Self | Mental Health

How I Live With Misophonia

Why it’s not as simple as, “Just ignore the noise.”

Sean Kernan
6 min readFeb 17, 2024

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Pic via Freepik Images

My friend Ryan was a great guy overall. He was funny, smart, loyal, and helpful when I needed advice. We were in our early 20s and became closer over the years as we worked together. But good lord, he drove me nuts if we were having a meal.

He waited until his mouth was entirely full to start talking. He slurped his drink loudly and smacked his lips while chewing. I’d sit there and quietly clinch my fist under the table to capture the tension, as my forehead sweated, feeling like I was about to start shouting.

In Ryan’s defense — this is a “me” problem. I have misophonia. People with this condition get triggered by noises and can be unreasonable in their psychological and physical response. His was the first case where I legitimately felt I was loosing my cool. To be clear, he was being rude at the table. But I shouldn’t have been reacting so strongly. The problem is — my misophonia got worse as time went on. Even simple things were hard to ignore.

In my final corporate office, we shared a grid of cubicles. The office chairs that were bulk purchased all became more squeaky over time and I was in earshot of a dozen of them. There was an immediate cube neighbor, Matt, whose chair squeaked every 20 to 30 seconds as he leaned forward or back.

One day, I noticed I wasn’t even working anymore — but waiting for the next squeak. I sat staring blankly at my screen, ruminating on how much I hated the sound, and waiting for the next one. I tauntingly whispered to myself, “C'mon Matt. I know you’ll squeak again. You can’t help it.”

And it wasn’t even that loud of a squeak in hindsight. It was like a mouse squeaking in the distance in such a subtle way that you’d think it was a hearing test.

Eventually, I kept a bottle of WD-40 at my desk, and offered to oil the chairs near me. I said to Matt one day, as I oiled the joints on his chair, “Doesn’t this drive you nuts? How do you even work?”

Matt very plainly said, “Nope. I never even noticed. But thanks for the oil!”

My mind flooded with jealousy. I couldn’t fathom the extreme luxury of going…

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Sean Kernan

Writer and writing instructor. Always on the hunt for a good story. That guy from Quora. Writing out of Tampa, Florida.