Misophonia Sufferer Copes Through Artwork

Jessica Gilbert uses her rare neurological disorder as fuel for her creativity. The Converse College student suffers from misophonia, which translates into “the hatred of sound.” People who suffer from the disorder find certain sounds like chewing or pen clicking as absolutely unbearable. Jessica finds herself experiencing a severe negative reaction which causes distress, anxiety and rage. To learn more about misophonia, click here.

As a creative outlet and a way to cope, she was featured on a documentary called “Quiet Please” which was directed by Jeffrey Gould, another sufferer of misophonia. The movie recently made its premiere at Converse College.

The documentary goes in depth into misophonia, how it works, and what it affects. 12 minutes of the documentary are dedicated to Jessica and her life with the disorder. In it, she talks about how there are good days and bad days, and how her mood could dictate how bad the triggers are. When the annoying sound is heard, she acts in ways she otherwise wouldn’t.

To filter out the noises, she always has a pair of headphones handy where she plays white noise or other zen sounds. Before she had even heard about the disorder, she lived in a constant state of confusion. Learning about her condition and how to deal with it was a saving grace in her life.

Jessica has been working closely with Andrew Blanchard, associate professor of studio art at Converse. He is proud of her artistic inspiration and ability to control the misophonia.

Jessica had found a support group with others like her, with the aim of educating herself and others about the rare condition. This is where she learned about the documentary. The art student contacted Gould, and they developed a budding friendship.

Gould visited Converse, and began to document Jessica’s daily life at school. It was comforting for her to meet someone that understood what she was going through. She even made a portrait of his face, which was then used as the cover art for the film.

“It’s very important to spread awareness in my own way through my artwork so people who might have it look into it,” she said in an interview with Go Upstate. “Even for people who don’t have it, they can learn about how to get through it together by understanding it more.”

At the end of the year, Gilbert’s artwork will be shown in a gallery at Converse. She has painted an entire portrait series depicting misophonia among its sufferers. One technique she used was ripping a painting into strips like they had gone through a shredder which symbolizes a sound wave ripping through a person’s head.

Another artwork depicts the trigger objects like pens, silverware and keyboards, encased behind layers of paint, all of which Jessica says was cathartic.

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