As mentioned in my previous post, last week was the first time I've attended/spoke at a huge, week-long conference since being diagnosed with misophonia. (Definitely, the first conference I've attended since starting this website/blog.) Needless to say, I knew I was going to be very observant of my experiences as they related to my misophonia. I noticed a lot of triggers affecting me right from the get go. I don't mind flying in general, and my years in DC helped make me a real pro at getting through TSA very quickly. Once I got to the gate though, I was very aware of surrounding triggers.
Normally, I'm able to hang out in airline club lounges before boarding the planes (where there are many quiet areas and places to get away from the crowds); but unfortunately, my origin airport in the Midwest was really small - so small, in fact, that it doesn't have any club lounges. So, I found myself sitting at a crowded gate trying to use my long hair to shield my eyes from anxious travelers sitting around me nervously bouncing their legs/feet and figiting with their hands. At one point, I wound up having to switch seats when a person reeking of cigarette smoke sat down next to me (with only one empty seat between us.) Every now and then, a person walked past the gate while whistling too. (Luckily, I always keep a pair of earplugs handy in my purse and, if I'm wearing jeans, in my pocket too.) I wasn't surprised at any of these triggers. Quite the contrary, I've gotten accustomed to expecting them in crowded waiting area situations. Once on the plane, I was fortunate to be in a single seat row and as soon as we got to 10,000 feet, I immersed myself in a computer game for much of the flight and was oblivious to my surroundings.
When we landed, I had a two-hour layover and looked forward to spending as much time as I could in the airline's lounge before heading to my next flight. In so many ways, club lounges are wonderful refuges to escape from potential triggers while traveling. Depending on how long my layover is, I'll even pay for a day pass just to gain access to these havens. They not only have special quiet areas, the one I visited during this particular layover had wonderful groupings of seats with extremely high backs/sides - completely isolating a person from any potential triggers in her surroundings. (See photo below.)
The second leg was pretty uneventful trigger-wise until after we landed, when I took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. This particular driver wouldn't stop drumming his hands on the steering wheel the entire ride. I quickly put my earplugs in my ears to block the tapping sound but then he started asking me questions. I usually enjoy chatting with drivers on my way to my destination, but every time I took my earplugs out to hear what he was asking me, the sound of his drumming the steering wheel annoyed me. It got to a point where I said to him, "I don't mean to be rude but I'm wearing earplugs right now because your banging on the steering wheel is annoying. I'm happy to talk with you but please stop drumming the steering wheel." Unfortunately, he kept drumming so I put my earplugs back in, but he still continued to try to have a conversation with me. I honestly don't think he was trying to be malicious. I just think he didn't understand my discomfort.
Next post: Conference week - Part 2... "During the conference"