There are plenty of sounds that are annoying or harsh on the ears: nails on a chalkboard, screaming babies, and loud construction are a few. But for some, there are certain sounds that trigger a negative, uncontrollable response. These people have misophonia, a rare and chronic condition. Holly Posluszny from Essex is one of them.
Misophonia is a rare, chronic condition that causes people to have intense, involuntary emotional reactions to certain sounds. It literally translates to hatred of sound. These reactions can change in severity and type of response. Some people experience fear, disgust, anger, anxiety, and other severe emotional reactions. Other symptoms include aggression, social isolation, depression, feelings of skin-crawling, and suicidal thoughts. Regardless of the response one has, this condition can be very limiting in social and professional settings. Medical professionals do not know what causes this condition, but they do know that it is a problem with the brain rather than the ears. In terms of triggers, they are usually repetitive sounds like chewing, pen clicking, or tapping. Misophonia is often misdiagnosed as bipolar, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, and it is not officially recognized as a mental illness, making diagnosis even more difficult. In terms of treatment, one should try to avoid triggers if possible. Sound therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, antidepressants, stress relief, and progressive muscle relaxation are also used in treatment.
17-year-old Holly lives with her parents Nicola and Paul. Her misophonia is triggered by more than 100 sounds, such as chewing, feet tapping, breathing, snoring, and more. To help handle her condition, she listens to rainfall noises to block out triggers and takes exams in a room separate from other students. If her condition is triggered, she becomes angry, cries, or begins to pace. This happens up to 30 times a day.
It can be very difficult, Holly says, especially because many people do not understand misophonia. They do not comprehend that her reactions are involuntary. She says that her body goes into a fight or flight response when her condition is triggered, and she’ll panic if the sound isn’t stopped.
To remove the triggers from her life, she sits in a separate room for her exams, wears headphones in class, and eats apart from her family. She’s also learned more about misophonia over the years, which has helped her control it.
She hopes that sharing her story raises awareness for misophonia. She wants people to learn to be more patient with those who have this rare condition. You can read her full story here.