Laurel - Using art to navigate misophonia's challenges

S1 E18 - 3/11/2020
In this episode, Adeel speaks with Laurel, a college freshman and artist who uses art therapy to cope with her misophonia. The conversation delves into Laurel's childhood, exploring the onset of her misophonia, family loss, and trauma. Laurel recounts how her condition was officially recognized after she experienced social withdrawal and sensitivity to sound, which intensified following her grandmother's diagnosis and subsequent death from cancer. These events, coupled with a challenging home environment, amplified her misophonia. Throughout, Laurel discusses her journey through therapy, both with an audiologist and a mental health therapist, and the realization that stress and certain life events can exacerbate misophonia symptoms. The episode also highlights Laurel's role as a miso mentor, offering insights and encouragement to younger individuals facing similar challenges. Laurel's artwork, inspired by her experiences with misophonia, is also discussed, with specific reference to a self-portrait that visually represents the impact of the condition. The conversation concludes with the importance of creating supportive communities for those with misophonia, emphasizing the need for more openness and positivity within these spaces.


Adeel [0:01]: Welcome to the Misophonia podcast. This is episode 18. My name's Adeel Ahmad, and I have Misophonia. So at the Misophonia convention last fall, there were a number of striking paintings in the lobby inspired by the struggles of dealing with Misophonia. Today, I'm honored to talk to the artist, Laurel, who's actually a college freshman. We talk about her passion for art therapy and how she has used art to help her cope. We dive really deep into her childhood when her miso started. This is a really raw and revealing look at some family loss and family trauma at a young age and how it intertwined with her growing awareness of her own misophonia. We also get into what her therapists worked on with her, how miso has affected school more and more over the years. And also her role now as a sort of miso mentor to help younger folks coming up deal with their struggles. I think we should all aspire to be good miso mentors. You can check out her Instagram for photos I took of her art at our Instagram, Misophonia Podcast. But you should also follow her on Instagram at actions.that.echo. That's actions that echo with some dots in the middle. You can check out our show notes for a link. Anyways, here's my conversation with Laurel. Laurel, welcome to the podcast. Good to have you here.

Laurel [1:26]: Thank you so much for having me. Good to be here.

Adeel [1:30]: Great, great. Actually, how did you find out about the podcast? I'm always curious.

Laurel [1:34]: Oh, I think we met at the Misophonia Convention, and you got my email, so you emailed me.

Adeel [1:41]: Yes, right, right, right, of course. Okay, and you're based in Denver, I believe, right?

Laurel [1:46]: Yes, I am. Well, I'm living in Durango right now for school, but I'm from Denver.

Adeel [1:52]: Got it. And I believe you did the amazing artwork that was in the lobby area?

Laurel [1:57]: Yes, yeah, thank you.

Adeel [1:59]: So I guess, yeah, how long have you known you've had Misophonia?

Laurel [2:03]: um it's been about it's 2019 right okay it's been about like five years i i was about 14 when i was diagnosed 13 14 kind of that age so it's actually hasn't been that long so was that like an official diagnosis from yeah yeah i remember i remember my dad um uh that summer i had like been super anti-social and sound was really bothering me um I didn't know what it was. I just felt like an alien. But I remember like walking into the living room and he was just like, whoa, guess what? Guess what your mom found? And he was like, oh yeah, we found misophonia. So that's kind of how we came to know the name. But then we got in contact with Dr. Patty, who was the only audiologist in Colorado who knew about misophonia and could like diagnose it. was diagnosed i don't remember the date but it was like right before school started my eighth grade year which was like 2014. and dr patty was the one uh i think she was presenting at the she was gonna have a keynote at the convention i believe yeah she was um she's like one of the audiologists yeah so she's um she's awesome i love her yeah that's great and so you've been working with her since then for like five years now Yeah, basically. I've also been working with a therapist, Dee Dee Woodman, who was supposed to be at the convention, but she got sick.

Adeel [3:35]: Did it come on all of a sudden that summer, or was it something that was kind of creeping up and you just weren't sure what to call it?

Laurel [3:45]: Yeah, well, I feel like memory-wise, misophonia has messed with my memory as far as, like, what happened when I was younger.

Adeel [3:53]: Oh, how so?

Laurel [3:54]: Yeah. I don't know. It's just, like, I feel like when I was younger, I could remember things. Like, when I was, like, 13 or whatever before I really, like, was diagnosed with misophonia, I felt like, you know, oh, I'm fine. Like, this is great. I can remember everything. And, like, in fact, I would, like, annoy my friends by having, like, specific details of, like, what happened in the past. But then after I had misophonia, I think my brain was spending so much time working on coping and like, you know, just being triggered in general that it, I don't know, some of those memories, I'm sure I still have them, but it just takes like effort for me to like dig them out. So I'd say like looking back on my life, I think I've like, I've probably always had it just because I'm like a sensitive person in general. but I'd say it like really came to light that summer because my grandma was diagnosed with cancer actually. So it was kind of like, you know, in the conference when it was talking about like trauma and stuff as one of the causes or correlations to like, you know, how it can be misdiagnosed. Well, I think, so I think my first, like it first kind of getting worse, you know, cause the whole summer I was being very like, um, dissociative and not wanting to deal with the situation because she was in hospice. So she, she was in a hospice at our house. Sorry, I didn't, I didn't explain that, but she was in hospice at our house. So then, um, uh, when she passed, uh, I was woken up pretty early by my mom. And so I watched her die. And I think some of the noises that were involved in that triggered my misophonia to be at the level it is now. But that's just kind of something I've talked with my therapist about because The more I get to know my misophonia in a sense, the more I'm like, oh, maybe this is why it occurred. I think it was just a conglomerate of things, me going through puberty and me having to deal with something very heavy and then having a rough home situation. So I think it was a lot of stress.

Adeel [6:06]: Yeah, I mean, you know, we all know how stress exacerbates these things. And from that summer, did triggers start to expand to other types of triggers? Did it start to just kind of grow?

Laurel [6:19]: Yeah, yeah. So after seventh grade, I cut my hair, weirdly enough. I just remember that being a factor into change of life. I cut into a pixie cut from it being really long. And I remember at least That was after my grandma was diagnosed. So I cut my hair and donated it. And then that summer, as she was going through her hospital situation and slowly degrading in a sense, I was watching her do that. At the same time, I didn't really go outside at all. And I couldn't be around my parents or my family for more than 10 minutes. I was like always down in the basement and I noticed that like whenever I was around my mom, it was like really like angering me. Like I had a lot of anger issues. I would lash out, like I would hit my mom, uh, which I'm not proud of, but unfortunately that's kind of what happened.

Adeel [7:17]: Yeah. Well you're dealing with stuff and you weren't sure what to do.

Laurel [7:20]: Yeah, for sure. And then, um, it really, like after I was diagnosed, I think I started like connecting the whole, Oh, it's like what I'm hearing. Because when I was in class, I noticed that at least when I had my seashells on, I noticed it was so much better. And it only really bothered me when kids would do certain things. So I had this like friend group that I had known for a while and they were super awesome. But eighth grade, you know, everyone's already formed their little posse. They've done all I can do. Yeah, but they just saw me changing like drastically and they didn't really know what to do. So they started like kind of pushing me aside or not being the best friend to me while I was kind of figuring out what my triggers were. And usually it's like worst triggers, like heavy breathing, but it kind of formed into more triggers as I was involved in this stressful situation in middle school. So more of the classic like gum and pen and all those.

Adeel [8:31]: Right. So the sounds of the sounds of school really started to start to become your triggers.

Laurel [8:39]: And you can see it in my work. You know, you can see it. My grades weren't great in eighth grade, whereas in seventh grade, I think they were better.

Adeel [8:50]: Gotcha. And around that time, you were starting to work with Dr. Patty and maybe some other folks. What were they doing for you? Were they giving you the hardware or other coping mechanisms?

Laurel [9:04]: Yeah. So Dr. Patty, I was really interacting with her a lot at the beginning just because she's very like audiology based. But, like, psychologically, that part of misophonia, I was passed on to, like, Dee Dee, which she's a therapist. So I started going to therapy with Dee Dee, and we started working on, like, the relationship with my mom at first just because it had drastically affected my relationship with my parents because they were my main trigger, and they couldn't understand that. And at the same time... My other grandma in like February of 2015, which was like six months after my other grandma, she passed. So that put a lot of stress on the family in general. So I really relied on like, you know, when I saw Dr. Patty, I would like update her and she would give me, you know, fix my seashells because I usually went there to like get adjustments of white noise. Because I usually, I really didn't like brown noise. I think I liked pink. No, I liked brown noise, but I didn't like pink noise. So she just deleted pink noise off the thing because I was tired of scrolling through them. But then with Didi, she kind of did the other side of like, you know, starting to work on like, oh, like when you were triggered, like what is your thought process? So a lot of it, I guess a lot of the coping mechanisms turned into like listening to, you know, soft music, but at the same time, um, doing that whole mental process of like, it's not going to hurt me, you know, and like detaching this down from the person.

Adeel [10:50]: The kind of CBT kind of stuff. Yeah.

Laurel [10:53]: Yeah. We, yeah, we did DBT too, um, later on, like in high school.

Adeel [10:58]: Um, but CBT is cognitive behavioral therapy. What's DBT?

Laurel [11:02]: dbt is wait no it's not dbt what is the one they were talking about where it was like electro electronic one where it has different signals and your eyes move back and forth oh i don't know um so it's uh so yeah why don't you just describe it so that was uh yeah like electric like electric electroid like something with the and then training or something like that. They kind of discussed it at the conference. But basically, or they had a few presentations on it. Basically, what she did was I had my hands in my lap, one on, so right on left, or right on right, left on left, as far as like hands on legs. And then she put these little, she put this device in my hand, so it was kind of like a... squeezed too but it wasn't it didn't squeeze it was just shaped like a teardrop and it was gray i don't know i'm describing your color but it would beep so it didn't beep as like sound but it would vibrate from hand to hand and so she would talk about um or we would go through like my like trauma um or misophonia stuff as it was like vibrating and so when it vibrated I'd like I was supposed to move my eyes from like which one it was so I'd close my eyes and it would vibrate to the left so I'd move my eyes to the left and then right so and you can change the pace on it so I didn't really like it super fast so I kind of had it slow but we would do that and kind of get to some of the issues of misophonia and the relationship with my mom and like I think that therapy more helped me get over the, like, not get over, but, like, I guess improve my mental relationship with my, the situation where I watched my grandma die.

Unknown Speaker [13:05]: Yeah.

Laurel [13:06]: Just because, like, I had a lot of, like, anger towards my mom and, like, I had a lot of, like, grief for that situation because, like... everyone grieves differently and the way my mom and I grieve is very different. So we clashed on that aspect of like, I didn't want to talk about it and she always wanted to talk about it. So, and it was like a tough subject for me because I just related it to, you know, this like sound, like whenever I hear that specific tone and like sound of what I heard, it just, I almost like flashback in a sense to those emotions. um so i think it's gotten better with that treatment as far as like i'm not mad at like my mom anymore for like waking me up at 7 a.m you know because like she didn't know i didn't want to like witness that and i was too young to like vocalize my um discomfort of the situation so there's a lot of there was a lot of like forgiveness and growth with that treatment but eventually I just didn't want to do it anymore I'm not sure why I can't remember the exact reason but um you don't want to do the treatment anymore or yeah because I would come into therapy and she'd be like oh you want to do EBT or whatever today and I'd say no I don't want to do it like I think after a while, it kind of got too deep for me. I think I could probably do it again, but at that time in high school, I was just kind of wanting to focus more on just talking about issues that were current.

Adeel [14:48]: Right. Current issues with your parents or whatnot.

Laurel [14:52]: Yeah, because you can only spend so much mental energy on the past at a time.

Adeel [14:56]: Right. And was it, so it was like with your mom, it was, yeah, there was the stuff that happened in the past. About her, was it that you could tell like some, the tone of her voice that it's reminded you, I guess, of something you didn't want to think about? Was that kind of a trigger? No.

Laurel [15:18]: uh no breathing kind of stuff yeah no my mom is a really loud breather okay okay yeah yeah yeah yeah okay and what about your dad too or siblings yeah so um my brother graduated high school that summer that we did hospice for my grandma so he was headed off to college when i went to eighth grade So he did not interact at all with the Mississippian side of me. So he would come home into this like stressful, tense situation that my parents.

Adeel [15:49]: What is going on here?

Laurel [15:51]: Yeah, literally. He was so like he did not want any part of it. And he would always tell me, like, mind over matter, Laurel, you always say you can't do it, but you can, you know. And at the time I was like. Screw you, bro. Like, you have no idea what's happening. But I think I actually got a tattoo with him. I have a can and he has like an eye. So it's like a I can thing. And before I was like pretty adamant about like, I literally can't control it. But I think I've decided that like I can do what I can do about certain situations. And it's not... It's not a bad thing to have a positive mindset about misophonia because oftentimes we get down in our own brains. I'll never get better. This is the worst.

Adeel [16:37]: No one understands. Yeah, it takes over your focus from whatever else you want to think about. And yeah, all those thoughts come in. And so yeah, getting your mind off it is one way to do it. And so what were your kind of coping mechanisms then at the time, other than going to therapy?

Laurel [16:58]: Man, I feel like a lot of it was just like psychological, you know?

Adeel [17:04]: Yeah, just trying to think more positive about it and maybe...

Laurel [17:07]: Like, I think I had a bad relationship with it for a while as far as, like, like, I'm pretty, like, religious Christian-wise, and I think a lot of the time I was like, oh, God, like, gave this to me, and he hates me, you know, so I had some anger towards him in a sense, but I don't know, like, I think I had a couple, you know, I want to say like interactions with my faith that really changed my perspective on things. So around the same time, actually, when I was like 13, I went to this church and this kind of integrates the art aspect of it. And I went with my grandma, Joyce, who died like seven months later. But we went to the church and they were doing like a creative conference. So they were like, saying how you can like uh integrate your um art you know with your faith and kind of like doing art for jesus and stuff so um i kind of started i went there and i honestly like it changed my life because i felt like i had a purpose i was like wow like i'm an artist like god gave me this gift you know but then like you know however many months later it was misophonia so i had such a high of like this high kind of spiritual like happiness and for my future, like I can look forward to something, you know, because my mom was diagnosed with like bipolar before I was born. So I kind of grown up with this, you know, different mom and this different situation where I had to be the parent. At the same time, my dad was like super, you know, He's super loving and caring, but he's kind of more of the passive type. At the time, he didn't really want to get involved in the situation. But I guess after this experience that I had, I was like, I could see my family changing. I could see the future being super bright. And my grandma had been such a great influence in my life. And I was just on this high, I guess you could say. and to come down so hard like i'm crushing with the whole misophony thing i kind of put the art on the side for a while and started focusing on like oh i don't know what to do like you know like trying to just get through every day emotionally because every day in middle school i would come home crying like i don't remember a day where i wasn't like physically and emotionally just exhausted from the day like i would come home and i would just like be in my room i wouldn't Like, I guess it's stereotypical for teenagers to be in their room, but I literally just didn't want to be around triggers because I had gone to school the whole day with triggers. So, but like after I started exploring that, like, you know, like God's got my back and, you know, my family has my back, you know, they don't understand and kind of trying to boost my morality and focus on my health. And I became a vegetarian and all this stuff. And that really started to improve everything. And I think it got even better when I started to do art again because that's kind of my way of like my mind heals itself when I do art. It's kind of weird to think about. But I honestly think like therapy through art is like the thing that has helped me at least somewhat the most besides like talking through things and like, you know, praying about it.

Adeel [20:43]: so as you got into high school then um and you know you're you know you're going regular therapy was that around when you um connected back to art and started to use um your creative talents yeah yeah and that helped that helped a lot through did you end up going to college too yeah i'm in college now so okay yeah i'm a freshman so and so your grades did you find your grades were getting better as you were doing more therapy and more art yeah i would say so and plus i think

Laurel [21:11]: I think with misophonia, a lot of it's routine. When I first got into high school, freshman year was probably the worst year ever in my life. Besides all the stuff that happened, it's like when you come down from a really... big high in general and then like you're kind of getting out of the crash i think that's like the the worst little section because you're like oh i was just down there but look i don't know where to go from here like i don't remember what up is you know i don't remember So I think freshman year was just trying to create a space for myself in high school because it was really hard as well in high school because you're adjusting to a new environment. And I think with misophonia especially, I've noticed that because it's happening right now in college, is that when you're introduced to a new environment with new people and they don't know anything about you, It's very lonely and very hard to build up that community to not only support yourself, but just have them see past your misophonia and just see you. I had a really hard time making friendships because a lot of my friends at the beginning, at least freshman year, they'd be like, why are you so bothered by whatever we do? And some kids in class, they would bully me. They'd be like, oh, does this bother you? And then they'd chew gum in my ear or whatever. It was the worst because you're around immature people.

Adeel [22:43]: That's in college freshman year or high school?

Laurel [22:47]: High school.

Adeel [22:47]: If that happened in college, that would be disturbing.

Laurel [22:52]: It's disturbing enough in high school. Now college is like, oh, I have to live with people and they haven't known me for my whole life. And they have to... interact with the misophonia, you know.

Adeel [23:06]: The thing about college, though, for, you know, well, speaking of looking at positive things, you know, there's so many more buildings and rooms and places to kind of escape to, I feel like, in college.

Laurel [23:16]: Yeah, for sure.

Adeel [23:18]: Than in, like, high school, when it's basically, some of them look like prisons and you can't really get out.

Laurel [23:24]: Yeah, yeah. Mine literally looks like a prison in front of me.

Adeel [23:29]: And so, so in college now, so what are you doing in college, by the way? Just curious, what did you end up?

Laurel [23:37]: I'm majoring in psychology because kind of what you were talking about earlier, I want to do art therapy and kind of start a little community building place where people can come and do art to help with whatever needs help psychologically.

Adeel [23:53]: Yeah, that's fantastic. And it's got to be kind of inspired by your experiences.

Laurel [24:00]: Yeah, for sure. I like I've had so many experiences. like growing up and everything and especially with misophonia it's i've had a new um insight to life that you know is unique and different as far as uh how i can like reach back out to people you know have you met other other than other than the convention have you you know along going through school have you met other people with misophonia yeah i have um My friend Carrie actually had it before me. She had it in middle school. But she has had it for a lot longer than I have, and it's more mild than mine. So in high school, we were in a class together our senior year, and it was kind of nice because she'd have carrots with her. And I'd be like, hey, Carrie, is it okay if you don't eat those today in this class? And she's just like, yeah, no, that's totally fine, Laurel. So it was nice to at least have that kind of sense of connection.

Adeel [25:04]: Was it milder in terms of she had less triggers or did you guys react differently to similar triggers?

Laurel [25:11]: I think she has less triggers, but as well, it's not as intense. uh intensive like a trigger i you know there's a there's the scale you know as far as like agitation goes goes i think like she got to a place where it annoyed her but she's so quiet that she didn't she never said anything whereas like mine was pretty bad and i i couldn't i couldn't do anything besides like say like hey do you mind stopping or you know like i i had to interact with the situation where she's done a pretty good job there at high school don't know if it's a good job but she's done a pretty good like good for her as far as like not getting um not being super like physically agitated because i feel like sometimes i obviously look affected whereas like you couldn't tell with her you know so yeah it was kind of an interesting yeah and you guys help did you guys help each other out like talk through situations or just kind of like get it off your chest in certain situations yeah in certain situations for sure um but she she like i said she's pretty reserved and quiet and um we weren't as close as we were in like elementary school as far as like high school goes just because we're like different people But I also had like people on the internet kind of to go to, and I met this girl named Stephanie through Dee Dee. And so she was a person like I hung out for a while. And we talked through it and it was really helpful because she had had it for longer. You know, kind of having like a miso mentor.

Adeel [26:58]: That's a good term. Yeah.

Laurel [27:00]: Yeah. Well right now I'm kind of a miso mentor for a nine year old girl. So it's kind of a come around.

Adeel [27:09]: And did that connection happen with the nine-year-old through the therapist or you found her some other way, randomly?

Laurel [27:16]: I found her through church. I was in my church. There was a girl named, oh my gosh, why can't I think of her name? The nine-year-old's name is Avery, but her big sister, I was friends with her. And so when I met her sister, I was like, oh, I have misophonia. And she's like, oh, no way. Like, my sister has that. And so we kind of got connected through that. So I'll take her out on, like, kind of mini dates, like going to the movies or a matinee kind of thing. strategizing you know sound management as far as like oh we can sit on the side and in the back and we can bring our own snacks and put the snacks into like a non-crinkly type of thing so it's kind of been cool to give her my tips right now in college it's like i feel like i'm a freshman in high school again you know because i have all these new people and i feel like you know re-explaining this is funny to them and it's really exhausting to like you know upkeep that And then you'll interact with some people who are just unwilling to accommodate you and have some crazy like mind over matter kind of beliefs that you have to tiptoe over. So I'd say I haven't like gone back at like square one, but it's definitely another like hurdle to figure out and, you know, try to fix.

Adeel [28:42]: Yeah, I guess there's less people that are coming from your previous school, I guess. It's just a lot of new people. And some of the classes are like 200 people.

Laurel [28:51]: Yeah, I mean, I go to a smaller school. It's only like 3,000 people. So I have smaller classes, which is super nice. So classes don't really bother me. It's just like the whole living situation has been super stressful.

Adeel [29:04]: Gotcha. So you got like a few roommates then in an apartment?

Laurel [29:08]: Yeah, yeah. So I live in like a suite style apartment. So there's like four girls total and then like a living room. So I just moved actually like right after the convention or like two weeks after the convention because earlier my roommates were like unwilling to, well, they were accommodating in some sense, but they just stayed up late and they played the TV really loud and I was like right next to the living room. So it just wasn't panning out well because they were also like, I remember one of my roommates told me like, I don't get how like you could have a disability. Like, why don't you just like push through it? Like misophonia doesn't seem like it's like super like affecting your life or something like that. And I was just like, it was really annoying because I was like, I've known you for like three months or two months. And you already have this like opinion about like my past and my life. And it was just kind of frustrating.

Adeel [30:11]: Yeah, I think everyone listening to this could understand. I mean, yeah, could understand or has met somebody like that. Yeah, that's kind of a very common reaction, fortunately. Or a lot of us keep it bottled up because we just assume that that is kind of the standard reaction to what we have.

Laurel [30:29]: Yeah. Yeah, like I remember just like... calling my parents because it was honestly really stressful the first few months because he had a roommate who was um wearing personal eye disorder for the first few weeks and she like she was mentally unwell i will say as far as like um suicide goes so we had to like call the cops on her a couple times and so that was like super stressful so that that was not a beneficial start to introducing myself to my new roommates because it was very fast and quick of like I was like crying and they're like, why are you crying? And I was like, because what she's saying, um, what our old roommate was saying, you know, um, kind of triggered some past like trauma and memories. So like that was super hard to like hurdle over. So I'd call my parents and you know, I'd say like, well, my roommates are saying this, this about me. And you know, they're like, they're saying all these things and they're trying to be nice, but they're just, this have this like mind over matter. uh aspect of it that um and they think that you know my misophonia trumps all their issues so they're like comparing my like comparing my trauma and so but like my dad said and i really love my dad um but i was kind of surprised that he said this he was like um like laurel you need to stop like thinking the best of people in terms of your misophonia and that like kind of hit me because i was just kind of like I mean, he's right. Like, all I know is like, oh, it's okay. Like, maybe these people like change, and maybe it'll work out. But sometimes it's just people aren't in a place to, you know, be receiving of your receiving of who you are. And that's just how it is. So it's kind of a sad reality that I've learned. But at the same time, I can protect myself better now in the sense of, you know, okay i can assume the best in people but i can't assume the best in people as far as like understanding my misophonia like it's kind of nice to know that like okay no one's like except for the people who have misophonia no one's gonna like completely understand it you know so just like having that you know consistent view is kind of more healthy than like constantly being let down

Adeel [32:57]: And let's talk about your art a bit more, since that's been a bright light, I guess, in your life, or at least a great form of personal therapy, and it looks like it's going to be a great career for you. So you had the pieces at the convention. Were those recent pieces, were they kind of created when you were going through situations during high school? Tell me about the origins of some of those.

Laurel [33:25]: I think... So some of them kind of happened like in the midst of it, but they weren't like Misophonia inspired. Like, I think I had one there with like, oh, I didn't bring that one. Never mind. I'll just talk about the ones that were there. The one where there was a mountain and a girl was like walking up on it and she was like holding an ear and electricity was creating a storm behind her. I think that was, like, a transition piece for me because I had, you know, always wanted to do art about misophonia, but mostly I'd done art, like, that had definitely helped me in a sense of, like, healing around misophonia. But it wasn't like, you know, misophonics could look at it and be like, oh, yes, that is inspired by misophonia. And I really wanted to kind of showcase that because every time I looked up misophonia on the Internet, it was all these, like, WebMD articles or if you clicked images, you know, it would be people with their hands over the ears or people like screaming. And it was very like traumatic. And I was like, I just kind of was mad because I was like, that's kind of stereotyping like. like us. I mean, it's in a sense, it's like, yeah, I feel like I am like screaming internally, but, um, it's not very, it's very superficial kind of way of way of, uh, representing it.

Adeel [34:49]: So, yeah.

Laurel [34:51]: Yeah. Like I, as far as I go, I'm a pretty deep thinking person and I really like to analyze like emotions and that's why I'm a psychology major. But like, of looking back on like my situation and everything that happened, like with my parents and my grandmas and like misophonia, I thought I had, you know, learned some things and I wanted to be able to like express that through painting. So that the first one that was like a transition piece kind of was I made in my junior year in a class. And that was super cool. Cause I, I was like, nobody's nose gonna, everybody thought it was like a fetus that she was carrying. You know? So I was like, I was excited for people with misophonia to understand that that painting was like the journey of misophonia. Cause like, cause at least in my sense, I, I'm really hard on myself. So like people, I guess when people do like affect me and my misophonia, I, I'm like, I want to cater to them. You know, like I really don't want them to feel, like I'm feeling, or I don't want them to be walking on eggshells or, you know? So I just, that piece was kind of referencing the fact that like, I'm, I have misophonia and I'm like carrying this ear up this mountain, but like behind me, I'm unaware of all like the storm it's creating, even though I think I'm like walking into this bright light, you know? So it's kind of like the, the, the irony of misophonia in a sense of like, you know, We are very sensitive and like our disorder can cause us to be selfish, but we're doing it for survival. But the people behind us don't like recognize that, you know, and so it kind of creates this like chaos. So I was kind of hinting at that.

Adeel [36:48]: yeah no that's that's kind of one of my i'm looking at it right now because i was taking pictures from the at the convention it's beautiful it's probably you know one of my favorite pieces there there's another one um another look at it it's obviously like it's kind of like walking on eggshells where you're sitting between two halves of an of an eggshell um you want to talk about that one a little bit what are you what are you sitting on there

Laurel [37:09]: Yeah. So just a brief face. I did an independent study for my senior year in high school. So I decided to do because I was supposed to have like a theme around what I was doing. So I decided to do like four or three paintings around surrounding misophonia. So that one. I put, like, themes to them before I, like, painted them, so I'll just say the theme, but that one, the eggshell one, was a theme of, like, misophonian relationships.

Adeel [37:43]: Yeah.

Laurel [37:44]: So...

Adeel [37:48]: Yeah, a lot of it is, I mean, yeah, we all know that it's, we kind of walk around, well, we walk around eggshells because we don't want to, we don't want to hear triggers, but other people, or I feel like I'm making other people walk around, walk on eggshells around me, which is that, that's when the shame and the guilt kind of creep into our psyche.

Laurel [38:10]: Yeah, for sure. Because the person sitting in the puddle of, uh golden goo uh yeah um i kind of created that character yeah i would say yeah it's like based off me but mostly because i didn't want anyone to pose for a reference besides me so um that character i kind of made of like if misophonia could be like seeing you know i um I did that with like big ears, you know, and then I, um, so, uh, that's kind of seen in the picture. So she has big ears, but it's kind of like what I felt when I was like freshly out of the womb of misophonia, I guess you could say like the diagnosis. Cause it was, it was like, it was like immediately I was anticipating like looking up at this flood that was like crushing me. So I wanted to do a kind of thing of people walking on eggshells, but in a sense, it's also walking on me, you know?

Adeel [39:10]: Well, it kind of also reminds me of what we were talking about, the roller coaster, where you probably kind of felt almost reborn going up to highs, then you just get crushed.

Laurel [39:20]: Yeah, for sure. You can kind of see that the girl in the painting looks hopeful, kind of like anticipating. Yeah. yeah like super super optimistic yeah and like to have this foot this multicolored foot coming down was almost a sense of like oh whoa what's happening but then like once the reality comes you know like the halves will be crushed and like i don't know if like that character will be crushed but um it's just kind of like that tension of yeah so it's it's hard because you can you can work so hard on a relationship like my mom and i did but um you know sometimes you can fall back to you know the basic like what's gonna happen like we're walking in eggshells around each other like this is not good you know so it's kind of a kind of a learning process of like how to have relationships with people for sure

Adeel [40:20]: And then one more is the big colorful one that has all of your old headphones on them. And I think to like a non-missiphonic, they'd be like kind of like Jackson Pollock or something. But as soon as any of us went up close, we're like, oh, yeah, OK, we all have that pile.

Laurel [40:41]: Yeah, I know. It was like all my headphones that I used throughout high school, like all of them, like because they all broke.

Adeel [40:49]: So yeah.

Laurel [40:50]: Yeah, I just used all of them and, like, made a little ear. That was probably the most fun to do just because I could, like, let myself, like, express the chaoticness because I'm very, like, a realist painter. So it was nice for a second to kind of be like, oh, I can do, like, whatever I want.

Adeel [41:07]: Yeah, yeah, no, it's beautiful. Do you want to maybe plug like, I don't know, have a way for people to contact you if they want to see more or learn more about your artwork?

Laurel [41:19]: Yeah.

Adeel [41:19]: Or about art in general.

Laurel [41:21]: Yeah.

Adeel [41:22]: As a way to cope.

Laurel [41:23]: Yeah, for sure. I guess my Instagram would be at actions.echo and it's like actions.that.echo. And that's like my art Instagram. I do have like a more personal one, but I'll just like link that one. And then... um yeah that's that's basically it so far um yeah i don't post links to those people can just kind of click on them um yeah i just asked it here just because it's that's what you do on podcasts you're like oh how do you want to be contacted yeah i'll even just cut this out who cares yeah people can also like email me um with the email like ljthompson22 at like if people want to email me too i know i'm thinking about starting like a YouTube channel and kind of documenting and talking, like a story time, like kind of documenting my college process of coping, but also like stuff that's happened in the past and like doing my art for sure. So I'm just going to mention it real quick, but some of the two other ones that were displayed, like the girl on top of the world with the headphones on.

Adeel [42:29]: Yes, yes, yes.

Laurel [42:29]: Yeah, that one's my favorite. Oh, yeah, please talk about that.

Adeel [42:33]: I just picked a couple just for time purposes, but I was staring at that one. I was staring at that one because...

Laurel [42:39]: uh yeah please talk about that because there's there's she's sitting on top of the world and there's the the kind of like audio waveform somewhere and they're up in the sky yeah talk about that one please yeah so that one um is called the desolation of uh loneliness i think or the sound of loneliness something like that and it basically is like the the loneliness that comes with misophonia is like the theme and so above the girls it says a morse code and like speech waves it's like um all i hear is or something like all i hear is sound but all i want is like silence something like that so it's just kind of like we're hearing because it's like the headphones that she's wearing are plugged into the world you know like we hear the world all the time and we're never like allowed to not hear it you know so it's kind of like the the hinting at like oh there's so many sounds in the world and sometimes it's so lonely even though all these like sounds are happening you know so that one's i want to make stickers of that one

Adeel [43:43]: yeah please do and uh yeah i'd love to i'll definitely love to plug those uh on our instagram too um that's amazing and then do you want to talk about uh there's that other one with the girl who's holding um is she bleeding from her ear or something yeah okay yeah that's blood so that's that's the self portrait that one that was before the i included it in the independent study but that was kind of before the um

Laurel [44:11]: I drew it out actually like my sophomore year and then I finished painting it my senior year but um that one's a self-portrait so that one's like the closest one to me you know the most personal one just because it's a self-portrait and also like the bleeding from the ear I took the picture actually the reference picture for that what I used I took that picture like after I had like a meltdown, like I was crying. So like I took that picture. So it has a lot of emotion in it. And it's just like, if people could see misophonia, it'd either be like really big ears or it'd just be like this like blood that's coming out of the ear, you know? So I just kind of wanted to visualize like what it'd be like if misophonia was like physically shown.

Adeel [44:58]: And did you, you took a picture after you're having a meltdown, did you, obviously you weren't bleeding from your ear, but did you, did you, did you do like, were you actually taking a picture of your ear kind of like to kind of capture that moment or was it just, was it kind of coincidence?

Laurel [45:13]: No, I think it was more coincidence because a lot of times with the paintings I have in my brain, they sit around for like months. Like I have one right now that I'm like, I need to paint that, but it'll probably sit around for a couple of months till I like, I've reached the point where I think I've like healed in that sense of like, okay, I'm ready to paint this. And that's, that's the kind of the case with like all the misophonia ones. It's like, I was ready to like finally touch on it, you know? So I think in the moment after my breakdown, I was like, well, I'm crying. And I've been thinking about doing this painting of like the bleeding from the ear. So I just like took the picture. So it was kind of like, it was kind of funny of like happenstance. It's like, oh, well, I'm having a meltdown. So why not use it as a reference photo?

Adeel [45:58]: Well, that is a great example of positive thinking.

Laurel [46:01]: Yeah.

Adeel [46:02]: That's awesome. Yeah, that's great. Yeah, I'll definitely post that one too. Yeah, so I guess we're kind of running up against time. Is there anything else you want to talk about in terms of like an art you're working on or any tips maybe as you seem to be an experienced MISO mentor? Anything you want to tell to folks who are...

Laurel [46:24]: especially young young to young maybe young adult folks because you they seem to get kind of get lost in the shuffle or maybe just discovering or just trying to figure out how to how to cope with this new environment you're in well i've been thinking about this a lot um as far as misophonia um and young adult i guess you could say but i've been thinking about this a lot and like at least college is just if there is a way that we could start, at least in the Misophonia community, to talk about it openly without bringing in the negativity that comes with it. Just in a sense, because I've had experience with like talking to people who have Misophonia and being in group chats and like I have this Amino that I run. It's the Misophonia Amino. If you download the Amino app and just type in Misophonia, it should come up. I've noticed that like it's a great space for us to like, you know, complain about the triggers of the day, but I want to try to integrate, you know, like the positivity of it or, or in a sense, like try to make it more of a space where people can come and not expect to, you know, re-interact with all those triggers and all those emotions and misophonia. There's spaces where you can do that and it can be like great and everything. But I think sometimes misophonics need to get together and just, be without misophonia you know just you know just be together without it being like all about misophonia which i think is like you can talk about misophonia for days with a misophonia but i think it's also important to like um especially at the conference to you know become friends with these people and have this community and it's it's more than just like misophonia because our whole lives are about misophonia so i guess my encouragement or like my challenge to kind of try to discover and poke at is like for people to be you know in a community of misophonia without misophonia sometimes because i think that'd be like healthy for everyone

Adeel [48:29]: absolutely healthy um yeah and when i go to convention it's almost like i don't even need to really talk to the person i'm standing in front of so we already know our shared experiences let's just uh yeah just kind of be just be yeah because when you're yeah when we're when we're together at least with mezzofonia we don't have to like walk on eggshells in a sense i feel like it's still there but there's this like sense of like love and like recognition of each other without having to say anything yeah exactly uh and yeah i just feel like there has been kind of a uh uh in this it's something in the zeitgeist where people want to do more meetups there is um maybe as a prototype there is a ucla seems to have a misophonia support group that some students started i don't know if you've You know about that, but I would love to see that at university campuses all across the country.

Laurel [49:23]: Yeah.

Adeel [49:25]: And I'm trying to get that started kind of later on in the workplace with like the chair departments kind of like talking about it more. But anyways, that's separate. Yeah. Like a college club, just like any other thing about knitting or politics or whatever. I think that would be great.

Laurel [49:46]: I agree. The disability service here at Fort Lewis, I've been talking to them. And the head person, since it's such a small college, she's like, yep, we have one other Missifaniac. And I'm like, I need to go meet them. Yeah. Even if there's two of us, I want to start a club.

Unknown Speaker [50:07]: Yeah.

Adeel [50:08]: No, and there's probably more. I mean, like your friend who kind of bottled it up, there's probably a lot of people who are bottling it up or their parents didn't find that article yet. Yeah.

Laurel [50:18]: There's a lot more people who have it than people think. Oh, yeah.

Adeel [50:23]: Oh, yeah, for sure. Cool. Well, thanks, Laurel. Yeah, this is great to hear about. I met you at the convention, but it was great to hear kind of the background of your condition and everything you've experienced. I think a lot of people listening will get a lot out of it who may have gone through similar situations. And as we know, there are a bunch of people in college who I think will be walking around campus looking for other misophoniacs, I hope.

Laurel [50:47]: Yeah, for sure. Well, I hope... everything I said does help people out and I'm so glad that I get to be a part of this podcast this is new and fun

Adeel [50:59]: Thank you for listening. Don't forget to check out the show notes for links to her Instagram and contact info. I've been getting lots of photos of people getting their Misophonia podcast stickers, and it's great to see, so please DM me anywhere on social or email me at hello at, and I can send you more free ones. Just send me your mailing address. Apparently, they can take a while to arrive, especially when going overseas from the U.S., The music is by Moby, and until next time, wishing you peace and quiet.

Unknown Speaker [51:59]: Thank you.