Tim - Navigating College and Family Dynamics with Misophonia

S1 E4 - 12/4/2019
This episode features Tim, a sophomore at Mississippi State, discussing his experiences living with misophonia. Having been homeschooled his entire life, his transition to college posed significant challenges due to the presence of trigger noises in the classroom and social settings. Tim shares his coping mechanisms, such as using earbuds with white noise to block out triggering sounds, and the accommodations he's had to request, like a single room for studying and permission to use earbuds during exams. Remarkably, through an article in Reader’s Digest, Tim discovered he was not alone in his condition, leading to an understanding and accommodation within his family, where his father and brother also experience misophonia. The conversation also touches on how identifying and having a name for the condition has been helpful, and Tim emphasizes the importance of having supportive people in one's life, the use of earbuds as a coping mechanism, and how certain jobs and environments can be more accommodating for those with misophonia.


Adeel [0:02]: Welcome to the Misophonia Podcast. This is episode four. My name is Adeel Ahmad, and I have Misophonia. This week I'm talking to Tim, who's currently at Mississippi State. He's got a bit of a unique story. He comes from a large family. Some others have Miso in it. He was homeschooled all his life. And we also talk about his transition now to college life. This is another great example of someone who's thought very deeply about his condition. And for the first time, he's just kind of given a chance to just talk. Even after editing everything, we're left with about 40 minutes of just a great conversation. Couple quick announcements. The Misophonia Podcast shop is now live. If you go to shop.misophoniapodcast.com, you'll find t-shirts, mugs, backpacks, socks, tote bags, aprons, all emblazoned with the podcast logo. And all proceeds go to three things, keeping the show going, reaching new audiences of people who have misophonia, and also towards research for misophonia. If you get something, don't forget to tag us on Instagram or Twitter. I'll have more links in the show notes. By the way, if you're liking the podcast, please do leave a review, especially on Apple Podcasts. It just helps more people see the podcast in their feed. All right, enough of all that. Let's get started with my conversation with Tim. So welcome, Tim. Glad to have you here.

Timothy [1:27]: I'm glad to be here.

Adeel [1:29]: So a little bit about you. Whereabouts are you?

Timothy [1:32]: So I'm originally from Memphis. I grew up in Memphis my entire life, about probably an hour east on the Tennessee side. Um, currently I'm a sophomore in college at Mississippi State University. I'm an industrial engineering student.

Adeel [1:46]: So you're a sophomore there. Um, is it, is it problem being at school? We've had a, I talked to a number of students and, um, you know, there's, there's kind of an epidemic of people bringing food into class and whatnot. So I'm curious. You're feeling it?

Timothy [2:02]: Yeah. Yeah. Especially, um, especially my freshman year, it was really hard to get adjusted to that. Cause I've been homeschooled my entire life. And so. like my family you know after after like we worked all that stuff out like they were pretty accommodating you know because like they're my family and so going here and like being surrounded by hundreds of people that i don't know that don't know me and they're eating and clicking pencils and all that it was really hard to get used to

Adeel [2:29]: So was this your first time, so your home school, was this your first time in an educational environment than outside of the home, I guess, right?

Timothy [2:38]: Well, pretty much. I had a couple dual enrollment classes in high school, but this was like the first like, you know, full-time student thing that I was doing, yeah.

Adeel [2:46]: You got there, were you, was it right from the get-go, I guess? Was it just going to, were you kind of scared that how am I going to, I just signed up for like an expensive college education and I don't know if I'm going to be able to make it through the first week or?

Timothy [2:59]: Yeah, I was kind of nervous. I do have a couple techniques for coping that really help me. I have these earbuds that I use. I play white noise in them. And so the first semester especially, I would turn up the white noise so that I could just barely hear the professor. And I would do lip reading and barely hear the professor and take notes. And then I couldn't really hear anything else around me. And so that really helped. It made it hard to concentrate if I was tired. it really really did help so like coming in i wasn't like completely paralyzed you know i had some sort of like functionality yeah earbuds are kind of miraculous that way and were you ever like skipping to get to the point where you were like i gotta i gotta skip class or was this kind of like all right i can deal with this and make it to all my classes there were a few times where i almost skipped class um i like to you know have perfect attendance or whatever but like there were a few times that I remember there was one time last semester, actually, I was in the class and I showed up like half a minute before it started. So I couldn't get my usual seat. And so I had to be in the back of the class, which is like, for me, that's the worst spot because you can hear everybody and see everybody. And so like people, it was cold. So there were people sniffing, there were a couple of people eating, tapping pencils. And I almost had to get up and leave in that class because Like, I couldn't even think. I was just, like, sitting there just, like, trying to control myself. You know, it was pretty bad. Yeah, I mean... That's the worst one I've had.

Adeel [4:35]: Yeah, it's... Yeah, obviously, pros and cons. Back in the class, you can see everything.

Timothy [4:41]: Front of the class, all the sound is bearing down on your shoulders, so... Yeah, and I'd rather wear the earbuds and deal with the small amount of noise than, like, see it, because you can't avoid seeing things, like... Right. Yeah.

Adeel [4:55]: Right. Okay. And so, and then studying, how did studying together with other people work or did you just kind of like study on your own?

Timothy [5:04]: I don't.

Unknown Speaker [5:05]: I don't.

Timothy [5:06]: I get, I actually have a single room. So when I need to study, I go back in my room. I have some pretty nice speakers. So I just turn the volume as loud as I can. Like I can't hear anything else. That's the only place I can actually like really study.

Adeel [5:20]: Yeah. I guess these days you can...

Timothy [5:23]: I mean, like groups or, you know, whatever. And like, I just can't, you know.

Adeel [5:28]: These days, there's all kinds of, you can probably, you know, ask questions online and other various formats, chatting or email or whatever. So that probably helps. Back in the day, you can do that. You just go to the library. Everyone brings some snacks and just.

Timothy [5:45]: The library is horrible. The library is so quiet. But, like, it's normal person quiet. And so for us, that means you have all the trigger noises that are just, like, deafening. I don't go in the library. I just don't. Oh, yeah.

Adeel [5:58]: Yeah, you can hear everything. The HVAC, people walking. And then, yeah. And so you're a sophomore now. So you feel like you'll make it through. You'll get your degree. You're coping this way.

Timothy [6:10]: Oh, yeah.

Adeel [6:10]: Is there any other ways you're coping?

Timothy [6:13]: I don't know. Let's see. So like with the visual stuff, you know, like people, I don't know if this bothers you, but like, you know, people like shaking their legs.

Adeel [6:21]: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Timothy [6:22]: Like, rhythmically, that really gets me.

Adeel [6:24]: And so, like, if that's happening... Unfortunately, I'm actually probably one of those people who shakes their head.

Timothy [6:29]: Well, I do it, too. Yeah. But, like, you know, when other people do it, you know how it is.

Adeel [6:33]: Yeah. Well, speaking of that, actually, I don't mean to cut you off, but, you know, mimicking sounds and, in this case, mimicking visual triggers kind of helps a lot of people.

Timothy [6:43]: Yeah, you know like I think for me the visual triggers like that works like if someone else is shaking their leg if I start shaking mine like that'll make it a little better but for the for the audio triggers like I've heard about that and I've tried it a few times. It, for some reason, it just doesn't work for me. It almost makes it worse.

Adeel [7:00]: Yeah. I think, I think it might be like you, but yeah, whatever, whatever works for people. Um, and so got it. So you're okay. So yeah, you'll make it through. You've, you've found your, Oh, so you were going to, sorry, you want to talk about other coping mechanisms that you have?

Timothy [7:13]: Um, so like, you know, it's a visual triggers, like I'll, you know, I'll put my hand on my face to block my peripheral vision or like, you know, sit in the front of the class. Um, With the audio triggers, like, earbuds are really the only thing I got right now. You know, if I'm in a situation where, like, I know I'm going to be in a situation where there's going to be triggers, you know, I'll kind of mentally prep myself. And I'll be like, okay, I can last for this long in this situation. And for that amount of time, I'll be okay. And then, like, you know, as soon as my energy goes, I'll just, like, I'll have to go because I won't be able to take it anymore. But I've gotten to the point where, like, I can kind of, like, you know, set a timeframe and be like, okay, I'm going to handle it for this long, you know, and then like looking forward to the end of that timeframe, I guess it just kind of helps me make it there. So that, that's another way, like mentally I kind of prepare for that sort of thing.

Adeel [8:09]: Yeah, I've heard people do that around like mealtimes with their family and stuff.

Timothy [8:13]: Yeah.

Adeel [8:13]: Time boxing your brain and just preparing it. Yeah. And then, yeah, so going back to your family, that sounds interesting. So you were homeschooled, so you were at home a lot with family. And, you know, a lot of people I talk to, their first triggers are their family. So I'm curious. Yeah. So you go to... It's going to be back early to like, if you remember kind of around when your first triggers were roughly around your age.

Timothy [8:42]: Yeah. Okay. So I was, man, I was a while ago. I think I was like 14 probably. Um, I'm 19 now.

Adeel [8:49]: So, um, it's actually not super, I mean, we've, I've talked to people who are like going back. They remember going back to age eight. So 14 is actually, wow.

Timothy [8:57]: That is crazy, man. Am I in, I started, you know, 13, 14. Um, My first trigger, unfortunately, was my mom. I don't know what it is about the way her mouth is, but no matter how quietly she tries to eat, it's just like the loudest, juiciest thing in the world. And also sometimes when she talks, she'll do that annoying thing where she... I'm not going to do it, but she smacks her lips as soon as she starts talking. There's socks in there. And I think... that was what like really like started it for me you know i would hear that and i would just like feel this weird like kind of disturbed feeling like kind of like i wouldn't call it anxiety but like you know distress of some sort like it was confusing you know and i was just like okay it's just i'm just going through a phase it's a little weird and then you know it started getting worse and like i started getting angry and then like other members of my family like um older siblings like they didn't really eat quietly at all you know they talk with their mouth full and all that stuff and you know i have nine siblings and so when you're around the table and you have like 11 other people eating and that sound just kind of like washes onto you you know it's it's pretty overwhelming and so it just escalated really quickly to the point where like I would eat my meal in five minutes and just bolt because I couldn't take it. And if I, you know, if I had to stay because we were having a discussion, I would just like sit there still in faith, you know, just trying to call myself. And if we were having a discussion, like certain people, the way they talked, it would just like, back then it felt like it was just like grating against me. And I just couldn't take it. And, you know, sometimes if we were like having family devotions or whatever, and like the person who's doing it was like smacking while they're talking, I would just like zone out completely. And it kept getting worse and worse and eventually my family noticed and they were like, Tim, what's going on? Why are you angry? Why are you glaring at us? We're not doing anything. And so I tried to explain it to them. I was like, I don't know, but I'm angry when you guys make these noises. I don't like these noises. And they didn't really understand. And for a while it was like, it was really strange with my family for a while because they They didn't understand why I was mad at them. I didn't understand why they couldn't see the problem. You know, they were like, Tim, you just, it's, you know, just stop being annoyed by these noises. And I was like, I can't. It's not something that I have the power over, the control over. And eventually, you know, I actually, I was reading a Reader's Digest and I glanced at the front cover and I was like, you know, So I was talking about Misophonia and like, you know, this guy being bothered by eating noises. And I was like, whoa, somebody else has that. And so I read it. And like, it was this article about like the whole Misophonia community and like all the tricks. I was like, it was like one of the best moments of my life. Other people have this. I'm not crazy. You know, like this is a thing. I can deal with this now. I can tell my family, hey, this is a thing. Look, here's the proof.

Adeel [12:17]: Did you take it to them and show it to them?

Timothy [12:19]: Oh, yes. Oh, immediately. I went online. I found all sorts of research. And then the ironic thing, which honestly frustrated me for a little bit, I think it's funny now. Apparently, my dad has the same thing. And we just never made the connection. So this entire time, my dad has had the same thing that I've had. And he just never realized that it was the same. And I never made the connection. You know, he's gotten a lot better. I think he kind of grew out of it slowly as he got older. So that was like, oh, my dad understands. My family understands now. And now we just like started working together. I started eating like at a separate table. I could still hear them talking, but I couldn't hear the eating as much. You know, when I was doing homeschooling, like I'd have my earbuds with the white noise, you know. And then a few years later, my little brother actually started having the same thing. And so now we have three people in the family. And so it's actually a really safe environment now for Misophonia, because everybody's so used to it and accustomed to it. We'll just say, hey, that's bothering me. Please stop. And everybody will stop, and it'll be OK. And people will ask if it always bothers us and stuff like that. And we're still working it out. But it's one of my favorite places now because of that. I can just be honest about it, and it's not a big deal.

Adeel [13:45]: Wow, this is fascinating. There's a lot to unpack here. Because a lot of people, a lot of their families, who obviously love wanting to be around, drive them crazy. So there's that conflict, which you experienced early on.

Timothy [13:57]: Yeah, well, I still do some.

Adeel [13:59]: Yeah. Right. Right. But now it's like, at least you have multiple people in the house, multiple people in the house who understand what's going on. And it's kind of, you almost, you have your, uh, like a little mini support group within your family, which is just, I have not heard of that, which is great. So you did your research and your family started to, to come around. So were you the first, other than your dad, were you the first to realize that this was a thing? It seemed like it.

Timothy [14:25]: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, I figured it out. And actually, a couple days later, my mom had found something as well. But yeah, I was the first one to kind of have that realization.

Adeel [14:34]: And your dad, so you said your dad had had it early on and he kind of, did he quote unquote get over it or just kind of get used to it? Or maybe he's got some hidden hearing aids that none of you are seeing?

Timothy [14:49]: I don't think he's got like secret implants or anything. But I think the way he describes it is, as he got older, like into his 30s or so, the sounds just started bothering him less. I assume it's a combination of loss of hearing and kind of... Yeah, I was going to ask if how the rest of his hearing was. It's slowly declining. He still has really good hearing, but, like, you know, it's not as good as it used to be. And, you know, and also I think he's gotten so used to it that, like, Even if it still does bother him, he won't recognize it because his body and his emotions just kind of like automatically deal with it for him. Because you've been dealing with stuff for 30, 40 years.

Adeel [15:31]: And you've got nine siblings. I was going to ask, when you mentioned your mom was your first trigger, was there always quiet in the background and then she would make a sound? I would imagine that your house usually has a certain amount of background noise. All the commotion, right? But you're still able to pick out things that just kind of drive you crazy.

Timothy [15:52]: Yeah, and that was the weird thing for me at first because like even even around the dinner table i wouldn't hear anybody eating except for my mom at first like you know if i was sitting if i was sitting close enough for like the sound i actually carry like that would be the only thing that would actually that i would actually notice like other people eating i wouldn't really notice it was just her at first which was weird was your relationship with your mom fine yeah it wasn't yeah okay oh yeah yeah like i i mean You know, it was obvious I was a teen and she was the mom. So like occasionally we would have like arguments, but like our relationship was really good. So it didn't really have anything to do with that. It was kind of weird because I know for like, I've heard a lot of stories where like their first trigger is someone, you know, like that a bad relationship with and it kind of created bad associations.

Adeel [16:40]: Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Okay. And then, and then, yeah. And then tell me, so other families that you're using family devotion, I don't know all the terminology, but, and that's, I'm assuming like a religious, a religious thing. So I always associate super quiet in the background, right?

Timothy [16:57]: Yeah. Yeah. And then you have one person talking and if they're doing that smacky thing, every time they talk like that, that gets backwards. You know, I'm like trying to concentrate and involve myself. And then you have that. And just every time that happens, you know, it's just like a, it's like a punch in the face. And so you can't get involved because like you have to protect yourself against that.

Adeel [17:17]: And that's happening at home, right? Around that, is that around the, or is that at church?

Timothy [17:21]: Both actually. I started wearing earbuds in church too.

Adeel [17:24]: Yeah, yeah. Churches are, yeah, as bad or worse than libraries for that reason. But I guess the acoustics can be, oh, interesting. Good and bad. You always have kind of like an echoey background, but then any sound can kind of like radiate. Yeah, yeah. Did it affect how you were kind of, whether you were attending church or not, or you just kind of dealt with it the same way you deal with it everywhere?

Timothy [17:50]: I just kind of, you know, dealt with it because, like, I guess the way I normally approached it was like, you know, okay, I'm going to have to be in this situation. You know, what am I going to do about it? You know, I always try to avoid like the, you know, running away from the situation. I don't know why. It probably has to do with like an ego problem. But, you know, I always try to like... push through as much as I can. There were a few times where I had to just completely check out of church. Basically, physically I was there, but mentally I was not there.

Adeel [18:24]: And do you notice any, just thought of asking, because you mentioned earlier that sometimes when you're tired, you can't pay attention as much in lectures. Do you notice like, I don't know, getting sleep the night before or fatigue affecting? I know stress definitely affects misphonia. That's a universal. I'm just curious if you've noticed other kind of parallel situations, conditions.

Timothy [18:49]: Yeah, I think sleep is a big part of it because like, You know, the more sleep I've had, the more emotionally stable and the more like full of energy I am. And so I have more energy to like, you know, fight against it, like fight against the reaction. You know, obviously stress. I actually found that one out like a few months ago from my counselor. I guess that's really it. Now that I think about it, I feel like there's something else. I can't remember it. If I do, I'll let you know. Oh, yeah, for sure, for sure.

Adeel [19:20]: Yeah, so I'm curious about, you know, we talked about how school can be a problem. I'm curious about homeschooling and how that situation was because I'm sure there's some people who are thinking about, like, damn, if I just didn't have to go to this, you know, room full of 30, 40 kids, if I could just be in a safe space and just these days you can learn a lot of stuff online or, you know. through homeschool resources. How was that set up? Was it you and all your siblings, or was it neighbors?

Timothy [19:53]: It was just me and my siblings. Oftentimes, homeschools, they'll have homeschool groups, and you'll go to class once a week. you know, talk about what you learn and stuff. But, like, for us, we kind of lived out in the middle of nowhere. And so it was just us.

Adeel [20:07]: And who was your teacher? Did you bring a teacher in or your parents were teaching?

Timothy [20:11]: No, it was just my mom and then a little bit of my dad. And so, you know, we were all actually in different grades. And so she would have, like, you know, tutoring sessions with us every day. We'd go over the material we were supposed to learn and then we'd go through our homework. You know, we'd have, like, class discussion every week for, like, history and stuff like that. Because we'd, like, read... the material on her own and then discuss it in class. And, you know, so fortunately, like when I was doing my homework and all that stuff, most of the time I could be in my room with my music, which is really nice. But like the class discussions, you know, like with my mom, you know, it's my mom and she talks to a certain way. And for a while, like I really did not do well because I couldn't handle it. But eventually, you know, I started wearing the earbuds and my mom knew what was going on. And so we kind of worked together on that. And I think homeschooling, like, for people with misophonia, I think homeschooling is, like, can kind of be a double-edged sword. Because in a way, yeah, you're around people, you know, they can accommodate you. You aren't around all these hundreds of strangers. You can go to your room whenever you want. It's really, like, accommodating and flexible. But on the other hand, you know, actually two things. If your family isn't understanding or if they're not accommodating, that can be, like, a nightmare. Yeah, yeah. And also... while it does give you a really safe space you don't get the real world experience that people like going to public school or private school would like you know going out in like i guess i could say the real world for me it was a huge shock including the misophonia because like suddenly there's all these people who i can't just say like hey that noise is bothering me please stop because you know they're gonna they're gonna think i'm you know i don't know what they're gonna think but it's not gonna be good you know

Adeel [21:57]: And there could be some positives where, though, you might be more likely to find people because they're different who have misophonia. Or you're in larger buildings, so there's always an empty room somewhere. Yeah, exactly.

Timothy [22:13]: There's positives and negatives to both, I think. Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Adeel [22:19]: Great. Okay, cool. And so, okay, you're homeschooled with your siblings, all different grades. Did you help them? If and how have you helped them with their misophonia as they're still in school? I'm assuming they're younger.

Timothy [22:37]: Yeah, yeah. So my little brother currently is the only one I know of, except for my dad and me, who has misophonia right now. And yeah, I've really tried to help him. I kind of showed him the ropes when he was figuring it out. I bought him some earbuds. He and I live in the same room together. It's just us two. And so we're very accommodating of each other. It's basically a safe space. We never eat in the room unless the other person's gone. We're always respectful of noises and everything. We can just rant whenever we need to. So I guess I kind of just gave him a space where... you know, he could just like not worry about it. And he did the same for me. And, you know, we talked about like, we complained to each other. We talked about like ways to deal with different situations. It was just kind of like this really, really great understanding.

Adeel [23:35]: Well, yeah, it's great. He's very fortunate to have somebody to kind of like lead the way. So when you finally went off to college, let's back up a bit. So I guess, you know, you said you were taking some dual enrollment courses, I guess. Yeah. Is that kind of like to kind of prep you to go to college or?

Timothy [23:56]: classes at a college but like you take them in high school so they give you high school credits and college credits but it's like an actual like legit college class so I went to University of Memphis and I took classes there you know my last year of high school so when you went there there must have been some were there any like shocking moments like in terms of misophonia that you remember the first time somebody brought food into class you were like what that was yeah because I I hadn't been wearing earbuds in class Cause like, you know, it hadn't been a big deal. These were small classes, you know?

Adeel [24:27]: Yeah.

Timothy [24:28]: And then suddenly somebody's like eating behind me and like, you know, I freaked out. I was like, Oh no, what is going to happen? Like, I can't handle this.

Adeel [24:37]: You know, have you always bottled it up? It seems like when you were at home, it was a lot of glaring, which we're all familiar with. Yeah. And so, uh, did you ever, uh, did you ever like, you know, raise your voice and yell, whether at home or to this recoup sitting behind you?

Timothy [24:58]: Yeah. Normally, normally I was a bottler upper, you know, I would just stuff it inside. I would push it down. Yeah. Um, actually made a lot of problems for me recently, but, um, there were a few times when, you know, I would be talking about it and so I'd already have kind of the gate open a little bit. I would be letting a little bit in, a little bit out, and then somebody would do something. I would just explode verbally for a few seconds.

Adeel [25:24]: You were talking about misophoning with somebody?

Timothy [25:27]: Normally, yeah.

Adeel [25:29]: Gotcha.

Timothy [25:30]: It would already be on my mind. I'd already be feeling a little bit comfortable because I had to. There were once or twice where I did flash out physically. There was one time when one of my older brothers, he made a trigger noise. as a joke because he thought it was funny, and I punched him in the stomach. You know, obviously.

Adeel [25:52]: Yeah, yeah, of course.

Timothy [25:54]: I mean, that's the obvious solution.

Adeel [25:57]: That's how, but anyone listening to the podcast, that's how we recommend dealing with this funny issue. Punch the person in the stomach.

Timothy [26:04]: Foolproof method.

Adeel [26:05]: We're not responsible for legal fees. Got it. Okay. Well, yeah. I mean, obviously we shouldn't, we don't want to be hitting anybody, but at least it was a, at least it was a family member.

Timothy [26:17]: And fortunately have nine brothers. Yeah. Yeah.

Adeel [26:21]: That's, I think we, yeah. Most of us obviously have those thoughts, but you know, it's somehow we, somehow we keep it all. It's why we keep it all in.

Timothy [26:30]: I think it's, I think it's kind of like, we know that like we have to keep it in, like there's not another option. And so, you know, it's like dealing with extreme pain. Like you really don't want to and you feel like you can't, but you know, you have to. And so you end up dealing with it somehow. And I think it's kind of the same way. Cause like, you know, I know I've had times where if I was not like fully in control of myself, you know, it would have been very, very bad. And we're talking about like mass violence on my part, you know, like I was having all those images in my head and like, I didn't, I didn't think I could deal with it, but somehow, you know, I guess, guess it's kind of like you know in that moment you just get like superhuman strengths or something like that i don't know yeah and you were saying it hasn't been causing problems the bottling up causing problems uh recently with anybody in your life well it was mainly mainly my own personal problems that obviously you know went to my friends and my relationships but like first year of college you know I've been comfortable at home. I've been used to everything in the first year of college. You know, I get thrown into this new universe and everything's thrown off. And so I'm having to figure myself out. And, you know, eventually one evening I just kind of like broke down because I realized that like I had been faking everything my entire life because I'd had to suppress everything. And so, you know, I kind of had to like fake the social interactions and everything because I was always suppressing the reactions. And that became like permanent basically. You know, I was just kind of, you know, faking everything. And obviously that's pretty devastating to realize. So I started to go to counseling. We started to unpack all sorts of problems, a lot of them initially related to misophonia. And, you know, for a while, like, I didn't even, like, know who I was because I had been suppressing things for so long that I didn't like suppressing myself.

Adeel [28:30]: Did you feel distant from some of your relationships because you were just thinking about misophonia a lot and you felt like you weren't totally connected?

Timothy [28:40]: Yeah, especially with my family because all my relationships with my family are kind of coexisting with misophonia. That's part of it. When I'm dealing with this, that's all it is. I don't really have a close emotional connection with most of my family. With a lot of my friends, it was like when I was around them, I would just, you know, be pretending to be happy because I couldn't let the noises bother me, you know? And so, well, I do, I do have like good friends, you know, it wasn't like, it wasn't like how friendships are supposed to be, I guess, you know?

Adeel [29:16]: And you probably, you know, perhaps like, like you would take off, um, you know, after eating for five minutes at meals, maybe shut down conversations. or social times with friends just to minimize the potential of a trigger, I would imagine, right?

Timothy [29:37]: Yeah. And, like, you know, I never went to movies. I couldn't because of the popcorn and the snacks. And, like, so whenever my friends were going to a movie, I couldn't come. I just couldn't, you know. Playing video games, like, if there were snacks playing a video game, I'd have to, like, go to the restroom for a few minutes. Or, like, just, you know, like... pretend to borrow the snacks and then just like hide them for a little bit so that nobody would be eating just so I could get like a moment of peace. You know, it's like always on my mind, especially back then.

Adeel [30:09]: Yeah. And did you, um, did, did, uh, you know, obviously you're, you came from a religious family. Did, did religion help at all? Like faith, faith stuff or, um, was that completely separate?

Timothy [30:23]: Well, I wouldn't say it's like completely separate, but like, you know, it didn't tangibly help that much. you know if I was struggling with like guilt because of my feelings like obviously it helped then but you know for a while like it was it was kind of separated but I think I think the main way it helps is you know like I kind of have well some of that yeah and more like you know I don't have to feel guilty for feeling this way because like you know, I've, I've been forgiven and all that. And, you know, I have, I have like some sort of like some, something to fall back on that like won't judge me, you know?

Adeel [31:06]: Yeah.

Timothy [31:08]: It's kind of like my own, my own little safe space, I guess.

Adeel [31:10]: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and so I guess, so you're, you're, you're at college right now as we speak. And so, uh, holidays are coming up. Um, I'm not sure when, when this might actually air after the holidays. Uh, we've just had so many, so many interviews that, um, I don't want to say that these are going to be tips for the upcoming holiday, maybe not 2019, but at least some holiday. How are you preparing for that? I mean, it sounds like for you, it's like you're going to go home and people will be conscious and you suffer at home. So it's not as bad as some people who are going to be heading back and it's just going to be like dreading it.

Timothy [31:50]: Yeah.

Adeel [31:52]: Are you going to be bringing in other family members? Is it a big thing that you will still have to deal with extended family?

Timothy [32:00]: I assume my two oldest brothers, or at least one of them is going to be coming back. They've married and moved out, so they don't know much about the missing things. Ah, gotcha. It's a lot harder to deal with that because they don't understand and they don't know as much. They know, but they don't really fully understand.

Adeel [32:21]: Do they tease it?

Timothy [32:24]: They just don't notice. They'll be eating more easily and they don't even think about it. It's not like they're purposely annoying me, which is nice.

Adeel [32:33]: That's a step up from a lot of people.

Timothy [32:35]: Yes, I am very blessed with that.

Adeel [32:36]: If we do have friends over, that's always a problem.

Timothy [32:44]: I'm not gonna sit there and tell my parents, friends, hey, can you stop eating? That's annoying me. I'm not gonna do that. So that is a lot harder to deal with. If there's a big Thanksgiving get together or something like that, I'll have to make sure I have my earbuds and I make sure that I know where I can go if I need a quiet place and all that sort of stuff. But for the most part, it is nice. going back to my family and, you know, being able to just like be alone and not have to worry about that sort of thing.

Adeel [33:20]: Yeah. Cool. And then, uh, then you'll be back at school. Um, so you, you, you got a couple more years left in your program. Um, I'm curious, what do you, have you thought about what you want to do after you graduated? And have you looked at like, um, you know, some jobs are obviously better for Misophonia than others. Um, And sometimes you just need to talk to people in certain industries to figure out, what kind of offices do you have? Do you know exactly what you want to do? I'm sure Misophonia has kind of played into your thinking.

Timothy [33:53]: Honestly, I think a lot of people may be surprised by this answer, but I think I want to work in an office environment. And the reason I say people will be surprised is like, oh, offices, there's tons of people eating and everything. But the thing with offices... is you can wear earbuds constantly. And you have your own little cubicle or your own little office. And that can kind of turn into your safe space. And so when you're there, you don't have to worry about the noises or the visual triggers or anything. And so when you need to go talk to someone, you can kind of be rested and prepared. And I had an internship last summer where that was the case. And actually, despite everybody eating and snacking and all that sort of stuff, I didn't have very many problems at all because I could wear my earbuds and be in my little corner of the room. And so, you know, I think that is actually something that I've leaned toward. It's kind of like the office type work.

Adeel [34:49]: Was it an open office environment where you were at? Yes.

Timothy [34:52]: Yeah, it was like, you know, the little cubicle separators and all that sort of stuff. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Adeel [34:58]: Well, that's great. Yeah. I mean, I work in tech and a lot of tech companies, yeah, they're, they're very open office, but a lot of them will just, we'll just buy headphones for people. And it's not necessarily because of misophonia, but just because programmers want to just be focused. And so I tell them, let's jump on that bandwagon just for just, just, you know, use whatever arguments it takes to get accommodations like that. It's great.

Timothy [35:24]: I've even had to get letters. I had to get a letter from a psychiatrist back in Memphis to like, you know, get a single room and stuff like that. And like, there was one point last semester where I was taking an exam and I was wearing my earbuds and white noise all the way up. Cause like exams, obviously dead quiet, so many trigger noises. And so I had my earbuds in and the TA was like, Hey, take your earbuds out. And I was like, Oh, I'm sorry. You know, I, I have to wear them because I have this condition. I have a letter, you know, and I showed them the letter and they were like, okay, cool. You know, that's okay. And that was like really nice because honestly, if I had to take an exam without the earbuds, I would fail it.

Adeel [36:04]: Yeah. Yeah. I'm glad that, uh, Knock on wood, it didn't bother me enough. I was able to escape college with pretty good grades. I don't know if I'd be able to do that now. So that's great that you got that accommodation from your psychiatrist.

Timothy [36:21]: Yeah. So has it gotten worse for you as you've gotten older?

Adeel [36:25]: I think there have been more triggers. For me, it was family, but that's kind of all I knew when I was growing up. Kind of like you, I guess, right? And then when I went to college, I feel like I don't know any crazy memories, obviously. I mean, we did exams in giant gyms. I made it out, and the exams were hard, but that wasn't because of the misophonia. It was just a hard, super hard program. Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, made it out. I know that I would do internships and co-op, kind of what they call it in Canada, co-op programs where I'd work for four months at a time. And I know that, and it was cubicles like what you had, but I remember that, I just remember I could not stand going out to lunches with my coworkers.

Timothy [37:17]: Yes.

Adeel [37:19]: and yeah and i always i thought it was just because they were so uh freaking boring but it might have been it might have been more it might have been more than that um and uh but anyway so but it's it's been more yeah i guess when i found out about miss funny was like 2009 or so and by that point uh uh i knew i had it and uh going back to like you know family you know growing up with family so But it definitely spread to like, you know, basically any environment and including work, including social environments. So obviously, like most people, it's expanded beyond family. But in terms of like trigger sounds, it's kind of the same for me, like, you know, throat, mouth, whatever. Yeah, yeah. But, you know, talking about it, talking, like, realizing it has a name has helped a lot of people. Yes, that's huge. It has, you know, it has helped. Because it's another way of, like, knowing that, like, time boxing, you know that there's an end time. An end time, that sounds kind of ominous.

Timothy [38:24]: Yeah.

Adeel [38:24]: But knowing that it has a name, too, just kind of makes your eyes, okay, well, I can go and talk about it with somebody at some point.

Timothy [38:31]: Exactly, yeah.

Adeel [38:31]: Like, talking about it with you, and I'm sure, hopefully, you talk about it with me. uh kind of like reduces the uh triggers yeah yeah i don't know that's a long answer to your simple question i'm hoping to get some of your dad's uh your dad's mojo there where it kind of goes away over time i don't want to lose my hearing but uh yeah i don't think it's a good situation yeah yeah i've

Timothy [38:55]: I don't think he like tried to, so I have no clue what he did, but if I can find out his secret, like I will share that with the world.

Adeel [39:02]: That might be a rich man. If you can tap into that. So cool. Well, um, I, there's a lot of people who've not talked to us. Anybody, is there anything, you know, that we haven't already covered that you'd like to kind of like advice or whatever, or, or, um, tips that you'd like to give people who are listening?

Timothy [39:21]: Yeah. Um, I mean, you know, honestly, like, having someone who understands is huge. So if you don't, like, I don't know if it would be a best friend or like, you know, a significant other, or if you have a good relationship with your parents, it could be them, but like somebody needs to know, you know, it's one of those things where like, if you tell someone it really helps out because then you can go to them and they understand, you know, you'll never be able to have like a fully avoid triggers. Like that's just not realistic. So you have to find coping mechanisms. I think earbuds are probably the best way. I probably buy too many, but I buy the wireless earbuds, kind of like AirPods. I try to find ones that have an audio transparency feature or a sound left through feature. So I turn that on. And I turn white noise on so you can hear people, but the white noise covers most of the triggers. And that was honestly a game changer for me.

Adeel [40:20]: Yeah, I'll have to look at that. I usually buy them in all form factors. I got every type of size and amount of blocking. But I haven't tried the pass-through stuff.

Timothy [40:33]: It actually, like, for most situations, it works pretty well because you can hear people talking. But most of the, you know, the trigger noises are kind of at a lower level, lower frequency. And so the white noise can mask those. And it works really well.

Adeel [40:50]: Yeah, so you're not right. So I usually stick those earbuds in, put on music, and that just kind of, A, reduces outside noise and covers it with sound. But a pass-through would kind of mix the outside noise back in and just put the white noise on top of it.

Timothy [41:10]: And you can use all sorts of combinations of like music, white noise, pass-through, noise cancelization. Like, you know, if you get good earbuds, they'll have all those features. And so, you know, depending on the situation, like if you're an exam, noise cancelization and white noise will be the best thing in the world. You know, but like you're having a conversation with someone, pass-through and white noise, that way you can still hear them, but you're not being bothered by the trigger noises and all that, you know?

Adeel [41:32]: Yeah. Okay. There's a new, I have a Pixel, there's a new Google Buds coming out soon. So we'll see if they have that. Well, thanks so much, Tim. I know, like I said, a lot of people have been bottling this up, and they're going to benefit from hearing your experience, which is pretty unique compared to... Really? You know, in terms of your family background.

Timothy [41:56]: Yeah, that is true.

Adeel [41:57]: Your schooling, and so that's really interesting. Yeah, I learned a lot here from you, too, in terms of tips and whatnot, so... Thank you again and good luck.

Timothy [42:10]: Thanks for having me here. This is honestly a great opportunity. I really love what you're doing here. I think this is something that we all need. I'm glad that I could just be a part of it.

Adeel [42:21]: Well, thank you, Tim. I had a great time during that chat, and I hope everyone listening enjoyed it as well. You can drop me a line anytime with feedback at hello at mystiforniapodcast.com. Still have a lot of stickers I'm happy to send out. Theme music is by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and quiet.