Robert - Robert's Misophonia: A Story of Family, Isolation, and Discovery

S6 E6 - 9/10/2022
The conversation with Robert on the podcast provides a deeply personal look into the life-long struggle he has faced due to misophonia, primarily triggered by a very specific sound produced by his mother. From a young age, Robert found himself in a complex situation where he perennially sought distance from his mother, due to the intense discomfort and agitation caused by the way she pronounced the letter "S". This predicament was perceived by his mother and siblings as disdain towards them, escalating to Robert being ostracized from his family. Despite his attempts at coping mechanisms, such as mimicking the triggering sound to alleviate his tension, the lack of understanding and communication about his misophonia led to further isolation and a tarnished reputation within his extended social circles. A turning point for Robert came much later in life when a casual conversation with a client led to the discovery of the term 'misophonia' and its identification as a condition that could be traced through DNA testing. This revelation brought clarity to Robert, who had previously resigned himself to being misunderstood. It also opened the door to a community of individuals facing similar challenges, providing a sense of belonging he had long yearned for. Despite this newfound understanding, Robert's relationship with his family remains largely unresolved, marked by decades of accumulated misinterpretations and strained interactions. His story sheds light on the profound effects misophonia can have on one's personal and familial relationships, the challenge of navigating life with an underrecognized condition, and the crucial role that awareness and understanding play in mitigating the isolation experienced by those affected. Roosebelt's tale is a powerful reminder of the complexity of misophonia and the importance of fostering an informed and compassionate environment for individuals coping with the condition.


Adeel [0:01]: Welcome to the Misophonia Podcast. This is Season 6, Episode 6. My name's Adeel Ahmad, and I have Misophonia. Sorry for the delay in getting this episode out. It's been a busier summer than expected, but I'm extremely happy to share this one. Robert reached out via email earlier this year, desperate to tell others his experience growing up with miso, being triggered by a very specific sound from one family member, and the intense repercussions of it throughout his life. Robert shares my interest, you could say, in the ramifications of misophonia on relationships and psychology. He was basically ostracized from his family from a very young age, and that more or less remains the same to this day many decades later. I'd love to hear what you think. As always, you can reach out to me by email at hello at or hit me up on Instagram or Facebook at Misophonia Podcast. Sometimes I'm on Twitter at Misophonia Show. I want to thank the ongoing support of our Patreon supporters. And if you feel like checking out the details there, you can go to slash misophoniapodcast. For the new batch of interviews that I'll be doing soon, I'm going to be upgrading from Zoom to different software. So hopefully the audio will be even better. So much thanks to our Patreon supporters for helping to support that. All right, now here's my conversation with Robert. So, yeah, let me just say, Robert, welcome to the podcast. Good to have you here.

Robert [1:39]: Yeah, nice to be here.

Adeel [1:42]: Excellent. Yeah. So Wes, you first. Why don't you just kind of tell us kind of roughly where you are in the world?

Robert [1:50]: Well, I am a hairstylist in New Jersey. I have my own little place. I've had it for about 15 years. I have two children. Both of them have this. And that's about all that I think would interest anyone.

Adeel [2:11]: Yeah, yeah. That sounds great. Yeah, it's funny. I was just talking to a... I just did an interview with a woman in New Jersey this morning, too. So it must be something in the air. So, okay, yeah. So you sent me an email, which is pretty... It's a pretty intense email some time ago when we first corresponded. Now, I purposely didn't look back on it because I wanted to kind of come in fresh. But...

Robert [2:38]: yeah do you want to maybe give a little bit of background about that and then obviously we'll get into the whole story well um what i was sharing with you is that so i've had this issue you know my whole life with me it was one trigger and one solitary sound from one solitary individual and that individual happened to be my mother yeah So it was the most tragic manifestation possible. So I was, I mean, I couldn't tell you for sure what age, but ever since I can remember, I must have been about five. And when my mother spoke and when she pronounced an S, so just one consonant, S, only S, which come out in virtually every sentence that comes out of your mouth.

Adeel [3:32]: Popular letter, yeah.

Robert [3:34]: It went through me. and you know i i just felt very very tense and agitated um not so much angry that that stepped in later but anyway so obviously i was enormously confused as to why i felt this way but what i had to do was get away from my mother now imagine you have a child And you see your child perpetually trying to get away from you. So she obviously thought that I hated her, that those were her feelings, that I despised her. And I heard this later on from one of my siblings that she did think that way. But it was obvious. So... there was no way of explaining this, even when I got old enough to explain it, what was going on. I, how do we even explain this to someone? It sounds crazy. So, so I mean, now I have four siblings, I have twin sisters and two brothers. And so now how my particular way of coping was to mimic the sound that I understand this is very popular. yeah so imagine now behind it yeah oh yeah yeah so imagine your siblings not only do they see that it appears that you despise your mother because you can't wait to get away uh Another way I would lock myself in my room, basically. I just needed to be away. So my siblings see that I can't be around my mother. They think I despise my mother. They don't know why. Everyone's confused. And the whole house is in turmoil. In a psychological turmoil. And nobody's talking about it. No one is talking about it. It's just running under the radar. So... You know, I got used to that. I got used to being alone to this day. I kind of prefer it because I got used to it. But back to the agitation. So I was, you know, extraordinarily, extraordinarily agitated, obviously. And so my mother thinks I hate her. My brothers and sisters see me using this coping skill, you know, hissing under. I tried to do it under my breath. But, you know, you can't really hide it that well. So I look like a crazy man. so and i knew i looked that way worst of all i knew i looked that way and worse than that i knew i really wasn't but i couldn't explain any of this to anyone so my mother eventually notices that it's that one trigger that brings this out and so she thinks i despise her she doesn't know why she's confused she sees eventually it's this one trigger and she starts to actually use it against me at times no i thought you were going to say the opposite of that okay no no uh for example i couldn't eat at the dinner table i couldn't be at the dinner table because she would Inevitably speak and I couldn't stand that and I had to leave early and so I would rarely eat at the dinner table So later on I try to sneak into the kitchen to get something because I was still hungry And she'd be waiting there and she would you know, she'd do things like say so you get what I'm saying to sort of shoo me away because It was so ugly and all this is running under the radar Yeah, so it gets really complicated. So to basically to this very day, I have no relationship, virtually no relationship with, with any of my family. And now remember, now, my brothers and sisters, you know, I would think I was crazy, too. You know, let me qualify this. If it were one of my siblings, I would have thought they were nuts, too. You know, the way I behave, right?

Adeel [7:49]: Right.

Robert [7:50]: so i developed i i knew i i was developing a reputation and the circle was white you know they would tell their friends their friends would tell their friend anyway the circle was and so i was a i was very angry you know in my adolescence and as the years progressed i i it made me very angry and i felt correctly that no one understood uh remember i had an uncle that i was sort of close to when he was always saying robert's whole problem is he thinks no one understands and uh little did he know he was right they really didn't and i didn't either so anyway so i ended up moving i ended up you know i couldn't wait to you know there there it was a push-pull thing i stayed home know as i got older later than i should have because i wanted to reconcile this somehow even though i didn't know how to it was very strange but eventually i did move in and i because i had to get outside i had i had to punch through that that circle of reputation i knew i had and go somewhere where very few or nobody very few people or nobody knew me so i could start my life know around what age was this this was like 18 16 20. uh when i left finally yeah oh i was in my in my 20s before i finally left the house gotcha okay yeah it was in my 20s before i finally left the house finally was able to afford to him blah blah blah but you know that that helped a lot and but anyway so the you know the story is that so i had a uh a guest in my chair who i know very well And so she's talking to me, just random conversation. And she mentioned to me very casually she had just gotten her DNA test. And Robert, I've always had this problem where certain sounds, they irritate me. And as she's talking... I inside I'm flipping out. I she has no idea what she's revealing here. And then she says the name misophonia. And then she tells me that they found this in her DNA. So it was like a curtain open, and the heavens opened and you know, now this thing had a name. Anyway, of course, I, I couldn't wait to get to my phone and start looking it up what it is and blah, blah, blah. And that's how I ended up eventually finding people like you on the internet. And thank God for people like you that are spreading awareness, because I don't want anybody to go through what I did. Now that we have the name for this thing, it's still, you know, most people I speak to never heard it.

Adeel [10:46]: Right, right. It's very early innings, I'd say, in awareness and then acceptance is a whole other level. Yeah, I actually had a scientist at 23andMe on the podcast. Did you? Pretty early on. So if you wanted to listen to that, that could be interesting.

Robert [11:05]: Oh, absolutely.

Adeel [11:07]: um but yeah then yeah there's been obviously a lot of other interesting episodes too but yeah did he talk about a certain marker relating to the misophonia yeah yeah yeah it wasn't interesting yeah it wasn't it wasn't like they found uh a gene that's that's green into misophonia and that's connected or anything it was more like they took a lot of people who had uh filled out a survey and misophonia was one of the questions on the survey like do you have misophonia They just statistically happen to find that a lot of people that put visophonia on their survey also had this genetic variation or trait in common. So it's not like it's necessarily linked one to one, but they just saw that there was a trait.

Robert [11:56]: It was enough that this person was good. Yeah. So that's interesting right there. You know, that whole story came out from her about it.

Adeel [12:06]: Yeah.

Robert [12:07]: Or else we wouldn't be having this conversation. I would have still thought of myself as a little loony.

Adeel [12:13]: Yeah. Yeah, it's funny. And yeah, it's really just, yeah, in the last... So it's supposed to have been actually just a few years ago, right? Because I think that paper was published in 2018 or 2017, something like that. Yeah. Okay. Boy, so... All right. So, okay. Backing up, so under the radar, no one was talking about this thing that you were dealing with. No. And then you just wanted to get the heck out of there as soon as possible. So you have no relationship with your family. Did that start to deteriorate immediately? I mean, I'm assuming it must have been pretty early because your mom was using it against you. That's quite harsh, I would say. Yeah, but, you know, I...

Robert [12:59]: yes and no i like i can understand where that was coming from because she was so frustrated and it didn't look for all intents and purposes like i hated her to her i could understand her feeling that way because there was an anger component to the whole thing you know so i appeared angry really i was more tense than anything and by mimicking that sound it was almost like you know releasing the top of of a kettle a little bit it didn't

Adeel [13:27]: totally alleviated for me but it was about 20 reduction in the anxiety which was something and i would have taken anything are you familiar with the the recent research from last year about the uh the mirror neurons that um the the leading group uh one of the leading groups that's doing research um published paper last year called the motor basis for misophonia and it kind of tries starts to answer that uh like why just mimic why does many people mimic to get uh to feel better about misophonia. And what they found was when somebody with misophonia is being triggered and they're looking at somebody's face, if they get triggered by the face, your muscles, like the neurons that control your muscles doing the same behavior are going crazy, even though your mouth is not moving. And the mirror neurons in the brain are linked to things like learning, like as a kid watching and learning and mimicking. and so um the one of the questions is hey is is that uh is do you feel better because you're you are bringing harmony back to your you know your body by moving where it makes sense the muscles that your brain is trying to fire so anyways it's logical yeah yeah it's logical more research needs to be done but yeah that was an interesting uh landmark yeah i'll buy that

Robert [14:49]: I'll buy that. That makes total sense to me. But yes, that's the first I'm hearing of it. So it's very interesting.

Adeel [14:54]: I actually had a Merceder fan was one of the, if you're interested, that was one of the lead authors. And she was, I interviewed her, I think early last year. So there'd be another interesting one to listen to.

Robert [15:04]: Oh yeah.

Adeel [15:04]: I certainly will. So it did. And so before, before that first, before you were first being triggered with your mom, was everything beautiful at home? Like how, like. Was it like a light switch?

Robert [15:18]: It was so early, I couldn't tell you. My earliest memories are that. I don't have any memories earlier than being agitated by her voice. Okay, gotcha. In that particular concert. So, who knows? You know, there was some dysfunction, but everything was kind of dysfunctional.

Adeel [15:38]: Right, right, right, right. Like now, even now, does your family all hang out and you're not involved kind of thing?

Robert [15:45]: Well, yeah, I'm, you know, it's it see, this is what I find most interesting about the whole thing are the psychological ramifications of Yeah, you know, because, you know, since I appeared a certain way to them, and I knew it, and I was frustrated, because I knew I wasn't that they couldn't understand. And there was nobody who explained it to them. And nobody understood it at all. It I was so frustrated, as you can understand, I was so frustrated. And so were they. So were they. And and another mechanism I use it and and I understand that these are, you know, comorbidities, you know, apparently, this syndrome, whatever you want to call it is related to anxiety disorders, they believe.

Adeel [16:25]: Yeah.

Robert [16:26]: And I certainly have an anxiety disorder. You know, it's not obvious or overt or anything. But you know, I certainly do. I was diagnosed with one many years ago by a very good psychologist. And I certainly do. And yeah i mean i've taken medication for it you know intermittently and it did help but i i just thought i i bring that to your attention that yeah apparently it's associated with anxiety disorders and and things like that and i don't know why but that seems to be the prevailing wisdom But yeah, it was ugly. It was very ugly with the family. It's very ugly with the family. But, you know, another coping mechanism, like in the mornings when I will be getting ready, I had this obsessive compulsion with my hair. I literally would spend two and a half hours in the bathroom until every hair was in the right place. Which is, you know, that was insane. But, you know, I'm just trying to be as perfectly candid as I can with.

Adeel [17:29]: Yeah.

Robert [17:30]: You know, because I do think that that these comorbidities are important and they're important to understand. And I hope that, you know, the community is more open about it. Like, don't worry about sounding crazy because maybe it'll, you know, help. Maybe it'll help some way.

Adeel [17:44]: That's why I'm here. That's why you're here. Yeah.

Robert [17:47]: And yeah, I mean, so that further inflamed my my family because I was hogging up the bathroom at the time.

Adeel [17:53]: I mean, it's endless. Yeah, it's usually the biggest reason.

Robert [17:59]: It's just endless. And I don't blame them for any of it. And that was the problem. I couldn't explain to them, yet I couldn't blame them.

Adeel [18:07]: so was there any, um, was it constant, um, anti Robert or was it, was there any like days of warmth or family trips or anything, or was it just always not enough?

Robert [18:20]: Yeah.

Adeel [18:21]: Did any of your other family members have like a, uh, like mental health? I mean, was it ever talked about mental health at all? Or was it one of those like classic school family? Yeah. Okay.

Robert [18:31]: Yeah. I mean, I don't know if it's an Italian thing where we sweep things under the rug. I noticed that a lot. But, you know, my father had a business, so he wasn't there often. And it was just easier. He noticed it because we we've spoken of it. He noticed it. But, you know, he was too busy trying to make a living. And my mother was overwhelmed with five children, you know, and she couldn't deal with me. Yeah.

Adeel [19:01]: Did your triggers ever expand to other people like your dad?

Robert [19:05]: Not a single person before or since. Really? Yeah. Which is fortunate. Which is fortunate. Now, my mother passed away about seven years ago. And, you know, so you have these, you know.

Adeel [19:20]: Yeah, how'd you feel about that?

Robert [19:22]: Well, I mean, it sounds perverse to say, but I was relieved in a way because I knew I'd never have that issue again. And, of course, you know, you love your mother. You don't want your mother to die. So you've got those conflicting emotions going on, and then you feel guilty about that.

Adeel [19:36]: It's just normal human thoughts.

Robert [19:41]: Yeah, but no, I've never had a problem since with any sound anyone makes. Oh, really? Okay. It's basically disappeared from my life ever since then. But it has destroyed even the potential of a moderately normal relationship with not only just my family, but anybody with their tentacles. know their friends their friends my my extended family people they know robert really strange yeah it's just that robert was always strange you know when when we would get together for family gatherings when we go over you know one of my relatives homes i would invariably escape to a room where i could be alone and not eat at the table and it was just like you know what the hell is wrong with robert

Adeel [20:27]: So, but are you sure? I mean, not to like, I'm sure you know better than I do, but of like, so you're saying like of all your, even your nuclear family, your extended family and anyone they know, you're confident that no one would be able to, to have a friendship or relationship with you because of.

Robert [20:44]: No, no, no. I, I don't mean that, but, uh, because I, I, I do have some relationship, you know, not with the immediate family, uh, you know tangential at best but i do but you know it's always going to be writing in the background you know they remember me as that gotcha it was it was that big of a thing yeah yeah wow and it's not them it's not their problem so frankly most people don't care even if you tell them because it's not them it's like they have their own lives it's like okay so you had this thing you know i i gotta go eat you know what i mean people don't care yeah you know That's why I'm speaking to you because I, if I have to force my way through a brick wall, I will just to get it out there, just to get it out there. And I so appreciate that you're doing what you're doing.

Adeel [21:39]: No, no. Yeah. Thank you. And, uh, yeah, I appreciate that you're here and I appreciate that you reached out and, uh, yeah, it was an amazingly written email. I'm looking at it again now. You definitely have a way with words. Um, but, but it speaks to, I mean, it speaks to how intense things were for you. I mean, uh, oh yeah that's that is uh do you remember any um there any there must have been a whole series of incidents that must have been memorable and not not the best it affected me in every way i was i was a behavioral problem at school

Robert [22:13]: You know, I had a tremendous intellectual curiosity, yet it was almost impossible for me to focus. I was depressed over the situation at home. I was angry about it, at the way I knew I was perceived. You know, it would take... It would take many sittings with a very excellent psychologist, you know, to get all this out. But, you know, it really affected my life profoundly because, you know, I do what I do because it only required like a year of schooling, which took me two, by the way, because I showed up half the time for the schooling for it. But, you know, that's why I do what I do because I... It was easy, it didn't require a lot of schooling, and I was a behavior problem at school. I got kicked out of two schools because I was such a behavioral problem.

Adeel [23:10]: Wow, okay, so you'd come in and you'd just be angry coming in, probably triggered from home, and then just lash out.

Robert [23:18]: Yeah, I was just frustrated. It really profoundly affected my psyche. And I'm not using that as an excuse for my behavioral issues. It's just a fact that it affected my behavior.

Adeel [23:33]: Yeah, we're all just trying to understand the causal relationships here.

Robert [23:39]: Yeah, exactly.

Adeel [23:40]: And then maybe where, for the benefit of others, maybe where things were, you know, steps.

Robert [23:49]: could have been taken like it's like your teachers or anybody at school did anyone think that maybe it was more than just you know boys being boys and just kind of being violent or I don't think so I don't think so I think they were too busy gotcha you know I don't know what it's like today in school but you know back then I'm 61 and back then there was very little awareness of these things and again why i'm speaking to you because man if someone's in my position i i would not want them to go through what i did yeah there needs to be there needs to be awareness so you know they they make concessions for people like me uh i don't think it's gone that far yet but with people like you it can get there

Adeel [24:36]: Yeah, well, it's, Mississippi is recognized by the ADA, the American Disabilities Association.

Robert [24:42]: I didn't know that.

Adeel [24:43]: Yeah, people are able to go into, it's a pretty wide, like ADA is pretty wide, has a wide definition. So there are, you know, I'm interviewing kids in high school who are aware of this and they're able to get official accommodations by doing things like taking an exam in a different room. Oh, that's great. That's great. Simple things like that. Now, some schools won't even do that. And so we are hearing of occasional lawsuits from kids against schools, which I think is great. If a school is not doing even basic accommodations, I think there needs to be some recourse there. Yeah, absolutely. It needs to be addressed. Some people are concerned about it going too far, but I feel like we're not going far enough. So let's just get the basic accommodations. So actually another episode you should listen to is Lyle, who's around your age. And so, which is interesting. So, you know, actually had somebody who's, I think she's 87 years old. Come on. So obviously when you were growing up, it was, I mean, forget about mental health at all. Like it was, it was, you were, you know, it was kind of, you know, it's supposed to be tough and kind of take everything. I would imagine that's kind of what it was like in the,

Robert [25:57]: 50s and 60s yeah there was very little attempt at understanding looking back do you recall anyone else maybe showing similar signs as you or even now you're like yeah you're just totally on your own I don't believe any of my siblings have it I don't know that my mother or father had this but I can tell you unequivocally my mother and father both have anxiety disorders or my mother had anxiety disorder and but like i said it seems everywhere i read they seem to associate it with anxiety disorders how did that manifest how did your mom's anxiety manifest oh it was just it was so obvious it was just always there okay she took copious amounts of valium because in the 60s they called it mother's little helper yeah and it was very common and so a lot of people got hooked inadvertently on value. And, you know, I think my mother became one of those casualties, but maybe she needed it. I don't know, she definitely had tremendous anxiety. My father certainly is a very anxious person. One of my sister, two of my sisters from what they tell me are very, you know, it's just, it's an undercurrent, you know, it's riding there for sure. So I do believe there could be an association. I'm not a psychologist.

Adeel [27:20]: No, but I mean, yeah. I welcome people just talking about it and making observations and trying to think of it. There's not a lot of people researching it, so we've got to sometimes do it ourselves. Do you see them at all at Christmas, or is it really just nothing?

Robert [27:44]: It's perfunctory for both parties, for all parties involved. You show up... And I'm glad you asked that because you made me think now. it's exacerbated by the fact that I can't even be myself around them because there's this undertone of anger that's always riding in the background because I associate them with all this. And so it's enormously difficult for me to even speak in the tone I normally do around because there's still this residual anger from the reputational damage I've endured over it.

Adeel [28:25]: Yeah, it's not just the triggers anymore. It's going to be the baggage and the memories that come with it, right?

Robert [28:31]: Yes. That's what I really wanted to get across. This thing has very far-reaching tentacles sometimes. It affected my life profoundly. That's what I really wanted to get out there because we need to talk about this. We need to get this out.

Adeel [28:50]: Someone was just saying, yeah, so other comorbid conditions like OCD, for example, or even anxiety, you can experience those by yourself and no one else has to see it. But misophonia, there's always somebody right in front of you pretty much. And so immediately there's a threat to that relationship, which is, I think, unique amongst the... these conditions. I just realized that today as I was talking to somebody. That's got to be one factor as to why this destroys so many lives.

Robert [29:25]: Do you have many triggers?

Adeel [29:26]: Yeah, I mean, I've got the usuals. It's not just the S. It's interesting that yours was just that, but it's throat clearing, coughing, chewing, lip smacking.

Robert [29:41]: My daughter, I think, has similar triggers to you.

Adeel [29:44]: Okay, okay.

Robert [29:46]: Those are pretty common, I think. Mine's a little less common, I think, but I have read that it's not that uncommon for it to be one person, one trigger, and one parent.

Adeel [29:56]: Yeah.

Robert [29:57]: I don't know why.

Adeel [29:59]: Don't know why. So your daughter, did you have a partner that you were living with? That you were with at some point, or still are?

Robert [30:10]: Uh, I am divorced twice.

Adeel [30:13]: Okay. Okay. So at all part of like, do you think there was some, Oh, I think absolutely.

Robert [30:21]: I think, I think it affected, you know, my relationship with my mother was so fractured and I think it's affected my relationship with all women going forward.

Adeel [30:31]: And specifically sound? Or do you think it was just the second, third order effects of how it made you more interested?

Robert [30:37]: I think there's a certain level of distrust that stepped in at a certain point with just women in general. That may be running just subconsciously, but certainly will affect my relationships. I don't think there's any way around it for me.

Adeel [30:53]: Yeah, if your mom used it against you like that at that early age, I mean, not to speak ill of the dead.

Robert [30:58]: And I don't mean to demonize her. I'm just being perfectly honest with what happened. I mean, my siblings wouldn't even want to hear it. They'd say she wouldn't do that, but she did. And I know she did because I once heard her sharing the fact that she did with a friend of hers on the phone because she felt guilty about it. So that's when I would say, I know this isn't in my mind.

Adeel [31:19]: yeah so she felt guilty about it so there was there other was do you feel like a lot of that um you know how it kind of escalates really quickly and it was easier you know a reaction and then the reaction to the reaction do you think that she maybe did feel guilty a lot and and um and that was you know if you talk to her you know, if she was still around, that she would, well, it seems like the rest of your family doesn't care, right? So I'm just curious if that was a common thing that she, if that was a, if that was no, if that was really how she felt where she, in the moment, maybe she reacted, but there was some guilt or, yeah.

Robert [31:58]: Yeah, there, she, what I heard her sharing was, you know, she knew that it was that sound and she was using it against me and she felt terrible that she did. I don't, you know, I can't remember verbatim. I was sort of young But she did feel bad about it. But she was frustrated. She couldn't understand it. I mean, I looked crazy. I looked crazy to me. Even though I knew, I knew I wasn't. You know, I knew that in that way, yeah, if you want to call it crazy. In that way, it was certainly an aberration. But I knew that my general, you know, cognition, personality wasn't, you know, dissimilar to most people. You know, it was just that. It was just that and the anxiety. And the anxiety was my baseline. Because, you know, I'm 5'6", 7'8". You know, you're around your mother a lot. So... You know, it was my baseline. Either I was anxious because I was around her or I was anxious to get away and anxious that I was going to have to reenter that scenario again at one point. You know, it was incessant. It was just, it was hell. It was absolute hell.

Adeel [33:11]: Did you have any friends that, you know, that you weren't?

Robert [33:15]: that you weren't uh getting into fights with at school did you have a friend that you could confide in any in any way or not really even the friends i chose you know they were the wise guys you know i i was always a very i'm very slight in stature so you know at least the first high school i went to it was rough you know i i grew up in newark and it it it it was kind of rough and i could have chose to hang out with the nerds or i could have i hung out with the wise guys and i think i thought subconsciously that would keep me safer and meanwhile i was just bullied by i was just bullied by them yeah but i didn't know i didn't discuss this with them i didn't because i didn't think anybody could understand me and i was right nobody could

Adeel [34:00]: Do you define wise guys just for people who might not know who don't watch movies?

Robert [34:04]: Well, you know, guys whose fathers were in the mafia, guys, you know, smoking dope and, you know, just general wise guys, you know, not not the scholarly type.

Adeel [34:17]: no no like goodfellas the movie and things like that um okay so and then and then as you okay so then you as you got out um you started living on your own and working and whatnot um yeah you met when you met when you were dating and you met women were you telling them at all or were you just like well i'm sorry was i what Were you telling them about your past?

Robert [34:43]: Yes, I was. And I had to.

Adeel [34:45]: Because your parents must have come to the weddings or no?

Robert [34:49]: Right, exactly. So I had to because eventually they were going to meet my parents. And they were going to see this other side of Robert. And they were going to say to themselves, all right, which one is it? Which one is the real Robert? Is it the one that's angry or is it the one that I see all the time? is it or is it an angry one but you get what i'm saying like i'm that different around my family that it's almost like dr jekyll and mr hyde and and so i i knew this would be disconcerting for them so i would tell them listen you know i got this thing i can't explain it and blah blah blah so yeah that's a really good question and and you know that that was tough was tough yeah and how did that how did they go i'm curious when when they first there was a you know generally generally they understood because they saw me most of the time i mean you can't fake your your your you know 99 of your life you know you can only fool people you know maybe 40 of the time i don't know because yeah people were accepting yeah but nobody understood because it didn't have a name and i didn't know what it was either right you know right and you weren't and i took the risk that they were going to dump me because of this insanity you know when i but i had to tell them right yeah i mean at least you weren't triggered by them you were it was just the the sound you're right of your mom so right yeah it was exclusively her right but i will say that when when she did pronounce an s it was very sharp You know, she had, it was sharper than when most people do.

Adeel [36:24]: Yeah. Yeah.

Robert [36:26]: Uh, yeah. And you, you, you would notice it, but I brought to your attention and then she would speak, you would actually notice, but it wouldn't bother anyone to the extent that it did me. That's for sure.

Adeel [36:35]: Yeah. And your daughter, did she, um, you know, did she observe it as when she was growing up that, you know, dad's around grandma and what the heck's going on?

Robert [36:46]: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. It was weird. It was weird. And my, my mother had a, very good relationship with my daughter. She loved my daughter to death. And I'm sure my daughter was very confused, as you know, to see me act a certain way most of the time, and then, you know, see the way I was around my family, because I had this anger, you know, because I all this reputational damage and everything else I told you, it was very confusing for her, I'm sure. And I did eventually, when she was old enough to explain it to her. And now, after that, that client of mine in the chair explained it to me. I had a name and I talked to her about it and then she, she has it. And so, you know, she really understands.

Adeel [37:25]: Gotcha.

Robert [37:25]: My, my kids understand perfectly. It's my family that just, you know, they don't get it. Right.

Adeel [37:33]: Okay.

Robert [37:33]: And it's only, although like, like, like, like I share with you, my, my, my brother, you know, my recent conversation with my brother, he, he did, he did listen and he said he got it. He said he got it. We'll see.

Adeel [37:45]: Okay.

Robert [37:46]: Sorry to keep on interrupting you.

Adeel [37:47]: No, no, no. This is what I want to hear. So your brother, after all this time, finally said, oh, okay, I get it.

Robert [37:54]: Yeah, well, because he couldn't deny that, you know, I said, do you remember when you would see me hissing under my breath? He said, yeah, who could miss this? You know, I guess he figured, well, he can't make this all up. You know, the evidence is there.

Adeel [38:10]: He's still talking about it at 61, so it's good. There's got to be something.

Robert [38:13]: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I did, I don't know when it was. It was probably about 20 years ago. I mentioned it to one of my sisters. that this particular i had this particular trigger with my mother and could she please and she said i'll talk to her and uh so i'm sure that she would remember that like i haven't spoken to her since about this but i'm sure she would remember that you know she would have to remember having that conversation with my mother so strange you know robert has a problem when you say this you know that's strange let's face it

Adeel [38:49]: But that was the first time. That must not have been news to your mom, right?

Robert [38:53]: Because, I mean... No, it wasn't news to her at all because she was literally using it against me. So she knew. Right, right, right.

Adeel [39:02]: And so you only found out a few years ago. Your mom never found out that it had a name, right? Because she passed away before.

Robert [39:08]: Yeah, my mother never knew. My mother never knew. She died frustrated over it. And that's unfortunate.

Adeel [39:17]: Did she ever send you any messages or letters before she was passing away, maybe to reconcile or anything?

Robert [39:23]: No, she went very quickly. She went within an hour. She had some heart event that we don't know. There was no autopsy, but she went that quickly.

Adeel [39:36]: So you're not being triggered now. Are you helping your child? Does your daughter have the usual array of triggers?

Robert [39:46]: I think what she has are certainly more typical than mine. Sometimes I'll be in the car with her and I'll be tapping my finger or something. She'll be like, Dad! Shut up. Yeah. She's good about it. Chewing bothers her. That's very common. But she deals with it. She says, I just walk away when I have to. She can deal with it better than me. She can deal with life, I think, better. She's an old solo. And she's in healthcare. She's a nurse. She's a little more aware of these things. Very understanding. She's very understanding. How couldn't she be? She has the same thing. And my son just recently, I was speaking to him about three weeks ago, and he said, Dad, you know that thing you have? He said, there's a certain sound. I was like, yeah, you too. Hey, welcome. Welcome to my world.

Adeel [40:44]: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Robert [40:47]: And everything I've discussed with you, I discussed with them. And so, you know, they're very understanding.

Adeel [40:53]: Very understanding. That's great. That's great. Yeah, interesting. Well, hopefully, you know, you'll be able to... be able to talk about it more with your other family members, maybe. Maybe.

Robert [41:08]: Some of the baggage can be... It's kind of like, you know, have you ever totaled a car? It's like, it's never going to be the same. You know, no matter... I don't care who fixes it, it's never going to ride the same. And I think that it's that way with relationships. It's like, once they're that damaged... i don't think there's any way back and and you know when when people feed you feed that reputation for so long you know it it's like they're feeding this monster you know like robert's this well that you know and they're feeding this monster and the monster gets so big that they can't kill it you know it's it's like they're that they're they have this relationship with that monster that they understand but they you know this is new and and i don't think I don't see much reconciliation there. It's possible, but highly unlikely, if you ask me. And I'm not that concerned about that. I accept that. I accept that. I just want to get it out for other people to know, like you're doing, that it's very real. It's very real.

Adeel [42:17]: Have you, in your occupation, cutting your hair, have you met, I mean, you see people, you work with people from all over the place. Yeah, yeah. Have you talked to people and it's come up?

Robert [42:29]: Yes, yes. I brought it up. Yeah. Because after I found out about it, you know, I was like, can you believe, you know, because I'm very close with a lot of them. I've been doing, you know, I've known a lot of them for 25 years, these people. So they're almost like family. And so, yes, absolutely. I brought it up with a few of them and they're very understanding. But let's face it, it's easy. It's easy for them to be understanding. They didn't live with.

Adeel [42:53]: Right.

Robert [42:54]: You know, they're different.

Adeel [42:55]: I mean, it was 20 minutes every couple of months.

Robert [42:58]: Yeah. It's easy to tolerate me, you know, for for an hour or whatever. But when I was young, I mean, I'm sure it was not easy on my family. Like I said, I I do not blame them for thinking any and everything they did, you know. But in light of recent revelations, That should change, but like I said, I think it's a totaled car. I just think relationships are generally like that. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's why we need a deal to nip it in the bud.

Adeel [43:32]: We're trying to do that. Yeah, I mean, there's this. There's It's MissFunnyAdvocacy501.

Robert [43:41]: You're going to have to email me all this stuff when we finish because I already forgot all of it, but I want to check out all of it.

Adeel [43:48]: Yeah, there's more stuff in the works. Some of it I can't quite talk about over the next couple of years just in terms of stuff coming out.

Robert [43:58]: Oh, you had a great guest that she has... What does she have? Some website or something. It was a woman. She was fantastic. I was listening to her a couple days ago.

Adeel [44:12]: I wanted to familiarize myself. Dr. Jean Gregory, maybe. She has a website called Sounds Like Misophonia.

Robert [44:19]: It wasn't her. I think it was a young girl.

Adeel [44:22]: Yeah, there is. Jennifer, who's Miss Misophonia on Instagram. I know she's got a lot of stuff on there. I think it was her.

Robert [44:35]: She was great listening to her.

Adeel [44:36]: Yeah, yeah. No, she's awesome. Yeah, very cool. Yeah, there's things in the works coming out, I think, where a lot of us are trying to break through the wall. And, you know, honestly, if we just find each other, I think that's enough work. Like, there's enough work to kind of, like, help each other out rather than broadcasting it to every single person.

Robert [44:58]: Just knowing that there's so many other people that suffer, it's perversely comforting, you know? I felt alone, you know, my whole life. I thought it was just me.

Adeel [45:08]: Yeah, yeah.

Robert [45:09]: Which was foolish. What are the chances it was just me? But that's how I felt.

Adeel [45:15]: Do you find a lot of other people who have it? Maybe that you're also working with?

Robert [45:18]: Yes. Several people I brought it up to have it. Especially chewing seems to be the number one truth.

Adeel [45:27]: Public enemy number one.

Robert [45:28]: If you think that's number one, you hear that too. A lot of people tell me. Yeah. I have a woman who she can't stand to be at the dinner table with her husband.

Adeel [45:42]: Yeah.

Robert [45:43]: You know, we were laughing about it. Yeah. But, you know, I told her, I said, after I talk to Adeel, you make him listen.

Unknown Speaker [45:54]: Yeah.

Adeel [45:56]: right um yeah it's it's it's not uncommon he doesn't believe it's real he doesn't believe it yeah no there's just people i mean there's people i've talked to just on the show who um they they don't eat they don't um sit at the same table with their with their family even if they have kids and or they're standing while they're eating so that they can at least move around so they usually sit there at least you're there but it's just like yeah yeah that sound comes up you just move out and you know you need some distance back in so yeah yeah So it's definitely something that we, you know, and I'm sure like everyone else, you know, for you, well, actually, I guess you don't really feel it anymore. But like, you know, if we could not have this, we wouldn't. It's not like we chose. We know how crazy it sounds. We know how crazy it looks.

Robert [46:46]: And you can't understand it unless you have it. I really don't think you can. Yeah.

Adeel [46:51]: i think we can we can we can kind of understand that it seems so petty to people yes you know that's it just seems like well i i get people who don't have it to ask you like uh because maybe their spouse has it and and they're like isn't there like a you know isn't there like a book or quick fix or or like a psychedelic that you know something like this we wish

Robert [47:16]: The only thing I found on the internet is they're suggesting people wear earphones, earplugs. I used to try to hold my ears, but that looked really weird. You can't hold your ears without people noticing. That would just make me look more strange.

Adeel [47:38]: Anyway, thank God...

Robert [47:43]: it was only one trigger with me and it's, it's only ever been one trigger and I'm perfectly fine now, but it has affected my life profoundly. Yeah.

Adeel [47:52]: Yeah. No, this is a fascinating story. And yeah, and this is, this is one reason I wanted the show. I wanted to not just, not just to read like a. you know a one-line rant on on instagram about triggers it's it because it is more about the second and third order effects like the people yes around you like that doesn't get better enough um and just because you don't have you haven't had this for you haven't really felt a lot of triggers for years i mean yeah even when your mom was alive because you weren't seeing her you weren't seeing her because the relationship was destroyed a long time ago and just it's amazing that this this thing caused that and just completely changed the direction of your life and you know yeah yeah so um that's powerful and i don't know many other i don't know many other mental health conditions that that that do that because um you know, going back to how petty everyone thinks this is. It's this weird, yeah, just this weird thing. Anyways.

Robert [48:54]: It's kind of like depression before they understood it. They would say, just get over it. You can't get over it. You can't get over it. Especially if it's riding somewhere in your DNA. I couldn't. Yeah, yeah, I was blaming myself my whole life. And I find out it's somewhere riding in my DNA. I couldn't help it any more than my height, or my eye color is there. Right there. Does anyone else in your family have it?

Adeel [49:21]: No, not that I know of, no. But I've had people on who are like, you know, like half of their nuclear family has it, you know, or cousins and aunts and uncles have it. So, yeah, there are a number of people who are convinced it's purely genetic. Some people think... it's like epigenetic where there are maybe um and then maybe there's something in your dna that makes you more susceptible and it's your environment that can kind of amplify it or not yeah if there's no trigger it won't matter right yeah right right right so Wow, Robert, no, it's been great. This has kind of flown by already. This is great to hear your story. Is there anything else you want to share with people?

Robert [50:11]: I'm sure there's a lot. I just can't think of it at the moment. It was nice to have this catharsis. It was nice.

Adeel [50:18]: Cool. Well, yeah, Robert, thanks for finally connecting. Yeah, likewise, likewise. Thank you again, Robert. Really glad I could finally share this episode. Sorry again for the delay. I enjoyed our conversation when it happened and I really enjoyed listening back to it here and editing. 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 The easiest way is probably just send me a message on Instagram or Facebook at mrsfunnypodcast. Support the show by visiting slash mrsfunnypodcast. Theme music, as always, is by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace. and quiet.