On Misophonia AKA Why Chewing Noises Are My Own Personal Hell

If you’ve read even a little of this blog, you know that I love food. Our bond is deep, abiding, and unconditional. When I settle down to devour something delicious, I take a moment to enjoy the feeling of pure contentment that I’m sure is akin to how mothers feel when staring into the eyes of their newborn children. Sometimes, when I get really excited to eat something specific, I’ll yell its name on repeat in my head. So it’s like, “SCALLOOOOOPS!” or “CHEESEBURGERRR!” It takes my enthusiasm to the next level and my food tastes better after I do it. Don’t knock it till you try it (seriously, try it).

The tragic part is that thanks to my mild misophonia, it’s hard for me to fully indulge in my love of food with others. I just cannot deal with sounds associated with eating. From a September 2011 New York Times article on the topic: “For people with a condition that some scientists call misophonia, mealtime can be torture. The sounds of other people eating — chewing, chomping, slurping, gurgling — can send them into an instantaneous, blood-boiling rage.”

Sounds about right.

It’s not just that the sound of eating annoys me. It actually makes me furious. Hearing someone slurping soup inspires violent urges. Listening to a person chomping gum makes visions of murder dance before my eyes. I would never actually hurt someone who chews like a monster, even though people who just flout common decency and somehow chomp gum without ever closing their mouths MIGHT DESERVE IT. It’s actually the opposite—I want to get over my misophonia.

Right now, I am sort of trying exposure therapy like the Dauntless do in Divergent. When someone is full-on assaulting my senses by licking all of their chicken-covered fingers on the subway, I force myself to stay and listen instead of distracting myself or moving away. I just want to be normal! I want to live a life free of strangers’ eating habits making me want to claw my face off! But progress is slow.

My boyfriend, lovely as he is in every other way, chews his water. What is that? Who does that? It’s water. It’s already liquid. Chewing it is redundant. He swears he’s always done this, as if I wouldn’t have noticed immediately. It wouldn’t have been a dealbreaker (easy to say now), but trust me, I would have noticed. He started after we had been together for about six months, like he instinctively knew I liked him enough at that point to value his life more than my sanity. It’s actually a cute quirk, because again, who does that? I think it bothers me because my teeth hate the cold. Imagining the pain I would feel munching on freezing water makes me so uncomfortable that I immediately just become angry. I’m getting better, though. I keep telling myself that some people have terrible manners, but most eat normally. They do not deserve the wrath of my glare just because it’s impossible to chew without sound. I know that it’s my problem to deal with. I’m trying, here.

This was originally twice as long but I cut a lot because I was starting to sound unhinged. Please, validate me. What are your irrational pet peeves?

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4 Comments on “On Misophonia AKA Why Chewing Noises Are My Own Personal Hell

  1. Truth is, I’m pretty sure I’m one of the people you hate when I eat apples, but to my defense there’s just NO way to eat them silently. I have a serious issue with my food touching on plates. Unless it’s something that’s supposed to be together (like a salad), I may break out into hives and start rocking back and forth. I’m a work in progress.

    • Alyss, you are in the safe zone! Crunchy chewing doesn’t bother me at all. It’s more the noises that sound wet, like gum. Crunching, to me, is a dry sound (so logical, I know).

      Interesting re: your food not touching. I was going to say I envy you because that’s something you can control, but then I realized restaurants usually plate meals that way! What do you do? Are you okay if you separate the food yourself or can you just not have them touch at any point? DETAILS.

  2. You’re not alone. We are in the exact same boat. People always ask me why chewing annoys me. It doesn’t annoy me, it enfuriates me! I literally can’t handle it. I have to remove myself from rooms, buildings, classes, etc. and it drives me crazy. I want so badly to live a normal life, but I get chills, shakes, sweats, my heart races, and I sometimes even get tunnel vision, especially with gum snapping. It’s to the point where I’m afraid to go to parties or classes. I’ve even lost friendships over it, because some people just can’t not chew gum around me and think that I’m being rude to them for asking them to do so.

    • I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this! Have you tried getting help for it? I’m not sure what the options are, but they must be out there. I think if it’s gotten to the point of affecting your daily life and relationships in such a severe way, it’s worth looking into. Good luck, I hope it gets better!

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