Abby - Music Therapy Student Navigates Misophonia Journey

S6 E31 - 4/13/2023
This episode features Abby, a college student majoring in music therapy, discussing her journey with misophonia, mental health, and the support systems that have helped her along the way. Abby shares her personal growth through challenges in college, discovering misophonia at an early age, and how music therapy and a loving support system have been crucial in managing her condition. The conversation delves into Abby’s background, starting from her childhood in a stable home, through her struggles with knee surgery, and onto her academic pursuits in music therapy. Abby stresses the importance of self-research in understanding one’s condition, the significance of acceptance and self-compassion, and the comfort found in support systems, including pets. Adeel and Abby also touch on the impact of COVID-19 on her college experience, her passion for musical theater, and a documentary that has influenced her understanding of music therapy. The episode ends with an encouraging message to others starting their mental health journey and a reminder of the value of community and support networks.


Adeel [0:01]: Welcome to the Misophonia Podcast. This is Season 6, Episode 31. My name's Adeel Ahmad, and I have Misophonia. This week, I'm talking to Abby. Abby is in college in a music therapy program. We discuss misophonia and comorbid conditions, her mental health journey, which really just began a few years ago, her experiences growing up in a very stable and happy home, and her coping methods for miso along the way. We also, of course, talk about her music therapy program. And I'll have a link in the show notes to the documentary she mentions at the end. After the show, let me know what you think. You can reach out, as always, by email at or hit me up on Instagram or Facebook at Missiphonia Podcast. And by the way, please do head over and leave a quick review or rating. Wherever you listen to the show, it really helps us go up in the ratings and reach more listeners that way. Remember, you can sign up for private coaching sessions by me. There's a link in the show notes or through social. I'm working with folks anywhere in the world to develop a plan for you to help manage your misophonia better. Also, thanks for the incredible ongoing support of our Patreon supporters. If you feel like contributing, you can read all about it at slash misophonia podcast. All right, here's my conversation with Abby. Abby, welcome to the podcast. Good to have you here.

Abby [1:28]: It's good to be here.

Adeel [1:31]: So, yeah, I usually ask the usual questions, kind of where are you located?

Abby [1:35]: I am from around the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. I'm about, like, an hour, like, southwest kind of direction from Pittsburgh.

Adeel [1:45]: Gotcha. Okay, okay. Are you not near that East Palestine, Ohio thing?

Abby [1:51]: I'm more towards, like, a tinier area. I'm from a small town called Scottsdale, Pennsylvania.

Adeel [1:59]: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, okay. Cool, cool. And, yeah, what do you do around there?

Abby [2:05]: I'm currently a junior music therapy major at Seton Hill University in Greensboro, PA.

Adeel [2:11]: Very cool. Yes, I definitely wanted to want to talk about some of that. Yeah, very interesting. Okay. And I guess I feel like I'm still stuck in COVID times, but that's all in person, I'm assuming.

Abby [2:25]: Yes. So when COVID happened, I am a class of 2020. So I am like that COVID class. So I was right in the middle of my senior year and we all went online for the rest of my senior year. So, yeah, I went into college. They had just started exploring, you know, wearing masks, the whole shebang.

Adeel [2:51]: Mm-hmm. Yeah. How's it been? I guess, yeah, what was the college experience like and how's it changed since all that happened? Misophonia-wise in particular.

Abby [3:00]: Misophonia-wise in particular. Um... Yeah. So that's a good question. You know, I have really grown a lot as a person crying a lot. I even started, I have knee problems and I had surgery during right before I started my freshman year. So not only was I dealing with, you know, walking around with my leg completely straight without crutches for the first time, but I was also dealing with like, I had never personally been, you know, really challenged before. You know, things, you know, I struggled with misophonia, but I never really, you know, things kind of came a little more easier to me when it came to, like, high school. You know, I had my challenges, but then when I really got to college, you know, becoming an adult... You know, that really, that took me for a loop for some time.

Adeel [3:57]: Yeah. You're talking about like the, yeah, just that kind of new independence or academically challenge.

Abby [4:04]: Exactly.

Adeel [4:06]: And did that add a lot of stress? Because, you know, obviously stress adds a lot and change adds a lot to the, or reduces our ability to handle sounds. Do you feel like that was connected?

Abby [4:19]: Oh, without a doubt. Yeah. You know, I've come a long way from, you know, I think I've always known that I had this. I used to think it was like just a phobia. You know, because every time I would talk about, like, I would say, oh, I think I have this thing called misophonia. I've brought it up a couple of times in college. And actually not many people, at least from what I can understand or what I've seen seeing, a lot of people around me, even like older adults and stuff, have not really known what it is. And so I've kind of felt like, no wonder I doubted if it was really, if it was something I had, like a problem I had, like, you know? Or if it was just something that I was alone with for a bit, you know? Because I felt it was like normal. Yeah.

Adeel [5:16]: yeah a lot of us have gone through that phase whether it's been short or many many decades where um yeah we don't know what it is no one else is talking about it we don't even know how to bring it up um i guess when did you find out that it had a name like how did you how did you um we'll go back to your background you know childhood as well but i'm curious kind of how did you discover that this was actually a real thing that other people have so

Abby [5:44]: I'm the kind of person that likes to know answers. I don't look at things as labels. I just kind of, you know... I just want to know things about myself. I think I've always been that way since as a kid. So mainly when I first had access to the internet, when I was like... I got my first iPod at like 11 years old. And really, I just... From such an early age, I knew something was off. I don't know if I want to say off, but I knew something was... I did not like knowing why sound was so sensitive to me. And my parents just looked at me like, they love me. And it took them a while for them to be like, oh, she's just sensitive. What really took them years to be like, oh, this is not just normal sensitivity. So it was through me doing my own research that I picked up my iPod one night late at night because I couldn't sleep because, you know, my dad was snoring and I could hear him across the wall. And I picked up my phone, remember vividly typing in like sound sensitivities, you know, hating sounds. Why do I feel like I want to rip my ears off, you know? And then I found misophonia, hatred of sound. You know, it blew my mind as, you know, I was only 11. So that kind of blew my mind, you know?

Adeel [7:18]: yeah yeah yeah um yes yeah then going back like when when do you kind of do you remember kind of around when it started for you i would say as early as a toddler oh wow okay what kind of incidents do you remember nothing like 100 specific more of like you know

Abby [7:42]: You know, as toddlers, we are developing, and of course they cry over different things because that's their way of communication. Well, for me, I basically cried at everything. And that's when my parents were first like, oh, okay, she's just, you know, a really sensitive child. And I was, you know, one of those kids that were, one of those toddlers that were a lot to manage because every little thing that bothered me, of course, I would burst into have, you know, temper tantrums. And so, really, I would stay around me just between three and five, you know, especially starting to be in a school, you know, environment. That's what I would say for sure, between the ages of three and five. It's like early memory.

Adeel [8:33]: Gotcha. Yeah, so you were obviously triggered very early at home, and then that continued to school as well, sounds like, right? You were being triggered a lot at school.

Abby [8:42]: Yeah, and it was just so confusing because over time I... knew that the sounds that i was sensitive to and i still struggle with this even as a you know i'm 20 now almost 21 and i still struggle with the fact that people can't you know control what they're doing most of the time you know the simple chewing the coughing the breathing the snoring they can't control that So it's like really, you know, frustrating when you understand that, even when you're a bit younger, you understand that, but you can't understand why you can't control like that fight or flight response.

Adeel [9:24]: Was there anything, was there anything happening around, around, around the home, you know, early around that, about a toddler age, three to five, even? Like were you moving around a lot or was there stress at home, some sort, maybe?

Abby [9:38]: Oh, no. I luckily have been in my same childhood home for years now, my whole life. But I am very lucky that I have a loving home. Of course, I love my dad, but he is a naturally loud individual. So that is one of my first connections to misophonia was... That's where that first frustration came from was that my father is such a naturally loud person. Sometimes that's where I get it from. I'm also kind of naturally loud, but he does things that he can't control. And as a kid, how are you, you know, you know that like he can't control it. You love this person, but yet like they're making sounds that you just want to retreat, retreat, you know?

Adeel [10:29]: Right. Yeah, and obviously you probably have fuzzy memories, if at all, from the toddler age. But do you remember, you don't have to make the triggers or go into too much detail, but when you did start to notice actual triggers, what was basically your dad as your first trigger that you remember?

Abby [10:51]: Pretty much. It was pretty much... First one I can connect with is... snoring and chewing even like it mainly comes from like noticing that like not just my dad but other family members like for example uh if my sister's listening hi kaylee um hi she chews like a horse sometimes and um so it's just making those connections and just being like what is going on

Adeel [11:27]: and what was the reaction of of your other family members as you were uh well actually maybe what were you you were probably just not like staying quiet you sound like you had temper tantrums was that continuing into like um you know further into later school years i'm just curious kind of how that your reaction was and then people's reaction to your reaction

Abby [11:49]: Yeah. Um, I would say, not just like temper tantrums, you would be able to temper tantrums. But um, I, as a little kid, I did not know, obviously, normal little kids do don't know how to express but how I would express is, you know, not just screaming and crying, but I would, you know, sometimes like i feel really bad but this is the truth i you know would hit my sister i would you know um it went from that as i was really little when i did that and of course like that had to be corrected immediately and that took a couple years it went from you know like kind of like kicking and screaming and you know having more violent outbursts a little bit a little toddler two years later i would start mocking So if someone was heavy breathing beside me, I'd mock their heavy breathing. And, you know, sometimes I really would be in public, and I would have to try to hold myself back from, like, mocking the person beside me. Because I don't know. I like to think that was just how my brain as a younger kid was trying to, you know, process. But my main reaction, especially in school environments, was to cry. Okay. And that was from when I was, I'd say, early child to, I'd say, my elementary school years, like my last one, like the last time I remember having outbursts from sound because they used to have to take me away. They had to put me, like, outside the classroom so I'm able to even take tests. over simple noises happening. Even somebody like tapping their foot, like even seeing the physical movement, that would just drive me insane. So I would say I finally was able to start coping better by the time I hit middle school, sixth grade.

Adeel [13:50]: Gotcha. Okay. Yeah. A few things there. So in elementary school or whenever, whenever you're taking tests, like they, your, it sounds like your school, like in advance kind of knew you had an issue and would actually accommodate you that way and move you out of the classroom to do the test.

Abby [14:05]: Yeah. I don't know if they would consider it. I think like I had some really good.

Adeel [14:11]: Let's get this girl out of here so that other people can.

Abby [14:15]: That might have been what they were thinking. But also I did have some, you know, teachers I had connections with and I think they just knew what was best for me. Maybe some, I like to think some of my teachers that got to know me pretty well, I'm an easy person to get to know, knew that I just, what I needed, they sensed it. There were some people that sensed it early on.

Adeel [14:42]: and you know kind of always in the back of their mind like wondered hmm you know this isn't just like a normal thing yeah so something you you probably felt trapped right before you start crying like is that is that kind of feeling that you had in in class just feeling trapped not being able to leave the situation something that a lot of us feel

Abby [15:04]: Oh, for sure. And also I just like that tight feeling in your chest and you want to focus, but you're like just staring at one specific word on the page and you just can't, you just feel like your head feels like all of a sudden your chest is heavy, but then your head feels like weightless.

Adeel [15:22]: And it also sounds like the, um, uh, Mesa can use, I don't know if you're familiar with that term, but the visual triggers, um, started coming up pretty early for you as well, right?

Abby [15:33]: What is it called?

Adeel [15:34]: Misokinesia. It's M-I-S-O-K-I-N-E-S-I-A. It's basically visual triggers. So being triggered by the movements that suggest a sound.

Abby [15:49]: I had no idea what that was.

Adeel [15:50]: So even if you're seeing somebody chew from like a mile away, but you're not hearing it, that definitely throws people for a loop. Oh my gosh. Very tightly linked. So that might have blown your mind. I don't know. But another thing I do want to mention, I don't know if you're familiar with, so you said mocking and it sounds a lot like mimicking has been come up a lot as like a coping mechanism where people say they often feel better if they are kind of making the same sound as the person triggering them. And there's been some research into that as well to try to explain why that is. And there's some suggestions it has to do with a certain kind of neuron in your brain called the mirror neuron. And so, yeah, that mocking may, you may have been mocking, but there might have been a part of you that was, you know, made to feel better by doing that. So that is something that is also a phenomenon, mimicry. Maybe a nice word for mocking.

Abby [16:59]: my mind is blown because, you know, I might've done my own research, but I, yeah.

Adeel [17:07]: Yeah. Look those up after and, and, or, you know, you can listen to more episodes and you'll, you'll, you'll hear a lot of these things come up a lot. So I think, yeah, I might kind of shed some more light on, on your, on your, yeah, your past experiences.

Abby [17:22]: Oh, absolutely.

Adeel [17:24]: So, so then what did, how did it affect maybe friendships growing up? Like, obviously you talked about like, you know, your parents and your sister and your, and your, and your teachers, like, did it affect how you were, who you were hanging out with? What kids thought of you?

Abby [17:41]: yes it definitely affected how others saw me um you know for sure like um thinking that i'm you know i i'm sure many of us have experienced with this condition like you know being like weird like odd and weird and um kind of like outcasted a little bit in that kind of regard um What really helped me in that sense was, I don't know if you could tell from me talking alone, but I'm also a very friendly, social person. So I think even more as a kid, I was very, very social. And that kind of was a good masking technique for me to hide the fact that I, or try to hide the fact, but not very well. that I, there was people I was hanging out with that I might, cannot stand the sound they're making, but I knew it would be socially unacceptable, you know, to not hang out with them because they're just making a noise that I don't like. You know, I just didn't want to miss out. I didn't want to be alone, you know? because this couldn't I knew even knowing not at first not knowing what it was but you know not wanting to be alone that seemed to trump over you know being really picky and choosy about who I spent time with and sometimes being picky and choosy kind of worked out in my favor down the line in the future but as a kid you know it's you're learning how to be social. And I developed a lot of masking for misophonia and many other different things that I did not know was on the surface until I got to college.

Adeel [19:44]: Yeah, that's interesting. I feel a lot of us end up being kind of, or at least having an introverted side. Sounds like you maybe push yourself to be even more extroverted because some part of you recognized that this could really

Abby [19:59]: be a lonely condition yeah i i think um it took me even up to being almost 21 years old to realize that that was subconsciously what i might have been doing as a kid but i knew that the natural part of me that was you know like my dad like we're both friendly kind of louder spirited especially when we get excited or passionate about the topic kind of people you know i kind of knew like now realizing now as an adult realizing that i used that side of me to my advantage the best that i could even though the misophonia and the temper tantrums as a younger kid um i've learned how to cope a lot better but i nearly started off with like trying to mask it you know yeah as you were getting older and going through high school and all that stuff did you start to see um any professionals about whether it's misophonia or um any comorbid conditions you don't have to get into the other conditions but like i'm okay with that absolutely um so i've never gotten diagnosed with misophonia it's just i at the current moment it's something that like you know how you can do like self yeah diagnosed most of us have to do that because they a lot of people won't do it won't diagnose for misophonia Yeah, it's just like I said at the beginning, even to this day, because I've started my mental health journey later in my life. I had all these signs of different comorbidities. But I didn't know because I just thought we all thought that I was just sensitive, that maybe I was just going to grow out of some things like the temper tantrums. Like, of course, I grew out the temper tantrums, but they come out in their own ways. Those kind of feelings, even from when I was a kid. So I've been on that mental health journey just the last since 2020.

Adeel [22:03]: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. So then what were your coping mechanisms? Other than, you know, just trying to be more extroverted and kind of maybe push down the misophonia stuff. Was there... What other coping... Like earbuds and just kind of usual stuff that you were doing? Oh, absolutely. Yeah.

Abby [22:22]: Oh, absolutely. I think, like, it had always been, like... I currently am using my... I got them this last year. I got them for Christmas or something, but these AirPods that soundproof. Oh, my gosh. These have been my saving grace. Oh, my goodness.

Adeel [22:43]: The AirPod Pros?

Abby [22:44]: AirPod Pros, exactly.

Adeel [22:45]: Yeah, I'm wearing them right now, too. Oh, my gosh.

Abby [22:49]: They're great. I highly recommend.

Adeel [22:53]: It's the perfect, I mean, they're a great blend of like having noise cancelling, but then not like messing, like being somewhat discreet and not kind of messing with your hair or whatever.

Abby [23:02]: Oh, exactly. Or like... if like hearing noisy, being in noisy environments out in public, you know, how some people, I have people in my college that wear like big headphones, you know, just because they want to listen to music or they might, you know, be trying to cope with sounds themselves. Everyone has a different story, but I've seen people walk around in public and I, I know that connection work. I, some people have like those noise canceling headphones, the bigger ones look obvious. And that's what I hate about like people, you know, being so judgmental is that like you have to be, you know, discreet, you know, otherwise, um, you know, otherwise, um,

Adeel [23:46]: you get judged you know yeah yeah we know we definitely know all about that um and it's and while we're on the the topic of judging like uh you know a lot of us feel kind of like shame from the judging especially if we've kind of like um um felt that from a young age uh like shame and and guilt sometimes if it's like

Abby [24:10]: you know ruining relationships is that something that um you kind of like recognized as you were getting older that this was kind of like these kinds of emotions were piling up like yeah um i know that i would start building like resentment almost towards people i care about and it all goes back to like having that early understanding of like they can't help this something i even in college I'm still like, they can't control that this is happening, but I can try to control how I react to it. And luckily that took me years of on and off, you know, being in therapy and, you know, Up to that certain point, you know, I only had some coping mechanisms for misophonia or even things that are connected to it. The disorders I found that I had later on in 2020 was just like headphones or sometimes I would take naps, you know, to avoid the sounds. I just wanted to avoid that feeling of resentment towards, you know, people that I care about, you know. because I didn't want to, like, judge them. Like, I vice judgment, you know. I don't like being that judgmental person. And if I, you know, let that feeling of resentment that oddly naturally comes from, you know, the severe sound sensitivity. I could have ended up being, weirdly, a more oddly judgmental person and, you know, a little bit picky about who I, you know. Because, like, you want to be able to, like, enjoy when you're out in public and, like, be able to focus on what you're saying and what you're doing. But if you're talking to somebody that's making a noise that you don't like, you know. But that's just not who they are as a person. I don't know if I'm making any sense, but... No, no, no.

Adeel [26:23]: I think everyone listening understands it's this internal debate that we have within our mind. Like, kind of this Jekyll and Hyde thing where part of us... Like, a lot of us rationally and consciously know that, you know, everything is normal. We shouldn't be reacting like this. But then this other side of us, this kind of more deeper, more... reactive side of us that just can't help feeling that way so we have this constant struggle which ends up being exhausting maybe that's why you're taking naps but uh it's just you know it's it's uh you're just kind of fighting within ourselves um about it and which is you know gets to my uh um one of my issues i have with some of these quote-unquote um therapies and treatments is like a lot of it focuses on that that that that front end the uh the uh conscious side um where you know we actually will be we a lot of us we know that you know this is not how we should feel and so um yeah it's it's like you're almost know you're kind of preaching to the choir where it feels like there's something there's there's something else inside of us that needs to be addressed so um but going back to your um oh and well i want to talk about your kind of your some of the therapies that you've been uh experience that you've been doing but um just it's going back once again to the to the resentment stuff did it affect like um your relationships with family members did it provide any did it push any kind of distance between you and anybody or um was you know were you were you kind of quote unquote successful with the uh extroverted um uh personality not always 100 i would like to think it was more successful than you know pushing certain people away um i think something that's still really even as

Abby [28:19]: almost fully grown person now is my relationship with my father. I think mainly the whole thing talking about resentment goes back to the fact that me and my dad are not as, there's other factors, but there's one factor in there that I can identify now from a young age is that, you know, he's a naturally loud person. I am sound sensitive and he, for some reason, the sounds he makes, you know, hits all the right triggers, unfortunately. So it kind of, when you said that that made me think of that, that unfortunately, you know, being able to identify as that has definitely, you know, helped, but... And I know it's not his fault. And that's what hurts is that it's not his fault. I would, you know, would rather hide in my room with my, you know, AirPods in, blaring music to draw out the sounds that I don't like to hear in my house, which most of the time he's doing his, he's just living. He's living his life. And, you know, and... who am I to be resentful of that? And sometimes I don't even know if I think that's 100% the right word either, but that's the only one that feels right. You know, it's that inner, when it comes to that reactive, you know, part of ourselves, like you were talking about, it feels that the relationship with my dad is very much more for me based off of my interactive side comes out a little bit more than the side of me that's able to like, you know, I wouldn't even say mask me anymore for where I am now from, you know, then even in 2020 to now, um, you know, I was able to think, try to break pin while I'm feeling like, That's what I'm learning in therapies is like pinning what I'm, thoughts that I'm having, pin them being like, okay, this is what I'm feeling. How can I reframe?

Adeel [30:34]: Gotcha. Sounds like CB, is it cognitive behavioral therapy that you're doing?

Abby [30:38]: Yes. Yes.

Adeel [30:41]: Yeah. And so, yeah, there's a lot of reframing the kind of the conscious mind, which is that, is that, has that been helpful or do you feel like there's more that is not being addressed yet?

Abby [30:54]: I feel like I'm on the right track for things being addressed. You know, finally, it took me a bit, but I finally found an amazing therapist who I just started working with. And, you know, she and like many others, unfortunately, in my area, not many know, when I bring up misophonia, they look confused.

Adeel [31:18]: We've all seen that face.

Abby [31:22]: But she looked confused. But it was one of the first times when I remember it being like, okay, you know, let's talk more about this. A little awkward moment, but this woman's wonderful. And she was just like, you know what? That's something that she wants to address everything. And so maybe... I'm on the right track. I just think it's going to be a while for me to find the right medicines and the right therapy, you know, because we're just getting to know each other. I'm, like, in the very, you know, beginning stages currently as we're recording this podcast. I'm in the very beginning stages of a new therapy, but... I have good feelings about it. So finally, someone that wants to hear my story, but not just with normal whatnot was not considered normal, but like more known mental disorders that I dealing with, but also want to hear about one that I know that I have, but many others either didn't want to 100%, you know, listen, or they actually want to talk about it, which is awesome.

Adeel [32:36]: Yeah, that was great. I mean, we should definitely applaud therapists who may not have heard of misophonia, but is at least willing to research it. There have been people who come on and have said that, yeah, like I went to a therapist and they didn't know what it was, but... they went down rabbit holes to help out and to learn about it. So that's great. Hopefully this will be helpful. And you mentioned medicine. Are you also taking some kind of medication for other things? And do you know if it affects the misophonia?

Abby [33:10]: Oh, yes. I like to think it helps with me coping with it. You know, I have ADHD. and i have a severe anxiety disorder um and i also recently found out that i'm i'm autistic but it's mild so that came yeah i wouldn't say i wouldn't say that was a surprise i with misophonia and the temper tantrums and everything i for the last few years i've been like wondering You know, is it more than just ADHD? There was just more to it. And getting officially diagnosed with that. I've actually never fully spoken that I...

Adeel [34:00]: got diagnosed with that just recently like literally like a month not a month a couple weeks ago yeah i found out so i think i've had you know people have come on the podcast recently who've gone through a similar arc where they've yeah just uh um yeah recently found out that there were also um uh diagnosed to be to have a to be on the autism spectrum as well but also have like misophonia and uh adhd so um yeah these are definitely common comorbid um phenomena um and and just um i this might sound ignorant but you mentioned like uh you know severe anxiety um issues, but you also mentioned in the past, obviously, that you're extroverted. I'm kind of curious, what does that feel like when you're extroverted, but then you have very severe anxiety? Do you feel it at the same time, or is it like if you're extroverted, then all of a sudden there's a breaking point where you need to deal with the anxiety?

Abby [35:00]: That's a great question. I don't think that's ignorant or anything. I think that's a... a lot of people were curious about that i'm not gonna even professionals i have spoken to you know um being like you're so social that's what's confusing is with the anxiety and the autism it's like confusing you know um but it definitely feels like i have like a um You know how I think of it this way in like the Sims, Sims 4 game. You know, how they have different bars of, like, energy. Like, I have my own specific kind of bars that, like, stay really high in the green and then go down to the little red where you have to take care of them. Otherwise, you might just, you know, pee your pants or pass out in the middle of the floor wherever you are. You know how Sims do that when you don't take care of them. If that makes any sense. I have my own bars, you know.

Adeel [36:03]: No, that makes total sense. Yeah.

Abby [36:05]: And so, like, I push myself until I'm, you know, in the very bottom bar. And I always explain it also, besides just that, is, like, coming up with analogies really helped me to, like, explain. Because with ADHD, I'm the kind of definitely 100% kind of person that will go off in different tangents. And, you know, they all connect, like, connected, like, tangled with headphone wire. but they all kind of connect. Something else that analogies help me explain it better is building blocks. Like I'm building like a high tower being like, okay, this is my stuff, but then I'm also taking on other people's energy. I have the time for it. You know, I, being an extroverted person, I, you know, deep empath. So it's like a blessing and a curse.

Adeel [36:52]: Are you familiar with the term like HSP, highly sensitive person? A lot of people have come on here and said they've kind of self-diagnosed as being an HSP where highly empathic, maybe are able to kind of like read the room a lot. faster than than most people or more deeply um and i feel like i i feel like also um i don't know if i'm gonna explain this properly but like if two people are like kind of talking past each other in in a conversation in front of me i'm like get very frustrated because i'm like i know exactly what you're trying to say to each other and if you just like if i can just explain to you that uh you know this conversation could have lasted like two seconds um I don't know if, I don't know if that these guys, like the, the idea of a highly sensitive person is, is something that resonates with you.

Abby [37:44]: Oh yes. Oh yes. Um, it kind of like everything kind of is my brain like smushes together. And I feel like being a highly sensitive person and ADHD would like, if I read the room, it'll kind of go kind of butt heads because, um, Sometimes I have a challenge socially trying to explain what I want to say, but it doesn't come out right. Or I'm like talking in circles trying to get to my point. And sometimes I don't even successfully reach the point. But I see exactly what you're saying is that... I have all this advice or all these things that I want to see about a situation and I can't help but want to help. I realize that you can't fix people, but that's just an automatic thought. You're so used to struggling yourself and dealing with your own personal pain that the idea of someone... else that you love and care about in your life like your friends like i can't tell you how many times with my friends even with my sister my mom you know if anyone hurts them i just i burst into tears like i just you know i just you know with misophonia and all these comorbidities i put up with for how knows how long and finally getting answers for that. But I don't want anyone else to experience that. And that's kind of why when I found your podcast and why I, you know, decided to, you know, sign up, I've never talked to anyone. Like I'm just like many others on this podcast. I've never talked to anyone about misophonia or, but if there's a chance that someone listens to mine for some reason and Yeah, I don't want them to wonder or be in pain. And that is where the highly sensitive person side of me connects with everything else. It's just, that's why I'm a music therapist and coming, you know, because I want others to be okay. If I can help them in any way, even with this podcast.

Adeel [40:00]: Oh, you definitely will. And just like, I think you were inspired by listening to, uh, uh, episodes. Um, people are going to be inspired listening to this story. Cause yeah, like I said, uh, a few times here. Yeah. I mean, a lot of people share kind of like different aspects of your story. So there's something out there, uh, that brings us all together. And, but there's a lot of people who just don't know, you know, they're just kind of like in, um, suffering in silence or, um, Another point I was going to make earlier when you're talking about the energy levels is you're a perfect example of you never know about a person, right? They could look like they're completely fine, extroverted on the surface, but you just happen to see them at full energy. You don't realize that most of their time might be, or a disproportionate amount of their time might be at very low or negative energy. And so it's important to keep that in mind.

Abby [40:49]: Exactly. And that's where most people... On the surface, when you see me, I'm super social, and you'll be able to just be like, oh, wow, she's so nice. She's so friendly. But as you get to know me, you see the anxiety, and you're just like – it's, like, functional. But then that low energy bar hits. And one time I literally had to – I had such a low energy bar – that i just had to leave like i it was a flight response i just was so tired i didn't want other people to see me when i wanted to help them see me be at one of my lows so i literally ran out and i said i gotta go and i just drove away because i just had to i was at an all-time energy low and you know it's like miss empathy it's a blessing and a curse

Adeel [41:48]: Right, right. Have you told, you say you haven't really told anybody, but have you told any kind of close friends about it?

Abby [41:57]: About... Misophonia? Yes. I have a close circle. I feel like my mom is one of the first people that knows about it. My mom is my best friend. Um, we have a complicated, like as any close mother and daughter do is complicated, but we're so close. Um, so obviously I feel like she, when I told her misophonia multiple times throughout my life from like young age to now, she knows about it more than anyone besides like, she knows it as well as I do is pretty much as well as much as I do about, you know, based from how much I talk about it. Um, But mainly, like, my mom and a couple close friends. When I explained it, sometimes it comes from where they made a noise and it's been bothering me for so long that it gets to a point where, you know, I can't contain the masking, the, you know, trying to keep my cool because I know they can't help it. And I have to, you know, try my best and explain. Um, but luckily I have told, I've, I have been picky about who I tell people about it too. Um, like, cause like you said, you know, not many, a hundred percent, many people know about it. Um, but I've had lovely, many of my good friends from high school and college, they know about it and they're, they're so loving and, um, they accept me for me. And I've been, I've been pretty lucky cause I've had experiences where, um, Didn't go so well. Maybe like once or twice. But I've been lucky.

Adeel [43:44]: Were the bad experiences kind of like maybe trying to make the sound louder or something? Like, you mean this kind of reaction? Were they trying to mock you or make a trigger to see a reaction?

Abby [43:58]: No. I would say maybe even trying to explain it. And then it's mainly been the confused looks or it's been, you know, trying to explain it, but I'm too emotional and I can't even, you know, because I already talk enough a lot sometimes as it is, which is not a bad thing. I've accepted, you know, I can be a talker. I can talk your ear off or I can be really quiet. But... You know, when I get emotional, I get emotional. So that's one of the bad experiences where I try to explain a misophonic occurrence that happened. And then it's just too confusing or it's, you know, they look like they're not understanding. So the conversation, you know, shouldn't even continue.

Adeel [44:47]: Yeah. You mentioned your mom. What does your dad think of this? Does he try to... Talk about it. Does he try to be quieter? Yes, he does. Okay.

Abby [45:02]: Yeah, like luckily, especially over the last couple years, I haven't personally been able to, maybe sometimes I'm able to come up to him because I, you know, confrontation, I think it's common, you know, confrontation would be scary, no matter if you love him or not, like it's confrontation. So being able to tell him, hey, I'm trying to do homework and you, you know, it's mainly when I'm doing the homework. that we got him headphones for Christmas, so he uses them as often as he can because he knows that I usually have a lot of homework or something, or I always have something to do. I can tell that he's trying, and I'm so appreciative of that because I think him and my mom talk, and I think he has an idea about it.

Adeel [45:54]: That's great. I mean, that's sometimes all we can hope for is that somebody is trying and that can kind of hopefully. convince our mind that there isn't a, you know, some imminent threat, which is kind of what we feel a lot of the time. Um, I wanted to, um, uh, also steer to kind of towards obviously what you're doing in school now with music therapy, but, uh, to get there, you mentioned something about, um, uh, you know, analogies helping. And I love that because, uh, um, you know, I mentioned, I don't know, I mentioned on the podcast, I'm always looking at looking for, uh, you know, analogies and metaphors for misophonia for kind of some creative works I'm working on for, you know, around misophonia. But do you, first of all, do you have any other maybe metaphors off the top of your head or, but I would also like to just kind of hear about how you got into, you know, music and therapy and have you used music as a, you know, therapy even before you got into college? Like, are you a musician? Yes, so... Sorry, those are three questions randomly at once, but I probably have some... My brain kind of going all over the place too.

Abby [47:07]: Okay, it's okay. If anyone can understand that, it's anyone that has like... um ADHD or like an attention problem like having multiple your brain having like I think anyone can understand that really so um you're not alone with that I promise um because my brain's doing these almost the same exact thing um so let's see break it down um so you asked about other um you know analogies or anything metaphors I might have on top of my head um yeah I feel like those are the two best ones I've got especially the building blocks when it comes to like taking on other people's energies and definitely the energy bar thing that's personally my favorite one that I've actually never I've talked about the building block one in my past but I've never actually talked about thinking myself as like a sim having like different energy bars and that's one excellent way at least in my opinion to explain um when you have a lot going on in your mind but yet you want to be you know that you're like empathetic and you like to help other people even though you need to help yourself before you can help anyone else kind of thing you know

Adeel [48:30]: but uh okay and then uh yeah i want to i want to get into then um yeah let's get into i'm very curious about the music stuff that you're working on so um are you a musician i guess actually maybe i should ask first uh yes i am um so i've been singing pretty much my whole life um yeah i'm i've been classically trained since i was like the age of like

Abby [48:59]: nine to 11 years old I started and now that's continuing that kind of classical kind of training is continuing on as I'm a voice focus major that's my major instrument in my college and but classically trained uh mainly operatic or other like other kind of which maybe what kind of genres are you most uh um like interested in Yeah, mainly more towards I am a higher soprano or what they call a soprano one. So, you know, when you think the classic soprano one example is Christine Daae in the musical Phantom of the Opera. So when you think of that kind of singing, you think of that's what people thought of me for many years is like they made a connection between like Phantom of the Opera. Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course. Like me, like me. Um, so basically, um, mainly like that kind of stuff. Like I was, I also was trained more in musical theater as well. Mainly like the higher stuff. Um, yeah. And now I'm, yeah, now I'm really being classically trained as in right now. One of my pieces is from the marriage of Figaro from written by Mozart.

Adeel [50:14]: Yeah.

Abby [50:14]: Yeah.

Adeel [50:16]: Amazing. Yeah, that's fascinating. And growing up, was that singing like, do you think that was ever part of kind of like helping your, you know, helping kind of calm your nervous system, kind of like help you cope with any of your kind of psychological, I want to say issues?

Abby [50:34]: Yeah, that's, I mean, that's, like, the easiest word to say. That's what I would say, too, is, like, my, do you call it a disorder issue? It's all, like, Yeah, it's broad. I think it's, like, broad, you know? Yeah, yeah. Trust me, I don't easily get offended, so you're good. But I'd say so. I feel like it's helped me more than I, you know, even realize it's doing.

Adeel [51:01]: Yeah, yeah.

Abby [51:03]: It was really easy for me to pick that.

Adeel [51:05]: Yeah. And so I guess, yeah, why did you, so you're, can you talk about the program you're in maybe? So music therapy. Yeah. You're actually not the first and maybe not even the second person who's in college for music therapy who's come on the show. But yeah, can you tell me a bit about the program and kind of what, what the goals are of music therapy?

Abby [51:26]: Oh, absolutely. This is something they're training us for. An important thing that, you know, even starting as a freshman is like, you know, when people think of music therapy, you just think like, oh, you're just going to listen to some classical music and you'll calm down. Exactly. You're just going to come in and just sing. It's not exactly that. I would say that there's multiple forms of treatment. Basically, music therapy is where you can work in a group setting or an individual setting, and you come up with a client and therapist relationship. You come up with a goal. And, um, there are many techniques and treatments that connect to that goal that you get trained in, um, such as like lyric analysis, um, reminiscence, um, even like just simple as like, you know, um, like I'm learning about like movement, like I'm in a rhythmics class. I'm learning about you rhythmics, you know, um, connections that are in the body. Um, and I'm learning about like, um, improvisation, percussion, and being on the piano. I have like exams that come up for like, I'm in a jazz improv class for on the piano. So I'm learning about, we're about to get our first piece in the class. So, you know, all these classes combined into one kind of connect you to different treatments based on what the client needs, what the client's goal is. And it's proved to do amazing things. Better than me even explaining it, there's an amazing documentary out there that I watched through my college that made me so emotional. Because we focus on all different kinds of areas, like older adults, young adults, children, you know, developmental disabilities, mental health, physical disabilities. We work with a whole... There's this one I would recommend to you to watch or anyone. It's called... I think it's like... oh my goodness, I wish I could remember. Oh my gosh, it slipped my mind. But you can find it on Amazon. It's like Music Saved Me or something like that. It's about a man named Tom. He's a music therapist. In his first three months of his career, he got a case where a young teenager, not a young teenager, but he got in a snowboarding accident and had a brain injury. And how music therapy played a role in getting him to talk again with other therapies. What's cool is that music therapy can combine with other therapies. I'm so sorry. I'm passionate about what I do.

Adeel [54:23]: No, I'm passionate about this whole topic. So yeah, I'm fascinated by hearing about it. And we'll get the name and link to that documentary offline. Because there's been one or two that I know I've watched as well. I think they're more... focused on music therapy or, or, or, uh, theater play, uh, therapy for, for children. So I thought you were going to talk about one of those, but if this is a new one, yeah, I definitely want to see it. Yeah. I'm fascinated by this entire topic.

Abby [54:52]: It was around like 2000. Like I think, I think it came out and like the documentary might've come out just a couple of years ago. Um, it had rolled around like the early 2010s. Um, stories it's just it's incredible and i know the the guy's name that was had the brain injury his name is forest and the music therapist's name was tom so um like it's something like music saved me or something like that um yeah i'll put it in the show notes for sure yeah um i'll definitely watch it this week um if i can find it yeah very very cool um

Adeel [55:29]: and and you said you were doing a musical theater too i'm just i'm just curious if it'd be done like i'd be saying like any stephen sondheim he's kind of my personal favorite oh i love sondheim talk offline uh over email later but uh absolutely absolutely um

Abby [55:48]: Yeah, I definitely have. I did a lot of like, in my voice lessons, I think I sang some Sondheim, and I did musical theater classes. You know, like, not from college, but when I was a kid, a younger teenager, I did like through like my local theater. I miss it. I haven't done a show since high school. I was in A Little Mermaid last time. So I want to get back out there for sure.

Adeel [56:17]: Yeah, I know we're going off topic, but I actually didn't even know who he was until like a couple years ago. And I'm like 46. And so I'm like catching up on a lot of time. But he's been like a major obsession with me. Of course, he passed away just as I'm starting to get to know who he was. But no, I'd love to talk about Nerd Out on him and his music after. Yeah. But, yeah, we're getting to about an hour. I feel like we've covered a lot. I'm sure we can go on forever. But, yeah, I guess anything else you want to share with people? Or let's say I don't mean to put you on the spot, but... Oh, that's okay.

Abby [56:58]: I guess basically what I was saying earlier, if anyone, you know, sometimes with me, I don't fully get to finish things. But if someone will listen to the very end... there's anyone out there who um is just starting their mental health journey like i am i'm only three years into mine it is a long journey it is a process you know even knowing that you might if you're figuring out misothonia through this i just validate that and know that it's it's okay My grandma says you have to accept things to continue to move forward. And at your own pace, just take the time that you need to accept things about yourself. And know that if you found this podcast, hello, you're not alone. I promise. It's so easy to get caught up in the feeling of what your brain's telling you or... You know, trust me, especially what your brain is telling you. I just, there's so much I could say, but I thought I would like have more. But one thing I definitely say is that do not be afraid to reach out for help. If this is, and you know, if you can't want to come, don't want to come on here and tell your story, don't be afraid to share your story with other people. because you never know like what connections you can make because you could be missing out on so much.

Adeel [58:43]: Yeah. And there's, there's people out there who have this or who have something comorbid that, that, you know, can help them understand. Um, but you're right. Validation is absolutely number one important. Um, you know, this is, this should, you should feel validated by your, your, your, what you're feeling is not some weird quirk or idiosyncrasy. There's something that other people share. uh yeah acceptance is important um although acceptance can go into two directions like some people um uh say oh just accept it and just kind of like shrug it off which is hard to do but then there's acceptance in kind of like giving yourself some self-compassion which i think is goes closer towards trying to um you know help help it like uh uh help will help yourself is if you can give yourself some self-compassion it can kind of help um train your mind that you're not under threat when you're going through a trigger because that's what your body is telling you is you're you're in danger and it's like find a person even if it's not reaching out for professional help there are people in your life that care about you more than you know

Abby [59:55]: And if misophonia is something that you feel comfortable sharing about, it has helped me so much to have someone like my mom. And if you're not close to your parents, is there an aunt or an uncle, a cousin, or a friend in your life that you feel like you could talk to? Because I promise you, if you feel like they're not going to understand, maybe they won't. But there is somebody in your life that will at least listen. Because you're not weird. If you come across this podcast, it's true. It's a real thing. Don't be afraid to reach out. I mean, I was afraid to.

Adeel [60:39]: Yeah, no, you've done a great job. It's going to help a lot of people. And yeah, to other people, just a reminder, if you don't have anybody in your life, you can find groups on social media. And also, I think almost anybody who's come on this podcast has always been gracious and kind of connecting with people who... who wanted to connect with them so um you know i can connect people as well so um yeah the more word gets out i think um the community is super important one thing i can actually i can say for sure is um besides having a person in your life sometimes even an animal um like whether it's a dog

Abby [61:20]: Cat. Snake. That was a very sudden change. Or like a hamster. Or... A bear or a tiger.

Adeel [61:30]: A bear.

Abby [61:32]: But actually, my little Ollie has been by my side this entire time. And I was really nervous. But he's been a big support. So support systems work, people, I promise. Even if it is your cat or your dog or hamster, you know, animals. They work.

Adeel [61:51]: And anything that's empathetic can work. Well, yeah, Abby, this has been wonderful. Yeah, it's been great to hear everything you've said. Hopefully, you know, hopefully it kind of was good for you, too. And it kind of flew by. This is going to help a lot of people. And we definitely want to talk about you. Oh, absolutely. You have my email. Absolutely. Well, yeah. Thanks again, Abby.

Abby [62:20]: Thank you for your time. Thank you, everybody, for listening.

Adeel [62:24]: Thank you, Abby. Always great to talk to musicians and theater nerds. If you liked 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 at or go to the website, It's easiest to just send a message on Instagram or Facebook at Misophonia Podcast and on Twitter, we're Misophonia Show. Support the show by visiting the Patreon at slash mrfunnypodcast. Theme music, as always, is by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and quiet.

Unknown Speaker [63:39]: So,