The one thing that I'm hoping will eventually improve is people's understanding that misophonia is not just about sound sensitivity, but that it affects other senses as well. Granted, misophonia literally translates to "hatred of sound" but my misophonia experiences this week were perfect examples that this condition extends beyond aural sensitivities, even if the aural ones still play a huge factor with my discomfort...
Probably the most notable scenario from this week was when I had an initial meeting with a mentor to help me improve my business/managerial skills. We agreed to meet at a coffee shop, which has been a venue type that I've been frequenting over the past few years whenever I want to get out of the house and do some writing. Unfortunately, there was an unusual customer in the place where we were scheduled to meet. What I mean by that is sitting at a table adjacent to the only one left for us to sit was a man plucking away at a guitar while wearing headphones. I love listening to live music but he wasn't one of those coffee house
Since I got to the coffee shop early, I put in my earbuds to block out the distraction but I knew when my mentor finally arrived, I'd have difficulty focusing on our conversation; so when she introduced herself to me, I asked if there might be any other coffee shops around - thinking that perhaps another location would be less stressful to me. A gentleman at the table behind me overheard our conversation and he must've
been bothered by the guitarist too. He went over to the man playing the guitar and although I didn't hear what was said, it was clear that the guitarist had no intention of being considerate to the other people around him so my mentor and I went to another, much larger, coffee house just two blocks away.
Sound-wise, the relocation was wonderful. They had piped-in music that I could easily tune out and it was large enough of a place that the general din of the space created a nice background noise that was much more pleasant than the other location. That's where the sound triggers eased up for me but the other triggers significantly increased...
Despite it being such a large place, there was only one table left where we could sit, and the mentor sat down first, so I wasn't able to do my typical assessment of the environment and choose the seat where I'd be exposed to the least triggers. Unfortunately, that meant that right in my line of sight - just beyond her shoulder - was a woman working at her computer that was bouncing her foot/leg so fast that it really became distracting to me. If only my mentor could shift her chair two inches to her right, I would've been fine, but I wasn't going to ask her to do that and appear even crazier than I already did. (First impressions are the hardest to break). My chair was right against the low wall of the baristas' area, so I couldn't shift any further over to indirectly use the mentor as a visual block to the fidgeting. Desperate to find some other visual barrier between me and the fidgeter, I held up a little mailer card (that I planned to show the mentor as one of my marketing ideas) so that it blocked the leg bouncing from my lower peripheral vision. It worked, but I'm sure I looked ridiculous.
So that was a big visual trigger for me this week... This morning I experienced both visual and tactile triggers too. I got to my regular writing meetup group early to snag a table before the donut place got mobbed with all the families bringing in their kiddies for a morning treat. First I had to deal with visual triggers caused by kids sitting at the window counter in front of me swinging their legs back and forth because their legs were too short to reach the chair foot rails. Then, since it's a small donut place, I had to deal with kids, who were anxiously waiting in line for their turn to choose their sweet treat - constantly leaning against my table, banging their hands against the edge of the table, or otherwise knocking against the table - creating a tactile trigger distraction of vibrations that shot through the table through my arms as I tried to focus on writing on my laptop. I also am trying to deal with the person sitting across from me picking/biting her fingernails and the person sitting to the left of me playing with the crumbs on his plate, which are also visual distractions to me. Of course there were the same old whistling sound triggers created by the baristas too, which forced me to wear my earbuds again instead of listening to the conversation by the others in my writing group, but some days I wonder if I need to resort to an isolation chamber to escape from all my aural, visual, and tactile triggers... I'm hoping it'll never come to that point!