I am and where I can go, is I will plug my ears in and then I will just hum very loudly. And that humming fills up my head and then I don't hear whatever the problem is. And that's not something I'm going to do at a meeting at work. But in other situations, it's a good temporary thing. It's a good temporary fix for when whatever it is is very loud. Interesting.

Adeel [42:35]: And so you have... Okay, and outside of your family and your work, do you know anybody else out there up in Alaska who's got misophonia outside of people you write about on online forums? I'm just wondering if there's a community or... Not that I know of, but...

Jon [42:55]: know yeah for me it's very new and it's one of those things that people don't talk about generally and i i don't know i mean if anything what i would have to do to find out is is find a group and just make a post like hey anybody else in this area let's make a support group i don't know but

Adeel [43:17]: yeah well i'm sure there's gotta be this is what 30 000 people in that reddit and then there you know thousands on on facebook there's gotta be there's all occasionally post people will do like hey i'm in alaska anybody else here and then or where is where is everybody and then you'll kind of find slowly find your trip i actually set up a uh midwest misophone um group on facebook and slowly people have been finding it and coming into it

Jon [43:43]: Yeah, that did get me thinking about something. Just that if we think about for people that have auditory processing disorders of whatever kind, that I live in an extremely quiet place. and um and that's great but i it's it just caused me to speculate about one thing and this could just be a total coincidence but about five miles away from my house and i can see it line of sight they put up this new um oil drilling rig and for a while they were fracking there And it was way deep fracking. It's not like the kind of fracking they do in North Dakota and Pennsylvania and Texas. It was literally miles deep. But because there's nothing, because my house is kind of slightly elevated on a hill, and there's nothing blocking that sound between that rig and my house. And a lot of times, it's just this background hum. And it just just now got me started thinking that that started at a very similar time to everything else. And I don't know if it was just an extra element to add in to things and compound it. Or if, you know, to have like this kind of constant low-level background hum, well, it's not constant. They actually tend to do it more at night, it seems, or I just notice it more at night. But at times, you know, depending on the conditions, depending on what they're doing, I will be, you know, like sitting on the couch at home, and it sounds like somebody is driving up the road. which being living where we live and having not that many, because we're like the last people to live on this road and not many people ever drive by. So when people come up the road, you can hear them from like a quarter mile away. And so sometimes it just sounds like, like I look out the window, who's driving up the road and nobody comes. And it sounds like this vehicle is like close. And then I step out on the porch and I'm like, Oh, it's the drilling rig.

Adeel [46:17]: Yeah, sure. You think maybe it's tapped into some of the same fight or flight circuitry?

Jon [46:26]: Well, and you know, I'd have to do some research, but the extremely low frequency thing, are you familiar with that? I'm going to look at it. I'm actually going to Google it, like, right now. Low frequency. Yeah, go for it. Okay, well, it's also known as the brown note. It is a... Well, Wiki's telling me it's a hypothetical infrasonic frequency that would cause humans to lose control of their bowels due to resonance.

Adeel [47:02]: So... Ah, the brown note.

Jon [47:05]: So the idea is this... this frequency between says five and nine Hertz that is below the limit of hearing, but it causes you to have physiological reactions. And so what I wonder, because they say that it's that there might be some kind of connection between these super low frequencies and let's say the sound of an approaching elephant stampede or something that is an imminent danger to you know and this could be some sort of sort of um evolutionary memory i suppose you know that that is right And it doesn't happen very often because how often do you hear sounds like that? But the idea is that there are frequencies that create physiological reactions. And you know it if you've got the nails on the chalkboard thing. A lot of people get a physiological reaction to that. And so it makes me wonder, do certain background environmental noises kind of not necessarily cause an auditory processing problem, but kind of make people more susceptible to them.

Adeel [48:34]: Heightened sensitivity. Yeah. Yeah. Your brain is thinking, okay, it's generally a little bit more dangerous now out there because there's this rumbling in the distance. Yeah. Yeah. Yep.

Jon [48:49]: That's interesting. Someone out there. Yeah. That would be a great topic for a future podcast. Yeah.

Adeel [48:55]: Interesting. Yeah. Have you found, is there any other, any other theories that you've, that you've done in your research? It looks like you've in your short, two short years of having this.

Jon [49:04]: Because I am, you know, I'm working on a dissertation and I have access to all the journals out there, even, even medical journals. And because I remember, you know, the last time my wife was pregnant and we had, the baby was in, in breech position and somebody was telling us about, I can't remember what the term is, but basically you burn this stuff between your toes. You put this little stick of stuff between your toes and you light it on fire. I can't remember the term for it, but it's basically wormwood. I don't remember. That's what the substance is anyway. And people were swearing by it, like this stuff works. And people at the local clinic were saying they could do that for us to see if it could get the baby to flip. And I was just like, that's baloney. Like just, you know, burning a stick of incense between your toes. That's like... But anyway, I actually found some legit studies on it, and depending on the kind of study, they're not necessarily doing it on a physiological level, but they can do it as an experiment, see how many people it works for, see if statistically the correlations are significant enough to run your regressions or whatever you're going to do, just to see if... Are the babies flipping because of this stuff that we're burning between your toes? There were very strong correlations in some studies, but I was still skeptical. But anyway, so sometimes I just kind of like, oh, go to the university library. What can I download? I can get it from anywhere. So if somebody, and I have thought about downloading misophonia studies and you know, just sharing them, just, just, you know, putting up PDFs and, but I had noticed that, you know, some pins topics on groups that there's already a lot of that stuff available. Let's basically, somebody has already done that.

Adeel [51:08]: I was curious as to this, this episode might air. I don't know when it's going to air. There's been so many, um, uh, interviews I've done. Uh, so it might be after the holidays, but I'm wondering regardless whether this is before or after the holidays, do you, do you have a lot of family out there? Are you, um,

Jon [51:24]: preparing for the holidays in any misophonia well we typically get together with neighbors um uh usually it's just this one particular neighbor kind of uh guy who's you know he's got no he's got no local family and so he's kind of like our we've kind of adopted him as a father figure kind of person so uh because yeah our our family doesn't live around here but we've got various friends and neighbors that we'll usually do holidays with now in the past it's just usually been like you know three four five of us but this year we're actually doing it at a different neighbor's house and there's going to be even more people there and i hadn't even thought about that but we're i know that's where we're doing thanksgiving and i'm like oh maybe i should Fortunately, it's our nearest neighbors who are about a quarter of a mile away. And I could just walk home pretty easily if I had to.

Adeel [52:22]: Yeah. Well, it sounds like you've got a good handle on ways to cope. Whether it's fingers in your ears.

Jon [52:30]: I'm in a very fortunate situation compared to most people. And I don't have to... I really don't even have to talk about it because it's so easy to deal with. There's very few people that even need to know.

Adeel [52:43]: Yeah, that's interesting. I mean, you're in a good situation, right? There's very few people that even need to know, but it does still bother you. There is definitely... I mean, this is a real thing for you.

Jon [52:54]: I do wonder if I ever do have to bring it up with my boss, which I have thought about because I was wondering if that last meeting, if he'd noticed I was plugging my ears or... next time if i'm late don't sit me next to these two people yeah um because yeah if i had gotten up and left that would have been a lot more disruptive than just sitting there with my ears plugged so right yeah that's if i have to the next people i tell would have to be that gay as far as it's pertinent because other than that, it's pretty good.

Adeel [53:32]: Cool. Yeah, well, thanks, John. I know a lot of people are going to benefit. This has been a fascinating conversation. And you've obviously thought about this a lot, like I said, in your two short years. A lot of insight here. Do you have any other, you know, anything else you want to say to people?

Jon [53:53]: as you know who are just kind of discovering this maybe who are discovering this kind of later in their life like you i i think just you know for me it was uh to just to i think if you can figure out like for me figuring out how it started i think was tremendously important because i i can understand that it's it's not voluntary this is you know this is just your own physiological reaction to some kind of uh I'm not sure if I would call it like trauma. But a lot of times I'll bet it's very closely linked to trauma or something very traumatic. But at the same time... Yeah, kind of like a PTSD. At the same time, I don't know. I don't know what it's like to have it since you're 12. So... It could be... If I had a lot more time to do a lot more research, it would be something that I would like to know more about. So I'll just... For now, I'll just listen to the podcasts and... and gain some information that way yeah there's a well you'll yeah well you'll uh yeah you'll hear a lot of that in the coming weeks for sure well uh yeah and yours is gonna be a great one um so thanks yeah thanks again john well and it's and it's nice to hear you know like i said like taking the survey and just reading it's it's it's just it's great to get as much context as possible and just a wider understanding of of how it functions and myself and other people and just Every little bit helps.

Adeel [55:30]: Great. Well, thank you again. All right.

Jon [55:33]: Thanks a lot.

Adeel [55:34]: I will be listening. Hope you all thought that was as interesting as I did. Please follow the podcast on Facebook or Instagram at Misophonia Podcast. And we're also on Twitter at Misophonia Show. My email again is hello at And this podcast is on the web at Please leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. It really helps reach more people by boosting it. Theme music is by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and quiet.