Sophie - Overcoming silence and finding community support

S3 E20 - 2/17/2021
In this episode, Adeel converses with Sophie, who is pursuing a graduate degree in Scotland. Sophie shares her journey from concealing her Misophonia to becoming more open about it. She describes living with the condition as having to navigate between telling people when necessary and coping in silence during other times. Key strategies Sophie employs include negotiating accommodations at school, leveraging therapy for coping mechanisms, and engaging in visualization exercises. The conversation touches upon the importance of open dialogue about Misophonia in relationships, especially with those who experience similar struggles. Sophie highlights the significant role that social media platforms and support groups play in sharing experiences and offering support. Additionally, she shares insights into managing triggers during family gatherings like Christmas dinners, underscoring the challenges Misophonia creates in social settings. The episode explores Sophie's growth in self-advocacy and the importance of educating others about Misophonia, particularly family members who may also share the condition. Sophie's story is one of learning, adapting, and finding community support to navigate the complexities of Misophonia.


Adeel [0:00]: Welcome to the Misophonia Podcast. This is the 20th episode of Season 3. My name's Adeel Ahmad, and I have Misophonia. This week, I'm talking to Sophie. a young woman from boston who's currently getting a graduate degree in scotland as you'll hear and probably recognize she went from hiding her condition for a long time to now learning to be more open about it learning to negotiate life telling people when they need to know and just coping with it at other times you'll hear lots of tips she uses for communicating her miso to friends and strangers getting accommodations at school, and managing through the holidays, which were coming up when we recorded this conversation. She also reveals some interesting thought exercises like visualizations that she's learned in therapy. As I post this in mid-February, I want to mention that my guest Olivia, from a few weeks back, who is also working on a master's degree, has just released a research survey for her work, and I invite everyone to check it out. Her work is all about misophonia in the workplace, what is the current situation, and looking towards best practices. You can find the link to the survey in the show notes and on our Instagram or Facebook at Misophonia Podcast. You can also email Olivia and I'll have her address in the show notes as well. All right. Now here's my conversation with Sophie. Sophie, welcome to the podcast. Good to have you here.

Sophie [1:27]: Thank you so much. Thanks so much for having me.

Adeel [1:29]: So we were talking just, yeah, a couple seconds ago about the history of the show. You were curious. It sounds like you just found out about the podcast.

Sophie [1:40]: Yeah, so I've kind of, it's been taking me a while to really, I guess, accept the fact that I even have misophonia and want to talk about it because for a while I just thought, you know, in proper fashion of myself, I just kind of handle things on my own and I don't really like to involve others or anything like that. I just was thinking, you know, I'll soldier on by myself and try and figure this out, but I never reached out for resources. I never talked to my friends. And so I, I think to an extent, I'm still just dipping my toes in the water of the community of people that have misophonia and just trying to learn a bit more. So I've only recently been like following people on Instagram and, you know, finding websites that are really helpful to me. So when I found the podcast, I, yeah, it was just something completely new. So I'm happy to, to learn more and to talk to people because I do find that I know you had mentioned this earlier, like we are really so alike and to hear stories of people that are so like me, I just can't believe the community, because I think for the vast majority of my life, I felt so alone and so weird and out of the ordinary. So it's really good to kind of start realizing that that's not true at all.

Adeel [2:53]: Yeah, it can be kind of overwhelming going from our kind of normal mo of just bottling everything up to then suddenly realizing that there are thousands maybe millions of people all over the world who have the same thing and uh yeah i can understand i mean i think uh i hear from a lot of people that it can be very emotional so uh it's definitely natural to kind of tip your dip your toe but by the way where were you uh roughly around where you're located

Sophie [3:20]: So I grew up in Boston, just outside of Boston. And at the moment, I'm actually living in Scotland because I just finished my master. Oh, wow. Yeah, so big change. So I hope to go. I'm definitely going to go back and see my family around Christmas time, which is going to be wonderful because of this crazy year. I haven't seen them for a whole year. So I'm really excited to get back.

Adeel [3:43]: Right. Right. And so you're doing you're there for your master's in Scotland. Can I ask kind of what what kind of topic it is?

Sophie [3:53]: Yeah. So I actually did my undergrad at UMass Amherst. So pretty close to home. And then so that was in kinesiology. It was a lot more based on. human movement and nutrition and exercise science that sort of thing and then I just kind of realized honestly at graduation when I saw other groups graduating that I think I was more interested in public health and kind of how public health is just so connected to everyone and how it's connected to every single thing that we come in contact with and how much it affects people. So I then decided to kind of pursue that for my master's. And I chose Glasgow because of one of my previous work experiences. I worked at a summer camp for, I want to say maybe six or seven years, a long time. And they hired a lot of international staff. And through them, I was able to meet people from Scotland, England, all around the world, mostly the UK and Europe. So that kind of made me think that it would be fun to go be close to them and spend time with them. And I had visited them already. So I had kind of, gotten a little bit of a taste of it over there and I just, I loved it. So I stayed.

Adeel [5:02]: Yeah. Yeah. That was very cool. Yeah. And, uh, yeah, public health, obviously a very topical issue. And, uh, and, and, and did you, was it, was it much of a transition going from, uh, and we'll get into, you know, all the, the miso stuff at home as well. I'm curious. Um, did you, did you, was there any kind of maybe difference in kind of how you're, you're, uh, you're handling your, your misophony over there?

Sophie [5:26]: You know, I think in general, as we probably all experience, any stressful time really brings out the stress of misophonia oftentimes when you're overwhelmed and, you know, feeling very much like there's new experiences going on. Of course, I definitely felt that. But, you know, I kind of put it on the back burner in a weird way. I think that I was so focused on getting acclimated that perhaps to an extent it you know, it wasn't really the first thing on my mind, thankfully. And also while I was living here, I lived with my best friend who really, really understands it. And I've been able to talk to really openly about it. So I think that gave me a little bit of a sense of security that, you know, while things are really different for me right now and I'm finding my feet, I still have someone that I live with where if that stress was getting to me with misophonia, with anything, I could lean on her. So that was really, really helpful.

Adeel [6:23]: Yeah, that's interesting. Yeah, I was obviously there would be a lot of distractions.

Sophie [6:27]: Yeah.

Adeel [6:28]: And yeah, I was curious because, you know, because if you're doing your master's, you probably have a little, you know, obviously have much more freedom than when you're studying in like high school or something. And, you know, we try to tell people that as you get older, it does get better. You have more ways to kind of control your environment. And... I think it's definitely the case. Yeah, it's great that you're kind of with your best friend. Is this someone that you've told, like, when did you know that misophonia was a real thing?

Sophie [6:56]: Well, I kind of describe it as I realized, I think, that I was, I guess, different, that something was triggering in general, probably when I was about 11. It was actually the first time I came back from summer camp. I had been away for two weeks. And then I came back and sat down for dinner with my mom. And then, interestingly enough, I realized that the sounds she was making wasn't bothering me. I thought that that was weird because, of course, that meant at one time that really did bother me. And while I was at camp, I had a break from that because there's constant noise, constant hustle and bustle that, you know, the whole everything around mealtime was quite loud. I couldn't hear any of the things that normally triggered me. So when I was 11, I kind of was like, oh, when I'm here with my family in a quiet room, those sounds normally do bother me. And, you know, it did come back after kind of being with her for a while. Um, but then I didn't even really have a name for it until I went to school for the first time. And my, um, my, one of my really good friends from freshman year said like, Oh, I have something called misophonia and I struggle. Like these certain things are really triggering to me. And I was like, Oh my gosh, you're just, you're describing me right now. And I didn't realize it had a name. So I think from there, that was the springboard to where I, I mean, to an extent was able to say, oh, that's bothering me, but that's because of that. This is bothering me. And I was able to more pick out those things as, no, that's not like everyone. That's something that's unique to me. And not everyone also has those reactions to certain things. Yeah.

Adeel [8:31]: It's kind of funny. So you, when you came back from camp, it was the, it was the not noticing the sounds. It was what kind of made you. Okay. Interesting.

Sophie [8:41]: Kind of a. Yeah. Yeah. It was very odd. Of course it came back in time, but that one meal was.

Adeel [8:49]: Yeah. And then, and then you said it was out in college that you, that person told you that they had misfortune.

Sophie [8:56]: Yeah. Yeah.

Adeel [8:57]: And that's when you, okay. Gotcha. Gotcha. Um, And yeah, so, so yeah, what was, that was, must've been obviously a revelation. Did you start to kind of really, um, is that when you just start to kind of really do some research and figure out, like, kind of start connect the dots of your entire kind of.

Sophie [9:14]: So not really what I, it took me a long time.

Adeel [9:17]: You were kind of dipping your toes, right?

Sophie [9:20]: Exactly. I think for a long time, I was just like, okay, this is happening. And maybe, you know, this does sound like me. I'm going to kind of keep an eye on it, but I think. I know you had mentioned that people often say that it gets better with time. Obviously, you have more coping mechanisms and you learn more about yourself. But what I did initially, which I think was probably a bad idea when I Googled it, I found a lot of websites and things saying that it got worse in time. But when you get older, you know, you develop more triggers. That was very ominous to me. And so I think that. to an extent I was like, okay, well, I'm just going to have to get older and it's going to get worse. And it sounded so, um, yeah, ominous. And I really didn't want to face it. So it took me a while to really for myself, want to like take control of that side of like my mental health. So.

Adeel [10:16]: Yeah, no, I do want to be honest that pretty much everyone says that the number of types of triggers do increase and you get the visual triggers and all that stuff, but purely at least on the management or coping side, just having more freedom as you get older until you get in the work environment and then kind of all bets are off kind of thing in some situations. But yeah, just in the coping side, you're an adult, you have a little bit more freedom. Exactly. Okay. Okay. And so then, then is that when you, so then your, your friends, were you telling them before that you, there's something was off or is that when you, did you start to kind of like tell more people when you were able to name it?

Sophie [10:58]: No. So honestly, the breaking point I think was probably maybe three years later. I was with one of my friends and it was, you know, late at night, we were just trying to fall asleep. We were on vacation in Ireland. She was like, oh, I'm kind of hungry. I'm going to just go downstairs and make a bagel. And I just remember thinking we are in the quietest of quiet rooms. I'm trying to wind down and go to sleep. And that's just going to absolutely set me off. I just felt so uncomfortable. and the only thing that I could think to do was just break down and cry and start to tell her that that to me would just be like a living hell. Like I, I, that would just not before she even went downstairs. You were just like, yeah, I need to avoid this because I was so sick of staying silent and, um, allowing triggers to happen. And for me to just be like, no, I'm going to get through it. I just got to a point where I, I needed to almost save myself from the trauma. And I, I just kind of, let go a little bit and tried to start to explain to people. And, you know, as I've done that more so, as I've tried to say, you know, oh, that's bothering me. Would you mind stopping it? And I'm still really, really practicing that. But I think it takes more than just one conversation because everyone has something that they don't enjoy. Like if there's a chainsaw going out outside or, you know, all the normal little things that someone's like, oh, I don't like the feeling of that. I don't like the noise. Everyone, can name something that is bothersome to them. But I think it takes continued conversations for your close friends and family to really understand that this is more than just something that kind of bothers me a little bit sometimes. Or, oh, I don't prefer that. It's really something that you need to educate them on, I think, more than once. So that's why continued conversations are really so vital.

Adeel [12:49]: No, you're right. I think it's such early days that you're right. It doesn't get in, doesn't get understood at that first conversation. And I'm sure, you know, honestly, like 100 years ago, depression was like that, where it was just kind of like this person's sad. Oh, well, not quite when they're kind of, you know, taking certain actions against themselves or whatever. Are there any kind of like lessons or tips you've learned about things to say, things not to say, how to kind of approach it?

Sophie [13:18]: I think I'm probably still learning a bit myself. Yeah. But I think just the best thing to do, I was talking to my therapist about this, is not just to say, would you mind maybe spitting out your gum? That's bothering me. It's more to give it a name and say, do you know what? I actually have a neurological condition that makes sounds like that really, really bothersome to me. first of all, giving it a name and acknowledging to that person that it's a really big deal to you, that it really, really matters to you. And of course, in the hopes that you are surrounding yourself with people that are supportive to you and that want to listen to you and they're really good friends, they'll understand that it's not just something that they may also relate to where they don't like the sound of something. It's really something that goes a bit deeper for you. So I think that the more concise you can be and give them the cold hard facts right away, then they might take it really seriously. I'm starting to do that. I think versus just saying, can you stop that? Or even worse, just kind of staying quiet.

Adeel [14:24]: yeah i think making it you know basically coming up front and saying hey this is like a you know an nih recognized medical condition it's not just that you're too loud or it's not even like nails on a chalkboard it's you know yes it's uh it's much worse have you ever had like uh any pushback or kind of like a you know a shrug or a sigh

Sophie [14:48]: Not really. I think it's more in my head. I build that up and I always think that's going to happen. But often people, like I said, you know, I'm really, really grateful and lucky to have people that are so supportive around me. So whenever I mention something like that, they really have met it with a ton of support and a ton of understanding. So thankfully, no, I don't know what the story would be if I was saying the same thing to a stranger. I've never. Um, encountered that situation or, you know, a very new friend or something that I don't know very well. Um, I might expect it more there, but thankfully not so far.

Adeel [15:24]: Yeah. Yeah. Most people have a fairly positive experience, but yeah, but it can be exhausting. Like if you're getting negative reactions and then that kind of like makes people kind of not want to talk about it anymore. And then that can lead to kind of a downward spiral there. What about in like school? Have you ever gotten any kind of accommodations, like asked a teacher to kind of let you wear headphones or something like that?

Sophie [15:48]: Yeah, I did actually in grad school. We back in the time when you're allowed to sit an exam in person, I first off in the beginning of the year registered with disability services and kind of had to explain to them there why I thought that I needed a little bit of extra support because it is kind of uncommon and I don't think a lot of people would necessarily register with disability services for that. But it really worked out in favor for me because while I was taking my exams, I was able to wear earplugs. So I would just show up to my exam. They would have them there for me and I would have, you know, a desk allocated to me. And that just really helped me because on top of preparing for an exam and having the anxiety of, will I remember this information? And will I know what I'm supposed to be doing and what I want to write about or talk about? I also had the added experience of, okay, well, what if I get there and someone near me has, you know, is clicking their pen? What if someone near me is chewing gum and I'm, I can't just stand up and be like, can I move seats? Because that's not going to make sense. If I say that, why can't anyone say that? Why can't someone else, you know, make those accommodations as well? So I really had to take it that step further to say, no, I need these specific things to be able to perform like everyone else and kind of give myself an even playing field. So that was super helpful. I'm really glad that I did that.

Adeel [17:13]: yeah and were they uh was it kind of visible like you're like there were other people in the exam room too as you were kind of yeah getting getting your earplugs and yeah that's i mean that's i think that's great to to have that like visibly like have people see that and that's normal that uh you know you can you can have a condition tell people tell you know tell the proctor or whatever in advance and then actually like be moved somewhere um exactly and i think it's a great step to normalizing it

Sophie [17:39]: Yeah, it's so worth it. Yeah, like you said, to normalize it because I don't think, first of all, people really noticed or cared as a result of them just being so in the zone. But of course, if anyone asked, of course, I'd be happy to answer the question. But again, it's just so worth it to me. It was so worth it to be able to block everything out and feel like I was in control and it wouldn't matter if someone saw me and snickered at me, whatever, and thought that was kind of odd. I genuinely... Yeah, it really helped.

Adeel [18:10]: No, that's great. And yeah, it helps you. And I think it helps. I mean, there could be someone there who also has the issue and just is kind of maybe not as far along in the awareness journey as you are. So it could help other people as well.

Sophie [18:25]: I hope so.

Adeel [18:26]: Have you met other people other than that person in college that kind of told you about that it had a name?

Sophie [18:33]: I... truly not that many people. Um, it's really been helpful for me, like I said, to have, um, Instagrams to reach out to and, um, like Facebook groups, even there's a ton of people like that. Um, but most notably my, I know my dad struggles with it because I remember as a kid, um, we would have like, I don't know, like those, the fruit stripes gum and it was our favorite. We had like hubba bubba, but we would have all the candy, like you know, the good old days. And my mom would just say to me, you know, you really can't have that on your dad. And I was just confused. Like, why? Why does it bother him? She's like, I don't know. It just does. And it was always something that she really made clear for us that it was hard for him. So I know that when I talk about it with him, he understands a bit more. We don't necessarily get into the trigger talk of what things... are our harm are um triggering for him i don't necessarily want to pry because i think to an extent he you know maybe has a handle on it for himself he's gotten to a time when um things are a little bit more manageable but i definitely don't um so it's not like you guys are talking about hey this is funny this is what i found online and blah blah blah it's more yeah

Adeel [19:56]: yeah it's interesting yeah because I mean there's so much information out there but yeah I guess if you've had it I think that's not the first time I've heard people who have maybe had it for a while just they just want to keep it well they don't want to keep it but it's just like it's not like considering it a whole psychiatric or disorder or something is not even something they want to even think about or go there yeah

Sophie [20:24]: And I think I've gotten to the point, too, where I can really read his body language. And if I can tell something in the room is a little bit bothersome to him, I can maybe adjust or whatever.

Adeel [20:33]: Okay. Then he definitely has it because we definitely give off body language.

Sophie [20:37]: Of course. Yes. Absolutely.

Adeel [20:39]: Was he ever a trigger to you as well? Or was it mainly your mom?

Sophie [20:45]: Unfortunately, yeah. All my family kind of is. I think it's that classic people close to you will always be the most triggering. Yeah. That's kind of, I don't even know how to describe it. It almost feels like grief in a way that there's certain things in my life that just are so anxiety provoking for me, like Christmas dinner. I would love to just sit down with my family and have Christmas dinner and really enjoy it. Whereas it's kind of gotten to that point where I don't dread it, but I dread the feelings that surround it. And I think that it almost just feels like misophonia has taken that from me and given me some kind of dread and grief around something that should be so happy because it's my family you know i want to spend time with them and eating is such a social thing and it's really hard for me the fact that that's kind of hindered a little bit so

Adeel [21:42]: So what are you planning to do this Christmas? Come in and just kind of have a whole room ready for you?

Sophie [21:50]: I really have tried to make an effort to be even more educational with my family. I sent them lots of resources that they can read and things that help me, things that I just need to do. For the most part, I'm not really sure why, but especially at Christmas dinner, big family gatherings, I just really focus on like my placemat, the things that are right in front of me and almost have like a mindfulness check of things around me because, you know, you totally understand how hard it is to disconnect from something that you're hearing. But if I can really, really focus in on like patterns around me or colors, anything, anything at all that's right in front of me, then it kind of takes away from the visual triggers and it helps me get a little bit farther away from the audio triggers. So I've let them know that, you know, if I'm quiet or if I'm just kind of looking down at my plate, like that's me trying to regulate myself. And I think hopefully they'll just, they'll see that as more of a coping mechanism than Sophie's being really quiet. What can I do? Can I adjust the situation? No, that's just, that's just me, you know?

Adeel [22:57]: yeah right yeah no that's that's great having a distraction uh yeah i sometimes say like like a broken record like just remember that uh you know people the dinner will be over at some point like the next half hour hour or whatever yeah you can also get up and help people do you know dishes move plates around things like that yeah i'm huge for that i'm huge for

Sophie [23:19]: I think I almost kind of have masked it as being a hostess really. Oh, let me take your plate. Let me get you a drink, you know, and.

Adeel [23:26]: Get you a drink, take a shot myself. Yeah.

Sophie [23:28]: Yeah, exactly. I try and be involved in that way. I don't have to be sat in that one seat. I can kind of be flowing around and, you know, that also helps me regulate. And I've let them know that too. And all my friends know that too, where. If I'm playing the hostess, yes, I'm being kind, but it's what I really want to do and need to do a lot of times.

Adeel [23:50]: Yeah, okay. So, yeah, we covered, yeah, holidays are going to be a big issue with folks. And this might air actually after the holidays, but it's never too early to prepare for the next one because there always is one. But, you know, outside of holidays and maybe even outside of exams, what are some of your kind of go-to coping mechanisms?

Sophie [24:10]: Yeah, definitely. I think there's always new things to try, and I've definitely tried a lot of things, but my holy grail, especially for university and things, but when I fly as well, I invest in some really, really good noise-canceling headphones. I don't know if anyone has these, but they're called the... Sony WH-1000XM3, it's kind of a mouthful, but they're really good noise canceling headphones. I know that a lot of people on the autism spectrum also really turn to them to help regulate in really unpredictable situations, but they're so good, especially, like I said, for traveling because you can kind of cup your ear, sorry, cup your hand over one of the ears. And it will allow you to hear the sounds around you. So like listening for your gate number, listening for announcements on the plane. So you can be totally noise canceled out. And then just with one little touch, you can kind of check in with things around you. But other than that, it really does help. And it completely saved my life when I was doing my dissertation, you know, people in the library, typing, eating, I just, I couldn't hear a single thing. I could sit anywhere I wanted. And it honestly was like emotional to me at times. I just felt so normal. And so those have been my lifesaver. But if I do find myself in a situation where there's been a big trigger and I'm really, struggling with some big emotions. I just kind of spend time by myself. The thing that I kind of like to listen to is I'm really, really obsessed with true crime, excuse me, true crime podcast.

Adeel [25:50]: Like serial, like that's kind of what the podcast.

Sophie [25:55]: Absolutely. I love my favorite murder. I love crime junkie, all those. I just get being able to just get so immersed in the story and trying to figure out who did it, trying to like keep all the evidence straight in my head. it really helps me almost move on from the big feeling a little bit faster. So I, yeah, I turn to those in general and maybe even just have alone time podcast walk and that come back a new woman. It's just so. Yeah. Turn to. Yeah.

Adeel [26:22]: Yeah, those things can be kind of like a time machine, just take you an hour ahead or whatever and just kind of not have to worry about the MISO. Are those Sony headphones, they're similar to the Bose ones, so they're like... um, Sony's top of the line three, three, $400. Yeah. Yeah. Gotcha.

Sophie [26:43]: Yeah.

Adeel [26:43]: Those are, I mean, those are, I think those are reviewed usually as better than the Bose.

Sophie [26:47]: So that's, uh, yeah, I, I definitely did my research and, and tried to figure out how it's kind of between the Bose and those, but I just knew how much of a difference it would make. And I, you know, made it like my one and only birthday present. I just was saying to my family, they would just be so life-changing for me. And I know it's a big investment and like, I can, chip in if you need to, but they are just something that would just, it just wouldn't be above and beyond for me. And I'm so thankful that I was able to get those.

Adeel [27:16]: Oh, I think they should be, I mean, I think they should be covered by insurance or at least your, your, your employer. I mean, the amount of the impact on the bottom line of having everyone, you know, intelligent misophones, I guess, being able to focus is just huge. More than, more than.

Sophie [27:34]: I think it almost brings us back to the, to the baseline of how everyone else must feel of, you know, even like I can kind of compare it to if someone's dyslexic, if they have the tools that they need to be able to, maybe it's more time on an exam, maybe it's someone to support them to read over paper, whatever it is, it's, it brings them back to that baseline so they can feel like everyone else and they don't have to feel as though they stick out. Um, and that they're, they're always playing catch up with people. And I think that's sometimes how it can feel when you're trying to get a degree, trying to get work done. You know, it just feels like this thing that's holding you back and pushing you down under the water when you're trying to get up and yeah.

Adeel [28:15]: Well, yeah, I mean, it's a disability. It's almost like when you're super triggered, it's like losing that whole sense. It's like losing one of your senses. I mean, it's kind of useless at that point. So, yeah. Okay. So, yeah, interesting. So headphones and, you know, thinking. Did your therapist kind of like help give you tips on what to do with the family at family dinners? Or did you kind of come up with that on your own?

Sophie [28:40]: Um, that, so that part was kind of my, my own just with trying to hyper-focus on something. But, um, one piece of advice that she gave me that definitely takes a lot of, um, training and practice was, you know, maybe if you wear a necklace or if you have something on you that you always, always have, or maybe you can even like, um, lightly pinch like the skin between your, like your thumb and your point of, just something that you can always have near you, um, and associate it with something that is just a moment of complete calm. So I really love to sail. And so I was thinking of moments where I was on a sailboat and it was sunny and there was just waves all around me and there was just, it was just absolute bliss. And so she said that something I could do was whenever I reach for my necklace, I can think of that time sailing and on a really just beautiful day. And so then of course, eventually, if there was a point where I was feeling triggered, I could go back and just reach for my necklace, and that would begin to associate those happy feelings for me. I'm still practicing it. It's not my favorite, but I know that with a lot of dedication that can really be helpful for people. But she definitely noted that education is big, especially because she knows that that's hard for me to talk about, that the more I can educate people as well, that in time will kind of give me some help, hopefully.

Adeel [30:09]: Yeah. So it sounds like a common theme is like trying to educate people around you to kind of help have them create and help you create an environment for yourself. But as a backup, just try to mentally escape the situation. You're just kind of visualizing or focusing on something else.

Sophie [30:28]: Yeah.

Adeel [30:28]: Yeah.

Sophie [30:29]: Mental visuals are huge for me. So that those are always things that I, again, have to practice. But Oh, another really great thing that she had me picture was like leaves on a stream. So if you picture yourself kind of like watching a stream go by and there's obviously leaves flowing on the water. If you are able to place something on that leaf, it's actually also good to help fall asleep if there's things running through your mind. Just attaching maybe a sound or attaching a thought, attaching something to that leaf and letting it kind of flow beyond you. I think it's kind of similar to that idea of like the windshield wiper where your day is on a windshield wiper and it just gets swept away by the wipers. And that helps too because I'm just really visual in general. That's interesting.

Adeel [31:20]: I hadn't heard about that, but I want to try that.

Sophie [31:22]: There's a lot of days I wish I could wipe away. Yeah, like I said, yeah.

Adeel [31:27]: That's very cool. I'm still on the couch jumping over the moon like in Sesame Street. So these are much more adult, I think. Cool.

Sophie [31:35]: Yeah.

Adeel [31:36]: So you mentioned earlier on about how this year is so different. Have you noticed anything kind of different? I know you like to kind of spend time on your own. Has the COVID era been a little bit better or worse maybe for you?

Sophie [31:54]: You mean kind of like the bounce back?

Adeel [31:56]: Yeah. In terms of misophonia, like, I don't know, for a lot of people, they're like, well, you know, I have a lot more time to myself. I'm not going to work. I'm not so much in like around too many other people.

Sophie [32:08]: Yeah.

Adeel [32:09]: Others are getting maybe triggered in their environments, but it still sounds like you're with your best friend at home.

Sophie [32:14]: Right. That is, yeah, that's been absolutely key for me because there's, Yeah, there's less uncertainty. I mean, not with 2020, but there's less uncertainty with my environment. Absolutely. So I am very used to the things that go on. And when it's dinner time, we know that we can pick a show to watch or we can pick some music, whatever it is. I am so secure in knowing that that is going to be available to me. But the second that we're allowed to go back and see our friends again, be in their houses, I don't know if that's going to be available. I don't know if there's going to be things that I can reach for that I typically would and like we were talking about too being able to help clean up grab someone's dish like that might not always be appropriate and might not be able to escape at all so for the moment right now I do feel really stable so it's going to be a little bit of an adjustment to go back into the quote unquote real worlds.

Adeel [33:11]: Yeah, I think the initial days is going to be, the initial months is going to be a free for all of people just wanting to just be as loud as possible. So I think just consciously being like, yeah, I'll maybe, like you did earlier, just kind of dipping your toe back into reality, I think would be a wise way to go there. Definitely. So have you thought about, so you're doing public health now masters. Have you thought about like what kind of work you want to do after maybe in relation to, I don't know, it's probably not relation to misophonia, although that would be interesting.

Sophie [33:43]: It could be. Yeah. Because I think that there really isn't a ton of, um, I guess awareness about there's less, there's more awareness than I thought, but I think there's still so much that can be done. Um, and you know, public health is, it's absolutely everywhere. It's your seatbelts. It's, like traffic lights, it's, you know, it's absolutely everywhere in people's lives and they don't notice it. So that's why I think it was partially so attractive to me is because in my life, I just, I just always wanted to help somehow. And I never really knew how I just wanted to give to others and help people however I could. So I think that people's health and educating them on ways that they can enhance their life is always really, really valuable because I think that that for me would kind of leave a legacy and peace in my mind that I have hopefully made something a little bit better for someone. I think it would be great if I was able to do something maybe related to misophonia or now, of course, most everything is related to coronavirus. I think that that would be a very necessary outlet for something to look into. But yeah, I'm open. think that it will find me even if initially I am doing something that might be a little bit unrelated as a lot of people find when they're just starting out. That would be really cool if I was able to do that.

Adeel [35:09]: Yeah. And the other piece is also just thinking about like the work environment. It sounds like there'll be plenty of opportunities to maybe help with MISO, but also just kind of be out there helping people in general and not necessarily being stuck in an office where you're kind of being triggered as well.

Sophie [35:26]: Yeah, I think that would be so good for people's mental health to be able to, I think we've kind of learned it all this year, but to have a mixture of being able to go out and do things in different environments rather than just being at a desk doing things, which of course is very necessary for a lot of careers, but hopefully having a balance will be a revolution in the coming years. I really hope that.

Adeel [35:46]: Yeah, I think forcing employees and employers to see kind of a flexible work environment will be... will be useful going forward. It's all about, you know, getting that freedom as you're older to kind of control your environment would help us cope. Are you going back to the UK after Christmas? I'm assuming you are, right, to finish?

Sophie [36:06]: Yeah, so I hope to, you know, the National Health Service over here is really unique. I would love to have some type of experience in public health and the NHS because I'm just so intrigued by how the inner workings of the NHS work with, you know, free, of course, we have free health care over here at the moment. I'm really lucky to be able to have access to that. And so I think it would be really interesting at this point in my life, while I'm still here, to be able to work with them, should they want me. Yeah, eventually I think I would love to go back to the US and be with my family and that's just home, you know, but for now I would love to see how much experience I can get from the resources that I have here.

Adeel [36:53]: Well, I guess. Yeah, maybe we're coming up kind of get heading up towards the 45 minute marker. So, um, yeah, but why don't, why don't you, um, um, actually, first of all, maybe it's curious, uh, you know, you're seeing your, your therapist, did your therapist know when you went to see them that you had misphonia or you maybe, um, yeah, that's, that's always an interesting question actually to see how much awareness is out there in the professional environment.

Sophie [37:21]: Right. Um, interestingly enough, I've never met my therapist. It was at a very critical time when everything was kind of becoming remote. So, um, What I did when I initially got here, I guess, so I was talking with my best friend, Emily, and she was kind of maybe trying to explore the fact that misophonia might fall under the eating disorder category. And I was kind of intrigued by that because, you know, I never really thought of it that way, but I kind of could see how, you know, a relationship with food, it is, you know, maybe it's in that category. So I was thinking that maybe there's a therapist nearby that specializes in eating disorders that might confirm or deny that that was true. And so I found a place in Glasgow that's called, I'm going to forget the name, but basically it's a group for, it's a group of therapists all specializing in eating disorders. So I just reached out to one and it ended up being a really great match. I absolutely love talking with her and so yeah from the start she knew that I had misophonia because that was really the main motivation for me reaching out to her and I think that in the future that would be key because of course things happen in people's lives and they always need support from others and certainly at times from therapists but that is just such a vital part of my life that is always stressful and always triggering that I think going forward, whether I find a new therapist, I mean, I think that's always going to be one of the first things I talk with them about because it's always really, really helpful for her to know that if I'm stressed in one way, maybe it's because of that. Or if I have a coping strategy for just generalized anxiety, maybe that's something that could be applied for misophonia as well. So I think it's so important to have that connection. Yeah.

Adeel [39:22]: Oh, that's interesting. So you did seek out this therapist because of, because of misophonia. Yeah. And I hadn't, I hadn't heard anyone else kind of, you know, consider that connection of the, uh, the eating sort of thing. Cause, uh, Um, yeah, that makes sense. If most triggers are, are eating related that you, that, you know, you might, you might think that, oh, there are plenty that are not.

Sophie [39:46]: Absolutely.

Adeel [39:46]: Yeah.

Sophie [39:47]: That's something else I've learned too, you know, with, um, trying to read more, at least for me, the vast majority of triggers are involved in mealtime. So that made sense for me, but I think it'd be worth it for people who are maybe looking into getting a therapist. Maybe if there are people nearby. or even Zoom therapy is the way to go right now. If you can reach out to someone, even if they're not in your time zone and get help from them that way, the most, the most experience with it possible would obviously be the most helpful. So people should definitely consider that before they find someone.

Adeel [40:17]: Right. How did you find, how did you find yours? You said it was like a local group in Glasgow, right?

Sophie [40:23]: Yeah. I don't know. I don't even have the name near me, but yeah, I just looked up, um, eating disorder therapists, I think. And it came up with this specialized group in town, which is I'm really glad that that exists and that that is a resource for people. So, yeah.

Adeel [40:40]: Well, yeah, I guess. you know, you're relatively, you're dipping your toes into the community. And yeah, I don't know, I guess as we wind down, I'm just curious if, you know, maybe also with your public health background, is there anything you kind of want to tell people who are also kind of maybe in your shoes who are just kind of dipping their toes? No, they have it, but they're dipping their toes. I want to let people know about dealing with it.

Sophie [41:09]: Yeah, I think that As you kind of go forth and start to research it, as you maybe get books or find websites, you know, take things with a grain of salt. Because like I said, when I was first trying to learn and understand about it, a lot of it really is scary. But a lot of it might not apply to you. And a lot of it might not ever be something that you have to consider. And so while you should really... absorb as much information I think as possible as with anything when you're trying to learn a new subject or get educated on almost anything you should educate yourself as much as possible while still knowing that a lot of the information out there might not be for you and that's okay so books that you might be reading might be relevant and they might not and you should try another one just keep trying keep digging until you find something that really connects with you because this, like many other disorders, is it's not one size fits all. It's not going to affect everyone the same. And so you're going to find what works for you, but it is absolutely going to take time. So don't get discouraged if something that you try doesn't work or something that you read doesn't apply to you. All of the above. Just keep reading. Keep going.

Adeel [42:25]: Yeah, that's smart. Don't do a bunch of Google searches and YouTube searches and assume you're going to get the whole thing in like half an hour. It's tempting to kind of like keep going down a rabbit hole when you first hear it has a name. I think everyone does that, but just let it kind of, by osmosis, just kind of let it, you know, seep into you, talk to as many people as possible. Listen to as many of these episodes as possible because, you know, we kind of like hit the... hit the age gamut hit the background gamut hit the trigger gamut um you know the all the whole spectrum so um yeah take your time and uh and um it's yeah it's life-changing once you realize what it is and then you can kind of hopefully take control of it absolutely absolutely cool well um yeah i want to say well good luck at when you come back for the holidays welcome back and i hope you don't have to quarantine too long or anything but uh i'm sure it'll be great holidays but uh yeah thanks for yeah thanks for thanks for reaching out i how did you how did you find uh this particular instagram account i'm just curious maybe just do the hashtags or whatever

Sophie [43:32]: Yeah, I believe it just kind of, you know, when you follow one Misophonia Instagram account, it kind of suggests other ones. And I was just so thrilled that there is a podcast. I think it's great. And I think you should just keep going. And thank you for all that you've got there.

Adeel [43:47]: Thank you, Sophie. Some really interesting coping exercises there. I hope the rest of your school year back in Scotland is going well. If you're enjoying the shows, don't forget to leave a little review on Apple Podcasts. Hit me up on Instagram or Facebook at Missiphonia Podcast or Twitter at Missiphonia Show. Music as always is by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and quiet.

Unknown Speaker [44:24]: you