Mara - Exploring Misophonia Through Art and Identity

S4 E5 - 4/7/2021
In a deeply personal and insightful dialogue, Mara, a rock artist from North Carolina, shares her misophonia journey, revealing its connection to complex trauma, PTSD, and her process of dissociation and reassociation. She discusses her coping mechanisms, including EMDR therapy, creating a 'safe' list of songs, and how her art and night-time job cleaning buildings provide solace in an otherwise sound-sensitive world. Mara’s art, focusing on balancing rocks, not only serves as therapeutic practice but also reflects her internal struggles and recovery. Additionally, Mara touches on her transgender identity, further exploring how it intersects with her experience of misophonia and other aspects of her life, including family relations and societal interactions. This conversation illuminates the multifaceted nature of misophonia, showcasing individual ways of managing triggers, finding peace, and establishing a deeper understanding of oneself in the face of auditory overload.


Adeel [0:00]: Welcome to the Misophonia podcast, the only podcast about people who don't like listening to other people. This is episode five of season four. My name is Adeel Ahmad and I have Misophonia. Today's episode is really interesting. Deals with some pretty intense things. So I just want to warn up front that there is some talk of complex trauma, PTSD, and a few bad words thrown in. But it's a hugely insightful and I think inspiring episode that you're not going to want to miss. I had the great privilege to talk to Mara, a rock artist in North Carolina. We talk about trans issues, dissociation, and reassociation. Like I said, complex trauma, PTSD, her very complex relationship with her family, EMDR, and everything else Mara has learned from her experiences. We also talk about her art, which I just got to say, you got to check out on Instagram at the Rocksmith. There'll be a link in the show notes. And in those notes, you'll also find a few of the books we discussed on the show, plus Mara's Spotify list of a very curated batch of songs that she finds that she considers safe for her miso. All in all, just a fascinating conversation. And if you like her art, you can support by checking out her website and buying some prints So let's just get started. Here's my conversation with Mara. Mara, welcome to the podcast. It's great to have you here. It's great to be here. Thank you for having me. Yeah, of course. Of course. So, yeah, you know, I usually just like to ask the basic questions about kind of whereabouts are you located? Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Okay, cool. Yeah. East Coast. All right. And kind of what do you do over there? Right now, I'm just cleaning an empty building at night. But during the day, I like to balance rocks. Yes. Right. You know, I've seen, and I'll have, I'll have pictures of your, your, well, I'll have a link to your Instagram account in the show notes, but some really, really fascinating work there. We'll get to the, we'll get to your, to your, to your art and people will have a chance to take a look at it on Instagram. But you did mention the working, working night cleaning buildings and, you know, you're far from the only person who has kind of found, I guess, solace in, empty buildings at night and where there's no sounds around. So I guess you could probably guess what I'm asking here is like, was that something you gravitated towards as kind of one of the best places to quietest places to work and times to work? Yeah. I mean, I've looked at so many other jobs and none of them really guarantee like a hundred percent of the times that you can wear headphones. I just like having that peace of mind, you know, Every day I go in, I know for a fact that I can wear headphones the whole time. Right. Even when it's a super quiet building, you put on the headphones just so you're completely immersed. I mean, I just happen to be working at night. I actually wear my headphones most of the day because I'm at home and there's trigger sounds at home. But when I go to work, I can actually take them out for the most part. There's a couple of doors that slam a little too hard, but I've already put bumpers on them. I don't know if I'm outstepping my bounds there. I think you got to do what you got to do. Yeah, I don't think anybody cares. Right. So that's kind of a quiet place that you're able to put headphones on and just kind of be at peace. Yeah. Have there been other jobs that you've had that have been, I guess, less than ideal? Well, my misophonia has really only gotten... I was dissociated. Like, I kind of had to shut down emotionally. I didn't do it intentionally, obviously, but I just kind of had to shut down just from sheer overwhelm of trigger sounds and everything else going on emotionally. Mm-hmm. Was this just recently? I mean, yeah, it's kind of like the volume's been turned up over the past couple of years. It seems like I just add trigger sounds every month or so. Or maybe not that often, but... No, I mean, that is something that happens, is that we get more and more triggers as we get older, it seems. Yeah, yeah. You haven't seen Trailer Park Boys, have you? I don't think I've seen it, but... It's not a very good show, but basically one of the characters... when anything is kind of bullshit or it doesn't feel right, he says it's fucky. Yeah, I've probably used that term though before. So the volume has been, I feel like you're more sensitive to all sounds in general. Is it maybe a bit of hyperacusis in there too? Is it kind of all sounds are going up and not just your triggers? Yeah, so as I reassociate with my body, And with, you know, sensory input, so to speak, you know, like before I was just kind of pushing away and ignoring everything, not really dealing with it. Now I'm actually listening to everything and learning to deal with it. So I'm kind of having to, what most people are doing or have already done, I'm learning to do. Gotcha. And by that, do you mean coping with? Yeah. As opposed to just, you know, numbing myself or just shutting down yeah and by kind of by shutting down what um what do you mean were you just kind of avoiding everything um avoiding everything just uh self-medicating maybe yes it's as if um you know i've been on colonopin for for the you know past decade or so i don't know And was there something that maybe happened a couple of years ago that that caused everything to turn up or is it just something? Medication. Yeah. Medication, yoga, meditation, things that are good for you, basically things that make you feel. Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So that's part of the reassociation. I was curious if there was something going on, like when things started, when the volume started to turn up a lot, was there any change in your life kind of thing around that time? Or was it just kind of like a natural increase in trigger as a lot of us get older? Yeah, I think they had always been there, I think. Or at least that's how I see it. I think the triggers were always there, maybe. And then I just... was not acknowledging them consciously because I simply couldn't. There were simply so many. But now, as I'm reassociating, they're coming to the surface and I'm able to handle them better. Yeah. More or less. Right. Are you living by yourself? Like, you are getting triggered at home. Yeah, I'm living with my family. Okay. Yeah. And are they aware of your misophonia? They are. My mom... My mom is pretty good about it. She only uses plastic silverware. And my grandparents, they let me put because their their door just like slams into the doorframe. Yeah. I mean, it doesn't slam slam, but, you know, everything slams when you have this. Yeah. So, yeah, they let me put a bumper on the door. Yeah, okay, okay. But yeah, I'm sure there's still things that trigger you around the house. But generally, it seems like they're at least trying. Because when did you tell them? Did you tell them around when you found out that it had a name? So I dropped out of college after half a semester because, one, I wasn't really hot on another four years of schools to begin with, but also I just wasn't going to class because of misophonia, you know. I couldn't sit in a class. And my dad was like, why are you dropping out of school? And I told him what was going on. And then he came back to me like, oh, you have this. You know, I had no... So he told you? My dad told me. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sorry, what was the question? How did you tell them about misappointing? It sounds like your dad told you after you kind of had a conversation. Well, yeah, that was... Okay, yeah. My mom did when I was... I think I was in elementary school or something. My mom tried sending me to a therapist for it and they didn't, you know, obviously they hadn't heard of it. So, and I don't think, I don't like, my mom was like, she was kind of strapped. She still is kind of strapped, but I think I only went to like one or two sessions and she was like, okay, they don't know what this is. We're not really getting anything out of this. So that was, that was kind of it. Yeah. Yeah. Gotcha. Okay. And so you were exhibiting signs around elementary school. Do you remember what was going on then? Were there specific sounds? Was it home? Yeah. First memory was at eight years old. So my misophonia is trauma related. So I have complex trauma in my past. This is hard to talk about all this stuff, you know? I just feel like my throat... Anyways. But no, she also has complex trauma in her past. It's kind of intergenerational. You know, her parents who are actually living with us now, they're much more mellowed out now, but when they were When she was a kid, they were just raging alcoholics. So they were just throwing shit around and screaming at each other. And there was just them in the middle of the woods, basically, like the sticks. And so yeah, she would just go up in her room and insulate herself emotionally, which is kind of what I've learned to do. But anyways, so she picked that up from her parents, the throwing shit around and slamming her fists down and screaming. like a wounded animal. So that's where it comes from. It's just walking on eggshells. I'm just, you know, it's a defense mechanism. I'm just looking out all the time for that to happen. Yeah, you're looking out for, right, the walking on eggshells that has come up in other shows you're looking at. You're looking for danger that could lurk anywhere. I mean, a small sound could set somebody off, and that puts you in danger, or at least that's what your mind... feels um exactly yeah okay so so that started around yeah relatively young age but at least you i mean it sounds like your your mom had the the um presence of mind to at least take you to a therapist and and try to get it looked at was it were you were you also being triggered at school as well or was it because some people not as much it's kind of a yeah i can't remember seventh grade social studies my teacher think she smoked cigarettes but anyway she would just clear her throat the whole class like every 10 seconds too i could just remember one class i was just crying and the minute she was like writing something on the board and i just start crying like everybody stops and turns around and looked at me i'm like nobody says anything to me they just let me cry oh wow they would just watch and not do anything yeah nobody's like what's wrong like Even the teacher? Yeah, the teacher just stopped and went back to, I don't know. Like, what the fuck? Yeah. You remember that specific... So I did that at a Thanksgiving dinner, too. So that Thanksgiving dinner, you triggered... Yeah, we went across the street to a neighbor's house to have Thanksgiving, and I was like, I can't do this. I can't sit down at the table. And they're like, oh, you'll be fine. Obviously, I just start wailing just while i'm just sitting around a small little table and i'm just fucking wailing at the top of my lungs and then after they're like oh i didn't i didn't understand it was like i fucking told you yeah yeah um wow and uh and and but at that point i mean your mom your mom this is later on your mom knew that something was wrong but it was it wasn't really any um I think that dinner was what might have inspired her to send me to therapy. Or try sending me to therapy. And do you have any siblings? I do have a sister. Okay, okay. What's her deal with this? Oh, she's, yeah, she's 12. So there's like a 14-year difference. She's, I don't know, she's kind of in a shitty time. She's not really interested in how other people feel. But it's fine. She uses silverware and she doesn't really make any trigger sounds. Except for the door. She slams the door sometimes. But I've gotten better about it. What about friends? It sounds like at least that early moment in elementary school was really... seemed to be concerned when you were crying in class. But what about friends as you've gotten older, maybe going through high school? Are they aware? How are they reacting? Yeah, I pretty much kept it inside for all of high school. Because I didn't know what it was. And if I tried to tell somebody, they'd just look at me funny. Did you try to tell anybody or try to make it? I don't remember if I did. I don't blame you after having gone through what you did. There's no way to make them understand. Yeah. But I do have a misophonic friend now. Okay. We're almost like mirror images of each other. They're trans. We're trans. I mean, yeah, we're both trans. We both have misophonia. both bipolar we're both probably autistic like it's uncanny how did you meet them uh we both worked at jimmy john's together okay okay and how did it uh how did you discover that uh well i'm assuming you probably saw them uh react to a trigger or something or i'm just wondering how you guys i mean yeah so they actually had a misophonia friend they lived with someone with misophonia before i knew them so they knew exactly what it was They've actually been very supportive from the jump. Gotcha. Okay. Was it helpful to... Obviously, you said they've been supportive, but have you been able to commiserate, share tips, and just kind of help each other through? Yeah, I mean, we commiserate. I don't know. I can't really... They have an auditory thing where if they listen to brown or white noise they just keep get completely disoriented so it's kind of like they can wear headphones but it's it's almost as bad as just hearing the sound itself so they're kind of sol in that department oh wow okay so so yeah i can i can hear them i can listen to them bitch about something but that's the extent and so and they had lived with a misophonic friend before it's that's uh It's also random. It's random that you found a mirror image and that they already knew about it through somebody else that had misophonia. I realized something. This doesn't have anything to do with misophonia, but when I was working at Jimmy John's, there were five trans people working there at the same time. Out of like, I don't know, 20 or 30 people. I thought it was interesting. I would suspect it's a slightly higher percentage than and in overall society. That's interesting. Yeah. When you were saying that you were disassociating, was that kind of related to all of these things that you've been experiencing? Yes. Misophonia, the transition. I'm just curious, do you notice any, I don't even know how to ask the question, but did they kind of like, not compliment, but tell me how you think they're kind of related. Oh, yeah. They're just like, I'm just like, I'm standing in an empty vat and they're all just like giant tubs being poured in, you know. My feet are just chained to the bottom of the vat and they're all just like filling up. You feel like you're kind of drowning from different directions or from different sources. That's how they are related. I talked to, I interviewed somebody who's also an LGBTQ advocate and he had said that, you know, reviewing his misophonia was, there was some similarities between that and revealing that he was gay. I'm wondering if this is something that you find that it's like, it's similarly hard to talk about. Yeah. I mean, yeah. I don't know objectively which one is more difficult to talk about. Um, okay. So then, so then you've had that. Wow. So, okay. So you had that, uh, the Jimmy Jones work experience, um, at college. Um, so I guess, yeah, since college, what have you, have you just kind of been, uh, finding, finding jobs to work at, um, since college and then supporting your art? Maybe we should, uh, talk about, uh, how you got into your art and is that in any way kind of like therapeutic? Um, cause I've had a bunch of artists on the, on the show who've kind of found therapy through their art. Uh, maybe I can talk about that. Um, yeah. So just finding, you know, uh, ping pong and around jobs, uh, a lot of, a lot of those jobs, I couldn't even work anymore. That was before I'd reassociated with, you know, myself, like I couldn't, I couldn't work in a restaurant and I could not drive a car. I could not be in a small space with no music for someone for 30 plus minutes. Right. So it couldn't be like an Uber or Lyft driver. Yeah. Yeah. And I couldn't deliver on a bike for Jimmy jobs anymore because fucking car sounds. I don't think I could do any of my previous jobs, except for maybe my last one because they let me wear headphones. But even then, I could hear the boss through my headphones. That's how fucking annoying she was. I don't want to do the thing because it'll, like, piss somebody off. Yeah. So when you were working at Jimmy John's, you knew you had misophonia, but was it triggers that you were able to manage or was it more that? Yeah, it was mostly people sounds. It wasn't, I didn't know about or I didn't have the car sound affect me yet. Okay. Okay. And then since you've reassociated, it's been, everything's kind of been turned up. I guess it's, the better analogy is just a bunch of faders for each Or each trigger sound. Each sound has its own volume dial, I guess. Yep. Yep. Yep. Are you a musician by any chance, too? You're talking to Faith. No, no. Yeah, okay. Well, speaking of music, I have a very... I have about 130 songs I can listen to. And that's it? Well, give or take.

Unknown Speaker [20:41]: 150.

Adeel [20:42]: My therapist says I'm, like, probably autistic. And as I'm reading the symptoms of autism, I'm like, yep. Okay. probably but yeah one of the things she was saying was like a safe list of foods like certain textures so i was thinking that was similar like you know safe sounds essentially because i can listen to a song like one second and i'm like nope yeah that sounds what is um are there any specific sound sounds like yeah um or yeah like yeah Fret sounds, like fingers sliding over the strings. Like timpani sounds. Oh, okay. Those are low frequency, but that rumble? Yeah, well, it depends. If it's really low, I can kind of stand it, but I don't know. It really just depends. I'd be interested in seeing it. I'm sure others might be able to relate or are looking for songs that are definitely less chance of triggering. Has anyone mentioned the Safe and Sound Protocol to you? No, what is that? I forget who the doctor is. Yeah, just search Safe and Sound Protocol. Basically, they take popular music and they tune it. I'm not sure how they tune it. I think they keep it within the mid-range frequency. Whatever they do to it. Basically, you just listen to it for an hour a day for a week. and then you can do more if you want, but a week is really enough. A week will do you for like, you know, obviously you can come back to it, but I don't know if you've ever heard of EMDR or heard anyone talk about it, but EMDR really fucks you up, and safe and sound protocol is no different. Basically, it kind of reprograms how your brain processes sound, That's how I understand it. It's really funky. Yeah, so are you doing EMDR with your therapist? I was doing EMDR until I found out I was trans, and then I was like, I cannot do both. Yeah, I was exploring all that trauma I was talking about, and I was really making strides. I think that's until I cracked open the transgender can. Did that come as a surprise that that particular can got opened? You know, it's been poking its head out here and there. My friend, the MISO friend I told you about, who's also trans, they said to me, you know, a couple of times you would mention, hey, what do you think about me being trans? You would say that to me, and I'm sorry, this is the friend saying this. And then I would say, you know, they would mention it back, like, they would try to bring it up a second later, like, So you're thinking about being trans and then I'll be like, no, don't talk to me about that. Okay. Okay. That makes sense. Yeah. I kind of told it poorly, but no, I would bring it up and yeah, I would bring it up and they would ask me about it. And then immediately I would just like, like a steel trap. So I'm like, no, I don't want to talk about it. Okay. So did they, did they, did they, did they kind of raise her eyebrow and be like, There must be something kind of defensiveness going on here. Oh, yeah, for sure. They took me to, they go to NC State, and they took me to the person who is like the advocate on campus for LGBT people. And, yeah, I just could not look that person in the eye. The whole time I was in the office with them, I couldn't look them in the eye, and I couldn't listen to what they were saying. It was just so uncomfortable for me. That was obviously before I'd come to the realization. But no, it's just been, you know, it's just been poking its head out. So, so as that was, um, so that, that was happening, that kind of, uh, uh, realization was happening around the same time as you were seeing your therapist for, for EMDR and, and various, um, were they treating you for misophonia generally at that point or was it other things? Well, you know how EMDR works? It came up in a previous podcast, but I wanted to see if you could maybe give us the executive summary again. Basically, you pick a memory or memories that are traumatic to you and you revisit them. And the way you do that is you write it down. Basically, you kind of write or workshop it. You pick out all of those senses. Like, so I was smelling this. I was seeing this. I was hearing this and then you just, you read that prompt to yourself and you'd kind of, you know, you can close your eyes. What I like to do is, you know, kind of hang my head down, close my eyes and like tap my, my forearms. Um, and just, so a memory that I picked was my mom eating, you know, pickish, kind of pickishly. I think she was trying not to cry or something. You know, this is something that she would do a lot. She would come home from work, like just, completely just carrying all the baggage from her entire life basically because she doesn't know she was never really taught how to deal with it anyway so she would come home you know eat basically emotionally eat in front of me just silently pissed off and I would just be sitting there like trying not to make any sound for fear of you know setting her off essentially but anyways that's that's So that just happened so many times. That's just like an aggregate memory that I condensed down. So yeah, I would just revisit that. So I guess technically I was working on triggers. I haven't seen any decrease in sensitivity to sound. But my ability to handle the stress that results from hearing a trigger sound has improved significantly. I can handle the stress of the sound, just not the sound, if that makes sense. So the recovery from the trigger has been better for you? Yes, as long as I can get away from it. It's like a hot object on your hand. That's a great analogy. Yeah, no, I know exactly what you mean. It's like you get triggered. You can run away from it, but you're still, you know, you still touch that hot object. You're feeling it. And it seems like that exercise, I don't know how you refer to that exercise or that therapy seems to have made your senses recover faster. Yeah, yeah. You can actually do that by yourself, that technique. You know, basically you can do it. multiple ways you know you can tap your arms basically you need bilateral stimulation so you need to tap the left side and the right side like alternating or you can look side to side with your eyes just make sure you like go to the edge of your peripheral vision you pick out a positive what's called a positive cognition so for every memory you find the negative cognition which is you know I am not safe or I am not worthy of love or whatever, you know, whatever the negative emotion is that the memory makes you feel. And then you flip that. So I am safe. I am worthy of love. And then you just at the end of each session, you're saying to yourself that that phrase and you're doing the taps or the eye movement and it recognizes how you feel about the memory. So that's something that you can do. in and of itself. You don't have to do a whole EMDR thing. Is that something that you're still doing? I still do that, yes. How often do you do that? Whenever I feel a negative emotion and I remember to do it. I don't always remember to do it, but have you read any of Thich Nhat Hanh? No. Okay. So one of the things that Thich Nhat Hanh recommends I think it's the heart of the Buddha's teaching. It might be in like the first 10 chapters. That's all I read of his book. But one of the techniques he recommends is recognize, accept, and embrace. So this really only works if you're away from a trigger sound and you can close your eyes. It's kind of quiet. You can just chill out for a minute. You know, you say, recognize that I'm upset I accept that I'm upset it's okay for the upset feelings to be here and then you're essentially anthropomorphizing your negative emotion you're saying you're treating it like a like a person yeah like a small upset child basically you're like come here you know give me a hug it'll be okay you know you're safe now and this is where I combine the two I combine that technique and the EMDR technique. And I say, you know, I do the positive cognition thing at the end during the embrace part. And then I do the eye move too. And then when I first started doing this technique, I would just cry. Just the recognizing and accepting and embracing part without even the EMDR part. I was just doing that alone. I would just... I would just start crying. There was so much unprocessed negative emotions from, you know, I didn't even mention the neglect. There's the neglect aspect because, you know, my mom is so, she's a single mom. She works full time and she hasn't dealt with her own emotional baggage. So she's essentially absent emotionally, not intentionally. She's just you know, she's not able to be emotionally present. So essentially I'm like an orphan being raised by a single mother, if that makes sense. Yeah. So you share a house, but she's not really able to give you emotional validation. Yeah. There's so much going on. Can I ask a question? All the things going on. What do you think? Yeah. I'm curious. What is the relationship like? Do you come home and you guys eat together? Yeah, we haven't had a family dinner. I mean, that's going to be tough. Yeah, I haven't had a family dinner with her since middle school, I think. Gotcha. Okay. Yeah. You guys do anything together, like travel? Yeah, just recently, in the past couple of months, I'd say we started walking in the mornings. It's only in the past year that I've started, like, being respectful towards her. I mean, not that I wasn't at all, but I would just, like, now it's, you know, almost entirely respect and love between us. Whereas before, it was just, like, we're fucking strangers to each other, you know? Were you reacting to her in any way? Like, acting out, maybe, due to this phone? Oh, for sure. Yeah, for sure, for sure. Even... even now I don't always feel safe around her. Like it's still kind of tense. Like I really like to cook with her now because I can play music and we can bond. Okay. That's good. Yeah. Whereas before we weren't really, we weren't really bonding over anything. And I, a couple of times, you know, we're really getting into it. We're like singing to the same song. I'm washing dishes or whatever, and she's chopping up some vegetables, and I just start crying because it's the only time that I know instinctually that she cannot be mad at me. Whereas the rest of the time, I don't know for a fact. I don't know intrinsically that she's not mad at me. Intellectually, I may know, okay, she's just watching TV. She's cool, but it's so deeply ingrained, this defense mechanism, that I don't. I'm just always on edge because I don't know if she's going to like. She's just a volcano person. She's just a volcano personality. So it's like, fuck, this is like a therapy session for free. Yeah. Hey, man. And, you know, I'm sure you're not the only one who kind of experiences stuff. And I'm super grateful that you're able to talk about it. So thanks for listening. Yeah, I know. And any time after, I mean, yeah, if you ever need to talk to you. And your sister's living with you too? She is. Being shitty. But that doesn't help your mom. Is she also careful about, is she understanding at all about her setting up, you know, your mom? Not really. It's all on your shoulders kind of thing and everyone else's. wait what was the question i don't know what the question was it was more like um uh yeah is she respectful at all of like maybe the situation at home or or are you kind of the only one who's kind of walking on eggshells my my mom and my grandparents are pretty respectful my mom my sister is not really respectful but she's also not triggering me very much you know she's She might close the doors too hard or things like that. I'm just curious if you're noticing that your mom is gradually feeling better. And the next thing I was going to ask is, I was curious to see how much misophonia is tied to your mom. Yeah, yeah, sure. Misophonia is definitely tied to my mom. I don't know if she's getting better. She's not throwing tantrums like she used to. She was throwing a lot of fucking tantrums when I was a kid. Yeah. She's not doing that anymore or as much. She's still got a lot going on, though. There's a lot under the hood that she's not looking at. And I've asked her, like, dozens of times, like, you need to see a therapist. You need to see a therapist. But it's just she's left it for so long, and she has to work so much that even just to crack it open, it's just going to smell really bad, and I don't think she wants to deal with it. Sure. It's interesting that you're quite lucid and kind of self-aware. Where do you think that comes from? That comes from her working so hard and me being able to not work as hard because she works so hard. Gotcha. So you have more time. At least with the pandemic, I don't know if I would anyway. I have a lot of time to sit and process. And you're obviously reading stuff. Yeah, I want to get that book that you mentioned. I'll stick that in the show notes as well. It sounded really interesting. I've got a couple of books if you want. Yeah, yeah, that'd be cool. Anything that's kind of informed your thinking and your coping would be interesting. Okay, yeah. Okay, so the one we already talked about was The Heart of the Buddhist Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh. The other one was The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. That's about trauma. And then the Complex PTSD Workbook by Ariel Schwartz. That's also about trauma, but trauma over an extended period of time. And it helps you. It gives you, like, writing exercise. Yeah. I can only nibble at it now because I just hit a wall with it. But maybe let's talk about your art. We'll have, obviously, links, as I said, in Instagram, but you want to talk about your rock art. Yeah. you know it's therapy it's art it is an opportunity to get into nature it's meditation it's a lot you can practice you can practice gratitude you can practice joy focus being present you know and if i if i have a good time doing it afterwards i just feel i just feel weightless kind of i just feel like i don't know i just kind of like stroll loosey goosey down the sidewalk, you know, just like kind of flapping my arms. I guess not flapping, but you know what I mean. Do you do it intentionally? Like you're like, I'm going to build this piece and on this specific day or is it just like if you're going through a rough time, you stop and... When I first started, I think I just started EMDR and it was like everything was super rough and I was definitely like staying out all day just like, I was, I guess, balancing my feels. You know, people say eating your feelings. I guess I was balancing my feelings. I was going to say, well, that's fine. I was going to mention that just the nature of peace is where there's rocks balancing and seemingly difficult. poses or what have you it's somewhat of a metaphor to what you're probably feeling inside where you're balancing so many things am I just reading too much into it or making some stupid no I mean yes everything is very precarious I think if I had to work full time I would not be as lucid or handling everything as well as I am So I definitely have my mom to thank for that. But sorry, you go ahead. No, I was going to say that's, you know, you just expressed some gratitude right there. It's these kinds of things that are, you know, talk about more of the gratitude and joy that you feel doing these pieces. Like while you're doing them, is it when you're looking back at them or thinking about the art? I'm just curious how you're. Yeah, joy in the moment, gratitude for having the opportunity. just to be there and do that thing. You know, gratitude for my mom for working so hard. So I have all that time to be there. Gratitude for the creek itself for being there, the rocks and everything. Gratitude because I put a tip jar out for people walking by. So gratitude for whoever wants to donate to my art. And then, you know, obviously focus. You need a lot of concentration, you know, and joy because it's just fun to do it. But not always, you know, sometimes like, When I start introducing the camera, when I bring the camera into the mix, there's a chance of losing the joy because I'm more worried about what the shot is going to look like. I'm worried about what it looks like aesthetically as opposed to just having fun making the structure. Right. Yeah, suddenly you're thinking about what other people's feelings would be as opposed to kind of focusing on yourself. Exactly. Yeah, and even without the camera, like I still, when I first started, I would balance kind of out of the way. Like I wasn't too concerned with people walking by. I guess what I'm saying is I could balance off the beaten trail, like in the woods or something, and that would be enough for me. But now it's like every time I go out, I need to be in a place where people will see me, and I need people to see me. i need people to look over at the thing i'm making so badly and like is this for validation you think yeah yeah yeah i mean i just have so much going on it's like hard not to do people come and reach out and talk to you and communicate and ask about the yeah for sure i've got a sign too that answers a lot of their questions otherwise i would have to i'd have to stop what i'm doing the whole time what do you put on the sign i'm curious Is it specific to your work or anything about your story? I kind of shoehorned my story in there. Like, I typed it up and it says, you know, this is my work, this is how it works, you know, here's my websites and all that stuff. And then kind of at the bottom, it just was like, P.S., I changed my name to this. Yeah. But actually, I did mention Misophonia on there because... Some spots, it's right next to the road. Like this one spot, it's a super sweet spot, like really beautiful rocks. And it's right next to the trail. But on the other side is the road. I can't really take my headphones off. So I just, I put that on there. Like, I cannot take my headphones off. I have a disorder. Do not answer this. Right, right. And don't trigger me. Yeah. Interesting. And where do you see, do you want this to, I'm assuming you do want this to grow. Do you want to pursue this full time if you can? Ideally. But it's, you know, it's been slim. I think my best day I made like 48 bucks in tips. But that was also like just after stimulus checks and like kind of right after Trump had lost. So I think everybody was feeling good. Yeah. I think that was a flip. Like yesterday, I just made $4. It was a Sunday, I feel like. And it really just depends, location and time of day and weather and everything. I feel like I can probably talk quite a bit more. We're getting to about almost an hour or so. I don't know. Is there something in your notes or something that you want to really get out there that maybe we haven't already talked about? I probably have sensory processing disorder, too. Yeah, sensory processing disorder. So are there other, I guess we, I just assume that you had visual triggers, but are there other senses that kind of trigger you? Yeah. Well, I guess not trigger, but something that really bothers me is like a sticky substance on my fingers. Like an almost, I don't know, like if I'm doing something where my hands are are continually getting sticky. Sometimes I'll find that I go and rinse my hands off, even though as soon as I come back to the task, my hands are just going to get sticky again. It's also like bright lights. I've noticed turn signals. I don't know much about autism, but it's sounding like some overlap there. Yay. Not that you don't always have enough to think about, yeah. I made a meme about it. I don't know if you've seen the show. I can't remember what the fuck it's called. But anyways, this guy was like holding something on fire. So I'll give you the setup. The caption is, when your therapist tells you that you're very likely autistic, but you're already trans, bipolar, and misophonic. And then he's holding the thing on fire and he's saying, I'll just put this over here with the rest of the fire. Right, right, right. Yeah, well, this has been great. I don't know if there's anything else you want to share, but I think, yeah, this has been really useful. I think people are going to get a lot out of this. And I want to thank you again, Mara, for coming on. And we'll have links to everything in the show notes. And if anyone's in North Carolina, please go and check out these pieces. Well, thank you, Adeel. Thanks for doing this show. Thank you so much, Mara. Incredible conversation. If you enjoyed that, please follow Mara on Instagram. Please leave a quick review or just hit the five stars wherever you listen to this podcast. You can find us on social media at Misophonia Podcast on Instagram and Facebook and now on TikTok or at Misophonia Show on Twitter. Music, as always, is by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and quiet.