"Sweet son of spell check." -Rating Pending
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Random thing that bugs me: sometimes when I'm studying, my husband will work out in the next room. The sound of his working out drives me crazy. It's so weird and irrational. My door is shut, but just the sound of him jumping up and down, grunting (not even that much), etc. raises my anxiety and just annoys the crap out of me. I can hardly focus until he's done. A similar thing happens if we are in the same room and he decides to do some quick meditation/take deep breaths - I am on edge until he is done. I have fairly high levels of anxiety in general, though I've never been clinically diagnosed, and OCD definitely runs in my family (along with depression). I also grew up with a sister who would get annoyed at me quite often for things like breathing loud, and I, too, am very sensitive to sounds of breathing and chewing. But, whereas there are plenty of things online about people who can't standing chewing noises (hello, misophonia), the exercising/meditation one is really weird. Any ideas of what in the world might be going on?

-irrational

A:

Dear friend, 

I can totally relate. For my entire life when I lived at home, my mom would sigh loudly when she was tired and it always stressed me out, so now when I can hear people making "stressful" noises even if it has nothing to do with an anxiety-inducing situation, I just start to feel really anxious. It's part of why I hate working out at the gym without headphones for music. 

I agree with Anathema, you don't need an official title to justify being bothered by noises, because it is probably nothing serious. That being said, you might be interested in looking up Sensory Defensiveness or Sensory Processing Disorder. It's more common in children and tends to decrease in severity with time. You might recall if you were a child who was particularly picky about the texture of your clothing, your food, tags in your shirts, the lengths of your socks, the feeling of grass, the volume of music, the brightness of lights in your classroom, or other 'normal' parts of sensory life that caused you distress. 

Choosing to identify the things that bother you and do something to help you deal with the aversion you're feeling is the best way to deal with it, but you can also talk to an occupational therapist if you are concerned. 

Cheers, 

Guesthouse ☾☀ 

A:

Dear you,

Honestly I don't think that you need an official name to simply say that you have a naturally strong aversion to those kinds of stimuli. Most people seem to have something that bugs them more than average. Apparently for you it's sounds related to exercising and heavy breathing. 

I know you didn't ask for it, but my advice for what to do is getting some good noise-cancelling headphones (if you like listening to music/podcasts/anything) or ear plugs (if you want silence). That way your husband can exercise and/or meditate, and it won't bother you.

~Anathema

A:

Dear chew-bacca,

You're clearly aware of misophonia, but also be aware it's not just limited to sounds of chewing.

Misophonia is a disorder in which certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses that some might perceive as unreasonable given the circumstance. Those who have misophonia might describe it as when a sound “drives you crazy.” Their reactions can range from anger and annoyance to panic and the need to flee.  The disorder is sometimes called selective sound sensitivity syndrome.

Individuals with misophonia often report they are triggered by oral sounds  -- the noise someone makes when they eat, breathe, or even chew. Other adverse sounds include. keyboard or finger tapping or the sound of windshield wipers. Sometimes a small repetitive motion is the cause -- someone fidgets, jostles you, or wiggles their foot...

...Over time, you may also respond to visual triggers, too. Seeing something that you know may create the offending sound may elicit a response.

As far as what to do about it, Harvard Medical School says this:

Misophonia clinics exist throughout the US and elsewhere, and treatments such as auditory distraction (with white noise or headphones) and cognitive behavioral therapy have shown some success in improving functioning. For more information, contact the Misophonia Association.

Do you even have misophonia? If you did, would these treatments help? I don't know.

Suerte,

--Ardilla Feroz