Michelle - Finding Style in Coping with Sounds

S5 E176 - 2/6/2022
In this episode, Adeel speaks with Michelle, a medical sales professional who discusses her life with misophonia, emphasizing the challenges and coping mechanisms. Michelle shares her initial discovery of misophonia through her irritation with her mother's gum-chewing habits and explores the difficulties she faced due to her condition, particularly in professional settings where she encounters multiple triggers, such as slurping sounds during meetings. She finds virtual meetings somewhat easier, as she can control her exposure to triggers by muting or not wearing AirPods, though she doesn't seek accommodations at work, choosing instead to handle situations subtly. Michelle highlights her innovative use of fashionable earplugs that look like jewelry to blend coping mechanisms with personal style, reflecting a proactive approach to managing her misophonia while maintaining her professional image. Furthermore, Michelle touches on the broader impact of misophonia on her personal relationships and self-perception, notably how it has shaped her interactions with her family and her understanding of herself as a sensitive individual. She reflects on the importance of self-acceptance and embracing one's quirks, viewing her high sensitivity not as a burden but as a unique asset that enriches her experiences and connections with others. Adeel and Michelle's discussion underlines the complexity of living with misophonia and the diverse strategies individuals employ to navigate their daily lives.


Adeel [0:01]: Welcome to the Misophonia podcast. This is episode 17 of season 5. My name is Adeel Ahmad and I have Misophonia. This week I'm talking to Michelle. Michelle works in medical sales and had a pretty typical onset story, though she moved around a lot being in a military family. We talk about those early years, what it's like now working in her current role, visiting a lot of clients, plus her go-to earplugs, and how she deals with home life, living with her boyfriend and her teenage son. Remember, you can follow the show on Instagram at Missifunny Podcast, also Facebook, Twitter. And if you like this or any episode, you can really help by leaving a quick rating or review wherever you listen to this podcast so that we can maybe move up a little bit in the algorithms and be in front of more misophones. And don't forget, you can also support the show financially if you want on Patreon at our Patreon page, patreon.com slash misophony podcast. All right, now here's my conversation with Michelle. Michelle, welcome to the podcast. Good to have you here.

Michelle [1:09]: Thank you. I love having these conversations.

Adeel [1:13]: Yeah. First, do you want to tell folks kind of like roughly where you're located?

Michelle [1:18]: So I'm in Sacramento, California.

Adeel [1:21]: Ah, right. West Coast. I figured a few hours back. And then you said you're in sales and marketing?

Michelle [1:28]: I am. Yeah. I'm in medical sales and marketing.

Adeel [1:32]: Gotcha. Okay. Actually, I think I had somebody on a couple of seasons ago who's doing something in medical or pharmaceutical sales. Anyways. Yeah. So I guess, and you're also mentioning a lot of conversations. Maybe why don't we start with your current work situation? We'll obviously get into your history and whatnot. A lot of conversation with people that's obviously mostly virtual. How has it kind of been for Misophonia?

Michelle [2:04]: You know, honestly, I have found that it's a lot easier. I work with a lot of senior citizens and I visit senior facilities and things like that. It's actually been easier. I always feel a lot more comfortable in front of people. But when it comes to triggers and things like that, virtual is always a little bit easier.

Adeel [2:29]: Okay, so you're able to avoid things virtually. I guess you can mute people.

Michelle [2:38]: You can mute, absolutely. And, you know, it really just depends. If I'm on Zoom without my AirPods... I feel like you can hear a lot more with your AirPods in. Like it feels like it's a lot more like in your ear. But if I'm not wearing AirPods, I don't really have any issues with it.

Adeel [3:02]: Right. Have you told anybody at work or have you had to kind of get any accommodations maybe?

Michelle [3:09]: No. You know what I think is funny and you could probably relate to this. I think everybody always thinks of it as kind of a joke. And that's how I would get by with it, you know, as well. You know, it was like, oh God, you're too loud. Or, you know, you try to kind of throw little tidbits out at them. So maybe they'd be a little bit more conscious of it. But I always feel like people bring it up as a joke, if that makes any sense.

Adeel [3:39]: Oh yeah, I've had people, you know, eat cereal on Zoom calls and it's like, you know, you try to, you try to tell them like, can we like not maybe eat on these calls? And there's always like a, oh yeah, okay. You know, if he laughs around and a joke might be made out of it, but I'm dead serious.

Michelle [4:00]: well you're dead serious and it's causing a visceral reaction I mean I get to the point where it's kind of fight or flight like I need to get out of this room I cannot stay in this room any longer I you know at work we are back to having meetings in our office once a week and I have an issue with slurping you know when somebody is slurping their coffee or And it, it takes me out of everything. Yeah. And it's the only thing I can hear. And I end up pressing in on my ear. So it's a little muted, but you also don't, you know, I've gotten past the, I don't shoot anybody daggers anymore because they don't know what they're doing. But, um, I've gotten to a point where I have these little, uh, earplugs that look like jewelry. Hmm. And I'm a slave for fashion. So I found these really cute little earplugs that actually look like jewelry. So I can wear those as well.

Adeel [5:11]: Oh, that's interesting. Do you have the name of those?

Michelle [5:14]: They are Loop. L-O-O-P.

Adeel [5:17]: Oh, okay. Yeah. Okay. I think I'm familiar with those.

Michelle [5:20]: And I actually... Yeah. And there's also... Oh, I just saw another brand that actually have little jewels on them. So... you know it's out there yeah and you can stay fashionable right right right uh well and have you mentioned have you brought up misophonia with anybody at work or you just kind of flashed them jewelry and then they you know i've i've talked a little bit about it i'm i'm i'm fortunate that uh in my job i'm i'm alone in the car a lot i'm driving a lot and going to different meetings in different facilities. So I'm really only in the office about one day a week. And that's for that meeting. Yeah. Yeah.

Adeel [6:05]: Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay. Okay. Yeah. Well, well maybe let's, let's do a sudden rewind back to kind of early years from Michelle. You want to tell us kind of like around when you started maybe noticing some of these sounds.

Michelle [6:21]: So honestly, it started with my mom and her gum. And I love her dearly. But again, it was that instant anger. She would start to kind of snap and pop her gum. And quite honestly, I hate gum. I hate it.

Adeel [6:40]: Gums come up a lot recently.

Michelle [6:41]: I do not want anybody chewing it around me. I don't want to hear it. I don't want to see it. And I think that that was the first time I realized that it causes... and I hate to, it's almost embarrassing to say, but it causes anger at that person.

Adeel [6:59]: Oh, yeah.

Michelle [7:01]: And then I, that's when I first noticed it. And then there's one event, and again, it involves gum, that really stands out to where I was living in San Francisco, and there was a woman behind me, and she was kind of doing the same thing. It was cracking and snapping and popping her gum. And I would take the bus through Chinatown into South Market in San Francisco.

Adeel [7:32]: The number 30?

Michelle [7:32]: The number 30 or the 45, depending. I lived in North Beach. And so if you know, when you're on the 30, you go through Chinatown and the buses fill up. And everybody's right there up on you. You hear everything. And I ended up actually getting... Plastic bags, chewing, popping of gum. I remember this woman was chewing her gum and I got off the bus early. I was like, I will walk the rest of the way. I need to get out of here. That's when I realized it caused that fight or flight. If I stay here, it's just going to brew and it might boil over. I need to get away from it. Then you notice it with people and You feel like it's your fault and there's something wrong with you. These poor people are just trying to eat their meal or their soup. And so you start to feel a little guilty about having that type of a reaction.

Adeel [8:38]: Oh, exactly. Especially when the triggerer is like, you know, a close relative, like your mom. How did that kind of progress with your mom? I'm assuming did it start at kind of that middle school kind of age?

Michelle [8:56]: Yeah, actually, it was right. I remember where I was sitting when I went and it stands out. It must have been in like eighth grade. We had just moved. It was around eighth grade. And unfortunately, again, I love my mom and she will probably never listen to this. So I think I'm safe. But those weren't the types of things that you could share with her. There was always a lot of suck it up, buttercup, or get over it. And so I never really spoke to her about it. And again, I think that we are made to feel guilty for what we feel are flaws. And so it's a little embarrassing when you don't quite understand what's going on.

Adeel [9:51]: Yeah, hopefully that will change. I mean, I think a lot of mental health issues in the past where people felt guilty about basic anxiety or OECD or things like that. Like, what's wrong with me?

Michelle [10:04]: And in society, you hide your flaws. Look at Facebook and Instagram. How often do you see posts of somebody who look horrible when they look horrible? We're only supposed to talk about the good things, not the things that we're... you that we you know suffer from or or that we're dealing with yeah no that's that's a good point uh yeah it's it's it's not really there's not really a real photoshop for mental health like there is one for right wouldn't that be nice i would i would like to use the um nashville filter for my my ailments please right to look any better

Adeel [10:45]: You mentioned you moved around that time. I'm just curious. Was it an easy move? Was it kind of a rough move?

Michelle [10:56]: Well, my dad was in the military, so we moved a lot. And it was right around the time I was having other issues, which we now know was ADD. So I always felt that it kind of probably went hand in hand. And it was misdiagnosed.

Unknown Speaker [11:18]: Go ahead.

Adeel [11:20]: No, that's exactly what I was going to kind of move towards was like, was there, was the misappointing just kind of like rolled into another diagnosis, which had easiest to face because, you know, nobody knows, nobody knew what it was.

Michelle [11:35]: Right. And that and, well, she's depressed. I think that's what everybody, you know, they want to put you in a box. And so I think so often you are misdiagnosed and there's not, you really have to be your own advocate. And as a kid, you can't really do that. And you have to have parents that are going to be your advocate. But again, military family, always very loving, but there was a lot of just suck it up. What's wrong with you?

Adeel [12:05]: How did you react or act out?

Michelle [12:11]: So I just got to the point where I just didn't want to listen to anybody. You know, if you're not going to listen to me, I was always a really emotional person. But I also feel it was because I always felt like I kind of had a heightened emotional sense where I felt things a little, you know, this sounds sick. cheesy, but I always felt things a little bit deeper than other people. I would always worry about other people or I would think too much. I'd get up in my head. When that would happen and I would want to talk to somebody about it, it was, oh, she must be depressed. We're talking in the 80s here. Again, there just wasn't a lot out there for people. We couldn't Google it. That's the only reason I knew what it was is when You know, I was able to get online and go, this is what happens. What is this? And I went, oh, there is a condition. I am not crazy.

Adeel [13:19]: Right, right.

Michelle [13:20]: So, yeah.

Adeel [13:23]: um yes oh man i was gonna ask you something good and then i told you but uh but okay yeah so you you kind of uh right you kind of it was kind of yeah you kind of so when you said you you didn't listen to people you just kind of um uh it wasn't like you were you don't mean just by closing your ears and stuff it was like you were kind of like um rebelling a little bit oh absolutely

Michelle [13:48]: Well, like I said, I really think that it all wrapped into the ADD. And it wasn't ADHD. It was ADD. It was just, oh, look, a shiny thing. And I was off to do it and doing something else. But I was always a little bit rebellious. And I was always kind of wanting to be an individual. And I didn't want anybody to tell me. Because I said so, because I needed more information. That doesn't work for me.

Adeel [14:17]: Yeah, I remember what I was going to say was that I've had quite a few people identify as HSP, which is like, I don't know if that's official, but like highly sensitive person. A number of people come on who do kind of have said similar things where, you know, their entire lives they felt like hypersensitive to HSP. um things that are going on around them it's not just like being depressed it's like just being it's it's it was being just kind of uh especially tuned in to others feelings and and just things happening to them um so i wonder if there's any relation there but um well don't you think that makes sense i mean with with with misophonia we we are you know affected by sounds more so than others

Michelle [15:06]: And triggering sounds. And so I think it makes sense. And like I said, as I've gotten older, I've been able to kind of accept these things and actually embrace them. But I think it all makes sense. I think they would definitely go hand in hand in being highly sensitive in all aspects.

Adeel [15:27]: Yeah, I would say a heightened sense of self-awareness. I mean, sometimes I feel like I can kind of read everything that's going on, even though other people might not realize it.

Michelle [15:37]: Oh, absolutely.

Adeel [15:38]: I don't know if that's true in every situation, but I definitely think that's above average for me. And I'm sure with a lot of us, it seems like it's talking to everybody. How did things maybe progress through like high school? Was it other people starting to affect you? Were you getting triggered in school?

Michelle [15:58]: Oh, yeah. It was, you know, and it wasn't just sounds. It was anybody putting their foot just slightly on my chair.

Adeel [16:09]: or, you know, I was always... Sorry, tactile sensitivities as well.

Michelle [16:15]: And it was just, and again, it would take me straight out of whatever we would do in class. And that's all I could feel. It was all I could hear. It was just, it was all consuming. And again, it would trigger that, I got to get out of here. And that's all I could think about. So, yeah, I just was never... And again, there was the ADD as well. So I was just never able to really focus in.

Adeel [16:42]: Did you get medication for the ADD? I don't know what was going on in the 80s.

Michelle [16:48]: Not until an adult. Not until I was actually able to speak about it with experiences and actually tell my doctor, this is what I'm experiencing. This is what I've experienced since I was a kid. And I had a doctor who was wonderful and said, you are textbook. Because I was literally, you know, I would drive down the street and it was, oh, look, a bird. Oh, look, a shiny thing. And I sideswiped a parked car. But it was, and then, you know, I would be brushing my teeth and I would shove my toothbrush into my cheek and then I'd start blow drying my hair before I was done brushing my teeth. I mean, just little things like that, that, you know, when, when you don't know about these things, your parents just think that you're flighty or, you know, It was always just like, oh, that's just the show.

Adeel [17:57]: Remember, women used to be called hysterical like 100 years ago or 50 years ago.

Michelle [18:01]: Oh, right. I would be at some weird institution with that frontal lobotomy and electric shock. And I'm sure everything that I find charming and quirky about myself today would have been zapped out of me.

Adeel [18:18]: What did your friends think? Or other people around you in school? Especially around high school and further.

Michelle [18:27]: So, you know, I always kind of felt like an oddball. I didn't... I was not picked on by any stretch. I knew everybody. Everybody kind of knew me. But I was never claimed by anybody. If that makes any sense. So... claimed like in terms of targeted for bullying or even no or even like in a group you know you have a group of friends I was always just a loner but again I think that also comes from being in a military family and we would move you know quite a bit so in elementary school and middle school I was fortunate to be in the same high school but I moved a lot during middle school and elementary school I think I was able to really, I don't want to say suppress it. I always just thought something was wrong with me. So like I said, there was this little trick that I would do if it was coming from the right side, I would push, I don't even know what it's called, that little flap on your ear and I would push it inward and kind of plug my ear. So it would mute it on that side. And it would get me through until I was able to leave or it stopped.

Adeel [19:53]: Yeah. Gotcha. Yeah. That's, that's one technique. Were you starting to get also visual triggers as well? You, you mentioned a tactile, but watching people maybe make, you know, watching people chew gum, for example.

Michelle [20:06]: Oh, I can't.

Adeel [20:07]: Yeah.

Michelle [20:07]: Oh, I can't. I can't. Yeah. It, it, it kills me. It, it literally, I, but then I, I, like I said, It's a bummer because you get mad at these people and complete strangers sometimes. And you're angry with them.

Adeel [20:28]: Have you done that?

Michelle [20:30]: I've never.

Adeel [20:31]: Yeah.

Michelle [20:32]: Well, I've shot some. So not so much. I mean, I've been an adult for a long time, but I've been able to deal with it, I think, a little bit better since like my mid 30s, where I was able to kind of step outside of it and go, this is not something they're doing on purpose. You need to chill. And, you know, I've always been really good. Again, that comes probably with the highly sensitive. I've always been really good to kind of see a situation for what it is. But it doesn't make it any easier. And I would have to get myself out of the room. But I remember in my 20s, I would hear somebody and going back to that bus story. I shot that woman daggers. I was like, do you not, do you not hear yourself? Like we are on a crowded bus and that's all I can hear. And you know, it's so much that I had to get off the bus, but I remember shooting her some daggers and she probably thought I was crazy. Like, she's like, I'm just on the bus minding my own business. Oh yeah. I wanted her to see me. Like, do you not understand what you're doing right now? How rude. And you just assume that it's just bad manners, but it's not. It's just the way I hear it, and it's what I zoom in on.

Adeel [21:54]: Yeah. Well, if you tell anybody, they'll assume that you just have a problem with bad manners. They'll never grasp the... What year was that, the bus incident? I'm curious. We're about the same age, I think. I might have been in San Francisco at that time.

Michelle [22:09]: Oh, so that must have been around 96, 97?

Adeel [22:13]: Oh, okay.

Michelle [22:14]: Maybe 98. Gotcha.

Adeel [22:15]: Gotcha. Okay.

Michelle [22:16]: Yeah. So I moved out when I was out of my, you know what? It was a great time to be in San Francisco.

Adeel [22:24]: Yeah. Yeah.

Michelle [22:25]: It is a very different city now.

Adeel [22:27]: Right. Yeah.

Michelle [22:27]: It's, it's, it's a little bit of a bummer. I, I, we lived in, I lived in North beach and I moved out of my folks house when I was 17. I graduated high school when I was 17. I was like, peace out. I'm out of here. And, and, um, and moved and it was such a fantastic time because North beaches is just kind of like a small little town in this, in this big city.

Adeel [22:50]: Yeah.

Michelle [22:55]: And the Northern cafe was wonderful. It's closed now. So yeah.

Adeel [22:59]: Oh no. Yeah. I moved there in 2001. So it was good, good times in the early two thousands as well. But yeah, it's changed.

Michelle [23:08]: It really has.

Adeel [23:10]: So how did it go? It sounds like perspectives kind of changed a little bit as you were getting older. How about relationships as an adult? Was it kind of creeping into any of those?

Michelle [23:24]: Yeah. Well, you know, it's funny. My boyfriend is one of the sweetest men on the face of the planet. And the anger I feel towards him when he's eating chips near me is not okay but i also believe yeah but it but what's funny is as i like i said as i've kind of accepted it and i've been a little bit more open about it and i've been able to say it's not you it's me i totally get it but could you go somewhere else or i'm gonna go upstairs or you know and there is a certain amount of humor you have to put in it you know just to i think to get through i think the best comedians have a lot of pain anyway it doesn't even have to be misophonia so it makes it makes total sense but i also think that it's just i mean it is it's a it's a crazy thing you know to be that triggered and to have that type of a physical reaction by somebody just chewing next to you and if you don't laugh about it you you could spiral. I mean, you have, you have to take a position of this is, this is something that I have to deal with. I'm going to be open and honest about it. And then maybe the people who love me will, you know, change their behaviors or know that, okay, I'm, I'm going to eat the Doritos and it's going to be loud. So I'm going to do it in the other room, you know?

Adeel [25:04]: Was your boyfriend, think about it, does he kind of accommodate? Is it like eye rolling?

Michelle [25:12]: No, he accommodates and I can see him and I've shot daggers at him too, just sitting at the dinner table with him. Yeah, yeah, for sure. And again, it's just a, it's before I'm able to actually even think about it. Like I'll hear it and I'll look at him like, really? Really? And then I have to go, okay, he's not doing anything wrong. But then I see him chewing a little slower because he knows what's going on. And then I get a rush of guilt because I'm like, this poor guy, he doesn't even know what he's signed up for.

Adeel [25:53]: Do you maybe, I mean, when you know you're sitting down at each, do you sometimes maybe kind of tell yourself, all right, 20 minutes, this could be, you know, a little rough, we'll get through it. Or is it, I try to do that, but then I usually forget. And then it's like, that is the shock that kind of, the surprise, it kind of gets me.

Michelle [26:14]: Well, to be honest, I've gotten to the point where I make my son and my boyfriend dinner. And I they eat together. During the pandemic, we have so we live together. And during the pandemic, we made our office. We had desks are right next to each other. And so what would happen is he would bring his lunch to his desk. And I would have to leave. And then I was like, this is time for my lunch break. Upstairs. My lunch break will be upstairs until you're done. And then I did, like I said, I got to a point where I make dinner and then they sit down and eat. And a lot of times I'm in the kitchen with them, but not sitting right there next to them. I love my son dearly. He's 16. He is... my sun and moon, and I would throw myself in front of a moving train for him. But he's got this thing, he chews with his mouth closed, but it sounds like there's so much saliva in his mouth that I want. And it causes an anger to happen.

Adeel [27:35]: Was it always the case with him? Or is it something that, you know, once he got to a certain age?

Michelle [27:42]: You know, I only remember it the last few years. with him and you know i also think it's funny that you know when dogs aren't looking it doesn't bug me so when i hear pets doing it like i give them a pass somehow or my brain gives them a pass so i've always wondered well does that is that the same thing with you

Adeel [28:12]: Yeah, I mean, I've heard about a lot of other folks where it's like somehow your brain assigns a threat to a human more because I think it may be because it identifies a human having free will and they should be able to stop. Sure. The interesting thing is also like it's usually kids get a pass too because...

Michelle [28:38]: i don't know i feel at least my brain doesn't really assign the threat to them but maybe at a certain age that goes out the window too well like i i'm like i taught you better than this and i and i don't say that to him but that's what i'm thinking but right right you know but i do believe there is something in our brains that goes these humans these people should know better And so we allow it in to trigger us. But when it comes to animals, you know, they don't know anything.

Adeel [29:13]: They're just wild. Yeah.

Michelle [29:15]: They get a pass. So it's interesting to me.

Adeel [29:20]: Does your son, I'm assuming he must know about your sensitivities, right? I mean, you grew up with it.

Michelle [29:25]: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Adeel [29:26]: Yeah. Okay.

Michelle [29:27]: Well, unfortunately, I think that he's got a little something.

Adeel [29:30]: I was going to ask.

Michelle [29:32]: Yeah. So he... So he can't handle when forks hit the plate when they're eating. And that sound, there's any time the fork and the knife hit and it's like metal scraping. And we've had a conversation about that, that he's like, I can't even have them touching. I can't even look at them touching. Because even when they're in the sink, I have to separate them. And so I go, okay, well, you're welcome.

Adeel [30:10]: You're getting all the good parts of me. Well, we don't know if it's hereditary, but at least he's got somebody who he can talk to who can kind of empathize with. And now probably he's got a better understanding of what you've gone through.

Michelle [30:28]: Absolutely. But, you know, I would think it's hereditary. I mean, I know we don't know a lot about it, but I would think because he has parts of my personality and I really think it's a personality thing too. And you know, they say that folks that are triggered by sounds and things like that, they're the highly intelligent ones, or at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Adeel [30:53]: Oh yeah. And also creative. I mean, that's actually been identified. Actually, yeah. I mean, Dr. Marcia Johnson, who kind of first was the audiologist who kind of has really been popularizing this has told me that, like a biggest group of it um her patients are her yeah our engineers and uh and we also know we've seen tons of creative people like people in the creative arts uh lots of them have and yeah i mean for uh for um it's quote unquote industries or, or, or, um, you know, um, things, things where people, uh, need to be super sensitive and, or focus a lot. It makes sense that they would, uh, they would attract, well, they would, uh, misappointing would be a big part of their lives. So.

Michelle [31:43]: Sure. It goes right back to that highly sensitive, highly aware personality trait, you know? So, you know, if, if, this is the trade-off. I wouldn't, I wouldn't change it because I like, I like what it brings to, not the, not the triggers and all of that, but I like that what the highly sensitive thing brings to my life. Right. You know, it used to be a burden, but I actually really appreciate it now.

Adeel [32:12]: Yeah.

Michelle [32:13]: So if it's part of it, then it's part of it.

Adeel [32:17]: Yeah. And you said, I think you were telling me a while back that you've been more open about it. Is that something that started maybe... Well, actually, what did we talk about first? When did you find out this thing had a name? You said you were Googling around for it. Was this in the last five years or two years?

Michelle [32:34]: Oh, you know, I would say probably about five years. But I've I've been more open about it. You know what? I actually probably even further back than that because I've been really open about it in the relationship that I'm in now. Um, and that's, so I had to be, and that's over five years. So I would maybe eight, eight, nine years. But with just within the last five years, I, I really said, Oh, well, this is just the part of me. and I'm going to talk about it and I'm going to, you know, people are going to understand it and I am going to make light of it at times. So people are willing to understand it. If that makes any sense.

Adeel [33:24]: Well, yeah, you can't just, uh, right. It's, it's, people are more likely to listen to something if you can kind of make it in a way that's maybe not so heavy at the beginning, especially when it's something that's hard for people to understand.

Michelle [33:39]: Yeah, absolutely. Um, and of course there are going to be people that trigger you more than others. Yeah.

Adeel [33:46]: Yep. Or as anyone, uh, asked you like, Oh, do you mean something that sounds like this? And then start shooting.

Michelle [33:55]: Yes, actually. And I go, that's exactly it. So you can stop now. So I'm glad we are on the same page now. Stop. Right. Right. But you know, I'm, I'm fortunate. I, I believe in quality over quantity of friends. So the people I surround myself with, I can talk pretty freely about these things. I mean, with the ADD, I just started talking to people about that because there was such a stigma. But I've been diagnosed for 15 years. So I just started... talking to people about that because there were times that people would kind of there's a there's a shift you know there are times there i'm looking right at them and i don't hear anything they're saying i'm looking at a bird behind them or whatever and they and they see it and i'll have to kind of explain okay here it is this is what's going on and there's part of me that thinks it's you know it's part of my charm and the other part of me that doesn't

Adeel [35:01]: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. In recent times, have you talked to professionals or therapists about misophonia as well?

Michelle [35:14]: Yeah, it came up with my doctor. And he had offered anti-anxiety medication.

Adeel [35:23]: Of course, right, okay.

Michelle [35:25]: right and i just kind of went i don't think that's it well and i don't like that feeling of being out i think that takes away from the things that i do like yeah yeah and so again there are things that i think come along with that that we have to just kind of what my daddy said, soak it up, buttercup. Because I don't want to give up those other things that I feel are a really good part of me. And that would dull out everything.

Adeel [36:01]: Right, right.

Michelle [36:04]: I chose not to.

Adeel [36:06]: Did you have siblings growing up?

Michelle [36:09]: Uh-huh. Older brother, eight years older than me, though. So, we kind of both had an only childhood at one point or another.

Adeel [36:17]: Yeah, right.

Michelle [36:19]: We're closer now than we were as kids.

Adeel [36:23]: Yeah. No misophonia with him?

Michelle [36:27]: No. My brother got all the really cool, calm, cool and collected genes. I got everything else. He's the one that's just chill all the time.

Adeel [36:40]: Wow. Have you talked about it recently with any of your family members?

Michelle [36:47]: So, I actually... I did talk to my mom a little bit about it. But she is one of those people that would take everything very personally. So I would never tell her how she has affected me or anything like that because she's not somebody that we can sit down with and discuss our feelings. She would rather keep all of that. She wants to talk about the weather, talk about what we're having for dinner. that kind of thing if we get too deep into things it's it's pretty uncomfortable yeah yeah yeah and me i dig in deep to everybody like if you're a friend of mine we're going to know the ins and outs and good bad ugly and it's and we're going to love each other because of it and so i didn't get that from her yeah you know i've talked to some uh you know

Adeel [37:42]: The ex-son might have gone live by now, but somebody who's in her late 80s now. And then she has a grandson who's a teenager. And so it's been interesting to kind of, it was interesting to compare how different generations treated these types of things. Like back then, yeah, you wouldn't talk about any of this stuff. It was just like.

Michelle [38:01]: No, it's a weakness. You don't talk about weakness. You know, you don't, we're going to just turn a blind eye. You don't ask anybody how they're feeling. You don't want an answer to it. And so I think my folks were very much, don't tell anybody your business. Don't get emotional. And then I don't think they really knew what to do with me because I was. I was the emotional one. But it was when I was happy, when I was sad, when I was frustrated, when I was mad, it was just I felt all the emotions all the time.

Adeel [38:35]: Yeah. How do you, what are some of your coping mechanisms? Obviously, we talked about your AirPods and like leaving rooms. Do you have any other, well, actually, yeah, we've talked a few of your, plugging one of your little folds in your ears.

Michelle [38:53]: That is when you don't have anything else.

Adeel [38:55]: Yeah, right. Right. You're using your hands and that's all you got.

Michelle [39:00]: Well, yeah. And that, you know, and even trying to keep that as, you know, discreet as possible, because again, you don't want people to feel bad. And I think that's, that's something that I deal with. Like, I don't want anybody to think that I'm annoyed by them, even though I'm fully annoyed by them. You know, it's nothing that they can really control. So, you know, I, I try to keep that, you know, where I'm just kind of leaning my, my head on my hand and I've got my finger in my ear and I've been known to put my ear plugs in and hum a little bit. But do you ever find that when you can hear yourself chewing that you're apologizing to people around you?

Adeel [39:54]: Yeah. I don't want to say apologize. Because I do that now, too. Right, right, right. But yeah, when I think about it, I'm like, oh, yeah, okay, I guess. Wow, this sounds really loud. And I've heard other people say similar things.

Michelle [40:12]: But I feel like I'm apologizing to them and they're like, what are you talking about? But I'm like worried about, I'm like, why aren't you as worried about me as I'm worried about you? I'm like, is this really loud? Is it bugging you? I'm really sorry. Yeah.

Adeel [40:26]: When I take that first bite into a red apple, I definitely think, oh shit, that was loud. That was really loud. No one is fazed. No one else is fazed. But I'm like, oh man.

Michelle [40:39]: But you're worried about the people around you when you do that.

Adeel [40:42]: Briefly. I remember where I am.

Michelle [40:45]: Right. Right.

Adeel [40:46]: Then I'm like, yeah, nobody gives a shit.

Michelle [40:48]: You're back to center and you go, yeah, that's just me. Right. But, you know, honestly, there is just a lot of leaving the situation. I mean, that's because, again, I don't want anybody to feel bad. So I'll figure out a reason to leave the room. I'll, you know, I'll shorten the meeting. I will, or I'll just grin and bear it to be honest. Yeah.

Adeel [41:13]: Yeah. Well, this one, yeah. If you can't do anything else, you have to grin and bear it. Um, like what you said about, you know, quality over quantity of friends. I mean, that's one way to kind of like control your environment. Um, and, uh, and, and in terms of, um, know leaving yeah i mean compared to like taking taking the chance like rolling the dice and telling somebody and then getting the whole dismissal or the cot or the uh you know making the trigger sounds a lot of us are about the same age but uh you know it's just too exhausting to kind of like you know is it really worth the risk of somebody not reacting well and then that's stress

Michelle [41:54]: right right do they need to know or is it something i can just deal with in this moment and i probably never have to see this person ever again or exactly yeah so it's on a need-to-know basis and that's all part of the self-awareness i mean we're constantly making those calculations absolutely well and i think that as you get older um you either continue on the same path and you're oblivious to everything around you or you do become very self-aware and you understand why you react to things the way you react. And you're able to talk yourself off the ledge a lot easier as you get older because you understand yourself and you understand why you do the things you do. And most importantly, I think you just accept your faults and your strengths, you know? And... and just it's a part of you now and and know how to deal with it and you share with people when you need to share and and i just think it's i think it's a really good place to be especially you know when you know you have these types of conditions and you it's a good place to be to just go i understand what it is because sometimes you If you don't understand, you're floundering and now all of a sudden you have no coping mechanisms because it's spiraling. So having an understanding really helps.

Adeel [43:22]: That's an important message. I try to tell people who are younger, maybe they're teenagers, and they're like, this is starting to totally proliferate and seems like it's getting out of control. And sometimes it can be really scary for people because they're like, this is getting worse and worse. And I'm just a teenager. And they think that... when they get into the workforce or when and out into the real world it's going to kill them but uh but you know it's important to to let that's always told me when you are out of the world you elite you start to get more control over your environment yes you might get more triggers but you have more you can kind of like pick where you want to live you can um you know you have more agency and and actually you make a really good point about um yeah you understand yourself better and uh that's that's actually that's a yeah that's another important message i think i'll borrow and steal yeah no absolutely well and i also think that well

Michelle [44:21]: a side note do you know how many times i've thought throughout this conversation i hope i'm not swallowing too hard i hope i'm not making any do you know it's just a constant like i really hope that i'm not bugging anybody else and you know um i just i but you can only do what you can do but don't worry yeah this has been i might go back and find all kinds of stuff in editing but uh so far it's clean Good. But isn't that funny? It goes back to when you take that bite of the apple, you're worried about everybody else. And that's a crazy way to live too. Wouldn't it be great to go through life like the majority of the population, just la-di-da and oblivious of how they affect other people?

Adeel [45:12]: Yeah, I think, yeah, you're right, the majority of the population. But I wonder if there's a larger minority than we're probably even aware of that are suffering like we are. Those will be people we need to get to.

Michelle [45:24]: Well, absolutely. And give them, you know, hey, it really helps to know that there are other people that deal with it and you're not crazy. Like I said, when I was able to actually put a name to the community, it was like, oh, it is a thing. It's not just me being a crazy person and overly sensitive because I, so growing up, I was always just told I'm overly sensitive. And so I would just chalk it up to my parents knew what they were talking about, you know, and to finally go, no, your parents aren't always right. And there is a thing and you've got it.

Adeel [46:05]: What about like a relative, uncles, aunts, cousins? Were they aware of it too or your parents just kind of hid it from everybody?

Michelle [46:13]: You know, so again, it's that whole make it seem like you have a Beaver Cleaver household. You know, you don't talk about what's going on in your household, not even with your family. And being in a military family, we didn't really live close to any relatives anyway. So you can hide a lot of things when you don't live next door.

Adeel [46:35]: So, yeah, they would have never talked to them. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I guess the advantage there is ultimately not having the, necessarily having the gigantic Thanksgiving or Christmas meals. Maybe you are, maybe everyone's flying in, but.

Michelle [46:49]: No, normally six to eight people tops. So it wasn't a huge thing. But. You know, my father passed away about four years ago. I loved him dearly. But another thing that would happen is he would rub his feet together. And that was another triggering sound. And I remember just thinking, why does that bug the crap out of me? And I would tell him, I was like, why is that so loud? Why are you doing that? And he was like, you're crazy. I'm just rubbing my feet, Michelle. I'm not kidding. It's all I can hear. I can't even watch TV right now.

Adeel [47:33]: Yeah.

Michelle [47:34]: I was always just amazed on how much it would just take over.

Adeel [47:38]: Yeah.

Michelle [47:39]: Where I, that's all I hear. And I would not, I mean, you could tell me I won a million dollars and I wouldn't even, I wouldn't hear you. because I would be listening to somebody chew or my dad's feet rubbing, whatever. It was all consuming.

Adeel [47:56]: It's interesting. I mean, it's such a strong reaction. And then all these other conditions like in your ADD, you have all these medications and therapies that supposedly work, but there's like nothing even like no one knows about this, let alone.

Michelle [48:12]: know can offer some therapy i mean there are there's like cbt there's some things that seem to maybe help a little bit but um but more often than not you'll just get uh um deer in the headlights look oh but think about it everything else has um signs outwardly right don't you think so you know when even like with depression she's not getting out of bed she's you know she's dissociating herself or you know whatever But with misophonia, you go, that sound really bugs me. They can't hear what you're hearing. And they just think that you're being a pain in the butt. You know, whatever, Michelle. It's one of those things where you kind of have to take my word for it. And if you kind of have to take my word for it, they're not going to. And they're not going to just start prescribing things. Luckily, I had a... you know, a doctor who wanted to help, but I didn't want what he wanted to prescribe.

Adeel [49:13]: Right. The anti-anxiety medication. Yeah.

Michelle [49:15]: Yeah. I mean, again, I don't want to dole out what I like about myself. I just want to dole out the sound. Right.

Adeel [49:21]: Right. Right.

Michelle [49:22]: Yeah.

Adeel [49:23]: It's thinking about this. I mean, it's because some people are annoyed by sound. People just assume we're just further. We just have a more extreme case of it. And then period. End of story.

Michelle [49:35]: Right.

Adeel [49:36]: Well, but also that function.

Michelle [49:40]: But also that, you know, well, you're just overly sensitive. They kind of roll their eyes like, you know, whatever. It doesn't bug me. You're just being dramatic. And there was a lot of that. You're just dramatic. Right. You know, and so and it gets shrugged off and you become a pain in the ass. And. I think that that's how I felt in my youth. I'm the one that's just a pain in the ass because I'm the one that's just sensitive. So until you get past that that's not the case and you're willing to talk about it and accept it and understand it, you're going to believe that stuff.

Adeel [50:26]: Did it cause any, I don't know, distance between yourself and family members? It seemed like you were able to kind of like compartmentalize it a little bit.

Michelle [50:38]: Yeah. You know, there were always issues as a teenager. because again, it was, I came from a family that was, you walk that straight line, you got a good state job with a good pension and you know, don't be creative. This is not how this, because it was, it was a military family. You know, I had a family that made a great living and a wonderful life, their family through the military and the military told you what to do, you know, so no free thinking, no, you know, and if they, they had a child, me who, That's all I wanted to do. I wanted to go out and experience and do and feel. I wanted to feel everything and experience everything. So there was always a disconnect from my family. And I think that's why right when I graduated high school, I needed to move. I was like, I've got to get out of here. But it came full circle because it goes right back to understanding who you are and just because it's not who you're parents didn't fit in that little cookie cutter that your parents wanted. Once you understand that that's not you, it's them. you can come back and make a relationship with your family that works for you. Does that make any sense? I'm probably not explaining it.

Adeel [52:06]: Yeah. No, I think there's a lot of, there's probably a lot of analogies, but in general, it's like, you know, you can kind of drift, I don't want to say drift apart, but you can kind of like become, start to become your own person around, you know, teenage years and a little later. And then once you've are able to look back with some perspective, you can kind of re, I don't know, re-associate or maybe not re-associate, but create something new. And that could be a positive.

Michelle [52:37]: We can only blame our parents for so long. Do you know what I'm saying? It's like, you know, I kind of go, okay, until you're 24, we can maybe blame our parents for that. And then after that, we have to be accountable. Yeah. and and i think that's kind of what happened with me i was like well accountable for my actions but also understanding that not everything your parents said to you or did was going to work for you you know and but but also understanding that they did the best that they could with what they had and how they were raised yeah everything was happening in real time based on their yeah yeah experience too their experience yeah So you take what works and you leave behind what didn't and you make your own path.

Adeel [53:30]: Yeah, so we're getting close to an hour. This is really interesting. As you can tell, it goes by freaking fast.

Michelle [53:37]: Yeah, it totally did. Nice.

Adeel [53:41]: But yeah, but I still want to give you a chance to share. Is there anything you kind of want to share with listeners? Maybe the woman on the bus. Anything.

Michelle [53:52]: I'm sorry for shooting daggers at you. I know that you were. I now understand it wasn't a personal attack. You know, honestly, and it's what I always tell my son who is 16, it's, you know, we have to accept who we are and embrace it instead of trying to fight it. Because a lot of the time, our little quirks and our, you know, the things that we feel are our fault are some of the best things that we have to offer if we find that silver lining. So I really do believe that it kind of goes back, like I said, that highly sensitive thing, you know, if this is what comes with being highly sensitive, I'll take it because I think, you know, yeah, you feel those lows and they're really low, but man, those highs, you know, those highs are really high and I wouldn't give that up. So. give it to you all day long.

Adeel [54:48]: Yeah, you feel like it's a bit of a, it feels like a bit of a superpower to kind of feel more and maybe even, especially when you're able to sense what other people are feeling, it does feel like a superpower, like you're understanding something on another level.

Michelle [55:01]: I agree. And I, and you know, then people go, oh God, are we talking about empaths or whatever? No, I'm just, I'm, I'm talking about just being aware, like really highly aware of, of what's going on around you and, and you know, manners and some body language and and being able to sit next to somebody and kind of go hey you good is everything okay um and i'm like how do you know i just felt something i just wanted to check in on you and and so i think it all i think it all goes together and i wouldn't i i wouldn't change it i'll i'll deal with it you know it's a trade-off it's worth it yeah I really think that. And maybe I'm Pollyanna and I always see the bright side in dark times. But like I said, I think that we have to accept everything about ourselves because it makes us very unique.

Adeel [55:59]: Well, that's a great, yeah, that's a great positive note to end on. So yeah, Michelle, I mean, yeah, thanks. Thanks for, it's like wide ranging in a short amount of time. It's a really interesting conversation. Yeah, really interesting to hear about your- You got something. Yeah, no, it was really good. Yeah, thanks. Thanks for coming on.

Michelle [56:19]: Well, I appreciate you talking to me about it. It's very rare that you can actually have an hour-long conversation with somebody about it. So it's actually very lovely. So thank you.

Adeel [56:29]: Thank you, Michelle. That was a super fun conversation. Remember, if you liked this episode, don't forget to leave a quick review or just hit the five stars wherever you listen. You can hit me up by email at helen at missafoyapodcast.com or go to the website, missafoyapodcast.com. And it's probably easiest to send a message on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter. And once again, you can support the show at patreon.com slash misophonia podcast. Theme music, as always, is by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and kawaii.

Unknown Speaker [57:04]: ... ... ...