misophonia, ears and colored noise

Sorry… couldn’t think of a better title!

Years ago I self-diagnosed with misophonia. Certain sounds trigger me in to difficult-to-control feelings of anger. I’d stop short of using the phrase ‘rage’ exactly, but when others use it, I know what they’re meaning. This started with sounds of others eating food (and oddly, even my own eating sounds on occasion, although that’s not common) when I was a child, and it’s been a steady thing since then.

Normally it’s crispier things – chips, crackers, etc – which trigger the reaction, although chewing with an open mouth is another trigger, as well as gum-chewing.

One big thing that helped as I was growing up was simply my own ability to control my environment. Being able to leave a table for a few moments is often enough to get things back to normal (in my head), and my condition is nowhere near as debilitating as it is for others.

Over the years something else that became a trigger is road noise – large trucks driving past – loud engines, motorcycles, rumbling, etc. Unfortunately, we live close to what’s become a main thoroughfare in our county – one of the few ‘cut through’ country roads which was basically untravelled 14 years ago. We’re fairly close to the road – only 4 houses in – so this has become more of an issue for me over the past 8 years or so.

The biggest help has been wearing earbuds running a whitenoise generator to help get to sleep. I had weeks where I couldn’t get to sleep at all, and it became a nightmare to deal with. Unfortunately, sleeping with earbuds tends to destroy them – I went through a couple of pairs of Bose QC20 (noise cancelling earphones which are a godsend for misophonia folks) before deciding to stop sleeping with them. I now get cheap $4 pairs from the dollar store and they last a couple of months. They’re samll enough to allow for sleeping on my side, and can get buried deep enough so as not to require loud volumes.

I’ve used this whitenoise app for years, and eventually upgraded to the paid version. There’s not much difference, but for all the relief it’s provided over the years, the authors deserved the few bucks it cost. They also have a desktop version I use (with the QC-20) for day to day work stuff at the office. The combination has really been a life-changer for me, and if you’re dealing with misophonia, consider it if you haven’t. Earbuds, whitenoise and a degree of autonomy to change my surroundings when needed has been instrumental in dealing with this. And yes, even changing house surroundings – we’ve been looking to move for a bit now, and sound is a primary consideration for the next house.

So… colors of noise? What’s that? I know people know the term “whitenoise” and I’ve been using it as a general term for ‘masking/hissing noise’, but I usually use brown noise, or a mix of brown/grey, in the app I mentioned earlier, and it’s quite … soothing? White noise itself is rather “tinny” to my ears, and actually hurts a bit after a few minutes. I can listen to grey or brown for hours, often with mixing in some rain or thunder sounds, and it’s fantastic. There’s multiple ‘colors’ all with different frequency characteristics – this article describes them in more detail.

If you’re dealing with misophonia, you have my sympathies. The reddit forum, as small as it is, has been one of the few social places where I’ve found you can find some support. Good luck to you.

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