Risa - Decades of coping: A filmmaker's misophonia journey.

S7 E11 - 9/28/2023
This episode features a conversation with Risa, a Canadian living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who has been coping with Misophonia for around 60 years. As someone who identifies as neurodivergent, Risa recounts the challenges of managing misophonia in her daily life, from handling noisy neighbors and raising her child to enduring the sound of basketballs bouncing near her home. She reflects on her job changes owing to her sensitivities, not solely misophonia but also misokinesia and a broader spectrum of sensory issues like hyperacusis, which she initially mistook for misophonia. Throughout the conversation, Risa delves into the importance of acceptance and awareness, discussing how understanding and acknowledging sensitivities rather than pushing them away has helped her cope better. She also shares her journey of self-identification, highlighting how adopting certain labels such as 'introvert' or 'highly sensitive' is now helping her make sense of her experiences and how she's considering a career change into computer coding at the age of 64 to suit her need for a less sensory-stimulating work environment.


Adeel [0:01]: Welcome to the Misophonia Podcast. This is Season 7, Episode 11. My name's Adeel Ahmad, and I have Misophonia. This week I'm talking to Risa, a fellow Canadian living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who has been dealing with Misophonia for about 60 years. We talk about being neurodivergent, family life, both many decades ago and in the present day, and all the challenges along the way, raising her child, While having Miso, difficult neighbors, her thoughts on meditation and various psychotherapies, and of course, much more. Please, after the show, let me know what you think. You can reach me by email at hello at misophonia podcast dot com or find me on Instagram or Facebook at Misophonia podcast. By the way, please head over, leave a quick review or rating wherever you listen to the show. It helps to drive us up in the algorithms and reach more people. Misophones. A few announcements. Of course, again, thanks for the ongoing support of our Patreon supporters. If you feel like contributing, you can read all about the various levels at patreon.com slash misophonia podcast. And I want to remind everyone that the book Sounds Like Misophonia, a self-help guide written by Dr. Jane Gregory and I, is out in the UK. You can get it at any bookstore online or anywhere. in stores. And it will be released in the US in November, on November 14th. But you can pre-order now anywhere you find books. We're really excited about the book and people are enjoying it so far. And yeah, it's going to help a lot of people. So please check it out. This episode is also sponsored by a personal journaling app that I developed called BASAL. BASAL provides AI-powered insights into your journal entries and guides you with new writing prompts every day based on those insights. You can even explore many different therapy approaches and philosophies within the app. It's available on iOS and Android. You can check the show notes or go to hellobazel.com. All right, here's my conversation with Arisa. Arisa, welcome to the podcast. Great to have you here.

Risa [2:12]: Yeah, good to be here.

Adeel [2:14]: So yeah, well, we talked about this a little bit offline, but do you want to tell us a little bit about kind of where you are?

Risa [2:21]: Well, I'm in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I've lived here for, gosh, 40 years. And before that, I was in Ontario. And I do have American citizenship, but I haven't. I'm definitely not American, but I do have the citizenship through my mom. So I've made my home here for some time now.

Adeel [2:45]: Yeah. Okay. And yeah, I guess what kind of, what do you do in Nova Scotia for work?

Risa [2:49]: Well, I recently just quit my job. So I've been working a lot in, I don't know what, I know you have this down there, Meals on Wheels. Yeah. Yeah. So I've been running two separate organizations of Meals on Wheels in this area. And, you know, that's been pretty consuming. And now I'm moving on to something else. Not sure what yet.

Adeel [3:11]: Yeah. Okay. Okay. And was part of leaving or anything related to mystophonia perhaps?

Risa [3:18]: Well, you know, I think I've got, I fall into so many categories. So yes, I would say that my sensitivity felt like was definitely at play in there. And the misophonia had little aggravating factors at times, but it certainly wasn't the reason I left. But it's just the whole suite of attributes that I have that I think at this point in my life I have to figure out a little bit more about what kind of work actually suits me.

Adeel [3:55]: more closely gotcha um okay yeah yeah don't we can kind of like peel back some of those some of those layers if you like but um maybe maybe just being sticking on the on the misophonia kind of like maybe um you know without getting obviously too much in descriptions kind of what what's the situation like for you these days what are you coming here well you know it's funny leading up to this podcast i i gave it a lot more thought and also since leaving this last job

Risa [4:23]: And, you know, it's a pretty well daily thing dealing with misophonia. And I really stayed away from, you know, I can fall under so many different labels. So I've really tried to stay out of the labels because sometimes it's like it's a solidification of identity, you know, that I am this. And what the actual case is that on a daily basis, I actually have to figure out how to work with it. And if I get too glued on that this is what I am, then I find it's too solid and I can't actually figure out a way to go past those limits, you know, or find another way of experiencing my environment that'll work better for me and the people around me. So it's a pretty daily thing. There's two basketball nets set up on our street, right at the curb. And one of them's been there for 15 years. And there was a... three boys in that family and so they would stay out there for four or five hours bouncing the basketball which drove me nuts and uh so but i you know decided i had to tough it out because i talked to the parents and there was no there was no negotiation with them about timing or how long it could go on So I just knew I had to figure it out. So I thought, okay, I'll figure out all these things about how to deal with it. And then they'll grow up and it'll be done. But these people are very inviting to the community. So they left their net up. And so then another generation of people moved in next door and they started with the net you know but not quite so bad and then just recently this week four young men moved into a rental across the street and the first night they were there they decided they'd take advantage of this lovely basketball net across the street So that was, you know, there was a moment of, oh my God, this can't be true in my head, and trying to deal with it. So it's pretty ever-present. You don't notice it until you start talking to someone about it you realize oh yesterday I moved my seat on the bus because someone was crinkling a potato chip bag and oh yeah last week I was in a movie and I had to find a place that I could easily move so that no matter what happened around me I could move without bothering anybody you know that kind of thing.

Adeel [6:58]: How did you approach the subject with those parents?

Risa [7:04]: Oh, I can't even remember. It was something like, you know, the basketball gets to me. I didn't know about misophonia then. I got examined for hyperacusis a few years ago because I couldn't figure out why I was having so much sensitivity to things that other people didn't seem to mind. And the hyperacusis was not on the mark, so I... definitely didn't have hyperacusis. But how did I broach it? I said that, yeah, if we could figure out a compromised position, like somehow that they wouldn't be out there for five hours, maybe an hour, two different times a day or something like that, some kind of limitations or accommodation. And I've spent so many years getting really strong reactions from people when I make those kind of requests. So this wasn't a surprise. I can't remember what was said, but it They put me in their bad books for some time. And I do have, you know, there is the city. There's always the holding. Yeah, I could call. And I never liked doing that kind of thing, though. And, you know, they'd have to move it into their driveway, which they can't. Anyway, so I just have, you know what it's like. You just have to figure out how to deal. so but it really made my heart sink to hear these new young men move in yeah um yeah that's no that's where yeah basketballs are yeah because that and leaf blowers are kind of a neighborhood menace yeah and yeah so you know it's uh i always am i had a little bit of this isn't fair this time um because it's like there's I have definitely worked with this completely for 15 years. I've made it something that I have to work with in my own home and my poor family who's had to deal with me about it, you know. But there should be a point where, you know, I've put 15 years in, maybe somebody else can give now. Yeah, right. A little bit of that, yeah.

Adeel [9:11]: Yeah, no, we all feel that.

Risa [9:12]: Yeah.

Adeel [9:13]: We all feel that.

Risa [9:14]: So there's, you know, it's pretty daily. It's just, it becomes such a given that I forget how much energy and... is going out to that.

Adeel [9:27]: Yeah, it's exhausting. You find yourself exhausted in other parts of your life because you spent so much energy on misophonia.

Risa [9:35]: Yeah, and it isn't just misophonia. There's all this other sensitivity stuff. And I have some misokinesia too, for sure, which I didn't actually know about until I was in a car soon after marrying my husband. I was driving with him long distances and he like to drink coffee in the seat next to me. And I began to realize pretty quickly that his movement of bringing a cup to his mouth in the periphery of my vision made me want to kill him.

Adeel [10:06]: Ditto. Same with me.

Risa [10:09]: It was, I could not understand. It just seems so absurd, you know. But we just both had to... get it that it was absurd, but it was, you know? So he'd have to sit in the back seat if he wanted to drink coffee during the journey, or I'd have to, you know, put a scarf down the side of my face so my peripheral vision would be cut off. Yeah.

Adeel [10:31]: So when did you find out that misophonia was a thing, had a name?

Risa [10:36]: It wasn't until about, oh gosh, about five years ago, I was telling a colleague at work, and this is always a little bit of a confessional, because, you know, most people just consider it, you know, you're too sensitive, or you're too this, or you... You know, you could get over that if you just decided to kind of thing. But I was telling her about it and she said she had a name and she had joined a Facebook group and she had to wear earplugs eating with her family. So it was nice to have a name because as I said, I went down the hyperacusis route and that wasn't it. So yeah, so that's when I found out about five years ago. right and um so yeah until then you just you just thought it was like an idiosyncrasy quirk well it went along with you know i was told that i was high strung all my childhood and so it went along with my general sensitivities um so i didn't i just thought of it as part of my constellation with that it didn't have a separate name it was just i'm highly sensitive and Damn. Another piece to that.

Adeel [11:51]: Have you heard the term HSP?

Risa [11:53]: Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. When I first ran into that book, I remember I was in a bookstore and I picked it up and I think I read it pretty well cover to cover standing there in the bookstore. It was just like, oh my God, this is my tribe.

Adeel [12:12]: Yeah.

Risa [12:13]: Yeah.

Adeel [12:14]: So, so yeah, going back to, going back to childhood and yeah, I'm curious, kind of what was childhood, childhood like for you? What were kind of maybe some of your early memories of, of being told you're high strung and.

Risa [12:25]: Ah, I was high strung from so early. I, I don't even remember the first time I, I talked to my dad in some kind of oblique way about it. And he said he was just so shocked when he saw how I'd react as a two year old. three-year-old you know that he'd come and come and want to gather me in for something and if he came too fast I'd you know I'd I'd look terrified and sort of bridle you know pull back so I think it was there pretty early and my mother was definitely not highly sensitive but she had a mother who was and she always thought that her mother could have been something else if she just tried But then she saw her child here having the same sort of attributes and realized that it was genetic. You know, it was inborn because I didn't decide to have it at two and three. So I do remember that. In terms of the sound thing, I would say the first sign of that for me was... and I don't know where this fits with misophonia really, but sensitivity sounds, was having music playing in the car when we were driving places. I would often ask people to turn it down or turn it off, and that created a lot of discord.

Adeel [13:49]: Pun intended.

Risa [13:50]: Oh yeah, no, no, pun not intended. You can stick an H in there, sure. Yeah, so that's my earliest remembrance of sound-related things. And certainly it, you see it is, it's really hard for me to tease out the misophonia completely from the high sensitivity. Yeah.

Adeel [14:12]: yeah well what's some of your other sensitivities i guess uh well so you mentioned your dad coming into the room too fast um was it things like lights uh well uh touching my body like tapping me if somebody taps me or bumps me it's just the same thing it's just like

Risa [14:37]: how can I get away from this really fast? So if somebody's tapping the table that my elbows are on, I very discreetly lift my elbows and move my arms really quickly. Bumping is a big one. My family jokes that... If I'm not liking something, they say, well, how about if we bunked you instead? It's like, yeah, that would be really preferable. Oh, just light sleeper, you know, very attuned to smells and tastes and, you know, the usual labels, scratching. Very sensitive to the emotional environment around me.

Adeel [15:20]: Reading the room and all that.

Risa [15:21]: You know, being in meetings is just like, just a festival of push and pull for me. I just, it's very difficult. So all those sort of things. The misophonia definitely is. And I remember taking a class a few years ago where, you know, people are given clickable pens.

Adeel [15:43]: Yeah.

Risa [15:44]: And, you know, five or six people in the morning would be clicking their pens. And I think I actually did weather that when I actually said something about that and asked. the clickable pens not be given out to the class. But then they put some candy with crinkle wrappers on it out for everybody to have. And I ended up in tears at the end of one morning coping with it. And luckily the people who were running the workshop took me aside and asked me what was going on. I confessed what was going on and they immediately took the candies away. But yeah, so the sensitivity has just been across the board.

Adeel [16:26]: Yeah. Yeah. I'm curious. This is a kind of aside. kind of a tangent from this appointment, but speaking of the emotional state of the other room, I'm just curious, you know, you're running a couple of organizations. Do you find it challenging to kind of like, you know, be in meetings, being responsible for a lot of people and, you know, basically having all their emotions inside your head. I sometimes wonder, looking back, did I step back from certain positions or titles because it was too intense to be responsible for so many people?

Risa [17:08]: Well, the good thing in both of these things is that the first organization, Meals on Wheels, it was only two people in the office and the rest was pretty remote. The kitchen was somewhere else, the volunteers were somewhere else. Dealing with the board was horrendous. It was just horrendous. It would take me hours and hours to recover from that. And I just hated it. And the most recent one, I was actually, again, pretty solo worker within a senior center. So we didn't actually have that many meetings. I wasn't responsible to anybody else. I basically ran the show myself. Mm-hmm. Um, I know what he was under me except for the volunteers. And again, that was pretty straightforward. So no, I, I, I can't even imagine. I can't, it's just, yeah. And I'm an introvert too. So, you know, you put that on top of it. I, I'm very, you know, I can talk to you. I, I talk very well. I, I'm gregarious. Uh, no one would suspect I was an introvert if I was out in public at something, but it, it exhausts me and I avoid it. And, uh, I often wish that we could take an information by osmosis instead of actually having to talk about it. You know, like I could find all about you, Adeel, because you were in the room with me and you just fed it over to me somehow.

Adeel [18:31]: Yeah, that's interesting. So yeah, going back, switching back to each other, with all these sensitivities, sound being one of them, did you ever go to did your parents ever take you to a therapist or psychologist to kind of try to figure things out?

Risa [18:49]: No because I'm 64 you know and in my childhood if you were sensitive you were just sensitive you know you were just high-strung there was no there was no talk of resources or no it just didn't happen then and you know I excelled in school So it wasn't like there was some kind of obvious dysfunction in terms of how I was meeting the world, because I wasn't failing. And I haven't listened to many of your podcasts, but I did listen to one, and the whole idea of it being somewhat connected to childhood, say, trauma, although I think that's a little bit strong a term for my situation. But I do think that Where this feeds into any of it, I don't know. But when my parents were having trouble before they divorced, they used to have fights in the house. But they'd go to the basement and I would glue my ears to the hot air vents to hear what was going on. You know, the whole idea that it was better to be a part of whatever disturbing thing was happening than to be caught unawares. So I sometimes think of that sort of hyper-listening, the hyper-attention, hyper-attending to things. that that fits in with misophonia, and that's somewhat how I deal with it at this point too, is to see whether I can release the peril from it, you know, because clearly there's that immediate adrenaline, like, this has got to stop, this has got to stop now, you know, that kind of thing. So if I can release that sometimes and just go back to, okay, I'm sitting here on the couch, things are okay, I'm breathing, let your mind move somewhere else, don't keep seeking it out. Um, sometimes I can release it for a little while.

Adeel [20:52]: Yeah. Self-soothing. I kind of talk about that sometimes is to not maybe while you're in the middle of a trigger, but just try to, um, um, sometimes at least it's harder in the middle of a trigger. You can't, I'm sure it's possible, but, uh, but yeah, just trying to remind yourself that you are just kind of sitting there. Nothing's about to kill you or attack you.

Risa [21:11]: Right. Which is switching, switching the location of the response in your brain, right. From, sort of amygdala reactivity to... The lizard brain. Yeah, exactly. To the thinking brain, to the reasoning brain. And that's variably, depending on my response, it's variably helpful. You know, it's lovely to... I was actually realizing this because of your podcast too, that now you can carry a sound machine around with you wherever you go. You know, it's on your phone. And I realized that if anybody looked at my house 10 years ago, they would know right away a lot about me because I think I had three sound machines in different parts of the house and custom made. Only three? Well, it was a little bit like that because I was like, well, I'm now I have to stick to this room because this is the only place the sound machine is.

Adeel [22:11]: Sounds dangerous.

Risa [22:14]: And the other thing was I had custom-made earplugs with sparkles in them and you know you could tell by my the accoutrements in my house well yeah what kind of sensibilities I had. I had such a luxury now to be able to walk around with these tools much more available. And, you know, I can be out on a bus now. I was on a bus a couple of weeks ago and the driver started eating crunchy snacks four feet from me. And it was a two hour bus ride. And I was just so thankful to be able to put on my white noise capability on my phone.

Adeel [22:57]: Yeah. That's an amazing thing. Yeah. We live in an age where we, yeah, we can just pop in noise to cover with sort of whatever's around us and bonus if it's like a noise canceling headphone.

Risa [23:06]: Oh yes. And I have those too. Yes. I got mine. I was really thinking how that technology has, because I bought mine about 10, 15 years ago and I still have the same pair and they, they work really well. There is a part of me that, obviously, and I think this is true for all people who have to do this kind of masking, there is part that is resentful because then I don't get the ambient, you know, I can't hear the wind or the leaves rustling or what's happening in my house. So yes, it can go into the background with white noise and yes, I'm still in a lost situation because of my adaptation.

Adeel [23:46]: Yeah, we'd rather not. We rather would experience everything. There's that misappointed grief that comes up. You know, what are we missing out on? But sometimes you got to do what you got to do.

Risa [23:56]: Exactly.

Adeel [23:57]: And it's convenient to have that.

Risa [23:59]: The world is not set up for us. I know in my recent job, my boss didn't understand the pen clicking. She was really gruff with that. Like, what kind of absurd thing are you saying to me? Do you want me to stop clicking my pen?

Adeel [24:14]: Well, if we want to, if we want to feel, feel everything, we wouldn't be wearing shoes.

Risa [24:18]: So, you know, I want to, I want to mention another thing you kind of, um,

Adeel [24:29]: you kind of blew my mind a little earlier because uh you were talking about because i i also uh growing up i realized in the last couple years you know i was listening to you know tempers flaring in other parts of the house if you know a parent was like kind of lost his temper um and i totally forgot that i would also use the heat vents because we were all over the place to kind of and i i can i can remember now that sound of you know a voice kind of like going through a heat band and getting that kind of metallic kind of texture to it as well. So you just kind of blew my mind. That was kind of a big moment.

Risa [25:04]: Well, it's interesting that a child would want to be a part of something that was disturbing, but I certainly knew that it was much preferred for me to know what was going on.

Adeel [25:14]: Yeah. It's a tiny, tiny form of control that we have.

Risa [25:17]: Exactly. Yeah, that's true. That's true. And I know my mother was, I only know from reportage from my father that she was probably a little bit physically strong with me when I was an infant. My, you know, she was just completely unprepared to handle two, my brother was only a year older than me. So, and she'd moved from New York to a little tiny town. Winchester, Ontario with my father, who was a teacher. So she was alone at home in a tiny village after being raised in New York with two young children, one who was, I guess I might have been called a high needs baby or, you know, definitely sensitive right from the start. So she wasn't probably the gentlest or most capable mother at that point.

Adeel [26:09]: Gotcha. Okay. Okay. And so you said you excelled in school. Was it challenging in any way? I mean, there's a lot of us, yeah, I'm surprised that we kind of make it through school okay, despite all the potential triggers and whatnot. Do you remember any kind of issues in school?

Risa [26:28]: Are we talking misophonia? Yeah. Yeah, I don't remember misophonia very much in school. I don't remember that. I do remember, you know, the general high strung, I'm going to use that word, even though I've tried to take that label from myself, but you know, things would, I would get overwrought with things so easily. So even though I won awards for being, you know, the most involved, the most best student, blah, blah, blah, it came with a cost on the other side, you know? So yeah, I don't, it's funny in school, I don't remember too much about it. No, other than the being overwrought part. Yeah.

Adeel [27:07]: What about friends? Did they notice sensitivities? Did you confide in anybody?

Risa [27:11]: Well, you know, I was being sensitive about that. I grew up in an era where there was no place for it. There was no place for it. So it was something that something was wrong with you, and it wasn't like the kind of thing you were going to share with people because you pretty well knew that nobody was going to think it was okay.

Adeel [27:35]: Yeah, basically, yeah, I think at that point, like, yeah, if there was something wrong with you, there was something wrong with you, full stop. And that's just, it was just you.

Risa [27:43]: Yeah, exactly. It was just you. Yeah.

Adeel [27:46]: So, I mean, you know, we see movies from that time, like, you know, psychoanalysts and whatnot. What did people go to a professional for? Did you have to be, like, basically schizophrenic? Yeah.

Risa [27:58]: no well i did go to professionals but it was more for emotional stuff um in my late teens our family started some group therapy my mother was in psychotherapy from a really early time but that was for emotional it wasn't about anything to do with being neurodivergent and that's another label i've just taken on in the last couple of weeks actually I finally decided that hey you know what I am I am you know some people it's bandied around so much but I am across the board pretty neurodivergent yeah how do you define that neurodivergent

Adeel [28:39]: I mean, you've kind of described a lot of your symptoms.

Risa [28:43]: Yeah, I think, well, definitely not falling into the norm. And I guess now the signs are so clear that there's a good majority of my reactions to the world that do not fall within the norm or within the median or, you know, that center part of the parabola, you know, where, you know, I'm out on the edge, on the edges of the spectrum. of normalcy or whatever, yeah.

Adeel [29:11]: Of how you react to, yeah, some everyday things.

Risa [29:14]: Yeah, yeah.

Adeel [29:15]: That's a good way to define it. I'm sure a lot of people, you're right, that term gets bandied about a lot, but I'm just curious kind of how people can kind of semi-confirm that they're, that the term for them.

Risa [29:28]: Yeah, I think this last job probably, because what happened in general about why I left was that it was a year of incredible stress, like just rolling incredible stress at work, short staffing, having to, I was at one time working three different people's jobs at once, you know, pretty Herculean, you know, I was just pretty Herculean task the last year. And for my, you know, even though I'm sensitive, et cetera, I actually can carry a pretty heavy load. And I did. And then it turned out that my employers, even though they were applauding me for carrying this heavy load, were now dinging me for having some reactions to carrying that heavy load, like maybe higher irritability or higher sensitivity to things happening around me. And that was because they couldn't understand. At a certain point, it became the norm for me to be carrying that heavy load. They didn't quite get how... taxing it was as the year wore on so I realized I actually did leave partly because of who I am and it wasn't being acknowledged by my workplace as you know and I know I did a fantastic job and clearly I suffered partly because of the load. Yeah. Yeah.

Adeel [30:54]: Have you, uh, have you, yeah, you didn't, you didn't get acknowledged there that work, but other than that, that woman who kind of like told you, uh, what misophony was, have you bumped into other, other misophones?

Risa [31:05]: Um, no pun intended by, yeah, I only actually act this workplace. I just left. I did find out that, uh, and again it was you never find out you sort of bump into it right because you're not going up to people and going tell me about your sensitivities etc it's not a question i open up very often uh yeah she we were talking about um earplugs like is it loop is one of the earplugs which i was i don't know why i mentioned it to her um and she said yeah i bought this kind and then it came out that actually she has a lot of the same attributes as I do in terms of sound. And actually, we were talking about how for me going into a meeting is like going on an episode of Survivor. And no one else I've met understands me when I say that. And she got it right away. It was, it was really, it was really like, that was, it was nice. Yeah. It was really nice.

Adeel [32:06]: It was like an obstacle course. I mean, literally. Yeah. What's next and how do I roll with this?

Risa [32:12]: Exactly. And what's happening over there and what's that person doing? And this person's pulling this way and that one's pushing that way and everybody's got their agenda and oh my God, save me.

Adeel [32:24]: How did, so you started a family. Yeah. I'm curious kind of like how family life was for you going through that process, your adult life basically now.

Risa [32:34]: With a child.

Adeel [32:36]: Yeah.

Risa [32:36]: Yeah.

Adeel [32:37]: And your partner too, obviously, you know. Yeah. Sipping coffee in the backseat.

Risa [32:42]: Oh, the poor guy. You know, and I, you know, you can hear, I mean, that almost brings me to tears, but clearly when you live with somebody who has this kind of stuff I have going on, there is a cost and um that's what I'm I don't know whether I've emphasized it enough but I really have taken responsibility for seeing how much adaptation I can do um to allow to make it okay for the people around me to be natural and normal rather than having to accommodate so but that has been an ongoing struggle of trying to figure out um how much my husband is going to adapt and how much I can meet him part way or not need any adaptation. One of the accessions he makes in the house is wearing slippers that don't make any sound. you know so and he's okay with that but that doesn't mean we haven't gone through slippers that i'll have to go to and confess that those slippers aren't those slippers those slippers actually do make a lot of tapping sounds when you're walking around uh and that always is hard for me to keep coming back and going asking for an adaptation to happen so my daughter uh Actually, when my daughter was a baby, she woke up, like really an infant, newborn. I remember she'd wake up, if she was on the second floor in the bedroom, she would wake up if someone opened the front door of the house. Just open it up. I said to my husband, I want it to be noted that I did not do anything to my daughter. I did not make her this way. She is waking up because of the front door opening without any kind of education from me.

Adeel [34:39]: Right.

Risa [34:39]: No coaching. I would not put her in a highly sensitive category, actually. I wouldn't do that. But she's had to make accommodations over the years.

Adeel [34:49]: her lifetime or witness if not that witness my upset you know yeah how did you or how did you deal with that and deal with that and do you ever think about um her developing use of phone your sensitivities and or and you know i didn't think about that yeah because it wasn't really well after that beginning it was so yeah for her

Risa [35:13]: mostly what i didn't want to subject her to was you know there there have been times i'd end up on this out on the street with her not being able to stay at home because um the three dogs were barking and and or the basketballs were going and i had to find a place to be and uh so that kind of thing um was it your dogs or other data not my dogs yeah no so that's been another feature you know dogs barking um bass bass sounds coming out of people's houses because of me out loud music so when i say that i was seeking another place to be it that definitely was amped up by having a child because she was She may not have been highly sensitive, but she was a high needs baby, couldn't be left alone, and really wanted a lot of attachment and attention. So everything got heightened because of that, for me, because that was a huge demand on my energies for who I am. And so then you had the basketball and the barking on top of that. You've got a lovely recipe for it.

Adeel [36:28]: Yes. Tinder bugs.

Risa [36:30]: Exactly. So I found it hard to recover. There'd be days I'd say to my husband, I can't seem to recover because I don't have enough time to recover. So family life was a challenge. Yeah. And I think living alone is not something I would choose anymore. companionship with a human being where you're rubbing elbows there's not this sort of concerted I have to talk to you for an hour by sitting across from you in a restaurant it's more like I'll say a couple of sentences to you and then I'll go to my room and then I'll come down and we'll talk a little bit more you know just life living with somebody so that actually suits me if it's not full on I don't think Well, I'm obviously too old for young motherhood again, but I wouldn't take that on again. Yeah.

Adeel [37:33]: Yeah, so that's interesting. You said, yeah, you... It's almost better to live with someone because you, were you saying that it's good to live with someone because you can kind of say a couple of sentences.

Risa [37:48]: Yeah.

Adeel [37:48]: Move away and then come back.

Risa [37:50]: Yeah. It's a whole different kind of, exactly. It's not full on. It's not like I have to be here with you in this really intense on manner for. whatever lengths of time we've decided to be.

Adeel [38:05]: It's more elastic and you can kind of mold it based on your sensitivity. If you happen to be triggered, you can.

Risa [38:11]: Exactly. And if, you know, as an introvert, I can base it on how much energy I have for being out, you know, and receiving back. So.

Adeel [38:23]: That's an important lesson for people who are wondering, oh, am I ever going to be able to be in any kind of relationship or be around people in general? If you look at it that way.

Risa [38:32]: Yeah, no, I get that. Yeah. And, you know, I remember having one boyfriend yell at me, you're never going to be able to live. No one's ever going to be willing to live with you.

Adeel [38:42]: There's no gaslighting there at all.

Risa [38:48]: No, it was straight up, it was right to the core. But I'm glad to say that, you know, I have many thanks to my husband for being willing to adapt and also appreciate me in my fullness, not in just reductive to certain characteristics that I have. Right.

Adeel [39:13]: What are, um, maybe like talk about kind of day-to-day tools and stuff. We talked about, you know, having, you know, uh, you know, your phone, your buzz and whatnot. Is there any kind of like other coping methods and tips that you, that you, that you do day-to-day or even outside of the house?

Risa [39:29]: Yeah. I think the exploring how I, how adaptable I can be in any moment is a, is really a big thing for me. So, uh, And what's the information I need to be able to do that? So say with sounds, it's often how long will this sound be lasting? Okay, so if my husband is making a clicking sound, I'll say to him, do you know how long you're going to be doing that? And that doesn't necessarily mean stop. What it means is I need to know what I need to do to adapt to this. Often, unfortunately, he will assume I mean, I want him to stop. But yes, ideally, if the world was all my oyster, then yes, I'd want everybody to stop everything they're doing that bothers me. But what I'm actually asking is if it's five minutes, I can just deal, you know. if it's 15 minutes i might have to leave the house for a little while um unless unless i found a sound that covered that up which is 16 minutes i have to like well you know i don't have it calibrated it's more a feel you know right like say if somebody is um knocking the table when my elbows are on it or, um, oh yeah. So if there's a boom box car, you know, somebody with the big booming bass speakers out on the street, I'll think I have to find out, are they parked there? Are they passing down the street? Are they somebody next door who's going to sit and talk for a long time in the car? And then I have to figure out what I need to do. So if it's somebody passing on the street, it's like, okay, I can deal with that. Even if they're going slowly, fine, that's going to be a passing thing. And as I said, I often open up even further, like if I despair about a sound that's ongoing in my neighborhood, I can open up the timeline even further, like, okay. So like I did with that family next door. So those boys are going to grow up in like three years that I'll have to be dealing with this, which lowers the urgency and the panic about it. Like this is going to go on forever. How am I going to deal with this for the next 25 years? To more understanding that everything changes and neighborhoods roll over. um for both in the good direction the bad direction like those boys will grow up and they won't care about basketball anymore or unfortunately it's the other way too that all those people might move and a family that loves really base-laden music is going to move next door so that's the unfortunate flip side of that what was your original question adil can you repeat it for me oh man i don't remember oh yeah coping methods you know right right so Yeah, working with my mind about it. Sometimes I have done a lot of Buddhist and meditation practice. So that idea of returning to where you are, like releasing, touching things and then going back to your breath or touching subject matter, touching sensation, touching the sound with your ears, you know, with your hearing. And then coming back to the feeling of sitting in your chair where you are right now. whether it be some of that soothing thing you were talking about, you know, there might be some of that involved too. Like, you're okay. You're sitting here. That could be part of it, or it could just be simply returning back to the present moment and where I am at that very moment. So that can be a part of it. Yeah.

Adeel [43:28]: Yeah, this is interesting. Yeah, I wonder about... Yeah, I think about meditation, and sometimes I'm like, well... on many levels seems a little bit scary because it's like you're you're you need to quiet first of all and so i'm always afraid um that i'm gonna get triggered during meditation which is i'm sure there's ways to work around that yeah i can understand that fear i can understand that because uh

Risa [43:55]: Yeah, but the interesting thing about meditation is it's not about not feeling, it's not about not thinking, it's about touching whatever's happening at the moment, and then going back to where you are, like not holding on to the death grip. So, you know, with the misophonia, I know there is that thing, and I think I heard you talk about it in the podcast I was listening to, is the seizing on the sound, where you're actually seeking it out, because... You almost want to predict that it's going to come again to help yourself or see whether it's going to come again or know that it's going to come again. But it's definitely this very strong hold between your mind and that sound. It gets very bound. So that's where meditation can help go. Okay, it's okay if I touch that. I can feel all the textures of that. I can feel the fear. I can be scared. I can feel angry. And then I can come back to... my breath where I can come back. If you're not using your breath, you know, just to sitting, feeling the clothes on my body or, um, noticing the, the things that are around me, the colors, the lights, whatever. So you're, you're just, you're touching it, allowing it to be, but you're, um, loosening the desk grip on it.

Adeel [45:14]: Yeah. Gotcha. That was interesting. I do, um, I started doing, uh, uh, IFS, which is internal family systems. And part of it is, yeah, like, um, sitting first of all you start off by just breathing and then noticing what each of your senses is right feeling and then you go in and try to um talk to different parts of you and part of one part of you might be the part that's seizing and so right it's kind of about i guess it's a different way of describing it or a different modality but it's great it's kind of like uh acknowledging touching almost touching speaking to i mean similar in that part of you that is um being triggered but then you're always um but you the way you're the way you're talking to them is from your quote-unquote self and so the self is that centered version of you right yeah there's many different ways of talking about that you're adults you're you're adult your parent you're um yeah you're the person who isn't yeah not the non-reactive part of you yeah right and i guess in ifs i think the idea is to kind of then uh not just kind of talk to that um that part but also then try to unburden it from that because it's it's it's just it's um it's written about that it's that part is usually stuck in the past or it doesn't realize that you are however old you are. And so part of the therapy is to kind of tell them literally just tell it how old you are. And that part of you kind of is often surprised. And once it, it, um, realizes that you've grown up.

Risa [46:48]: Yeah.

Adeel [46:49]: There's a grown up part of you. Yeah.

Risa [46:51]: Well, it's similar to, I was, um, transactional analysis. I was in it. Um, I was trained in that at one point. It's similar to that where you have a, a part of yourself that is the nurturing parent, and you have a part that's called the adult. And they're sort of the service bureaus to your child. So, which is what you're talking, you know, basically it's the same constellation you were just talking about. And I like that idea of service bureaus. So it's like, they're there to take care of the child. The child doesn't need to take care of the child. And because child's... child parts of you find child ways of dealing with it you know that forever this is gonna last forever this is gonna this is gonna blow me away you know there's really strong language that a child would use whereas a parent could say you know this isn't gonna last forever Um, what can I do to help you? Would it help if we moved to another part of the room? Why don't you try some deep breathing? You know, that kind of thing. And an adult would say, yes, nothing lasts forever. It's more like factual stuff. Things don't last forever. This person's gonna, who's, uh, playing their bass really loud is going to move down the street soon and, and it will be over. Yeah. So that kind of talking and meditation is a bit different in that there's, there is that compassion built into us, uh, you know, being kind to ourselves in the meditation. But it's a little bit less, it's more like the gentleness just comes in the simple acknowledgement of, yeah, you can feel that, you can think that, and then, okay, come on, let's just come back here and be where we are. Be in this, and notice where we are. Notice your breath right now. Notice, which is what, you know, in a way what you're saying, because you're saying that there is a grown-up part of you you know you're telling your child that right now in this moment there is a grown-up part that wasn't there when you were little i i do i do have a whole grown-up part i am grown up now so it's like a it's like bringing bringing that child to the present you know yeah yeah i'm sorry if i'm i'm misinterpreting what you said maybe you can no no i think i think no i think you're you're bang on um

Adeel [49:11]: Yeah, and I guess part of my initial, well, I've been interested in meditation for a while. When I start to think about it in terms of misophonia, I start to see it as kind of like, are you trying to just kind of ignore or push away thoughts and just for the sake of quietness?

Risa [49:25]: Yeah, no.

Adeel [49:26]: Which kind of made me like, eh, I don't think it's going to happen.

Risa [49:28]: Exactly not. That's the interesting thing. I think it's going to backfire. Yeah. No, it's not about, that's exactly it. So once you've started to try to push things away and you know this with the sounds too, if you're pushing it away, you're actually more relating to it more strongly. Do you know what I mean? Rather than if you just acknowledge it, which isn't pushing it away. And then it's saying, it's almost like saying, okay, you're there. And now I'm just going to attend to my breath for a moment, you know? And then again, you go, you'll go off in your thoughts. And the moment you notice you're off in your thoughts or the moment, no, moment you notice that you're hearing a sound you're back to the present you can go oh yeah that's a sound and now i'm going to return to my breath and it's not in no pushing away absolutely not yeah i guess it's kind of like yeah kind of closing the loop to kind of the beginning when we talked about um

Adeel [50:23]: your lizard brain versus your you know your your prefrontal brain is kind of just acknowledging that they're all there you're almost trying to conduct them and just just um acknowledge that yeah they're all part of you yeah and it's interesting about that acceptance part too you know that um that in a way if you find acceptance in the moment you're more relaxed

Risa [50:48]: You can relax more. I don't want to, you know, and now we're into all the meditation. I didn't come on here to give a, because I don't actually meditate that often these days. But I think the premise is still there. It's an awareness activity. It's actually, and there's where you get out of the reactivity too, is if you if you bring your awareness to everything that's going on, like say if I am having trouble with a sound and it's incredibly heightened, I can also open up the awareness and notice, okay, you know, I just had a fight with my husband and, oh, my stomach doesn't feel good because I ate so much. And that is aggravating the whole thing. can become aware of the bigger picture as well and that helps put the whole thing in context so i what what you were talking about and what what yeah so i think what i'm saying is that a lot of my coping has had to do with awareness activity you know bringing again that switching parts of the brain it's like from knee jerk, I want to kill this person or rip their throat out, which is pretty darn lizard, to, okay, so we're here. What can we do about this right now? This is where the facilitation comes in. And I'm certainly not perfect. I don't want to make it sound like that. It gets all wrapped up in what we were talking about before, too, that something's wrong with me. You know, that's really hard to get around. It's something I will probably continue to work with for the next three decades.

Adeel [52:29]: Do you mean like the... Well, yeah, we talked about, right, where conditions, especially, you know, those of us who were around in the 70s and 80s and before, that any quirk that you have is something wrong with you or just something you have to deal with. Yeah. Are you also maybe talking about... Did you ever feel any guilt or shame in kind of like how your reactions were maybe... affecting your relationships with your family members?

Risa [52:59]: Yes. And you know what ends up happening is my husband does sometimes what I call over adapt, you know? So, um, we, I once recently got really angry with him cause he had come to the point where he thought even walking underneath my bedroom would cause me trouble. So like if he was on the first floor, just walking through underneath my bedroom, And I got really angry because I felt indicted as being sensitive and therefore causing people to have to adapt in this hugely horrible way around me.

Adeel [53:38]: yeah can you ask that question again what how did i get into this again well we were talking about um oh i the my the last part of the question was um um as part of the you know feeling that there's something wrong with you oh yeah oh yeah it's oh definitely it's still there it's still hard and i think what happens is i sometimes get angry for people making me

Risa [54:01]: making this is how i view it for people making me have to say something about this and fess up once again to what i am you know that i have to put myself out there and be vulnerable and then i get sort of pissed off about that but that that's an ongoing cycle you know where if you want to have um i don't know the situation be suited to you Sometimes rather than you adapting to the situation, you do have to be a little bit out there with it. And that's scary. That's a scary place to be.

Adeel [54:41]: Yeah, those are raw emotions that we all feel. We rarely have people to talk to about. Yes, thanks for sharing that. Yeah, we're coming up to almost... We are. I don't know, like, it doesn't fly by, it always flies by.

Risa [54:59]: It does.

Adeel [55:00]: I guess, yeah, anything else you kind of want to share from your experiences, misophonia or just general sensitivities?

Risa [55:09]: I don't know what I... I do want to say that I think one of the reasons I decided to contact you was because... I think because of this job experience or whatever, it seems like things are coalescing right now where I really have to be willing to take on some of these labels for a while, whether it be introvert or highly sensitive. because they are a huge part of who I am. So working with them in silence and not wanting to be labeled or use a label, it seems right now that it might actually be good for me to explore them more fully, how they've affected my life, what a big part of my life they are. Maybe I'm actually looking into studying computer coding at 64 so that maybe it could be a job that would suit my sensibilities in terms of exposure to others working remotely or whatever. I thought it would be helpful to just have a full discussion with you on this topic without any worries.

Adeel [56:29]: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, no worries. And I mean, computer coding, that's my career. That's what I do.

Risa [56:34]: Is it? Really? Well, then maybe we should talk outside the podcast. Yeah, yeah. I think we just have half our conversation. I'd love to keep your brain about that. Absolutely. That would be wonderful if you'd be willing to do that.

Adeel [56:44]: Yeah, yeah. I work remote. I manage a team. So, yeah, I know all about that.

Risa [56:50]: Okay, well, that's good to know. So I really appreciate having talked to you. And I don't know how many of us are out there. What is it? 5% for highly sensitive people?

Adeel [57:00]: Yeah, I don't know how much is... Yeah, that sounds... I think that's a number I heard.

Risa [57:07]: Yeah, I think it's 5%. It's pretty small.

Adeel [57:11]: Yeah, from Mississippi, there was a recent study where it was almost like 20% in the UK. I'm not sure what degrees of that kind of study that kind of make the range. I mean, there is a bit of a range in Mississippi, right? Some people are not quite as... Or some people are more sensitive than others.

Risa [57:32]: Yes.

Adeel [57:33]: There was a study by Dr. Jean Gregory's group where it was almost 20% of the UK population.

Risa [57:38]: 20, you said, right?

Adeel [57:39]: Yeah. Yeah. Two zero. Yeah.

Risa [57:42]: Right.

Adeel [57:43]: So, yeah, there's a lot out there. And it's funny how we all, we're all pretty different, but we do all have some pretty similar kind of backgrounds and thoughts that have gone through our heads.

Risa [57:58]: Yeah, well, I was talking to my husband about it, that it was pretty actually shocking how, you know, how all these people could be coming up with the same sounds pretty well. I know there's special sounds for each person, but that all these people could be coming up with the same sounds that were so deeply disturbing to them, you know, that he thought that was absolutely made sense because there were certain sounds that were sort of ripe for the picking for that kind of thing. But I still find it quite amazing that without, you know, me not knowing there was anybody else in the universe who had any of these troubles, could come up with basically the same, the big, the big, the big ones, you know, like the crinkling or the, or the, yeah, gum or yeah, all those kinds of things that we could have come up with the same. Sounds, yeah. I'm aware that we're at the end, so I'm trying not to embark on any other tangents here.

Adeel [58:56]: Yeah, in some cases I've gone much longer, but no, I think, yeah, I think we covered quite a bit.

Risa [59:04]: Yeah.

Adeel [59:05]: But yeah, thanks for coming on. And yeah, well, obviously we'll be in touch and talk about coding and stuff.

Risa [59:11]: Yes, please. Okay.

Adeel [59:14]: Well, thanks again.

Risa [59:15]: Thanks, Adeel.

Adeel [59:16]: Thank you, Riza, and good luck wherever, whatever you do next. And I'm happy to help anyone actually break into tech and coding if you want some advice there. 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 hellomissiphoniapodcast.com or go to the website at missiphoniapodcast.com. It's even easier to send a message on Instagram, at Mr. Funny Podcast, follow there, or Facebook, and on Twitter, slash, X, Mr. Funny Show. Support the show by visiting the Patreon, patreon.com, slash, Mr. Funny Podcast. The music is always by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and quiet.

Unknown Speaker [60:16]: Thank you.