S5 E24 - 5/9/2022

S5E24 - Assal

Assal works in engineering at Uber in Seattle but has an unusual background. She is the first person I’ve interviewed who has been detained in another country due to geopolitical tensions when she was stuck in Iran for a few years. She was actually born there and grew up in the Middle East, and we talk about life with misophonia in that part of the world. We talk about tea delivery boys, punching a boyfriend, and weird suggestions by therapists. Despite the things about being a prisoner in another country for years, this was one of the funniest interviews I’ve had so far. 

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Disclaimer: These are machine-generated transcripts and so are not completely accurate. However they will be manually updated over time until they are.

[00:00:00] Adeel: Assal, welcome to the podcast. It's great to have you here.

[00:00:02] Assal: Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate it's great to be

[00:00:05] Adeel: here.

Yeah. So wanna tell us where you are?

[00:00:08] Assal: Absolutely. Yeah. I am actually located in Seattle, Washington. Yeah. I've been living here for about 15 years or so. I was born in Iran lived there till I was about eight years old. Moved to Dubai, so the United , lived there for about eight years.

Moved back to Iran for a good four years, and then moved here to, go to college and all that. And then I just happened to.

[00:00:32] Adeel: Yeah. What do you do there for work or I

[00:00:34] Assal: work for Uber on the engineering side. So corporate.

[00:00:40] Adeel: Yeah. Okay. What kinda engineer are on the u app or, so I'm on the

[00:00:44] Assal: I'm actually not an engineer myself. I'm a program manager. And I'm on the learning and development side. So we design trainings for engineers and Okay. My, yeah, my focus is primarily on policy and.

[00:01:00] Adeel: Gotcha. Okay. Yeah, I used to live very close to the headquarters in San Francisco down on ah, very nice.

I down on Folsom Street, they were on market, but yeah, I was actually

[00:01:09] Assal: there until

[00:01:10] Adeel: yesterday. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, I lived at seventh and Folsom for a long time. I'm not giving anything away cuz I don't have that house anymore. , no privacy issues there, but you sure? Yeah, I know that area very well. I actually, coincidentally used to live in Seattle downtown for a while before that, But enough about me.

Very excited to have somebody who grew up in the Middle East Iran and Dubai because we'll get into your kind of the origin story and maybe we can actually start there, but, if misophonia starts around that age eight-ish or absolutely whatever I'm very curious also having, I was brought up in a Muslim household.

You at least. That kind of culture around, around you. Very curious, like how did it all start with you and what was that

[00:01:48] Assal: like? Yeah, absolutely. So I just wanna mention this from the very beginning. I am not trying to hate on any culture, safe space, anything like that. Yeah. But it's so different.

The amount of information and knowledge people have in different parts of the. Regarding things like misophonia that, didn't really surface until much later. So for me it started around eight. I used to, sit around the dinner table with my family and were like three siblings and my parents, and the first thing it started with was with salad.

So cucumbers, , cucumbers and lettuce. And actually Iranians use cucumbers as a fruit. We always have a fruit bowl on the table. And they're always present. And I couldn't understand the feeling I'd have towards the sound. , it was almost like a twitch, . I didn't know why it was bothering me.

I didn't know what was happening. I just knew that I, I was being. So since the age of eight, I actually would put my food on a tray and I would eat alone in front of the tv. And I'm glad that, my parents would allow me to actually do that because they, no, nobody in my family had any idea about misophonia.

Neither did I. But I would just, I'm like, I can't, it's, I'm being bothered. I don't know what's happening. It didn't really escalate from. It was like that for a long time until I remember visiting my family in Iran for, I think it was the Iranian New Year. So around springtime and Iranians, they tend to crack seats like sunflower seats.

, which is the bane of my existence. , they, during, especially like during the new year, everybody. Each other and they bring out like mixed nuts and fruit. And they crack seeds. And I tell my mom I don't wanna go visit. I just like it, it's so bothersome to me. And she's no, this is rude.

It's the culture. You have to come and, stop being so spoiled. I'm like, it's not being about spoil. Like I'll have to sit in the bathroom. And this is I think I was around maybe 11 by this time. Yeah. And I remember. So vividly I was telling my uncle whom I love very much about this issue, and he held my wrist and chewed a whole cucumber in my ear because he thought I was just being like a little, I don't know, like a spoiled brat.

And I So when you were that age, were just flowing. And I'm like, this is the meanest thing. Anybody could, like, how is it that nobody believes me? If I could not pay attention to it, I would, but I can't. Yeah. So then it was from there, like going to school sniffing. Sniffing, people Yeah.

Your kids would, catch a cold and they would sniff all the time or like breathing. And again, back then I didn't I really thought I had an issue. Like I was crazy and I don't know what I, why I would keep doing this. I'd get angry and it's funny because many years later, and this might be a tangent of what, 20 years later, I get in contact with friends from back in middle school in Dubai or elementary school.

and randomly people would tell me, Hey, remember how pissed off he used to get when this sound happened? . And I'm like, what? I don't even remember that. But it's so interesting that I had made such a point about it, even in my early years. So Interesting. So

[00:05:14] Adeel: your friends have even though you kinda maybe forgot about it, it's it was so vivid to your friends and so odd to them that they're calling you up randomly 20 years later.

In the middle of the night, . Hey, .

[00:05:29] Assal: The truth of the matter is I'm a very happy person. Adeel, I laugh all the time. It looks like, sounds like a Yeah. Was, yeah. Gifted to me. So when I call it my Hulk mode. When I get my attack, I'm just the comp. As I'm sure you can, you already know I turned Dr.

Jerich, Mr. High. Hulk angry, Hulk and I turn into a completely different person, which really shocks people. And I guess maybe that's why they remember. And also I keep looking like I, I keep looking at the sound almost like I'm going to come you if you don't stop

Yeah. It started with salad, but it kept grow. into breathing, sniffing clipping of nails, typing doing anything slurping scratching

[00:06:18] Adeel: very quickly. Like in kind of that while you were still in school

[00:06:20] Assal: and half a second. Yeah. Yeah. And again I had no idea what was going on. I remember I started working in Iran and the poor girl next to me she ate all.

All day. And I would actually hide in the conference room and cry I can't tolerate this. This is when I was like 18. Yeah. And people would just don't pay attention to it. Why are you so sensitive to it? Just think about something else. And that's what I hated most, cuz I felt like people wouldn't, why would I want to suffer if I could shift my focus? I would, but I. And so what

[00:06:58] Adeel: would you tell them? Would they just see you in the conference room then you'd have to explain or did you ever just say, Hey, I've got this problem , and I know that's not the kinda thing that we would tell people are our, of our culture, but I'm curious if you, if that ever

[00:07:13] Assal: crossed your mind.

Yeah, so I wouldn't tell the girl next to me cuz I felt so bad. Yeah. But everybody else, I'd be like, she's eating. And I didn't know what it was. I'm like, is it because she doesn't eat politely? ? Yeah. Did you think she shut her

[00:07:28] Adeel: mouth open? Yeah. Did you think that other people were also annoyed, or did you realize that this is at the No, I

[00:07:33] Assal: was me.

Yeah. Gosh. I was sure I was crazy. Yeah, there's nobody else would ever talk about it. Nobody.

[00:07:41] Adeel: And just to set the scene for people. Whether it's at home with the sunflower seeds there's probably not a lot of background music, . It's not or maybe there was, I don't know.

But it seems like in, at least in our cultures, it's not like music's playing. It's usually pretty quiet.

[00:07:54] Assal: It's very defense cracking. Like here's what it was. I was 18, I was an executive assistant to this private firm. You can imagine there's there's a big desk with two people sitting behind it, so myself and my coworker and silence, right?

It was just us in this big room, the accountant who used to type all these numbers and use the calculator, which I could have thrown out the window. then , the, what we refer to, and I'm not being rude, this is what it's referred to as the T. And oh yeah, the TBO is the person who, brings tea to everybody cleans the office all of that.

And he would be washing stuff and I would pray every day please continue washing dishes or doing something. So that would be like a background noise for me. But other than that, it was just silence. And you can imagine like my coworker would open up her little topper ware and there.

because she was trying to be healthy. Carrots, . Oh yeah. And CELs. Oh my God. What and what you tried to do. So I discovered that I could use, headphones. But the headphones back then, man, technology wasn't that great back then. There were these like measly headphones that would have a sound as well, like the higher you would turn, turn off the volume.

Yeah. And it just hurt your head, but you could still hear the salary off. Ah, I don't even wanna go back to those days. Awful.

[00:09:19] Adeel: Yeah. And then speaking of T boy would bring around tea that would then have to be in, put in the mouth in ways that are nece, not say the quietest , we should put it that way.


[00:09:27] Assal: tea, of course, I'm sure in the Middle East, lot of culture. It's lot of culture. Oh, huge part of the culture. Three, four times a. , and I'm not sure why people insist on drinking it the moment it's pour. So then they'll have to slurp it. Yeah.

[00:09:46] Adeel: And Right. Cause it's so hot. Yeah.

[00:09:48] Assal: Yeah. It would be cool.

So you wouldn't have to srp I'm sure it's not a very nice feeling burning her tongue. So I'm getting angry. I'm getting annoyed. I think these people, they're out of their mind all. Every day at the I'm, yeah, no joke. There were so many triggers at work that I, it was like fight or fight for me, right?

. And the thing that has always been with me, and it still resonates today, is I don't tell people of my problem or I, I try to avoid explaining it to anybody because I feel like it's my situation and I need to do something. I don't ask anybody to change their habits because that would bother me more.

I'm like, oh I'm such an inconvenience to people, yeah. Yeah. So I would just run away and cry. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:10:38] Adeel: Not funny, but . Yeah. It's not funny. That's that's, I think we under, we all understand the laughing at it. Cause we do the same thing , we it's like tears of it's yeah.

Tears of tears and then we laugh at our own tears and Yeah. Exactly. It's just you have to, it's just no other way to stay sane. ,

[00:10:54] Assal: But and yeah,

[00:10:55] Adeel: go ahead. Yeah. And No, I was gonna say, yeah. So how did you, did it start to affect like your school and your work performance? Did you feel like, because at some point then you get that add added stress of am I gonna not be able to, move, advance my career or maybe, my grades will suffer.

It seems like you're super successful now, so that Uhhuh thank obviously wasn't the case, but , but that's just, that's gonna be a level of stress too. A lot of people are able to get by school age without in college without maybe getting triggered too much. But Sounds like you had a, it was like maximum for you from

[00:11:26] Assal: eight years

So I didn't affect my school. I can't say I was always focused. , just because, the sniffing would just. So I can't say I was focused all times, but it didn't really stop me from, getting the grades I wanted or anything like that. I, so I moved to the States when I was 21 and I started working as a contractor at Microsoft, actually.

. And I was working out so well with my school. was attending the University of Washington. I would take night classes and of. Night classes come with people who haven't eaten all day . Yeah, I was gonna say,

[00:12:04] Adeel: dude, I've seen the forks come out of the bags already. And the Tupperware, the

[00:12:08] Assal: Doritos, those darn burritos.

[00:12:11] Adeel: they need that snack after. Oh yeah.

[00:12:13] Assal: And you live in Seattle, it's allergies. Cold right, rain. So I would go to I'd go to work and at that time I was very lucky to have an office by myself, even though contractors don't really get that, that fancy deal. But it just happened that my team had an extra office, so that would be fine School, however, not so fine.

I started dating somebody right around that time and he was actually the only one .

[00:12:42] Adeel: We just offended so many people.

[00:12:52] Assal: It didn't last. It didn't last, if that helps. Okay. Okay. Okay. Yeah, and he, I told him what the situation, I actually ended up punching him a few times. , this is sounds, yeah. Wow. Yeah. Okay. So here's the situation. I won't say anything until it's too late for me. I'm like tolerated, tolerate it, tolerate those damn Pringles.

And then I just I punch him on the arm like, oh. And he's why don't you say something? I'm like, cause I don't want to this is my problem and it's so emotional for me. Yeah. And I'm crazy and this and that. I started seeing this therapist at the same time. Ah. And I remember.

Write all these sounds that bother you on a piece of paper and go in the shower and let it wash out. And I'm thinking, what?

[00:13:35] Adeel: It's a new

[00:13:36] Assal: one? Yeah. What is that? ? And, no I really have a problem. And he was like, no it's not a problem. It's this. Anyway, my savior at the time was my boyfriend, who actually.

Asal. I'm sure other people suffer from this like you do. I'm like, no, they don't. He's I promise. Do a little search on the internet. Hatred of sound. Or, repetitive sounds that bother me. And my gosh, that wasn't the best day of my life. I don't know what was, there is forms and people just saying, my coworker is, typing with acrylic nails and I'm go and I'm like, oh, what a relief.

Yeah, I have never met anybody who has felt the same way. This rage, this anger, oh my God, I felt so free. It was amazing. And I read that somebody had started using earplugs and that it would only, kill like 33%, like 33 decibels or something like that. And my boyfriend at the time was like, try it out.

Try it out. I would take those earplugs to school. And of course if they asked me a question, I would answer it really loudly. Cause I hadn't been accustom.

[00:14:50] Adeel: That sounds very assertive. Student .

[00:14:54] Assal: How do you feel about the environment? Everyone just look at me like, what is your problem? It took a while for me.

[00:15:02] Adeel: They're like, she's the one with sound activities.

[00:15:04] Assal: The other part was then you'd learn that you're talking loudly. So then you would talk, to yourself, and people are like, what? What? I'm like what? ? So it's a situation for a while, but those helped me out so much. And my blesses are, my pro boyfriend at the time would always carry a pair of earplugs in his pocket.

. So when we'd go to restaurants, especially Mexican restaurants, , because of the chips and the salsa, the chips and all of that stuff. Yeah. Socializing had become so difficult just because, people wanna eat chips and we're very tribal. We wanna hang out all the time, we wanna socialize and it become really difficult.

So I started wearing the earplugs at work, but. They, we got some more contractors and then I had to share my room with two other people. The earplugs were no longer helping. Yeah, I

[00:15:47] Adeel: was gonna say at some point the honeymoon period of the

[00:15:50] Assal: earplugs. Oh, yeah. There, it's over. Yeah.

The typing, constant typing was driving me insane. So I. I went to. My, my manager and I said I can't, I was bawling. I said, I can't do it. It's I feel like I'm dying. Like little by little, I just can't do it. And I called my sister at the time. Oh, he told me, take the day off.

Relax. He called my sister and I said this, and I don't wanna work anymore. I can't do it. So she was nice enough. She bought me a pair of noise canceling, both he. Oh, I do. I went to work the next day. It's and it's almost like I'd put the headphones on and it's

[00:16:29] Adeel: Yeah.

It's like medicine.

[00:16:32] Assal: Oh, it was amazing. I still have those. This was back, I don't know, 10 years ago maybe. I started wearing those. I wear them on the airplane, helps me a lot at work. I still use earplugs here and there. I still use them when I eat with my family. , it seems like the closer you are to the person, the more you've memorized their mimics and their sounds and their ways of chewing. So you get more bothered cuz I anticipated I'm like my mom. Is about to, so I, you get,

[00:17:03] Adeel: you play, have some visual triggers at this point too.

[00:17:06] Assal: I'm so happy you said that. I would actually like to discuss that because Yeah, I thought , what is this? Cuz the sound sure should bother me, but Right.

This visual thing. What is this? Is this a user? It's

[00:17:21] Adeel: part of the anticipation, I think. Yeah. I think it's just like your brain's working backwards, trying to give you a more advanced. Of of the danger that lies ahead is the only thing I can the only way I can explain it yeah, that, that's very common, but yeah, it's, at first it's oh God, I'm just, I'm trying to keep up with the vi with the audio stuff and then the visuals or a whole other thing.


[00:17:43] Assal: yeah, I started noticing that. So we we eat herbs with our. Parsley, cilantro, mins, tarragon, whatever. Oh, getting hungry. And my mom always has this big, bamboo bowl of herbs and herbs. They're not that noisy to me, but she refuses to take a handful and put it on her plate, so she always reaches out.

There's this constant motion of her right arm reaching out to these herbs.

[00:18:09] Adeel: Oh, okay. Okay.

[00:18:11] Assal: Gotcha. I cannot . Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So it's become worse. It's become much worse. The range of

[00:18:19] Adeel: things that's probably more like repetitive motion.

[00:18:22] Assal: Exactly. Repetitive motion

[00:18:24] Adeel: or repetitive un sorry, mom, but unnecessary motion

Is, yeah, I can definitely see that. Cuz your brain is like, why is that happening? Why does that need to happen?

[00:18:32] Assal: It's like boom. Yeah. Re repetitive motions. Now, some of them it's not definitely to the extent of my misophonia.

[00:18:37] Adeel: And see your parents are here, are in Seattle.

[00:18:42] Assal: They're in Seattle, yes. Okay. Okay. Gotcha. Yes, they're in Seattle. And believe it or not, my dad still doesn't know what bothers me because I don't. Okay.

[00:18:53] Adeel: He has no idea. You haven't mentioned it at all.

[00:18:54] Assal: No. He knows. Okay. But he just doesn't know the extent. He does this weird thing with his ear, which sounds like snorting.

When he gets out of the shower and I become suicidal. I'm like, I . I cannot. So imagine this, I'm 37 now. Maybe about two years ago, he came up to me and he said, does this noise bother you? , and I'm like, honest to goodness, I love you, but it's the worst. I cannot please. And he stopped it. oh

[00:19:22] Adeel: I he st he was going to make the sound and he stopped it.

[00:19:24] Assal: No, he no. He has stopped it. He doesn't do it anymore. Oh, got

[00:19:28] Adeel: you. Okay. So he's, he asked you like, okay, yeah. Does this bother you? And proactively, it was just like years.

[00:19:34] Assal: I haven't said anything. I could've stopped it. That's good. Yeah, but I have a better tangent story in the middle of all this.

Yeah. Please imagine this. 2016, I'm working at Microsoft. I'm now a full-time employee. I've got my life in order, living the life. And my brother still lives back in Iran. So I take a three week vacation to visit my brother for his 40th birthday and let, if its be said, I have never said this live.

But I'm going to tell you. , I flew to Iran at the airport past airport control, passport control, air control, and they called my name and the Iranian government confiscated my passport. And in staying, instead of staying for three weeks, I ended up staying for three and a half years. What? Yeah, they were keeping me as collateral for a.

Who had fled the country and pulled this Snowden and is under US protection. This is still true to this day, by the way yeah. Yeah. He so the reason why they kept me as collateral was because this man was my aunt's friend's husband, and because I'm close to my aunt and I live in the States, what I should have known about it, I'm not sure.

And. To pull it back into misophonia. I saw it, when we stress out, when we were tired, when we're angry. Of course the misophonia gets worse. But I found that I'm using the air plugs less in Iran. Than I was in Seattle. Even though the stress of everything was just, it was tumultuous.

It, the PTs I have from that. Wow. But I think it's, It was such a populated, noisy world. It was never fully quiet. , people listen to music all the time. There's cars honking everywhere. People don't sleep until 3:00 AM So there's all these sounds and of course, I like to explain to people. For me it's the sounds of humans that bothers me.

It's. The ticking of the clock. It's not the water drops, dripping from the tap. None of that doesn't bother me at all. My dog's chewing is actually very pleasant to me. , he he has these kibbles and I sit there and just watch him chew babies chewing and eating.

That doesn't bother me. It's just from a certain age that I can't , I can't explain why it's the way it is. You. And so even though that period of my time like was so stressful I just didn't use the earplugs as much. Interesting. Yeah. So you

[00:22:09] Adeel: said this is Tehran, right? Yeah, this is Tehran.

It's a big, yeah, this giant city. Okay. Yeah. Can, I guess gonna be a lot of background, a lot of background. And you were that, you were stuck there, but it wasn't like you were, in I just couldn't leave some underground cave or something. Ok. Yeah. , you were probably listening with your brother or whatever for a few years.

[00:22:25] Assal: No, I was living with my brother exit for three and a half years. I lost my job, my relationship, my apartment, my savings, everything. Iranian Center, call it like the MP3 format. , yeah. Everything. Yeah. Yeah. It was a very, it was a very challenging period of my life. Then I came back here and that was when the misophonia just turned, another corner.

Wow. Took, I came to another step up. Oh yeah. I came back. So exactly two years ago is when I came back to Seattle. , and I think it was almost like waking up from a 50 year. where life has changed, your friends have moved on, everyone's married or they've moved to another state. The, the city looks different.

You don't have that identity, no more job. Yeah. And I think I came back with an expectation and of how life was going to look, and I was going back to the same identity, but that just didn't exist anymore. And that's when everything just, was, it was really bad. This. September, August, September of 2019.

Wow. Yeah, exactly. Two years ago. And did

[00:23:39] Adeel: you, were you in contact with anybody here?

[00:23:41] Assal: Oh yeah. When you were gone? Yeah. Okay. I was, but actually

[00:23:45] Adeel: things were changing. People were moving on with I,

[00:23:47] Assal: yeah, exactly. That's how it is in America. If I were to find my, first great friend in Tehran, she probably still lives in the same house.

. Yeah. But it's not that way here. Yeah. I woke up angry, the noises every L so I had to live back with my parents. , because I wasn't working and emotionally I was just a mess. And I'd wake up in the morning with hearing my mom put the dishes away. And that would just send me off the edge.

I was angry all the time, yelling. I couldn't handle it. It was just and I wanted to go back to the therapist that I was seeing before I left, but of course with no job, the insurance situation, . So finally May of 2020, I started working and I started seeing the therapist again and she said, you are doing everything that I would recommend for you to do.

You're exercising, socializing, eating healthy, but I feel you are downs spiraling. And you don't, your anxiety levels are just insane. And I would recommend, you get a psyche valve. And I thought I was the biggest loser. If I can't control this myself, if I can't help myself, then you know, I've lost the game.

And I've always been like this, that in my life, I just want to fix everything by myself. Like a control freak. Yeah. I talked to my mom about it and , she begged. She's please see the psychiatrist, . It's, we're scared of you. It's so bad. And of course the psychiatrist said, anxiety's pretty bad.

We recommend this anti-anxiety medication. I don't know if I can say the name, is that okay? I, yeah.

[00:25:19] Adeel: I don't have any rules against, Yeah, it's

[00:25:21] Assal: up to you yeah. No, I, I just didn't know if it's okay. So she prescribed Lexapro. , and I've been taking it for about a year now. And the reason why I'm saying this is because I feel like it's actually helped with my meso.

Okay. I, of course, still get triggered but I feel like I can focus my attention elsewhere much faster than I could have. or sometimes I just stop hearing it.

[00:25:51] Adeel: Ah, interesting. Okay.

[00:25:53] Assal: You mean you're able to take your mind away from Yeah I can, just divert my attention somewhere else.

And although I'm, I must tell you, we've been working from home for such a long time and I'm living in my own space with my dog and it's very quiet and it's lovely and it's heaven and everything this past. I was attending a summit in San Francisco, and I went back to work and I, I can't say there were as many people as there would've been pre Covid.

, were about, I don't know, 30 people in one huge conference room. And I could hear the typing again. Cause people people pull out their laptops and Right. That still . Yeah. And I'm like, I never wanna come back to work again. Yeah. Because that means me, stay at home.

So yeah. That's my long story. Long for you.

[00:26:35] Adeel: No. That's, no, that that's really fascinating. I'm, there's all a bunch of things that I want to get into. Actually. One thing is How then when you came back, how did you, how was it like to go back into the workforce?

Was it did you have any dread, like taking this job at Uber? Was it something you brought up during the onboarding or pre onboarding process? It's

[00:26:56] Assal: interesting you ask actually that, so Microsoft kept me on board for two years without being in the office. , when I was stuck in Iran, which was fantastic of them. October, 2000. 18, they sent me an email that, they don't have a business justification to keep me on board anymore cuz they don't even know if I'm ever coming back. Yeah. Which is understandable. I came back, my manager at the time actually came to the airport to greet me and it was just, so I was still in touch with so many people from my work and all of that. And at the time, , they didn't have any headcounts. And all this stuff happened. I couldn't go back to Microsoft and I started applying vigorously to everything I knew. Yeah. All these big companies. Even at Microsoft, it was like a black hole a deal. Just, I would get nothing back.

Nothing. No rejection, no acceptance. No. And it wasn't that I wasn't working in Iran. I was, and as you can imagine, Iran being sanctioned, you need to be so creative because you need to work around for everything. Connecting to the internet as a situation of his own, and I came back thinking, I'm so much better.

I'm so much stronger. I'm so much this, , I have so much more knowledge. I worked, in a startup, I worked in advertising, I worked in funding investments. So why am I not getting any leads? And that's when you start getting discouraged. I'm not relevant. Yeah, I am not as good as these people.

And. , everybody must be so much more advanced than me. And of course there's all these softwares they're learning and all these things that they're exposed to. And oh my God, I suck and of course I'm not gonna get a job. And then I started getting, like the Stockholm syndrome of I need to go back to the per people that I captured me, because I just don't.

[00:28:48] Adeel: Oh. So yeah. So when you came here, you felt you start to feel inferior and then you almost go back to your life Super inferior. Yeah. Yeah. Like imposter syndrome a little bit.

[00:28:57] Assal: And you're looking at people, it's mean for me to say, but like I meet people and I'm like, how do you have a job?

And I do.

[00:29:03] Adeel: Yeah, I do. I do all the time. Perfect. No, I understand.

[00:29:07] Assal: Yeah. And there's these people who are like working for these great big companies and they're making, so much money and they're like, oh, I hate going to work. And I'm like, then give me your job because I would love to go to work, so yeah, super inferior, very dis. I, it was awful. I then my sister, was, she was getting her some sort of law degree at the University of Washington, and she told me, and by the way, let it be said I network, like it's nobody's business, like . I have so many leads, I have so many friends that work in, in big companies, small companies.

But there was just, , nobody would follow up with me. I would reach out to a person like three times, four times, and then when you don't hear back, you're I don't wanna bug them. , don't wanna be the beggar. I you don't know. Finally my sister met somebody who was working at like an aerospace company and they were looking for a PM in contracts.

I'd never been in aerospace, never in contract, but I was like, anything at this point, anything I. , I want to feel relevant. I feel so stale. Like I'm losing everything. I know. So I was working there for a few months, I think. So until somebody reached out to me who hadn't I had networked with prior, and they said, are you still looking for a job?

And I'm like, what? ? Yes. , yes. Still looking for a job. Oh. We have a few positions opening up at. , in engineering, I always wanted to be in engineering. If you're interested, please apply. And that was that. And it's been so blissful. Fantastic.

[00:30:46] Adeel: Yeah. Yeah. And it was just pretty recent.

So have you had to do any office work there in the office or has it all been written?

[00:30:53] Assal: The, our offices are open actually. Yeah. But you're not required to go in until January. Okay. Okay. And even if we do go back in, they have presented us with a hybrid model. So 50% in offense. 50%, yeah.

[00:31:08] Adeel: Are you looking forward to that hybrid model or are you like remote only for me.

Phone to your plugs.

[00:31:14] Assal: look hybrid model for sure. Even though my heavy misophonia situation. , seeing people and socializing and all of that.

[00:31:21] Adeel: I think what the hybrid is, I feel like it's, yeah I feel like you get the best of both worlds because absolutely. At least for me, my stress level would be down knowing that okay, if I'm triggered today, I don't have to be here all week anyways.

So it's just I can just exactly departmentalize it a little bit.

[00:31:37] Assal: And funny to tell you a deal when I was in San Francisco this past week, I have a coworker who actually is located in Seattle as well, and. We were sitting and I don't tell people of my situation, of my misophonia we're sitting and she turned it around and she said, I think the office is gonna be a bit hard for me.

And I said, why? She's I suffer from this thing called misophonia. I know . I'm like, wait, what? I know it's.

[00:32:06] Adeel: And so are you two like BFFs planning trips together? Oh, for sure.

[00:32:10] Assal: Yeah. So you know, you start comparing. Yeah. What about pieces that bother you too? Yeah, I know. I know . That's fantastic. Kinda watch out for each other.

[00:32:18] Adeel: Yeah. Oh, of course. Yeah. You feel like you know half a person's life because you've been through also a lot of the similar experiences. Except that I've never had a T boy, but one day that's my aspire to that . TK

[00:32:32] Assal: is big getting run. Oh yeah. Every office has it.

[00:32:37] Adeel: Oh man. I know. Head of t boy, head of t is probably would be the head of t the name of the position here.

Yeah. Yeah. Fascinating. I'm glad things have don't do the rollercoaster, but I'm glad things seem like they've worked out quite well, and you're in a pretty good position here. Uber and in your work environment. The another thing I wanted to talk about is yeah, like relationships with your friends, but also like your family.

I'm very interested in situations like your, that, that uncle that you say, you love so much, but would you know, did something like that, that that exposure thing to you, how is, do you ever. And how do you still remember that when you talked to him? Does that create any kind of like lingering resentment to have people close to you?

trigger you on purpose.

[00:33:23] Assal: Interesting. You ask. I have no resentment. He's actually one of my favorite people in the world. Yeah. But I must say, I will never forget that cucumber incident. ever.

[00:33:33] Adeel: Has that, that never happened again. Has he?

[00:33:35] Assal: Is he aware of it? Never happened again. Okay. No. Yeah. Yeah. At all.

And I would never bring it up to him, cuz I know he would feel awful about I do it again. He would take your

[00:33:43] Adeel: our list again. Grab the cucumber. Yeah. You would feel awful about it.

[00:33:48] Assal: I see. Okay. Yeah. My brother who lives in Iran, if he wants to do something that he knows might bother me, he'll say,

Earplugs. Okay. Okay. Yeah. My mom, it's so funny and so sad at the same time, she'll try to slow motion her eating , she'll take a spoon and slowly move it slow. It comes from a good. But I know, and then I'm like, just chew it. Yeah. I can't wait for this sound to come and bother me.

[00:34:19] Adeel: It's is it? Yeah, it comes, I can see it comes from a good place but it's, yeah, it's faster. If you did it like five, five times, five times faster, even at 1.1 times faster. Just that I could be done with .

[00:34:29] Assal: My sister does not care at all. And she'll eat what she wants to eat. She doesn't care that I'll wear earplugs or not.

She won't change her habits because of me, and I appreciate it, but at the same time, I have a little bit of re resentment don't you know that this is going to bother me? . But they always have a bottle of earplugs at their place and they know once we start eating, she says it's, in the laundry room, do you wanna, go grab it or whatever. Yeah. Friends, very interesting question. I, you know how I don't tell people about it? Yeah. Sometimes I feel close enough that I'll expose my vulnerability and I'll say, guys, so I wanna tell you I have this issue.

This is what it is, and the responses I get are so frustrating that it makes me not tell anybody for another decade. One response is they'll start doing something repetitively, like clicking their fingers or scratching or chewing or slurping, and they're like, does this bother you? Does this bother you?

Does this bother you? Ugh. Yeah. I'm like, what?

[00:35:31] Adeel: These are adults, right? In their

[00:35:33] Assal: thirties. These are adults. These are educated, cultured adults. Not saying that education brings much, but I'm just saying like people who have been exposed to information, The other thing is, oh, you're just too sensitive. Yeah.

That just throws me off. Don't listen to it. Don't listen to it. And I'm like, so how

[00:35:57] Adeel: do you respond? Cuz you, you've obviously taken the step to it's fascinating cuz you said you hold it in you've already exposed your vulnerability until you've, my, you probably made that calculation that we're,

[00:36:08] Assal: My reaction is so bad.

I'll be like you're stupid .

[00:36:11] Adeel: Said. I would've gotten up if I overheard that and started clapping. Sensitive

your face is sensitive. your mom's sensitive .

[00:36:25] Assal: I it really bothers me, right? Cuz I'm like, look, I am letting you in on this thing that's super vulnerable.

[00:36:34] Adeel: and have a question in your friendship absolutely not to kind get in

[00:36:37] Assal: there. They go on my shit list. Obviously you're not logical and you have no empathy, so I know how to deal with you immediately because

[00:36:45] Adeel: you, so they get cut off at least temporarily.

no cut, no

[00:36:49] Assal: permanently in my internal mind, okay. Okay. Okay. , the reason why I don't say it, so the other response is, okay, I'm going to take my bowl of chips and eat it in the kitchen because it's going to bother Es no. Oh you don't need to change your I will do whatever about don't make me feel like I'm responsible for this, big drama because you're not joining the other people. It's just the responses are just insane. I.

[00:37:15] Adeel: Yeah. It exhausts many of us. So we usually yeah, we usually just don't do it, or we do we do other not indirect things like start a podcast, , announce it that way.

Yeah, totally. Yeah. That's unfortunate. But it's also, yeah, it's a common, unfortunately, . Yeah. And does it affect them, like making plans with people? Cuz maybe you're going through a rough spell and you don't want to go to the movies with your friends. Oh sure,

[00:37:42] Assal: for sure. It used to stop me a lot.

I'm the person who wants to be, who wants everybody else to be comfortable and not myself. I always put myself last and it used to bother me a lot. And then I've come to a place where now I'm like, you know what? I'm just gonna do me. , I don't care if that's not most convenient or ideal to you.

For example before, we'd do these cabin getaways and people would want to carpool the whole time and eat in the middle and all of that. And I used to. Get so bothered that I'd have to sit in a car with all these people, with all these sounds. I don't want a carpool. Yeah. But as I it, there's no parking.

And I'm like, yeah. But now I'm just like, I'm bringing my own car. That's it. I can't , I can't share. Yeah. Yeah. And it's become much better, I must say, like just me standing up, like advocating for myself. It's definitely become better. But there are places where I'm like, I I don't wanna go.

I don. Music has helped me a lot. Music is like my savior listening to music or? Yeah. If people come over I'll always have music on so I won't hear the chewing, the whatever that's happening. And if I go to someone's house, I'll always ask Hey, you guys wanna play

[00:38:55] Adeel: something?

Hey, have you heard the new Metallica album? Yeah.

[00:39:02] Assal: Exactly. I saw a segment on 60 Minutes. I don't know if you've watched it on misophonia and they oh yeah. They, there's people much worse than me. I couldn't believe it. There was one girl poor girl. She used to get her meson attack with her mom's voice. Yeah. And that's awful. Can you imagine?

and there was another person who would get bothered by their own sounds as well. Cuz as we can make all the sounds in the world and it doesn't bother yourself. Yeah.

[00:39:35] Adeel: At, I've interviewed, yeah. I've interviewed one or two people where it's it, yeah, they trigger like their own breathing sometimes trigger themselves, triggers themselves to the point where they need help going to sleep.

Like they, they have trouble going to sleep, so they. sleep, sleep aids and whatnot. Yeah, it does happen sometimes.

[00:39:53] Assal: Oh my gosh, I can't, no,

[00:39:56] Adeel: I feel like it's, yeah and, and, and I just interviewed recently when someone recently who's the mother of a of a child who could not, who's suddenly at, at some point in in high school, just could not be around his parents.

And so it was very, and that's, and as a parent then she. , the mother was obviously very confused, so that started a whole, of course research their discovery and but yeah, the child just would always leave the room. So yeah, I think there were a lot of triggers there voice and otherwise.

And yeah, that woman was actually writing a book about her. Had her by the time this goes it would've been on Mary Petri, but yeah, she's writing a book that's it's gonna be amazing. I've already read like little bits of it. My tangent there, , but yeah there, there are all kinds of, yeah.

It's quite a wide spectrum,

[00:40:39] Assal: Wow. Yeah. I don't, I just hope they find something to fix it.

[00:40:45] Adeel: Yeah. Research is start to happen. Funding is starting to come forward through various foundations and yeah, I hope. Yeah. I hope they hope there's progress. They're getting slowly getting closer to understanding bits of it, but Cool.

Some of these researcher research papers, answer some things and create some more questions and of course, but hopefully it goes in the right direction.

[00:41:06] Assal: Ah, yeah, sure. Hope go ahead.

[00:41:08] Adeel: No, I was gonna say, look, we're, we're getting close, close to an hour here at at, yeah, I wanted to see if.

You, you noticed how this flies by how it sounded?

[00:41:15] Assal: I'm like, I can talk about all these noises forever, .

[00:41:16] Adeel: I know. I just have to not get back to it in my own day job for a little bit, but but yeah. But I want to give you a chance to yeah. Does, is there anything else you want to share with people who are listening?

Maybe some of 'em have a similar background coming from place, countries with PE boys and , other, places with kind of a low, maybe a low understanding of mental health issues? Or just, yeah.

[00:41:36] Assal: I think the biggest thing I've learned is lower your expectations about how much information people actually have regarding things that are unknown.

And I used to blame it a lot on the people. I can't believe you don't understand, and I can't, what do you mean? if you lower your expectation and try to explain it to them in a format that they can understand. And, I think that would actually help spread the information too, from person to person.

And maybe more people will learn about it. And hopefully in the near future we won't have to face this. Does this bother you? Does this bother you? already. I've met a bunch of people who are suffering from misophonia that I Yeah,

[00:42:19] Adeel: that's what I was gonna ask you. Have you met other people other than

[00:42:22] Assal: that coworker?

Yes. And it's unbelievable to me. I was sure I was the only person in the world. , and I can tell you about three of my close friends they suffer from it. We're all on different levels. And I would say I'm probably the worst out of all of them, but yeah. So then you get,

[00:42:41] Adeel: get to like team up a little bit

[00:42:43] Assal: on the Nathan.

Yeah. Sometimes look at each other, during like gatherings. Yeah. And he'd be like, you

[00:42:48] Adeel: team and you punch the friend. Then the other one tags in .

[00:42:52] Assal: It's just nice to know you are understood. Yeah. It's nice to know that there's somebody else that feels the way you do and you are not

[00:43:02] Adeel: alone in it.

Yeah. Cuz it's so overwhelming. It's hard to express. So having somebody who you don't even have to explain it to is just exactly

[00:43:11] Assal: that good feeling. Yeah. And hey, don't be ashamed about opening up about it. I used to be because I, I was embarrassed about it. Don't be ashamed. I think you learn very quickly that other people feel the same and they might not know what it is.

So you might be helping, somebody else out as well.

[00:43:28] Adeel: Yeah. Great. Great words. Yeah. Al yeah, I wanna thank you. This is, yeah, this is yes. This is a fascinating and funny call. Funny chat, which,

[00:43:35] Assal: You're misophonia hostage friend.

[00:43:38] Adeel: Yeah. Thank you. I was gonna say safe travels.

I mean that on multiple levels, but No, , when you do travel again. Yeah. We're glad you're here and good luck. Yeah, go. Good job. And yeah, let's stay in touch.

[00:43:47] Assal: Thanks for coming on. Absolutely. No, thank you. This was fantastic and I feel like I had so much built up aggression towards everything, and now I feel so much better.

Thank you. A.

[00:43:58] Adeel: Glad you're here and thriving at. If you like this episode, don't forget to leave a quick review or just hit the five stars wherever you listen to this podcast. You can hit me up by email at hello Ms. Lane podcast.com or go to the website miss podcast.com, and the easiest way to send a message is by Instagram that Miss Funny podcast.

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