Of course, trying to deal with the layoff has taken up a good chunk of time, especially getting out applications for potential academic positions and trying to get some consulting clients too. Last Tuesday, I was finally able to clean out my desk and pick up my last paycheck from my old office. It was a bit stressful going back there but I think there have been a lot of changes happening in that place. (It actually was eerily quiet when I was there.) I have no regrets about what happened though. I think I've gotten so used to putting up with bad environments (and I'm not just talking about trigger exposure), that I wind up staying put longer than I should. Their giving me "the boot" was just the kick in the butt I needed to reboot and start taking better care of myself. It's amazing how much better I've been sleeping since leaving that place.
Friday, I actually took a spontaneous drive up to Chicago to take care of several things that I couldn't do in Iowa. (Yes... Believe it or not, Chicago was actually the closest city where I could take care of those things - despite being over 350 miles away.) It was a very short trip, since I decided to head back Saturday morning to beat the second snowstorm that was about to hit while I was there. I only had one major trigger experience, and that was actually while I was checking out of the hotel. I was lucky in that they gave me a room on the top floor in the end corner of the building, with only one adjacent room; but when I was leaving... There was a housekeeping guy halfway down the hallway whistling very loudly. I scrambled to put my earplugs in as quickly as I could. Figures that when I got to where he was, right by the elevators, he wanted to start a conversation with me. I probably was a little snippier than I should have been (it's bad enough that I'm not a morning person, let alone be bombarded by my worst trigger when I'm in that grumpy mood), but at least I had a long drive back to unwind.
During one of my errands, I had a nice discussion with one of the customer service people about my misophonia. I don't quite remember how it started, but I explained how sensitive I am to certain sensations. (I might have been commenting about how the extreme cold makes my tactile sensitivities so much worse, as I was slathering lotion on my hands.) The agent was intrigued by my sensitivities and commented how her niece seems to have similar sensitivities. I told her how I found out about the 20/20 report on misophonia from a stranger across the plane's aisle from me and gave her a card to my website. I swear... The more I talk about my sensitivities, the more I find others who have (or know people who have) similar sensitivities. I think the more we keep our frustrations bottled up (for fear of offending others or looking like we're crazy), we're doing more harm than good - not just to our own well being, but also in promoting more awareness about the condition. Of course, the delivery is just as important as the message itself, but I do believe we shouldn't be afraid to be vocal about our sensitivities.
I'm starting to count down the weeks/days for my trip to London for the fMRI study. It's exciting to think that I'll be a part of such major research that could be so beneficial in our understanding of misophonia. Part of me is psyching myself up for the trip, part of me is bracing myself knowing I'm deliberately going to subject myself to trigger sensations knowing I won't be able to move a muscle when I do, and another part of me is looking forward to going back to a city I haven't visited in decades. I'm especially looking forward to enjoying a relaxing afternoon tea or two while I'm there. (Ever since I moved to the Midwest from the East Coast, I have yet to find a traditional British tea out here, something I miss greatly.)