Misophonia – Rage at Certain Sounds

Misophonia – Rage at Certain Sounds

35 year-old barista (and listener) Charlynn Schmiedt shares about having misophonia which is a “fight or flight” physical response to certain everyday sounds, such as gum chewing, throat clearing etc. and the complications and misunderstanding that arise out of having to interact with people who don’t think it is a “real thing”.  Charlynn also shares about having an eating disorder in her 20s as well as depression and anxiety.  Her husband Patrick sits in to also share what it is like to live with someone with misophonia.

Follow Charlynn on Twitter at @OhTheProfanity

For tix or info on Paul’s Feb 22 & 23 appearances in Oakland go to www.eastbayexpress.com/mental

This ep is sponsored by the online counseling provider BetterHelp.  To try a week free go to www.BetterHelp.com/mental and fill out a questionnaire to be matched with a counselor.

This ep is sponsored by MadisonReed.  For 10% off your first hair color kit and free shipping go to www.Madison-Reed.com and use offer code HAPPY

This ep is sponsored by BlueApron.  Check out this week’s menu and get your first 3 meals free (with free shipping) by going to www.BlueApron.com/mental

This ep is sponsored by Casper Mattresses.  For $50 towards the purchase of any mattress go to www.CasperMattress.com/mental and use offer code MENTAL

Support the podcast by becoming a monthly donor at Patreon (and get free rewards from Paul) www.Patreon.com/mentalpod

Episode:

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Episode notes:

Follow Charlynn on Twitter at @OhTheProfanity

For tix or info on Paul's Feb 22 & 23 appearances in Oakland go to www.eastbayexpress.com/mental

This ep is sponsored by the online counseling provider BetterHelp.  To try a week free go to www.BetterHelp.com/mental and fill out a questionnaire to be matched with a counselor.

This ep is sponsored by MadisonReed.  For 10% off your first hair color kit and free shipping go to www.Madison-Reed.com and use offer code HAPPY

This ep is sponsored by BlueApron.  Check out this week's menu and get your first 3 meals free (with free shipping) by going to www.BlueApron.com/mental

This ep is sponsored by Casper Mattresses.  For $50 towards the purchase of any mattress go to www.CasperMattress.com/mental and use offer code MENTAL

Support the podcast by becoming a monthly donor at Patreon (and get free rewards from Paul) www.Patreon.com/mentalpod

Episode Transcript:

Transcription services donated by Accurate Secretarial LLC. You can find them at www.AccurateSecretarial.com.

 

Welcome to Episode 317 with my guest Charlynn Schmiedt. We're going to talk about misophonia, which is a sensitivity to sounds.

Today's episode is sponsored by Madison Reed. If you're looking to freshen up your hairstyle before Valentine's Day but don't have time to make it to the salon or wait for the next available appointment, never fear. Madison Reed offers salon-quality hair color from the convenience of your home at a fraction of the price. With premium ingredients and expert assistance, Madison Reed has everything you need to color your hair at home with confidence. Find your perfect shade at Madison-Reed.com and get 10% off plus free shipping on your first color kit, and use the offer code HAPPY.

I'm Paul Gilmartin. This is the Mental Illness Happy Hour, a place for honesty about all the battles in our heads, from medically diagnosed conditions, past traumas and sexual dysfunction to everyday compulsive negative thinking. The show's not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling. I'm not a therapist. It's not a doctor's office. It's more like a waiting room that doesn't suck.

The Web site for the show is Mentalpod.com. Go there, fill out a survey. Oh, I apologize. We had the wrong link up for people to vote on their favorite episode of 2016, but that has now been fixed, so please, go to our Web site, look under surveys, and then take as many of our surveys as you can tolerate. Take the one, let us know what your favorite episode of 2016 was. Fill out any of the other surveys and maybe we'll read your survey on the air. It's totally anonymous. We don't even get your IP address. So, feel free to pour out, pour it all out, let us know you, because really, the surveys and the listeners are kind of, to me, the third guest or the second guest, the third person on the show. It's very important to us.

Bay Area, I am coming up there February 22nd and 23rd. I'm going to do two live recordings of the podcast, and if you want more information or you want to reserve tickets, go to EastBayExpress.com/mental, and I'll put a link to that under the show notes for this episode.

Still enjoying my experience, I told you guys about the online therapy service, BetterHelp.com, and I started using one of their therapists about, I want to say about five months ago maybe. I have a terrible memory. But it's been a really positive experience. I didn't know what to expect with doing online therapy, because all I've ever done is in person, but for me, the bulk of the in-person experience is just seeing the other person's face and they're seeing my face, and it's, I've been really, really sold on it. And I like my therapist.

I have [chuckles] something to share with her the next time I talk to her that, I'm not embarrassed about it, but the way that I play hockey, my temper when I play hockey is usually kind of a litmus test of what's going on with me off the ice. And one of the leagues I play in, we made the playoffs, and so, then we made it to the championship.

And so, the first game of the championship, we're playing this team last night, or two nights ago, and they're really good and they're young and they're fast, and the puck goes, I'm playing defense, and the puck goes into our end. And so, I have to go sprint and try to get it before one of the guys on their team.

And most hockey players know it is probably the most dangerous moment in hockey, when two of you are sprinting full speed, full head of steam, neck and neck with each other, going to get a puck that has settled at the end boards, at the end of the ice, because if one of you slips, catches an edge or gets thrown off balance by the other person, the lower part of the boards, which is where you would hit, does not give.

The upper part, the glass will give a little bit, but the lower part is like, almost like cement. And so, if you fall into that full speed, it's like hitting cement and you, people get paralyzed. Some people die. And, but you don't expect anybody to do anything stupid or really shitty when you're doing something as serious as that, because this is just a stupid beer league.

Well, I get about 10 yards from the boards and we're both starting to position ourselves, you know, to try to get at the puck, and this guy puts his arm behind me and throws me off balance into the boards and so at like, I don't know, what would it be, 20 miles an hour, and fortunately, I turned my body as I was flying through the air so that I could spread the force of it and avoid hitting it head first or shoulder and head first, and I managed to kind of fall it, you know, against my side, but it scared the living fuck out of me. So, the adrenaline kicks in, and I'm furious.

And so, I get up to confront the guy, and before I even can say anything, the ref has blown the whistle. People are skating over to make sure I'm not dead. Even teammates of his are skating over, like, dude, are you okay? And this guy just looks at me and he goes, oh, you took a fucking dive.

And I [chuckles] tried, I just tried to breathe through it, and I couldn't. And so just, with all of my might, I just, with both hands, like the palms of both hands, just stiff-armed him in the face and [chuckles] knocked him flat on his back. And of course, my teammates were pissed, because they're like, dude, we would have had a, we would have had a power play if you wouldn't have done that, because then I got a penalty and, you know.

Anyway, I hadn't done that in a really long time. I hadn't lost my temper like that, and I don't know, is it, would anybody have done that? Would a person with more emotional stability have been able to not take that personally? I couldn't. He pushed me, he pushed me to my limit. So, I'll have something to talk about with Donna at therapy.

Anyway, I love BetterHelp.com. They're just, it's just a great service. I can't say enough good things about it. So, go to BetterHelp.com/mental. Complete their questionnaire and get matched with a BetterHelp.com counselor and experience a free week of counseling to see if online counseling is right for you. And you need to be over 18, but it is definitely worth checking out. Again, go to BetterHelp.com/mental.

I'm going to read a couple of surveys and then get to the interview with Charlynn. These are from the Struggle in a Sentence, and Double Shot of Whimsy says about her anxiety, it's like having an allergic reaction to life. That is so good [chuckles], oh, my God.

Meanie shares, this is actually an excerpt from her Shame and Secrets Survey. Darkest thoughts, thoughts of suicide, stepping into traffic or swerving into oncoming traffic. Darkest secrets, I once found a letter my mother wrote in which she said she didn't love my sister and I anymore. I put it back, went for a walk, and never spoke about it again.

Baton Waver shares about her depression, every day is like Groundhog Day as I float through the world untethered, in a body that doesn't feel like mine.

And then Jory shares about his, he gives us a snapshot from his life, and his issue is bulimia. Leaving my wife on the couch watching Friends while I go throw up the dinner that I just brought home for us. And his Struggle in a Sentence about bulimia, he writes, I am Jekyll and Hyde. The monster eats and eats until gorged, then the man is forced to clean up.

 

[Show intro]

 

PAUL: I'm here with Charlynn Schmiedt.

 

CHARLYNN: That's it.

 

PAUL: I'm pronouncing it right?

 

CHARLYNN: Yes.

 

PAUL: Because if we were in Germany, I'd pronounce it Schmeet, maybe?

 

CHARLYNN: Schmeet or Schmite.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

CHARLYNN: Yes, that's what it looks like, and no, we have to be difficult and pronounce it Schmidt just to basically screw with people.

 

PAUL: To let the other countries know, we don't really care.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: We just don't care.

 

CHARLYNN: That's one way of putting it, yeah.

 

PAUL: Yeah. And when I do the American pronunciation of a name, I also like to have a big red-white-and-blue number-one finger and wave it, wave it around--

 

CHARLYNN: Hm, yeah, we're number one, we're number one [in chanting tone].

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: One of your issues is misophonia--

 

CHARLYNN: Yes.

 

PAUL: --and we just recently created on the survey a misophonia survey, and misophonia is hypersensitivity to certain sounds.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah. You could even say that it's a hatred of certain sounds because, ultimately, like trying to simplify what misophonia is for people who might not have a clue what it is, because it's not a very well-known thing, I would say it's only really reached like the news in maybe the last three or four years. It's not well known at all.

So, what happens is, certain sounds can trigger the fight-or-flight response inside somebody with misophonia, and basically, when you hear your triggering sound, you really just want to go over there and either slap that person silly, smack them, choke them, whatever it is, that you have like a rage response.

It makes you angry. You're irritable. You're agitated. And it's irrational. You know it's irrational. But at that time, you cannot stand what that other person is doing. You hate them. They're horrible people, and how are they, why are they doing this to you? It's almost like an assault on your ears.

 

PAUL: Right. And this would be different from, you know, a kid dragging his nails over and over on a blackboard. That's annoying to anybody.

 

CHARLYNN: Right. Think about that but for a very common sound, things like chewing, smacking gum--

 

PAUL: Dry mouth.

 

CHARLYNN: Dry mouth, yes. One thing that I have a big pet peeve about when listening to podcasts, I can tell when somebody hasn't had a drink in a while and it, you know, you have kind of that [dry-mouth smacking sound], that spit mouth and just, no [chuckles]. If you're going to be on a podcast, drink lots of water.

Also things like crinkling of chip bags, that's a trigger of mine. And so if you think about how often you can expose yourself to a situation like that, whether it's in an office, your workplace, if you ride the bus or if you take the train or something like that, you don't know exactly when you're going to encounter it, how often you'll encounter it, and you inevitably will and you are going to have to find a way to not kill that person so you don't go to jail.

 

PAUL: So, we'll get to that later in the podcast, how you cope with it. Would it be fair to say that the feeling that comes up is similar to rage?

 

CHARLYNN: Yes. I would say so.

 

PAUL: Okay. Is, you know, you talked about the fight-or-flight response being triggered. Is it mostly fight or is it sometimes do you get scared by the noise?

 

CHARLYNN: Hm. For me, it's not fear. There are times when I want to run away because I don't want to be exposed to the sound anymore [chuckles], but it's not being scared of the sound. It's not a trigger in that sense, at least to me.

Now, for other people, I don't know if that's the case.

 

PAUL: And I wonder what the difference would be or if there's overlap between somebody who experienced trauma and an accompanying sound at that time--

 

CHARLYNN: Mm-hmm.

 

PAUL: --you know, screeching brakes or something like that and having a response, or maybe a song on the radio or the timbre of someone's voice--

 

CHARLYNN: Sure.

 

PAUL: --and then that sends them into it, but I wonder, does that fall under the category of misophonia.

 

CHARLYNN: I don't know. It might. For the record, I'm not a clinical expert on this. I'm just somebody who [chuckles], who's had this condition all of my life, I think.

 

PAUL: You're just somebody who wants to punch people on the bus.

 

CHARLYNN: [Laughs]

 

PAUL: You have that on your driver's license.

 

CHARLYNN: Only if they have a crinkly chip bag and they're smacking their gum.

 

PAUL: Yeah. I was in a support group meeting one time and a guy had a bag of chips--

 

CHARLYNN: Uh-huh.

 

PAUL: --and, I mean, that's annoying to anybody when it's in a situation where you're trying to focus on somebody who's speaking and there needs to be silence, but--

 

CHARLYNN: Yes.

 

PAUL: --you know, the sound of the crinkling doesn't bother me any other time.

 

CHARLYNN: Okay. One thing that I do want to distinguish is, I think there are kind of varying levels of misophonia, and I think it's also situational, where say if I’m getting lunch at a deli, a sandwich shop or something, and of course you're going to have chip bags all over.

But let's say that there's background music playing there. There's people kind of, you know, roaming around. There's talking. Hearing the chip bag isn't going to be nearly as much of a distraction as, say, if I'm sitting at a desk in an office and there's not a whole lot of other sound, because then what happens is, in that office setting, I hear that chip bag, I hear the person rustling around and they're grabbing chips, and it's all I can hear, and I hear it every goddamn time.

And when I did work in an office, I'll just say this right now, I had to have noise-canceling headphones, some sort of white noise to kind of block me out, sometimes music, too, and I would still hear triggers and it would drive me insane.

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

CHARLYNN: Uh-huh.

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

CHARLYNN: That's why I don't work office jobs anymore.

 

PAUL: What do you do?

 

CHARLYNN: I’m a barista.

 

PAUL: Hm, that sounds good. And I'm an espresso snob, so I hope you've got a good machine.

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, and I, yeah, I know how to make a mean cappuccino.

 

PAUL: Well, I may have to visit you and find out whether or not your sense of crema is over-inflated.

 

CHARLYNN: [Chuckles] I can prove myself.

 

PAUL: All right. Crema, by the way, for espresso snobs, the, it's really the only way to measure how well an espresso shot's been pulled, wouldn't you say?

 

CHARLYNN: I would say it is the marker of a well-pulled espresso shot, yes. If you don't have good crema, then yeah, get out.

 

PAUL: I could talk about espresso for another 15 minutes, but--

 

CHARLYNN: So could I [chuckles], but that's not why we're here.

 

PAUL: Yeah. So, we set the survey up on the Web site for people to take who have misophonia, also known as sound sensitivity, and you took it, and--

 

CHARLYNN: Yes, I did.

 

PAUL: --we decided, we're going to have you read your responses to that to kick off the show. So, if you would boot that up on your phone.

 

CHARLYNN: You bet. Yes, okay, I've got it with me.

The first question is, what noises trigger you? And so my triggers are, I've mentioned a few, chewing food, chewing gum. Gum really annoys me. I hate gum.

 

PAUL: What if the person's mouth is closed, still?

 

CHARLYNN: That's much better, but sadly, a lot of people don't know how to chew gum with their mouths closed. They have to [chewing sounds]--

 

PAUL: And the popping, I’m sure, is just--

 

CHARLYNN: The popping, the smacking, blowing bubbles, all of it just, no, stop, especially if you're in public, please, no, we don't need to see that. Gross [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Now, does the smell of it, because the sound is annoying, does the smell take on any different meaning, or is that just separate?

 

CHARLYNN: Hm, that's separate for me, but I do know of people who have kind of other senses alerted with their misophonia things, like smell and, you know, touch as well. That doesn't seem to affect me as much, but I know others are affected, so that's a very valid question [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Okay.

 

CHARLYNN: Okay, so others, throat clearing is a big one. That's another reason why working in an office is just awful. You get all these people together and they come back after a long meeting and all you hear is, [throat-clearing sound].

 

PAUL: Now, is there a continuum of annoying in the throat clearing? For instance, would me going like this, [clears throat], is that as annoying as if it was all phlegmy and I was a smoker and I'm just getting over a cold and it's loose and wet and . . .

 

CHARLYNN: You know what it is for me, is the consistency of doing it. One time, forgivable. Everybody does it. But you do it every five freaking minutes out of habit, and I want to kill you.

 

PAUL: In other words, somebody that isn't dealing with a health issue, somebody where it's just kind of a tic.

 

CHARLYNN: Or if they are, you know, a lot of times, yeah, like a smoker will cough a little more often, or if somebody just has something wrong with their throat, or one thing I've noticed is, if people eat dairy, sometimes that seems to kind of like create a little bit of phlegm in their mouth and they're constantly clearing, and, nope, stop.

 

PAUL: Now, in that moment, are you able to say to yourself, it's not their fault, they have a cold, they need to clear their throat--

 

CHARLYNN: [Chuckles]

 

PAUL: --are you able to hold those two thoughts at the same time, that I want to punch them but I also know that this is not on them, they're just being a human being in this moment?

 

CHARLYNN: Yes. Rationally I understand that. Do I still want to smack them? Absolutely, and I still have to fight off that rage. And if it's constant enough, sometimes I just have to get up and leave the freaking room and kind of like come back down, take a few deep breaths, just isolate in what is hopefully just silence for a little while, and then I kind of calm down, and then I'm okay for a little while.

And then, of course, putting yourself right back in the situation, it's kind of like this endless cycle, but sometimes that's about all you can do, especially if the noise-canceling headphones aren't working with the white ambient noise and the YouTube music playlist, you know.

 

PAUL: Now, if that person comes over and is interacting with you and talking to you, A, are you able to hide your rage at that person?

 

CHARLYNN: [Chuckles]

 

PAUL: And B, does it multiply your rage at them, having to talk to them while they're doing this?

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, that is such a good question. Okay, so, sometimes what happens is, if I'm interacting with that person and they are not constantly clearing their throat and we're just having a casual conversation, it's like, yeah, I recognize you as just another ordinary human being and I am not angry at you. You're kind of cool. We're talking. We're having a good conversation right now.

And it's, I almost feel like I’m a phony sometimes because, for one thing, it's really hard to say anything about misophonia, and they don't know that I have these rageful responses at them. But then--

 

PAUL: They think you're just finicky. They don't understand it's not an annoyance. It is an adrenalized response--

 

CHARLYNN: Right.

 

PAUL: --physical response.

 

CHARLYNN: And depending on how well I know the person, and usually somebody you're working with in an office, eh, you might not know them that well, I've not had a whole lot of courage to actually tell a lot of people. And so, you know, if it's bad enough, my first instinct, honestly, is after I start getting into the mode of, oh, my God, I cannot stand you, which is probably about a five on a scale of one to 10, I start giving automatic dirty looks toward that person's direction.

It's like I can't even help it. I've done it and I've, then I realize that I've done it, I'm just like, I hate you.

 

PAUL: And has anybody said anything to you, noticing these?

 

CHARLYNN: Nobody has ever said anything, but I would have to think somebody's noticed, and they're probably wondering why, right? But then that makes it almost worse because, then, how do you explain yourself [chuckles] with that?

 

PAUL: Well, might there be a way, though, where you say, I have this condition where I, certain sounds trigger adrenaline in me that's really uncomfortable to sit through, and it's not your fault, but I just want you to know that sometimes I'm over here battling this condition that I have.

 

CHARLYNN: I'm so rarely not that brave. The few times that I have talked about misophonia maybe to other co-workers or what have you, the response has not exactly been great, because the last office job I worked at, I did talk to a co-worker about it and kind of tried to gauge, like, does this person possibly understand, are there other people like this in the office, because it was kind of a group of cool, neurotic people, much like myself, and I thought, you know, of all places, maybe there's going to be some understanding here.

And the response I got was more just, well, that's just the way it is in an office, which is, I think, a very typical response when somebody doesn't understand that this is a real condition.

Now, to further that, though, I did eventually talk to my supervisor about it because there was more than one throat-clearer in the office, and I was at my wits' end. I was either going to have to storm out and quit this job or something was going to have to be done. He was, he listened, he was receptive, but, you know, at the end of the day, no real immediate change took place.

Now, that's not to say that things might have not eventually implemented, where maybe I could have worked in a different office that was smaller, with less people, but ultimately, it was just, eh.

 

PAUL: And that's a complicated issue, is how do you accommodate this, because other people have rights. The place needs a certain amount of, I don't know, certain requirements to function well, for them to be able to continue to run a business--

 

CHARLYNN: Right.

 

PAUL: --yet you also want them to be sensitive to the person that's dealing with something that is beyond their control, although I suppose your reaction is not beyond your control. Your feelings are beyond your control, what comes up initially in that--

 

CHARLYNN: Right.

 

PAUL: --moment, I would think, is you, you know, you don't choose whether or not your adrenaline spikes.

 

CHARLYNN: Right. Right. The only thing I can control is how I respond to that, and I feel like, ultimately, it's my problem. That's how I've just kind of concluded that I've got to deal with this. It's something I've lived with my whole life, and ultimately, I'm the one who's responsible.

So, it's great if I could get help otherwise, but ultimately, [sighs] I do need to be braver about speaking up a little bit, just till maybe other people do understand and are aware that there is such a thing, but it is tough because it does sound like you're just being really neurotic.

 

PAUL: Yeah, it does. It does. I think a hugely important thing would be the way that you express this to somebody.

 

CHARLYNN: Mm-hmm.

 

PAUL: If you can express it with kind of, certainly not groveling, but with kind of a humble, apologetic tone so that they don't misinterpret that you're saying they're at fault, that you're just letting them know, hey, this is--

 

CHARLYNN: Right.

 

PAUL: --this is a thing for me that is real and I just want you to know in case I seem angry or whatever, I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, I just want you to know if I seem like I’m angry at you or I’m quiet or sullen or whatever, it just means I’m fighting this--

 

CHARLYNN: Right.

 

PAUL: --adrenaline that gets spiked in me.

 

CHARLYNN: Yes. And I do think the best thing that you possibly can do for yourself is to be proactive, where maybe if you are starting a job and you know that there's going to be triggers, maybe you send out an e-mail and, you know, and if anybody wants to have a direct conversation about what it is and get more details and ask questions, then you're inviting them to do it--

 

PAUL: That's a great idea.

 

CHARLYNN: And you're doing it right off the bat so that people are aware and maybe they'll help you out a little bit, maybe they won't, but you have gone to the effort to try, because if you do what I've done [chuckles] in the past, which I admit is not the best approach, you don't say anything, you hope for the best, and then when the triggers do come along, you want to reach over to that person, grab them by the chest and say, hey, asshole, shut the fuck up, that's not the tactful way to do it.

 

PAUL: [Chuckles] That tends to backfire occasionally. All right, let's move on to the next question. Did you finish reading the answer to the first one?

 

CHARLYNN: Let's see. No. I have more triggers.

 

PAUL: Okay.

 

CHARLYNN: [Chuckles] I'm so highly triggered.

 

PAUL: And just to recap, what sounds are you triggered by, and so far you have said . . .

 

CHARLYNN: Okay, so recap, chewing food, chewing gum, throat clearing. Dry-mouth sounds, we talked about that. The sound of crinkling bags, we talked about that. The occasional coughing, eh, sometimes that's, that's kind of like a 50-50 for me. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it's not. And for whatever reason, I am more forgiving when it is somebody who is sick, because we've all been there, I guess.

And sometimes the way a person will say a certain word sometimes gets me. Like if it's a really unusual accent or something, and of course, I can't think of an example right now, but if something just seems really off kilter to the way I am used to hearing something being said, it sets me off.

 

PAUL: And does it matter whether or not you think it's how their culture pronounces it or if they are ignorant about how it should be pronounced?

 

CHARLYNN: You know, I think at first it doesn't make a difference, but if I find out that's just that person's accent, then maybe I kind of, I’m a little more forgiving, even if it does incite the response, but if it isn't, then, yeah, then the rage really hits the fan.

 

PAUL: Well, if somebody didn't understand someone with misophonia, they would just think, that person is a judgmental dick.

 

CHARLYNN: Yes. Yes, which is why it is so hard to say something in the first place, because I feel like you have to be so careful about how you do it that, you know, even, well, I don't know. Even if you are, I feel that is somehow the way you do come across to some people.

 

PAUL: Oh, yeah, yeah. You know, so many people don't believe depression is a thing.

 

CHARLYNN: Right.

 

PAUL: I mean, misophonia, I would think, is way down on the list--

 

CHARLYNN: [Laughs]

 

PAUL: --of what people are going to say is a valid thing.

 

CHARLYNN: Right, exactly. Yeah, I mean, at least people know what depression is, but then, yeah, so, oh, I’m supposed to accommodate your little problem? Are there not bigger problems in the world? Yeah, I get it, I get it, I get it--

 

PAUL: And I would imagine that they would also equate it the way they conflate situational sadness to depression. They just think, you know, nails on a blackboard, you just have a gazillion things that are nails on a blackboard to you because--

 

CHARLYNN: Right.

 

PAUL: --you're just a hard-to-please person.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah. I'm just a real asshole and I should just get over it.

 

PAUL: Okay, the last one was . . .

 

CHARLYNN: So [chuckles], pronouncing certain words, that's the last one.

So, question two is, does your relationship to the person making the noise impact your relationship to them? We talked about that a little bit. Certainly people who are, who I know better, who are more understanding, like my husband, he goes out of his way--

 

PAUL: He's here in the room, by the way.

 

CHARLYNN: He is.

 

PAUL: And if you have anything you want to add, just scoot up and talk on the mic. And it's Patrick, is that right? Yeah.

 

CHARLYNN: So, yeah, when it comes to our relationship, he, [chuckles] he's been the best. He's a saint.

 

PAUL: You guys have been together 10 years, married 10 years.

 

CHARLYNN: Almost 10 years. We'll celebrate our 10th in July. And so--

 

PAUL: And you are how old?

 

CHARLYNN: I am 35.

 

PAUL: Okay.

 

CHARLYNN: So, like with him--

 

PAUL: And Patrick is 106, and we'll get to that later.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah [chuckles], I’m a gold-digger, yeah.

 

[Chuckling]

 

CHARLYNN: Just waiting, I’m counting it down.

 

PAUL: You're a gold-digger about to be a gravedigger.

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, my [chuckles], indeed.

So, he knows that certain things really set me off, things like loud foods, like chips and things like that. He knows that, even if we have the TV on, that's probably not going to cut it. He will actually go to another room and shut the door and eat chips so that we can both be in peace.

But we also know that, it's like an unsaid rule in our house, where if we're eating dinner, TV must be on. Something's got to be on for background noise. That's just the way it is. We can't just sit at the table and eat, nh-nuh.

 

PAUL: But you may communicate with each other while the TV is on. It's not that you--

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, sure.

 

PAUL: --are distracted by the TV. You're still connecting.

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, no, no, and we're still talking and probably calling to one of the cats, like, what are you doing now, and that sort of thing, yes. But there are little things like that where he's more than accommodating to me and I love him all the more for it.

 

PAUL: Yeah, that's pretty sweet.

 

CHARLYNN: That's pretty understanding.

 

[Patrick says something]

 

CHARLYNN: Oh [chuckles], so on the way over here, he stopped and grabbed a biscuit, and we were in the car. He threw some honey on it and was just about to take a bite out of it and then realized what was about to go down, turns the car on so the radio would turn on. How thoughtful is that?

 

PAUL: [Chuckles]

 

CHARLYNN: That's a good guy. I know how lucky I am.

 

PAUL: [To Patrick] Do you find yourself, and this may be hard to answer in front of your wife, but do you ever find yourself becoming exhausted by Charlynn's issue, condition? I’m not sure what you'd call it.

 

CHARLYNN: All of my issues, all of them.

 

PATRICK: You know, I think that the misophonia in particular, it doesn't really frustrate me any more than any other things that she does. There's a couple other things that pop up in our relationship that you just deal with, and you deal with them because, you know, this person brings you a lot of happiness in other ways and you don't want to screw that up just, you know, because you want to eat chips in front of her--

 

[Chuckling]

 

PATRICK: You know, I can eat chips by myself. It's not a big deal. And I try to remind myself that I, you know, I’m doing this because, you know, it's helping her for me and her to be apart while I do this, and as long as I keep that in mind, it's not a problem at all.

 

PAUL: That's great. And what does that feel like hearing him say that?
CHARLYNN: It's, honestly, a little bit of a relief just to know that--

 

PAUL: Did you not know that until now?

 

CHARLYNN: Ah [sighs], it always feels better just hearing it--

 

PAUL: To say it, yeah.

 

CHARLYNN: Yes. Of course I knew it, but hearing it ensures that.

 

PAUL: Yeah. It's amazing how sometimes we forget to say the most obvious things to people we love because we, even though we assume the other person knows it, there's something different about stating it.

 

CHARLYNN: Absolutely.

 

PAUL: Say something to Patrick that you know isn't news to him but maybe he doesn't hear enough.

 

CHARLYNN: Hm, okay.

 

PAUL: And I'm feeling really self-conscious that I'm doing this. I feel like I should be on Oprah or something--

 

[Laughter]

 

CHARLYNN: I feel like I'm in therapy. This is great.

 

PAUL: --but this is a really important thing, I think, in relationships, romantic or otherwise.

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, yeah.

 

PAUL: I try to remember to tell friends of mine what I love about them, what they mean to me, qualities of theirs that I think are special.
CHARLYNN: That's a really good reminder, and yes, we should all do that--

 

PAUL: We should.

 

CHARLYNN: --with all of the people that matter to us in our lives, and yes, we are all incredibly busy people and we've got a lot going on in our lives, but if we can take a little more time, everybody's going to be better off for it.

 

PAUL: Or we could do what we do now, which is wait until they're dead and they can't hear it and then we say it into a microphone in front of strangers.

 

CHARLYNN: We could do that, too.

 

PATRICK: That's right.

 

CHARLYNN: Sure. So, one thing I definitely appreciate, and I don't say this nearly enough, is I appreciate all the small things you do every single day to make our lives better, to help me out, whether it is maybe starting dinner, where you come home first and you start chopping vegetables or something, so that we can have dinner, you know, a little sooner, or whether it's something like taking care of the cats because I want to sleep in. It can be any of those little things, little favors, little notes. You love to leave little notes--

 

PAUL: Aw, that's sweet.

 

CHARLYNN: --and they're just the cutest thing and so sweet, and yeah, I love you so much for it. I've kept all those notes.

 

PAUL: Can you share, I understand if it's too private, but can you share maybe what some of those notes are?

 

CHARLYNN: A lot of times it's just, I can't say anything verbatim. I don't have anything directly coming to mind, but a lot of times it's just, you mean so much to me, I love our relationship, I love being married to you, that sort of mushy thing--

 

PAUL: That's great, yeah.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah, it's adorable.

 

PAUL: So, maybe it's just saying those out loud, doing the out-loud notes for each other.

 

CHARLYNN: And we do that, too. We really do. We work a lot on our relationship because we know how important communication is, and we know how an investment a relationship needs to be in your life. It has to be a priority. Otherwise, it can go by the wayside, you know.

 

PAUL: Yeah, mm-hmm. Where were we on the second question, how does it affect your relationship with the person making the noise, so we talked about him accommodating you.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: How about people other than Patrick?

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, boy. That's kind of a tough one because I've not indulged [sic] a whole lot to many people. [Sighs] I'm really not sure how to answer that because--

 

PAUL: You haven't divulged the, you said--

 

CHARLYNN: Not much.

 

PAUL: Okay.

 

CHARLYNN: Not very often, because when I do say, hey, like I have this thing called misophonia, the response has not exactly been the most positive thing. I mean, probably next to you, Patrick, the last supervisor I had at my office job was probably the most understanding person. Otherwise it's not, people aren't really sure what to do with it.

 

PAUL: Is it in the DSM?

 

CHARLYNN: It's not in the DSM.

 

PAUL: Oh, I guess because that would be--

 

CHARLYNN: I don't think it is.

 

PAUL: --considered a mental thing, whereas this is, it sounds like it's more of a purely physiological thing. I wonder how the medical community views it, because I just had this thought, what if you brought in a medical journal or a, you know, some official-looking book and said, just so you know that I'm not just making this up, here's what it says about it--

 

CHARLYNN: Hm.

 

PAUL: --in case you think I'm just being a drama queen.

 

[Laughter]

 

CHARLYNN: That's maybe not a bad idea, and I wonder where exactly that does fall on the medical spectrum, because no, I don't think it's in the DSM, and I don't even think it was really medically recognized until something like 2000. So, it's very new and it's very unknown. Not a whole lot of research I think is going on about this, and so, yeah, there's not a whole lot out there.

 

PAUL: Yeah. Just from the results I've looked at on the survey, there seems to be a relationship between adversity, emotional adversity in somebody's past, and/or trauma, and almost every person's response I read on the what tools or, you know, things, therapies have helped you, and almost no person has found something.

Now, that was only about 80 people and I just looked very briefly through maybe two dozen of them, so I'm maybe changing my initial kind of thoughts about this, but . . .

 

CHARLYNN: Well, one hilarious thing I found doing a little bit of research on misophonia is one of the so-called treatments for it is exposure therapy, where you're exposed to your triggering sounds to the point where it doesn't bother you anymore. I really don't--

 

PAUL: That doesn't seem like it would work with this.

 

CHARLYNN: Right. No, I really don't think that's the answer. Now, granted, I've not done it, so maybe I shouldn't knock it unless I try it, but I have doubts, let's put it that way.

 

PAUL: Yeah, because for me, exposure therapy is about fears, fears that are processed through, just fears, whereas this is--

 

CHARLYNN: Right.

 

PAUL: --almost like a smell that makes you nauseous, or maybe you do exposure therapy for things that, smells that make you nauseous, I don't know--

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: I’m not a therapist.

 

CHARLYNN: I don't know either.

 

PAUL: I'm not a therapist, but I tell a nice dick joke.

 

[Chuckling]

 

CHARLYNN: There you go.

 

PAUL: Okay, continuing.

 

CHARLYNN: So, question--

 

PAUL: Oh, one more question. Backing up, the coughing, the lip-smacking, the gum-chewing, are you, do you get annoyed if you make any of those noises?

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, that's a great question. Yes. And one interesting thing that I have read about people with misophonia is a lot of times the person with misophonia won't mind their own chewing or whatever it is, whatever triggers them, but for me, no, I get annoyed by the sound of my own chewing. I can say that for a fact.

 

PAUL: Is there anything you do other than having noises around you to help, like the thought of you eating alone in silence, you will obviously avoid that at all costs or no?

 

CHARLYNN: I may not avoid it, but I don't know if I've told you this, Patrick, sometimes it affects my food choices, where I won't eat something super crunchy. Maybe I'll eat something even liquid so I don't have to chew. That's how drastic it can be sometimes.

 

PAUL: What are the types of food that make the least amount of noise?

 

CHARLYNN: I almost want to say yogurt, but when you stir yogurt up, that also makes a horrible sound, but eating, it's not quite so bad. So, maybe something, maybe a smoothie might be a little bit better. I like to do a protein shake in the morning where it's almond milk and protein powder. That's pretty safe, things that--

 

PAUL: Somebody needs to come up with a misophonia cookbook, I don't know, the Ninja Chef, just all quiet recipes--

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, that would be--

 

PAUL: --quiet to make, quiet to eat.

 

[Laughter]

 

CHARLYNN: That would be really interesting. I challenge somebody to do that. I'll buy it.

 

PAUL: Continuing. And I’m going to say that a hundred times.

 

CHARLYNN: All right, go for it. Well, I'm going to keep count now.

All right, so question three is, are you comfortable telling people about your sound sensitivity? We kind of talked a bit about this already, and my first two words are, not really.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

CHARLYNN: Because there's just not a whole lot of understanding. A lot of people don't know what it is. A lot of people don't know what to do with it after you tell them. They're just like, huh? And I don't really blame them, you know.

Like, if somebody was coming to me in a crisis, let's say, and they're on the ledge here, I wouldn't know what to do with that person either. So, yeah [chuckles], I really do think awareness is about the only way we can really start to maybe help out people with misophonia. At least that's the first step.

 

PAUL: What's the next question?

 

CHARLYNN: So, yeah, okay, I talked about that. Question four is, what have the reactions been when you've told people?

Mostly people write it off or say something to the effect of, get over it. Like, I mean, it's like I have this neurosis that I can like ignore at will, and that is far from the case. That's not something people understand.

 

PAUL: You know, I have to say, if you had come to me 15 years ago and said this, and hadn't really explained it perfectly to me, I would have walked away thinking, boy, is she a pain in the ass.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah, yeah [chuckles].

 

PAUL: That sucks. That sucks.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah. You don't want to be that person, and yet you are made to feel like you are that person, definitely. I mean, like especially, when especially it comes to something like eating. Well, people have to eat. That's human. That's what we need to do--

 

PAUL: People have to clear their throat sometimes.

 

CHARLYNN: Sometimes. They're not doing anything wrong, and rationally I know that, and I have a very irrational response to that. So, it's weird to not feel like a complete freak [chuckles] with misophonia sometimes, just because logically you know that this is just life, but the way you're reacting to it inside, you're boiling over.

 

PAUL: You know what I would love to see happen, and I might be able to pair you up with somebody to do this, there is a neuroscientist who I know, and I wonder if he would be interested in doing a study where they map the brain of two people, somebody with it, somebody without it, experiencing something that is not triggering to the person with misophonia and then do it where there is that sound and you map the brains again--

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, that would be fascinating.

 

PAUL: --so you could show a video to people and say, this--

 

CHARLYNN: This is your brain, this is your brain on misophonia. Oh, my God, that would be amazing. And I would love to see which parts of the brain light up, and does it change with different triggers or is it all the same, because a lot of times the response internally, it feels the same. It's just rage. So that would be incredible.

 

PAUL: And maybe find something to trigger things in the person that doesn't have misophonia to see what, so you can also see what a non-misophonia brain looks like when it gets triggered by something similar, so you would have something to compare it to. For instance, maybe somebody came in and scared the shit out of that other person or--

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah [chuckles].

 

PAUL: --something that would trigger a similar biochemical response, neurochemical response--
CHARLYNN: That would be amazing.

 

PAUL: --so they could picture, oh, so she feels like I feel when, you know . . .

 

CHARLYNN: That would be so cool. And if research could show findings like that, there would be so much more understanding about misophonia.

 

PAUL: We are going to look into this.

 

CHARLYNN: Hook me the fuck up [chuckles].

 

PAUL: We are going to look into this.

 

PATRICK: So, by the way, empathy can be learned. As I've learned as somebody who doesn't have misophonia, now when I hear those sounds, I know automatically, I have to be very calm and very collected to bring her down when I'm with her.

 

CHARLYNN: It's true. Like, if we're together and something triggers me, he knows.

 

PAUL: So you're saying that she has learned empathy, or you have learned how to be empathetic with what she's going through--

 

PATRICK: Right, I've learned how to be empathetic with her, to her, because I know, you know, when she hears that gum smacking, I have to, I have to get calm, I have to relax, because I have to be the one to calm her down and tell her, hey, it's going to be okay--

 

CHARLYNN: He's got to be the adult--

 

PAUL: You've got to be her ally instead of another person annoyed by her issue.

 

PATRICK: Right.

 

PAUL: Do you feel, Charlynn, like you have learned how to manage this better in terms of reacting to other people and how to deal with that lava when it comes up?

 

CHARLYNN: I would love to say yes, but the truthful answer is no.

 

PAUL: Well, thank you for being honest.

 

CHARLYNN: I have not dealt with it very well at all.

 

PAUL: Well, we've got another project, then--

 

CHARLYNN: [Laughs] I'm in therapy. We'll have to talk, we'll have to bring up that issue. I'm working on other stuff right now.

 

[Chuckling]

 

CHARLYNN: So the fifth question is, do you have other sensory sensitivities, like smell, touch, taste, sights? And here's an interesting connection, is I always screw up saying this, but synesthesia.

 

PAUL: What is that?

 

CHARLYNN: It is where people experience sensory experiences with things like color and other sensation. Like it's kind of a mixed thing. I'm really screwing that up, so I apologize to anybody who has this, but it's, I've read a thing, and I don't know how credible it is, but there's a theory that misophonia is possibly connected to synesthesia, and again, I don't know if I'm saying that right or if I'm totally butchering it.

 

PAUL: That's okay. We can Google it.

 

CHARLYNN: So, it's spelled, if you want to know, s-y-n-e-s-t-h-e-s-i-a.

 

PAUL: Pity the child that gets that in a spelling bee.

 

CHARLYNN: No, that 11-year-old can handle it.

 

PAUL: That's true.

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: And so, is it a pleasurable thing for that person or not pleasurable or neither, it's just something that is?

 

CHARLYNN: I don't know tons about it, and I don't know if it is associated with any particularly good or bad feelings. All I know is that they experience things just a little differently than somebody who's not associating the number four with the color blue, for instance.

 

PAUL: Oh, yes, I've heard, too, that there are people, and this may be completely unrelated, but there are people who have tremendous ability to compute numbers in their head.

 

CHARLYNN: Uh-huh.

 

PAUL: One of them was interviewed, and I think this also goes for people who have incredible memories, is they assign colors to certain numbers. They assign colors to--

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah, and you know what's interesting is, I do that to some extent. Some numbers have colors, to me, but I don't experience it to nearly the extent that other people can. Like I had a friend one day, we were walking down a street at night and she said, the night is so purple. And I kind of like, okay. Okay, I kind of halfway get what you're saying, I can see that, but it took you saying it to make me feel it and see it.

 

PAUL: Right.

 

CHARLYNN: So, I'm not nearly as perceptive to it as she was.

 

PAUL: David Bowie said in an interview one time that he creates, he would create music based on colors, certain sounds of music have colors to him--

 

CHARLYNN: They have like an aura.

 

PAUL: Yeah. And so he would, for him, it was kind of an audio painting--

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, wow.

 

PAUL: --to create, and maybe that's also why his music had such audio diversity in terms of instruments and style and all that kind of stuff.

 

CHARLYNN: Makes sense, yeah. Well, he was so brilliant. I wouldn't be surprised at all.

So, sixth question is, how long have you had misophonia? Probably all of my life. I really, really noticed it when I was in the eighth grade and my science teacher had a throat-clearing problem. To this day, I remember exactly how he cleared his throat and how often.

 

PAUL: Could you do it, or is that too annoying?

 

CHARLYNN: I don't want to annoy the listeners--

 

[Chuckling]

 

CHARLYNN: --because I've already used examples in the recording and they've probably already turned it off by now. Let's just say it was bad.

And you know what? He's not a bad person and he didn't even realize it, but that was my misophonia awakening. Like, I dreaded that class. I hated that class. I could not wait to get out of that class. And when the school year was finally over, I thought, oh, good, I never have to deal with this again. Ha, ha, ha, ha, joke was on me.

 

PAUL: Oh, my God.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: And it's fair to say that it's not the context that these people are doing it in as much as it is the physical quality of the sound.

 

CHARLYNN: Yes. Yeah, when you're in a quiet environment like that classroom, say if we're taking a test and he's, we're all sitting down and I'm trying to focus on the questions and he's clearing his throat, every time he clears his throat, it's all I can hear and it's distracting me from doing my work. I mean, it drives me to severe distraction.

All right, next question, how many times a day do you get triggered? This varies a lot. It depends a lot on kind of life that you're leading, where you work, how you get to work, what you're doing with your day. So, like when I was in the office, I would get triggered hundreds of times a day all day. It was awful. It was like being tortured.

 

PAUL: That must be exhausting, because if your fight-or-flight response is getting triggered, that's adrenaline, and to have your adrenaline--

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, yeah.

 

PAUL: --be pumping a hundred times a day, would you just feel exhausted when you came home from work?

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, yeah. And I was just furious, because even though the offenders, for lack of a better term, don't mean any malice toward me, it does feel like an attack on you because of what it does to you inside you.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah, it is exhausting, absolutely.

 

PAUL: Have you ever had your adrenal glands checked, not for it to be the cause, but to see if this is impacting their health?

 

CHARLYNN: No.

 

PAUL: I'd be curious to know what the adrenal glands look like of the average person. Now we have a third thing to look into.

 

CHARLYNN: Man, I've got a list now. Dang. I'm going to come out with like a whole page of things I've got to get done [chuckles]. I expect you to follow up with me and make sure I’m checking them off.

 

PAUL: I would also like, in that neurologic test, to also have heartbeat monitored, skin, what is it, there's something they do with the skin, I know, where there's like heat or--

 

CHARLYNN: Is it like an increase in perspiration or something?

 

PAUL: Something like that, or, I’m very scientific.

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: I like how I'm, yeah, there's something on their arm--

 

CHARLYNN: That explains the white lab coat.

 

PAUL: Yeah, the lab coat, yeah.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah, oh, okay.

 

PAUL: Yeah. I always feel, I often feel like, why do I need lab goggles to do an interview, but you can never be too safe.

 

CHARLYNN: That's true.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: All right, where were we?

 

CHARLYNN: Let's see. How many times do I get triggered? Yeah, in the office, it was awful. Every office job I've worked has been like that, and that's why I just decided, enough, I can't do this anymore, and so I ended up leaving that last job for a number of reasons, but that was a big one. And even though I had finally said something and we were going to try and work out a plan, it ultimately didn't matter when I decided to leave anyway.

And, I mean, that's, it's life-changing [chuckles]. But even if I'm going to work and I'm on the Metro, I run the risk of hearing somebody who maybe has food, like a chip bag, or sometimes even the Styrofoam containers that carry-out meals come in, that can annoy me, or if somebody's smacking their gum, I'm still exposed to that. So sometimes duration doesn't necessarily matter. If I'm exposed to it at all, sometimes just like, oh, God, this.

 

PAUL: And does the mood that you're in that day at that moment influence how able you are to roll with it, or is it exacerbated by it?

 

CHARLYNN: What it can do is it can bring my mood down. So, if I'm down and that happens, then I'm really down. And I'm sure you know about the spoon theory.

 

PAUL: What is it?

 

CHARLYNN: Okay, the spoon theory is where, let's say, like especially with depression, where depression takes away, let's say you have like a standard 12 spoons for your day. The average person gets 12 spoons. If you have depression, maybe you only have nine to start your whole day. And for depression, everything is so exhausting, sometimes even getting out of bed and brushing your teeth and eating--

 

PAUL: Oh, yeah.

 

CHARLYNN: --takes away your spoons, much less everyday tasks to function and go out in life and be a productive citizen. The normal person, they can use their 12 spoons and they're fine, they go to bed, and they can do it all over again in a day, the next day.

With depression, you run out of spoons sooner and you've done less.

 

PAUL: Oh, yeah. Yeah. When my depression was really bad, I would wake up and think, fuck, I have to go to the bank, do laundry and all that person, and I would feel dread.

 

CHARLYNN: Right.

 

PAUL: I would feel just completely overwhelmed.

 

CHARLYNN: Right. And it doesn't even matter that doing all of those things maybe would take you, what, an hour, maybe two?

 

PAUL: Not even that, yeah.

 

CHARLYNN: And there's plenty of hours in the day. It does not matter. It's the fact that you've got to use that energy and you know you've got a finite amount of it, and it becomes that much more of a chore.

 

PAUL: Plus, too, I think mental illness and especially depression warp our sense of time.

 

CHARLYNN: Totally. Everything seems to take so much longer than it needs to when you're depressed.

 

PAUL: So much longer, yeah.

 

CHARLYNN: Totally, absolutely.

 

PAUL: What was the last thing that you were saying about the survey?

 

CHARLYNN: Talking about how many times I get triggered.

 

PAUL: That's right, that's right.

 

CHARLYNN: I think we pretty much covered that. If I'm just bumming around the house, I probably won't even get triggered once. And that's a pretty good day.

 

PAUL: Do you, are there any sounds created by nature that bother you?

 

CHARLYNN: Hm. Not that I can think of, not right off the top of my head, no. Nature's awesome. It's humans, they suck.

 

PAUL: That's interesting. I wonder if there's a link.

 

CHARLYNN: That I hate humans? That's a fact.

 

[Laughter]

 

CHARLYNN: Give me a cat any day.

 

PAUL: Although I would imagine there are animal sounds that drive some people crazy.

 

CHARLYNN: Probably, but they don't seem to trigger me, but then again, I'm not going out camping every weekend either, so maybe that's got something to do with it.

 

PAUL: One of our dogs, Ivy, when she licks herself, really just pretty much her nether regions, it is the most disgusting sound [chuckles]. I used to say, I guess still say, it sounds like she'd drowning in a bowl of pudding. It is just so gross--

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, gosh [laughs].

 

PAUL: --and it, so I’m just wondering in the, I'm sure there are animals that do things that annoy people--

 

CHARLYNN: There's got to be. There's got to be. I just can't think of anything right now, and my cats, they're so cute and adorable, they do no wrong, ever, right?

 

PATRICK: Well, and we've got a cat that is a very loud drinker, just [slurping sound] and--

 

PAUL: Doesn't bother you?

 

CHARLYNN: No, it doesn't bother me--

 

PATRICK: It doesn't bother her at all. She thinks it's cute--

 

[Simultaneous discussion]

 

CHARLYNN: I actually, I think it's endearing. Yeah, we have a cat fountain. We spoil them rotten. And he likes to drink from the stream, not in the bowl, but in the stream, and so you hear, blop, blop, blop, blop, blop, and it's just the cutest thing.

 

PAUL: Nice.

 

CHARLYNN: You can hear it from any room [chuckles], and I find it adorable, yes, I do. But probably because they're my cats.

Okay, so we talked about getting triggered. The next question is, do you feel guilty about your triggers or the way you respond to them? Abso-fucking-lutely. I know that I've screwed up in this respect, and I kick myself for every day where I had to basically find a way to survive the workday because I didn't say anything. It's the worst thing I could have done, and I did it for years.

 

PAUL: Not said anything.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah, because I was a coward, I didn’t have the courage. I didn't want to be misunderstood. I didn't want to come across as that neurotic jackass. I didn't know what to do. So, when I did nothing, that made it worse.

 

PAUL: And you exhausted yourself--

 

CHARLYNN: You can't win.

 

PAUL: --and threw some shame in there.

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, yeah. I'm, I can beat myself up better than anybody else. There's nothing worse you can say to me than I can say to myself. Yeah.

 

PAUL: That's so true, man. Nobody, nobody knows our weak points like we do.

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, yeah, that's--

 

PAUL: Or a parent that pays attention.

 

CHARLYNN: Well, yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: A parent that's on their game.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah [chuckles]. Yeah, yeah. I'm actually working on that quite a bit in therapy right now, is talking back to my negative self-talk.

 

PAUL: How is that going?

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, not too bad. My therapist is good. He calls me out on my shit. I need it [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Good.

 

CHARLYNN: So, let me take a quick look here, see if there's any details I should use to illustrate. No, no.

If I were working in an office situation again, if I, for whatever ungodly reason, were to take up that again, I would do it very differently, and I would be very forthright and out with it, and I would not care what people thought of me, because like, if you can't handle that, then you can't handle the rest of me. I'm not going to be, I'm not going to be nice anymore [chuckles] in that respect. I'm going to be me, and if you don't like me, that's fine, fuck you.

But I, you know, we get so conditioned, though, to be a more, you have kind of like your public persona, where you have your mask on. You're on guard. I kind of want to remove that.

 

PAUL: Are you differentiating between the noises that people have no control over making once they understand and are sympathetic to your issue, or are you talking about regardless of whether or not this person has any control over the sound they're making? Because, to me, one of those, you bear some responsibility for--

 

CHARLYNN: Uh-huh, yeah. And here's the thing, is a lot of people do things like clear their throats or cough out of habit and don't realize just how much they do it, and sometimes even saying as much won't change the behavior, because they're not conscious of it.

 

PAUL: Right.

 

CHARLYNN: Speaking up may or may not bring it to consciousness for a little while, and then maybe things return back to normal, but yeah, in the end, I do question how much of an effect it would have, but at the very least then I'm not immediately just boiling already from the get-go. You have to kind of maybe say your piece, as uncomfortable as it might be.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

CHARLYNN: Even if it is something like an e-mail, and I don't know if that's passive aggressive or not, because you're doing it by e-mail, but if that's the more comfortable way to do it, to just put it out there, and then if somebody wants to know more, then you can talk, I don't know, but maybe that would be the best way to do it.

 

PAUL: And I would think that a really important element of sending that e-mail out would be to, like I said before, to do it with humility and make very clear that this is not you judging these other people, this is a physical response that you have--

 

CHARLYNN: Right, this is me.

 

PAUL: --that you're powerless over, and then you are sitting there, feeling like, you know, somebody feels when their car gets hit or, I’m trying to think of something else where your flight or--

 

CHARLYNN: Or like--

 

PAUL: --you know, if somebody came up from behind you and put you in a headlock and you don't know who it is.

 

CHARLYNN: Right, right. You know, and another thing I want to mention is, you know, a lot of times I resorted to the headphones really quick. You know, maybe I would last a week before breaking them out and just being totally furious. I think putting that in the e-mail, explaining that, look, I'm going to be wearing headphones all the time, if you need to get my attention, tap me on the shoulder or message me--

 

PAUL: Put me in a headlock from behind.

 

CHARLYNN: You could do that, too [chuckles], and then I really will punch you in the face. But maybe that's a way to include it and just say, hey, look, if you're wondering, I'm not trying to be rude or unsociable, this is what's going on.

 

PAUL: Yes. I think if you include that, then they know, okay, she is a fairly socially aware person because--

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --some people are automatically going to go to the place of, oh, it's all about her and she's assuming none of us have anything that annoys us, and she's no fucking better than me, I'm not going to change anything that I do--

 

CHARLYNN: Right, right. So, yeah, now it comes together how I should have done this so many years ago, but did I think of it at the time? No, of course not. Of course not. I did not even know what misophonia was until 2013, long after this whole fiasco had been well on the road.

 

PAUL: It's amazing how long we can go without recognizing something that we're dealing with that is monumental.

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, yeah--

 

PAUL: Depression, anxiety.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah. We can put up with it for a long time and, to put this weird thing, that I did think was just a weird, stupid, neurotic tendency and it was just another sign that, yes, I was fucked up, no. It has a name and it's real and a lot of people deal with it, and a lot of people don't talk about it. That's what compelled me to reach out and say, hey, if you want somebody to talk about misophonia, I'll talk about it.

 

PAUL: I'm so glad you did.

 

CHARLYNN: We've got to break this barrier down.

 

PAUL: Yeah.
CHARLYNN: Ehrgg.

 

PAUL: What's the next one, next question?

 

CHARLYNN: Next question is, have you been diagnosed with a mental or physical health disorder/issue, and if so, do you believe it's connected to your misophonia?

Now, this is kind of interesting because my theory, and again, I'm not a professional, I think it is connected especially to anxiety, because I've had lifelong anxiety. I've also suffered from depression, and I had an eating disorder in my 20s.

For me, I think it's connected to anxiety just because it gives me anxiety. It feeds that cycle.
PAUL: It makes sense. I'd be interested to know what, maybe we'll add that question to the survey, of do you battle--

 

[Simultaneous discussion]

 

PAUL: --no, but anxiety specifically.

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, I would be curious to know just how many people listed that possibly on the surveys already, if there is some possible connection or if there's a trend, I would love to know. Yeah.

So question 10 is, do you have a history of trauma, like sexual, physical, emotional trauma, emotionally disinterested/unavailable parents? Please elaborate. Not for me. None. I grew up in a pretty stable household. There wasn't any physical abuse. There was no sexual abuse in my life. I would argue that the most emotional abuse I got was from myself, beating myself up [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Were your parents themselves anxious people or kind of depressed people?
CHARLYNN: Yes. Yeah, I think Mom battled depression a lot more than she may ever admit. I think she is just starting to really come around and realize that, but yes, I think she's dealt with a lot of depression. She did deal with emotional abuse, [clears throat] excuse me, speaking of misophonia [chuckles]. Sorry, guys.

And my dad, my biological father, depression definitely, probably some anxiety, too, among other things that I may not be aware of, whereas my dad who raised me, hm, maybe not so much. He's got a pretty steady head on his shoulders. He's got social anxiety, I think. He doesn't like to go to parties.

 

PAUL: So, it sounds like you had parents that really made an effort to provide for you and see you and hear you and validate you, but sometimes they were not fully there because they were battling kind of their own shit.
CHARLYNN: Eh . . .

 

PAUL: Or is that an overstatement?

 

CHARLYNN: It might be a slight overstatement because my parents worked their asses off to provide as much as they could for me and my sister. They're not college educated. They worked hard-core manual labor, blue-collar jobs.

 

PAUL: I'm not talking about financial stuff.

 

CHARLYNN: Oh.

 

PAUL: I'm talking about, when you were anxious, did you have somebody that, you know, would recognize it, sit down and talk to you about it and let you know that this is okay and everybody--

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, okay. Okay, yeah--

 

PAUL: Because that's what I consider to be an available parent, the parent that sees emotional changes in their kid, that sees that a kid is struggling and lets them know that it's okay, it's a part of being human, would you like us to try to find a doctor or get some type of help.

 

CHARLYNN: Yes [chuckles]. It's kind of a double-edged sword because, on one hand, I want to say yes and, on the other hand, it's a little tough. Mom was definitely very emotionally available. She was the one I would go to to talk, because honestly, my dad was working more often than not. A lot of our bonding was doing activities, having fun, spending time on weekends. We had our ritual of going to the grocery store and getting food for the week every weekend, stuff like that, whereas the hard-core stuff, Mom always was there.

And when it came to things like depression, when that was going on, she was there but I don't think she fully understood it, even though she was depressed herself, but I think denial is a very powerful thing. She didn't recognize it in herself, and Patrick is laughing [chuckles], and therefore, she didn't really know what to do with me.

And then with things like my eating disorder, that gets really complicated because food is a big issue in my family. I don't even think my family realizes just how impactful it was. And at the time I tried to play it off like, oh, it's my problem, but no, I see so many connections now of how things got where they were, because my mom grew up in a household where you cleaned your plate. There's those starving children in Africa, you eat your food and you be grateful.

And so my mom battled her weight her whole life, I think, and that, even though she tried not to pass that down, it did bring about food issues, because I remember doing exercise videos with my mom when I was 12 and it was, it was in my mind, I absorbed it, whether it was through osmosis or whatever, but seeing Mom drink Slimfast and try the newest diet or getting on the workout bandwagon again, yeah, that manifested.

And so, when I started having my own issues and trying to deal with them, it's no wonder I turned to an eating disorder, because food became my drug. I didn't drink alcohol. I wasn't going to turn to drugs. I went to food. It was the easiest thing. It was just, it was just waiting for me.

 

PAUL: [Chuckles] Yeah, and I think it's important, too, to differentiate or at least mention that, when I ask you or other guests, was your parent not available, were there parts of your life and your emotional well-being invisible to them or certainly not recognized, this is not to lay blame on the parent. This is to try to understand if something was missing in terms of comfort and being seen on that kid's part.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah, oh, my gosh, yeah, if any of my family is listening, I don't blame anybody.

 

PAUL: No, it clearly sounds like you love your family and you--

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, like crazy.

 

PAUL: --feel like they put a huge effort into--

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah. Oh, my mom was a huge influence on my life, and very much for the better, absolutely. I mean, my mom is a very selfless person, just the sweetest person you could ever meet. I mean, she's a really wonderful lady and I'm thrilled that she was my mother. I'm honored, because I could have had like a real A-hole raising me. There's plenty of those parents around. No, I had it very good.

My mom cared maybe even too much, you know, and so, I, I had a pretty good upbringing. I really did. I'm grateful for that.

But we did have the food issues, and the eating disorder scared her, though, and that's where it was, I watched some Lifetime TV movies so I know what eating disorders are about, and she kind of had a little bit of, you know, with her eating issues, she kind of walked, crossed the line a little bit, you know, tried to cross the border of an eating disorder herself, but I went into it pretty hard core. So, she didn't know what to do with that. It scared her. She didn't want to lose me.

But at the same time, it was, you need to go to therapy, you need to fix this, because I can't handle it, that's how I felt--

 

PAUL: She said that, or you felt, oh, that's how you felt about her crossing into--

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, no, no. I'm sorry. That's what she said to me. Let's clarify, you know, she would say to me, you know, oh, yeah, I've had my problems but you really took it much further than I ever did, and so, yeah, those two things that I said of, you need to go to therapy, you need to fix it, this is your problem and you need to own it, that basically, that was said, and I did. I'm like, Mom, this has nothing to do with you.

 

PAUL: How old were you at that point?

 

CHARLYNN: I was probably early 20s when I was, this is a time when I was trying to seek inpatient and insurance is such a bitch. I ultimately did not get to go, and I really needed it, but long story short, I had to be the one to figure that out.

I had to be the one figuring out whether insurance was going to cover it, what criteria I needed to go through all their hoops so that I could go to a place in Arizona and get the treatment that I really desperately needed.

 

PAUL: I hope this doesn't sound like me throwing your mom under the bus, but it sounds like there could have been more compassion and desire to seek help, help you seek help. It sounds a little bit like, you're on your own and you better get this taken care of, which doesn't feel, to me, like the ideal way.

And I'm not, I’m not trying to say your mom was a bad mom. I'm just trying to really find the truth out about were there times in your life where you did not have your emotional needs met.

 

CHARLYNN: I think that was a time, that was probably the time when my emotional needs were not being met, because I was crying out for help, and I was so sick and so depressed, and I did not have the energy to do all of that.

And I ended up trying to go through those steps and ultimately what did happen is, the doctor would not diagnose me with anorexia nervosa, even though I had the weight criteria in the DSM-IV at the time, the other criteria was you had to lose your menses and I had not, because what happens with a lot of women with eating disorders is, especially over time, the body will adapt. So even if, you know, your hormone levels have gone down, you're still functioning in that respect because your body has adapted, and my doctor treated the DSM-IV like a Bible and the insurance company did, too.

 

PAUL: Has it changed now in the DSM?

 

CHARLYNN: I think it's gotten better, and yes, the criteria is different in the DSM-V. I do not know if it's made it any easier for people to seek treatment, though. I hope it has. I really hope it has, because that, you know what that tells somebody with an eating disorder when you don't qualify?

 

PAUL: Oh, it's the worst message you could give somebody.

 

CHARLYNN: It's like, okay, fuck you, I'll really get sick and show you. And that's exactly what I did.

 

PAUL: And you're telling them you are, this is just a weakness on your part, this isn't a real thing that you have--

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah, you're not sick enough, you're whining.

 

PAUL: Yeah.
CHARLYNN: Do better. Yeah, fuck you, I'll show you. That's challenge accepted, okay?

 

[Chuckling]

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah, you don't tell somebody with an eating disorder that. They will do it and they'll do it till they're dead. So, yeah, fuck you, insurance. Fuck you, DSM [chuckles]. Fuck you, doctors.

 

PAUL: Was that the last question or was there . . .

 

CHARLYNN: No, there's more. Let's get back to misophonia here [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Okay. That's all right.

 

CHARLYNN: So, yeah, not responding to the triggers, I have definitely made mistakes by not speaking out sooner and maybe just, if anything, reaching out a little more to people, testing the waters a little more. I think I got so discouraged from the lack of understanding from early responses that it turned me off. And then I had to own it and like, okay, this is my problem, I have to deal with it.

 

PATRICK: Yeah, just like the eating disorder all over again, where--

 

CHARLYNN: Hey.

 

PATRICK: --where that, I mean, I know that's part of why, you know, why she doesn't reach out to people in the office before things get really, really messy and before she has those adrenaline days where it's just too much and I get those texts that are all caps--

 

[Chuckling]

 

CHARLYNN: Fucking throat-clearing, I've sent so many of those.

 

PATRICK: Yes. And, I mean, I know the reason why she doesn't do that ahead of time, is because, you know, when she's tried to do that before with other things in her life, the response has been it's your problem, deal with it.

 

PAUL: That's tough, that's tough.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah. I think maybe I have been burned one too many times and it's the opposite of the message of your podcast. I did feel alone.

 

PAUL: Yeah. That sucks.

 

CHARLYNN: It's the worst feeling in the world, which is why I'm so grateful that you do what you do.

 

PAUL: Aw, thank you. Thank you.

 

CHARLYNN: It's the truth. Next question is, have you been diagnosed, oh, wait. No, no, no, we did that one. No history of trauma. Okay, did you ever experience trauma to the ear, for instance, a loud sound, prior to the onset of your misophonia? Not that I'm aware of.

 

PAUL: Okay.
CHARLYNN: Now, I know that triggers tinnitus, and I don't know if the two are related or not.

So the next question is, have you tried any kind of therapy, medication or tools for your misophonia? Did it help? I don't know what sort of medication you would take for this. I don't think there's anything recommended.

And then, for therapy, we talked about how exposure therapy is really, honestly, a horrible idea. I don't know if cognitive behavioral therapy would help at all, maybe talking it out would just provide some relief, but I don't really know of any effective treatment, to be honest. I don't know, there's certainly no cure.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

CHARLYNN: So, I'm really drawing a blank there, and that's probably the one answer we really need is [chuckles], we need some solutions here.

 

PAUL: Well, I think the more we can understand how the body is reacting, I think the more, because in the brain they know where memory is stored, where this is stored, where when something was atrophied as a child, how that can impact your ability to view something a certain way. So, my hope is that there will be progress. I think there will be progress on this.

 

CHARLYNN: I hope so. And I think as this issue gains more awareness, especially the medical community with people speaking out and demanding to know more, we are going to get more research, we're going to learn more about it, and we're going to figure out what the fuck to do with this.

 

PAUL: Yeah. Let's hope.
CHARLYNN: Because I think there's more people who have this than we realize.

 

PAUL: I bet, I bet. Do you want to do some fears and loves?

 

CHARLYNN: Let's. Start with fears?
PAUL: Yeah.

 

CHARLYNN: Okay, let's see. I am afraid I'll never find my true calling in life and miss out on what I'm really meant to do in this world.

 

PAUL: Oh, that is such a good one. That is such a good one.

 

CHARLYNN: I really don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I’m so afraid of that.

 

PAUL: I was just talking with somebody yesterday about that very thing. I wasn't saying it but they were saying it, and I was saying I, I've been there. I've been there.

 

CHARLYNN: You know, I envy people who know from a very young age exactly what they want to do, what they want to be. They know exactly what steps they need to go through to get there, they do it, and that's it. That's their life.

 

PAUL: Yeah, fuck them. Fuck them--

 

CHARLYNN: Fuck them. Fuck those know-it-alls.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

[Chuckling]

 

CHARLYNN: Shit. It's not that easy for some of us.

 

PAUL: They don't know what it's like to stare out the window with your mouth open, wondering what might have been.

 

CHARLYNN: [Chuckles] Word. Oh, okay.

I'm afraid that something I am doing in my life now or in my past will have a debilitating effect on my older years, should I get to them, because you never know. I especially worry that my eating disorder will have even more profound consequences down the road than what I deal with now, and yes, I have had some long-term things show up already. So, I am desperately afraid, I mean, that's my worst fears coming true.

 

PAUL: When was the last time you ate in a disordered way?

 

CHARLYNN: It's been a good several years. I mean, the thoughts are always there, just ready to take me, but in terms of engaging in real, actual disordered behaviors and doing it long term, like there are still sometimes days where, honestly, I'm really, I’m so depressed I don't want to eat, but that's kind of a different thing.

 

PAUL: Yeah. I think that's a different thing.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah [chuckles], that's a more, quote, unquote, normal response, but in terms of like actual disorder, it's been years, thankfully.

 

PAUL: Give me another one.

 

CHARLYNN: Another one. Well, this is kind of related. I’m afraid of getting old. I do not want to lose myself physically or mentally. Just that very thought, for one thing, not being of sound mind and judgment and not being aware of what's going on scares me, but then also, if I lose myself physically and somebody's got to change my freaking diaper, no. I want to go [chuckles]. Just no.

 

PAUL: I’m afraid of getting old and becoming that guy that farts loudly in the grocery store and everybody knows it except him.

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, God. And he shit his pants and isn't aware of that either.

 

PAUL: Let's not take it that far--

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: I'm not ready for that.

 

CHARLYNN: I’m sorry. Did I touch a nerve?

 

PAUL: I'm not ready for that.

 

CHARLYNN: Okay, yeah. I, you know that phrase, or I think it's a lyric, it's better to burn out than to fade away. That is exactly what I want to do--

 

PAUL: Yeah, Neil Young.

 

CHARLYNN: Yep. Take me before I go too far.

Next fear, I fear that all of my good intentions are somehow motivated by my own selfish desires, and they aren't that good.

 

PAUL: I know that one.

 

CHARLYNN: Because I'm such an asshole.

 

PAUL: I know that one. Now that's one of the greatest hits of the mean brain, the mean voice--

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah, oh, it is, isn't it? Yeah.

 

PAUL: Even your good is filthy underneath.

 

CHARLYNN: Mm-hmm, because I’m a human being. I fear that I am inadequate, period. That's all. Yeah, just I’m not enough.

 

PAUL: I think the three things that we tell ourselves constantly is, I don't have enough, I don't do enough, and I'm not enough. And if we can find a way to disarm those three thoughts, even if just for an hour, we can put together a good day.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah. Yeah, but that's always in the back of my mind. A lot of times I feel like I don't do enough for Patrick, you know, am I a good enough wife to him, am I doing enough to make this a happy household, am I making him happy, or am I just so self-absorbed that I can't even see that he's this close to leaving me, you know, that's sort of a thing [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Well, the fact that you're aware of it is good. That's good. That's the most important part, I think, is to be aware of it or to want to be aware of it.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah, okay, well, yeah, I'm definitely aware, and I do try to work on it, but I always feel like it's never enough. So, goddamn it.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: Let's go to loves.

 

CHARLYNN: Okay. Well, I have one more fear, and this one, oh, this one's dark. Wow, what was I thinking when this happened? Jeez. Okay, well, I think a lot of people are going to relate to this so I want to read it.

I fear that our world is so corrupt, so controlled by people with only the worst intentions and so poisoned by cruelty that we're too far gone. It's okay if humanity destroys itself because it deserves it.

 

[Chuckling]

 

CHARLYNN: Told you.

 

PAUL: We should just end the show on that. I really kind of want to, but I want to hear--

 

CHARLYNN: And then, and we're all going to die, we need another plague, the end. Okay--

 

PAUL: Let's do some loves.

 

CHARLYNN: --it's a little more uplifting. It's a little--

 

PAUL: Yes.

 

CHARLYNN: --okay. All that most of us can do as pawns in this greater game is help our little corner--

 

PAUL: [Chuckles] Oh, there's more. Oh, my God, go ahead--

 

[Laughter]

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah, sorry, Paul.

 

PAUL: I thought you were going to loves. I was like, that doesn't sound like a love.

 

CHARLYNN: This is the last one, I promise.

 

PAUL: Okay, all right.

 

CHARLYNN: [Chuckles] All that most of us can do as pawns in the greater game is to help our little corner as much as we can while capitulating to the inevitable. For the record, I hope I'm wrong, but I fear that I'm right. That's a genuine fear I have.

 

PAUL: That's a fear I have. That's a fear I have.

 

CHARLYNN: It's a dark, scary world. Let's do some loves now. I'm not in a good place.

I love the sound of rain hitting the roof in the middle of the night. I find it so comforting.

 

PAUL: That's a really good one.

 

CHARLYNN: And it's been raining a lot in Los Angeles lately. I just love it.

 

PAUL: It's been really nice.

 

CHARLYNN: Except when you have to drive in traffic, that's a nightmare here.

 

PAUL: I love how green everything turns suddenly in Los Angeles--

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, yeah. It's beautiful.

 

PAUL: --and it's almost tropical.

 

CHARLYNN: It's gorgeous. L.A. is so gorgeous.

 

PAUL: And the smog clears out. The smog gets washed away.

 

CHARLYNN: Yes. I absolutely love it when it's just after a rainstorm and you can just see everything for miles and miles. Los Angeles is never prettier.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

CHARLYNN: Yeah, it's great. I love it when I come home from a long day and, oh, this is an old one, my cat is as happy to see me as I am to see him and we just cuddle for the rest of the night. I wrote some of these months ago, and this was about my cat, Teddy, who died last September.

 

PAUL: Aw.

 

CHARLYNN: He was just the best cat in the world, very attached to us. We were attached to him. Best fucking cat you could ever have.

 

PAUL: Losing a pet is one of the most painful, painful--

 

CHARLYNN: It was tough. I cried so many tears. I still miss him. We have since adopted two cats. They're bonded brothers from the same litter, and I still love coming home to see them. It's a very different relationship, but it's also good in its own right, and I love them to pieces.

 

PAUL: What's your next love?

 

CHARLYNN: My next love, I love how after nine years of marriage my husband and I still go on dates together.

 

PAUL: Oh, that's so great.

 

CHARLYNN: And I hope we never stop.

 

PAUL: Yeah. Now, it's with other people, but it's still really sweet that you guys are getting out and going on dates.

 

CHARLYNN: Yep. We like to go out and treat ourselves to dinner and just talk.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

CHARLYNN: It's one of my favorite things in the whole wide world.

I love it when I hear a song I love and I haven't listened to it in a long time and I can just rock out and fall in love with it all over again.

 

PAUL: That's a nice one. I like that.

 

CHARLYNN: I love this quote. For those who understand, no explanation is necessary. For those that don't, none will do.

 

PAUL: I like that. Who said that?

 

CHARLYNN: I don't know. I never found the source, but I just freaking love it. I found that and just latched on.

Let's see. I love changing into pajamas after a long day.

 

PAUL: The best.

 

CHARLYNN: Yes.

 

PAUL: The best.

 

CHARLYNN: And then crawling into bed and ordering a pizza and eating the pizza in bed, and then maybe you brush your teeth and then you go to sleep.

 

PAUL: And putting on the perfect slipper with the pajamas, for me, it's--

 

CHARLYNN: Hm. I don't do the slippers. Maybe I'm missing out.

 

PAUL: You just do socks?

 

CHARLYNN: I do socks, yeah.

Okay, I love coffee. I love making it. I love the way it smells. I love the uplifting feeling of caffeination. I love it all. I never get tired of coffee.

 

PAUL: I love when you, the house is kind of cold and you aren't sure you have enough blankets and you get in bed and at first it's super cold and then, within a minute, you realize, oh, no, this is perfect, I'm perfectly warm--

 

CHARLYNN: Oh, yes. Oh, that's such a good one. Yes. I don't have that one nearly as much here because we live in a warmer climate, but I used to live in much colder climates, and boy, when I had the electric blanket on with other layers of blankets on top of it and I could finally feel sensation in my feet because they were so cold again [chuckles], that's what that reminds me of, oh, that's such a comforting feeling, best in the world.

 

PAUL: That's nice.

 

CHARLYNN: Okay, and this is the last one. This will be uplifting, I promise. I love that, despite everything, I've managed to do some things right at this point in my life. I might have fucked some things up, but I haven't fucked up completely, and that is something to celebrate.

 

PAUL: What a sweet note to end on.

 

CHARLYNN: [Chuckles] A little patting on the back.

 

PAUL: Yeah. Patrick, so nice to meet you, and, Charlynn, I'm so glad we were able to find a time to get together and do this, and I learned a lot and I hope the listeners enjoy it as much as I did.

 

CHARLYNN: I hope they got something out of it. This was a lot of fun. Thank you.

 

PAUL: Many, many thanks to Charlynn and Patrick. And, by the way, this episode will soon be transcribed and available on our Web site, and many thanks to Accurate Secretarial for donating their time and helping out with the show.

God, I love it when I have a guest on that has a story that I haven't really heard before, and I feel like not only did I learn something about a condition I'm not familiar with, but I feel like I got to view that condition as it relates to one particular human being and its effect on their life. So, many, many thanks to Charlynn, and if you're out there and you have misophonia, be sure and go take that survey.

Oh, very happy to announce that Blue Apron is back as a sponsor on the podcast, very excited about that. I, they started advertising on the podcast, I guess it was about a year ago, and they gave me a week of free meals so I could talk about it on the show, and I was hooked. And I've been using it every week since then, three times a week, without fail, make my Blue Apron meal, and I love it.

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All right, let's get to some surveys. This is a Struggle in a Sentence Survey and this is filled out by [chuckles] Sitting on the Toilet, and she writes about her depression, major depressive, losing track of time in the store because you stare at people living normal lives, wondering, don't they know it's all meaningless? How do they enjoy things? Aren't they crippled with fear of death? And realizing 30 minutes has passed and you haven't started looking for what you need.

Oh, my God. I don't know about the, if I've experienced the 30 minutes passing, but yeah, looking at people and just thinking, how do you experience this? Is this [chuckles], is this fucking, is this slow, gray ride enjoyable to you? And I hope anybody who feels that way gets, at some point, a chance to experience not being depressed so that you can more accurately see your depression when, if and when you see it in the future.

Snapshot from her life, trying to explain to my boyfriend why I had to quit my job and why I have to get help, all while finding it incredibly taxing just to speak words.

That's so true, and one of the hallmarks of depression is not only difficulty communicating what we're feeling, oftentimes not even knowing what it is that we're feeling, and difficulty making decisions. So to even decide how it is that you view your struggle, even getting past that first hurdle so that you can then try to put it into words, and then make the effort to connect to somebody because you just want to isolate. Ugh. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

This is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by Down the Rabbit Hole, and she writes, my boyfriend is the only healthy relationship I've ever had. He understands me and my various mental illnesses. He's the only person that has ever shown me unconditional love. I am so much better for having met him. He is married.

That could have been one of the ones that I end the intro on and go into the, I'm so scared, so scared [chuckles], so scared of living and so scared of dying.

Lulu, hold on. Hold on one second, Lulu. I got to rearrange my desk, tight quarters here. All right, this is a Shame and Secrets Survey, and Lulu is in her 20s, bisexual, raised in a stable and safe environment. Come on. Nobody [chuckles] raised in a stable and safe environment listens to this show.

She's never been sexually abused, not sure if she's been physically or emotionally abused. Darkest thoughts, I get serious bouts of jealousy, often followed by self-loathing and disgust at myself.

Darkest secrets, I pull my hair out and I cannot stop. I hide it well enough so that people don't notice, but I'm terrified a partner would think I'm crazy.

I just want you to know that that is a real thing and it has a name and it's called dermatillomania, and I'm sorry, trichotillomania. Dermatillomania is compulsive skin picking. And it's, it's something that people do when they feel overwhelmed. It is not a comment on you yourself genetically or morally. So, I hope you use it to get help and start talking to somebody.

Sexual fantasies most powerful to you, threesomes and dominatrix. It makes me feel embarrassed. You should not feel embarrassed.

What, if anything, would you like to say to someone you haven't been able to? Stop leading me on. I'm not one of the girls that can just brush it off. And when you hit on and sleep with my friends, it makes me feel like there must be something wrong with me.

What, if anything, do you wish for? To be happy. I want, I try to want self-fulfillment, but at the moment I feel like the only thing that will bring back some sense of happiness is a connection with another person.

Have you shared these things with others? No, because when I joke about similar things, people tell me that my humor is too close to the line, or they agree with me, and I feel like the worst thing would be for someone to turn around and tell me that I wasn't being paranoid, that everyone does, in fact, just put up with me, that they don't actually like me and that I am unlovable.

How do you feel after writing these things down? Upset, because it feels more real to admit that my anxiety and paranoia play a huge part in how I live my life.

One of the reasons I wanted to read your survey is, you know, you say that you want connection and then you have difficulty, you want connection in a romantic relationship, and then you shared that you don't share these things with others. You said that you don't share these things with others and you kind of joke around and hint at it.

In my experience, the place to begin the connection to others is in non-romantic, non-sexual relationships, and those are kind of the training wheels for finding a healthy relationship that doesn't come from a place of neediness or rescuing or wanting to be rescued, because it sounds like there's so much emotionally going on inside you right now that it would be best to kind of fix those, I hate the word wounds, but those wounds inside you before getting into a relationship to, quote, unquote, you know, fill whatever personal, now I’m tired of myself [chuckles].

Logan shares a snapshot about his depression. Every morning I get up and make myself breakfast. Lately there's always been this moment after I sit down in front of my breakfast when it's time for me to move my arms in order to eat the breakfast, and I almost just can't.

Thanks for that, Logan. And if you're at your breakfast table right now, listening to that, Logan, move the fork. Move the fork. Do the chew-chew thing [chuckles]. Do the chew-chew thing to yourself.

Stitch shares a happy moment. When I walk into my sister's house and my three-year-old nephew and two-year-old niece call my name and start telling me about their day and bossing me around to play.

I think I love that one, A, because kids are so adorable at that age, and also nightmares sometimes, but when they're in good moods they're so adorable, and it reminds me of Ivy, because when we first got Ivy, and I think we have it on video somewhere, but another dog came over to visit and it was a big dog, and Ivy was like a, you know, five-pound puppy at that point. She was only like six weeks old.

And she was already so bossy and her favorite place to be was our bedroom because I used to, I really bonded with Ivy when we first got her. I was with her pretty much every moment of the day, and my wife was working. So, Ivy and I would, we'd be at the dog park, you know, we'd be wherever, and we really bonded while taking naps. She would lay her little neck across my neck, you know, I'd be sleeping on my back and she would fall asleep with her neck across my neck. God, and I never wanted to move. I just wanted [chuckles] to live the rest of my life in that position right there.

But the point being, Ivy came to associate the bedroom with super safe, it's where we cuddle, it's where everything, you know, where we bond, and so this huge dog was over visiting and we look, and Ivy is so bossy, the dog still had its leash on, Ivy grabs the dog's leash, and we're in the kitchen, grabs the dog's leash in her mouth and leads it into the bedroom [chuckles]. Oh, and it just kind of remind-, reading that thing about the two-year-olds bossing you around to play, it's, I just love that. I love when we're at that age where we aren't ashamed of our needs yet and our needs are healthy.

Captain Sam Face shares an Awfulsome Moment. She says, going to the Women's March in Washington, D.C., with my loving, feminist aunts and realizing that a crowd of 499,997 other protestors wouldn't be conducive to our shared issues of anxiety and claustrophobia until we were neck deep in it and unable to move, and it was worth every second. Thank you for that.

I just want to read one thing from this. This is from a Shame and Secrets Survey filled out by Broken But Blessed, and she's in her 20s, and she was assaulted by somebody. And she writes, here's the part of the assault that I can't bring myself to tell people.

Midway through, after he had made it clear that he was going to do whatever he wanted and was touching me without my consent, I told him, okay, fine, just this once but never again, and I sort of tried to go along with it. When he wanted to finger me, I said, fine. I told him to look at me and jerk off because I thought that would be the fastest way of ending it with the least on my part.

I have a vivid memory of staring at the light from his alarm clock while that happened. When I went to therapy, she told me I did what I needed to do to survive, but, in my mind, this is the thing that invalidates it. I haven't even told my husband that part because I’m afraid he'll dismiss it.

People talk about starting sex and then removing consent halfway through, but what about an assault where you try to give consent in the middle to make it not an assault? I have never heard anyone say anything like that before. Am I the most fucked-up person ever? Do I just want attention? It's been seven years and I'm still looking for validation. I just want to hear about one other story like mine, but I'm so scared I don't count.

And I just wanted to assure you that you do count, and that this is something that, yes, other people do and have done, and I think your therapist is absolutely right. It was your way of trying to cope, especially you describe staring at the alarm clock. That's what people do when they are being assaulted, whether, you know, it doesn't matter how they're reacting, when they are frozen or whatever, that is valid.

There are also people who will continue to go out on dates with people after they've been assaulted by that person, stay boyfriend/girlfriend with that person. So, no, that is not unusual at all, and I really hope you can get to a place where you can give weight to what happened to you so that you can start to heal. Sending you some love.

Sniffy McGee shares about living with her abusive father. My dad finally takes a break from bragging about the latest overly expensive purchase he's made to ask me how my life is going. I feel freed, as I'm finally able to say something, and as I talk excitedly about something new, I watch his eyes glaze over, and when it's his turn to speak, he continues on talking as if I never said a word.

That right there is so unrecognized by our society as being damaging to kids, and it is rampant. It is absolutely rampant. And that, that is almost a microcosm of what is sick in our society, people becoming so focused on having all the best stuff, giving your kids all the best stuff, and then you are not present to give them the stuff that really matters to them, which is your undivided attention.

Ashcary shares an Awfulsome Moment. She writes, sitting in the psych ward emergency room overnight with my husband after he expressed suicidal ideation and realizing that this was probably what a good wife looked like.

I think so. I think so. It's, you know, it's a lot more than making the cookies or whatever other tropes we have in our consciousness.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey filled out by a guy who called himself Burning the Soup. He's straight. He's in his 20s. He was raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. You ever been the victim of sexual abuse? Some stuff happened but I don't know if it counts. I can remember being touched in the bathtub and it hurting as a young child. There were no boundaries with my mother and even into my teen years she made comments about how I could be naked around her if I wanted because she had seen it all before.

Yeah, that, that is, that's really fucked up, and that is not something that a healthy mother with boundaries says to her kid, and I would really, in fact, if you e-mail me, I can put you in touch with somebody that can help kind of talk to you about this, because it is a thing, and I, sadly, relate.

You ever been physically or emotionally abused? He writes, both. I was beaten with a broom handle for mouthing off to my dad, among other things. This was nothing compared to the emotional abuse. My parents routinely shamed me as punishment. They told me I was retarded and that they were the only ones who understood how my brain worked. They pulled me out of elementary school and started putting me through, quote, therapy for my learning disability at home, which in retrospect involved me learning at a young age not to complain and to suppress my emotions at all costs.

Whew. Any positive experiences with the abusers? I love my parents. I feel that they did what they thought was right to protect their son from what they saw as an evil, corrupt system. They have helped me a lot financially and with home repairs and other things.

That's what parents are supposed to do, but they failed in the other shit. That's, and I'm sure you love them, but I really hope you can, at some point, see the truth of how, I'm trying to find the words, important what happened to you is without filtering it through the yeah-but-they-gave-me-money kind of thing. And it's not to punish them. It's so that you can stop punishing yourself.

Darkest thoughts. I fantasize about having gay sex even though I'm straight and not attracted to men. I cut myself and think about suicide on an almost-daily basis. I've been hospitalized twice and secretly wish I was crazy enough that they would lock me away for good.

Darkest secrets. I attempted suicide when I was 18. After that, I got into the party life. There are a lot of nights I don't remember due to getting pass-out drunk. I know I did drugs that I don't remember and broke many laws. Somehow I never got caught or experienced any long-term consequences for my decisions, but now in my 30s I feel like I'm faking my good behavior and that there is a wild animal waiting to get loosed. Oh, he's in his 30s, he's 30, so that's why he checked off the between 21 and 30 years old.

I can't tell you how many people who were raised in an emotionally invalidating environment struggle with suicidal ideation. It is, I'd say 90% of the people that on a survey share something about being raised in an abusive or emotionally invalidating environment, that is the most common one that I hear.

Sexual fantasies most powerful to you. I want to be tied up and raped or taken advantage of in other ways. It makes me feel, once again, like I'm living a lie and my stable, healthy life will come crashing down if I let myself go crazy.

What, if anything, would you like to say to someone you haven't been able to? I want to tell my parents they messed me up and they should have trusted the system and let me take care of my own problems.

What, if anything, do you wish for? I want to be locked away. I want to get out of this life. I don't feel comfortable being a normal, functional adult. Have you shared these things with others? Not to this extent. My therapist and my wife know some things. How do you feel after writing these things down? Tired.

Is there anything you'd like to share with someone who shares your thoughts or experiences? I wish we could find each other to talk. I have never met anyone who really understood.

Buddy, I want to give you a hug, man, and of course you're tired. You've been holding this shit in your whole life, waiting to be seen. Maybe your therapist could suggest a good support group for people who were raised in dysfunction. I know there's some good 12-step groups around that, because your parents were narcissists and that inflicted a lot of fucking damage.

Oh, and the other thing, don't judge yourself for your sexual fantasies. I know I say that all the time, but I always just feel like I need to say that when somebody's beating themselves up for something that turns them on that isn't hurting anybody else.

Bridget shares about her depersonalization and derealization, dissociating. Life is a video game and I don't want to play. And then she gives us a snapshot from her life. I saw myself in the mirror and I didn't recognize the face. It was like I was looking through the mirror. I regained my focus, scared myself by seeing my reflection, and was launched into a dissociative, derealized state. Everything looked like Dr. Seuss.

All I can think is, really? We're doing this again? All right, buckle up. Suddenly, swallowed by the black hole that is a severe panic attack, and then having an anxiety hangover that lives in the depths of depression for the next week.

Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Thank you for sharing that, and I am so fucking sorry that you have to experience that.

Ashcary shares a Happy Moment. Driving home from work, reflecting on all the abuse I used to have to accept from my mom's choice in partner and then my ex-husband, only to realize that I am now living in a safe home, with a safe partner, and I was looking forward to getting there for the first time in my life.

That's so touching. That is so touching. I love those moments in our lives when we suddenly, just like a door swings open and we're like, oh, my God, I had no idea.

This is an Awfulsome Moment that I'm going to condense. This was filled out by M.K. And to give you some backstory on it, she was at a party that her boyfriend was throwing. Somebody had drugged her and they just thought that she'd had too much to drink so they put her in her boyfriend's parents' bedroom, and that's when apparently the person who drugged her took advantage of her.

And she went to the hospital, had a rape kit done, and she kind of knew the guy that had raped her, but he was very, she feared him and she feared his retaliation, and she also feared her boyfriend's parents knowing that this had happened in their bed. So, I'll pick up there in the survey.

These two factors alone were enough for me to delay any sort of investigation. I told the nurse that I wanted time to decide. She said that they could not hold the rape kit for a month-, that they could hold the rape kit for a month, then the evidence would be destroyed. How sensitive.

After nearly a month of receiving a phone call almost every day from the police, I gave up. I said I didn't want to report the rape, I wanted to move forward. I felt safer not going after someone I knew to be dangerous.

I said I could move on, I thought I could heal without getting a small bit of justice that wasn't even guaranteed. That's when, about two months later, I got a phone call from my mom. The hospital bill for $3,000 had arrived in the mail.

Because I decided not to report the rape to police, the hospital had failed to turn over the costs of the rape kit to victims' compensation. They never told me that this would be the case had I not reported the rape. I even made it a point to ask the nurse several times about the anonymity of the hospital visit and filed to have the costs covered by victims' compensation, which I was later told should cover costs of a rape kit whether or not the victim filed a police report.

My mother was emotionally and, at times, physically abusive for as long as I can remember. Thanks to your show, I've realized she was, at worst, a depressed narcissist, and maybe, at best, selfish. Sure enough, I get this phone call from my mom. In her usual manner, she starts off all heated, what's this hospital bill you've got in the mail for $3,000 [in a huffy voice]? Yeah, she opened my mail. What did you do, she demanded to know?

Dumbfounded and in complete shock and distress from being reminded of the rape all over again, I shouted into the phone without even thinking, I was raped, okay? Complete silence. I had never witnessed my mom speechless before that moment. Usually her biting, critical responses were immediate.

There was a weight that lifted off of my shoulders in that moment. Although I had never intended to share that with her, it almost felt good to let it out, even in that awful way. The silence felt liberating. Then she said, so what about the $3,000, do you still have to pay it?

I'm glad that you can find humor in that, because that is, I'm glad you can make it fucking awfulsome because that is fucking awful. I'm glad you can, wow. The shit you guys share.

Fuck Dots shares an Awfulsome Moment. I am a depressed atheist, and my parents thought it would be a good idea to bring me to a friend of theirs who has extremely religious views. My parents thought this would help me to convert to Christianity and make me happy once again.

What ended up happening was her yelling at me and calling me cold-hearted and a terrible person. Then, she went on to talk about how my sister is evil and the devil was told to put evil thoughts in me. At this, I was fucking furious that she was a bitch talking about my sister to me, so I screamed in her face, stop bitching about my sister. Her face went blank, in shock, and she said, I'm just saying what God told me to say. [Chuckles] I think that young lady will make a terrific mother.

Oh, my God. Oh, my God. People who pretend to know what God wants or to assume that you even believe in God, I am so fucking tired of you, and I believe in God. I have a higher power. But . . . sometimes I'm just speechless.

Bill filled out a Shame and Secrets Survey. He's straight, in his 50s, raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. Ever been the victim of sexual abuse? Some stuff happened but I don't know if it counts. When I was 15, a neighbor, who was 30 and married, kissed and touched me. It went on for a few months, and even though I participated I knew it was wrong. It caused conflicting feelings in me. On one hand, sexually I enjoyed it. But I also felt anxiety and fear, like I was in over my head.

Thank you for sharing that, Bill, because this, what you just described, on the one hand I sexually enjoyed it, but I also felt anxiety and fear, like I was in over my head, that needs to be shared with the public so that we can stop high-fiving these young boys when they're taken advantage of by teachers.

You ever been physically or emotionally abused? He's been both. Darkest thoughts. I think about raping and hurting a woman. Darkest secrets. I abused my sister once, kissing her and touching her vagina.

Sexual fantasies most powerful to you. Controlling a woman who doesn't want me. I hate to say it, but it is about rape and power and control. I feel ashamed that hurting someone excites me.

What, if anything, would you like to say to someone that you haven't been able to? I have never told my sister that I am sorry for abusing her. What, if anything, do you wish for? I wish I could think of these things less so I can be more intimate with my wife.

Have you shared these things with others? I've shared my abuse with my wife and one other person, but I've never shared my abuse of my sister because of shame.

Bill, you were a child. You were a child, and it's time to forgive yourself. Ask yourself, am I still doing these things as an adult? No, you're not. And are you hurting people, are you taking your sexual fantasies and bringing them into reality and hurting people? No, you're not. So, forgive yourself. Embrace, embrace yourself.

And I can't tell you whether or not to open up to your wife about any of this, but I do know that in a healthy relationship something like that, sharing that and getting vulnerable can bring a couple closer together.

Stitch gives us a snapshot of her anxiety. I work in mental health and give advice daily on how to take care of yourself mentally, but personally I'm a hot mess who needs therapy but refuses to try because the anxiety to face my insecurities is too great. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for your honesty.

First-Time Sender shares a Happy Moment. When I was a camp leader, I had a crush on another leader at a neighboring summer camp. While walking my group up a hill, he was taking his group down. We smiled at each other and said hello and walked on past. I couldn't help but look back at him a few seconds later and he was looking back at me, smiling. I felt so beautiful.

I just, I love little moments like that, because they're so doable. I don't know about somebody finding, you know, me or us attractive, but just the little things, you know. And if we're all worried about how much money we're going to have in the future or beating ourselves up about something we did however many years ago, we miss, we miss all these beautiful little moments that are flowing around us.

Foreign Girl filled out part of a Shame and Secrets Survey, so I'm going to read what she did fill out. She's straight, in her 30s, raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment, never been sexually abused, never been physically or emotionally abused. Darkest thoughts. I hope my mother will die so I can grow up and start my life. I despise her, but her opinion of me is critical at the same time.

I also love her very much and can't imagine her gone. I need her. She is my only family. No father, siblings, cousins, no family of my own. She's the only person that loves me in this world and truly wishes me happiness. I want her to be smiling, healthy and happy forever, while also wishing her not to exist.

Darkest secrets. I was cruel to animals as a child. I had aberrant sexual interests, rape, snuff, incest.

You know, as I was reading this, your feelings towards your mom, I couldn't help but think, you know when you share she's the only person that loves me in this world and truly wishes me happiness, and she's always critical of me, I just have this feeling that your mom has trained you to believe these things, when, in reality, there are other people who will love you.

And it's corny, but our family is who we decide to let into our life to love us and who we decide to love. To me, it doesn't necessarily have to do with genetics or blood or any of that shit. So, a support group might be a really good place for you to find a new family. Just a thought.

Slappy Sue filled out a Shame and Secrets Survey and I'm just going to read two excerpts from it. She was the victim of sexual abuse and never reported it. Sexual fantasies most powerful to you. I often fantasize that a guy will pin me down and cut off my hair. It turns me on so much. I love watching people get their hair cut, and getting my own cut arouses me so much. It's probably the one sexual thing I've never admitted to anyone, not even lovers or my best friend. I feel so much shame about this. I also dream of dominating a guy and forcing him to do my bidding.

I have heard of people getting turned on by having their hair cut, so you are not the only one. I can't remember which survey I read it in, and they're done anonymously so I can't get a hold of that person to say, hey, you know, you guys should commiserate, but e-mail me and, or anybody who is turned on by that, and I will try to maybe steer you guys to the forum so you can meet each other or something like that.

Anything you'd like to share with someone who shares your thoughts or experiences? If you have a haircut fetish, please find me somehow. I think you will. I think you will find, and I imagine there have to be Web sites for every imaginable fetish that people have. I don't know what a good one would be for that, but I'm sure a lot of listeners have some thoughts on that. FetLife is a Web site I have heard of. I can't vouch, good or bad, for it. So, maybe I shouldn't have even said anything. I don't know.

This is a Happy Moment filled out by a guy who calls himself Left Hand, and he writes, I teach young people who aren't in mainstream education. One of my students has had a really tough time recently and we finally had a lesson after many months of absence. We got talking about mental health and how she finds it difficult with her depression and anxiety.

I opened up and told her I had been dealing with depression and anxiety for many years and that it isn't always the easiest to deal with. She looked shocked and said, but you're so normal and okay. And later, but how can you be a teacher and have depression? I explained that we find ways to cope. I have therapy, exercise, medication and music and that teaching is one of the things that can make me feel amazing.

She then told me, you're an inspiration to me. It really made my day, and I'll do my best to remember it when I'm having a shitty time. I am now rereading this and debating whether to send it, as my brain is saying, are you that fucking big-headed, and do you think people care? Depression is a shitter.

You are not big-headed, and we do care, and I fucking love that. Now, let me tell you the things I don't like about you. And you might want to sit for this, because this is going to hurt. Thank you for that.

JJJ3123 filled out a Shame and Secrets Survey. He is bisexual, in his 20s, raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. He writes, we were fed regularly and we were never hit, but I was raised in the Mormon Church, no longer a member, and had all this repression that comes with that.

My mother was raised in a very dysfunctional family with sexual and physical abuse. Two of her siblings committed suicide when she was young. I think it affected her very dramatically, and while growing up I did not receive a lot of guidance or attention because of that. It was as if we were raised as six-year-olds but through our entire childhood. There were no real lessons, guidance or support, just trying to keep the silly, no-consequences life of a teetering little six-year-old going indefinitely. As the oldest child, I had to really figure a lot about life and functioning out on my own.

Ever been the victim of sexual abuse? Some stuff happened but I don't know if it counts. My mother would often invite me and my sister in on her baths well beyond the age where it should have been allowed, in my opinion, and she would be naked in the tub, bush and tits and all. I think in some cases it's possible to take a more European approach to this kind of thing and it's possible to be occasionally nude around children and it would develop a sense of calm around nudity and not develop a sort of repression a lot of America has around this stuff, but I was also raised in the Mormon Church, so sexuality is strictly taboo.

I remember being amazed she could sit in water that was so incredibly hot and seeing how long I could leave my hand in the water, but she also let us, quote, play with her boobies, in which we patted, squished and flopped around her giant 45-year-old, had-two-kids tits, and she would bring it up in front of people. She would tell people that she let her kids into the bath while she was naked and let them play with her boobies, which makes me physically cringe all over thinking about. It makes all of us cringe thinking about.

I think eventually either my dad realized what was going on and said to stop or I got uncomfortable doing it myself and just stopped going into the bathroom when she was in there. I don't really remember that part, but I don't know if that counts as sexual assault or had any effect on me, but that's that.

You would have been, again, I’m not a therapist, but from all the therapists I've talked to at length about covert incest, child protective services would have been called to your house, and something would have happened and your mom is a sick woman, a sick woman, and I'm so sorry that she abused you in such a mind fuck of a way.

And I agree that there can be nudity in certain cultures, where it is not an abusive thing, but this just sounds like there is no context for it, like it just comes out of nowhere and couple that with, you know, your mom's childhood and, but ultimately, and I hate to sound like a broken record, ultimately what matters is how you feel about what happened and to just give weight to those feelings and forget about where any blame goes or what's going to be said to anybody in the future or what's legal and what's not legal and how other people would view it, and just get in touch with what do you remember feeling, then and now, as you think about it.

Darkest thoughts. What comes to mind is suicidal thoughts, and a lot of thoughts around the theme of hating myself. When I was around 14 to 15, I was full of sexual drive but was not taught anything about it and the only thing I knew was pornography from kids in school and stuff. On occasion I would fantasize about forcing myself onto my mother or sister. I never dreamed of acting on it and later sort of started to figure out how to masturbate to control the intense obsession with sexual gratification.

By the way, you were raised in a sexually charged environment. How can a kid not absorb that, you know? A kid is going to do probably one of two things or maybe even both of these things. They are going to begin to act out sexually or they're going to completely shut down and go into their own fantasy world.

Over time, things way mellowed out and I worked through a lot of things about myself that were more repressed and an issue at that age, but I think it still created a very intense seed of shame and self-hatred and shame about my own sexual being and feelings of being creepy.

Your mom was creepy. Your mom was creepy. And it's amazing how we, somebody, John Bradshaw? Yes, wrote a book called Healing the Shame that Binds and he talks about how shame gets passed from generation to generation because we just get it hammered into our head, you know, because our parents don't work their shit out and heal, they take the shame that was heaped onto them by their parents and then they put their spin on it and heap it on us, and so on and so on. And if we don't get help, we will do it in some version to our own kids.

Darkest secrets. When my sister was very young, maybe six or seven, and I was 11 or 12, I rubbed her crotch. Many years have passed since then, but what I can remember, from what I can remember, it wasn't really sexual. There was no goal of orgasm or anything. I just found out about pornography online and knew it was just more sensitive than other areas. She was ticklish on her thighs and even more ticklish directly in her crotch. I never got erect or anything, but it did have an effect something along the realm of adrenaline.

No clothes were ever taken off. I think one time I told her to stick a finger into, quote, the hole that you pee out of. That one was a little more on the creepy side, but I was very young and didn't understand female anatomy, so I believe she put a finger in her urethra. I was sitting on the couch at the same time, I think, but there was a blanket on her and she was fully clothed. I saw nothing. I think I remember she said it hurt, and then that was that. We went on to whatever else was there for our day.

I haven't really thought about it much at all until I started typing this out. She doesn't show any signs of PTSD or sexual abuse. I have a very close friend who was abused and I was along the journey with her as she worked through accepting her abuse, so I'm familiar with a lot of the signs. But I don't really know what to do or what to feel about myself for having done it.

I'm going to say what I said to the person before. You were a child. Forgive yourself. You're an adult now and you're not doing it. And if you want to bring it up and apologize to your sister, do it. I can't see how it could hurt, but again, I'm not a therapist so I don't know.

[In DJ voice] But I did work clubs and colleges across the country. That was maybe the best DJ voice ever. [In DJ voice] Oh, why, thank you, Paul. You're a horrible piece of shit.

DJ Voice? [In DJ voice] That's right, Paul. You disgust me. Wow, I had had like a two-week break from you. I wish I would have enjoyed it. I didn't even know how good it was to be away from the mean voice in my head that taunts me. [In DJ voice] It's good to be back, Paul. I missed you.

Sexual fantasies most powerful to you. [In DJ voice] I'm not done, Paul. No, you're done.

Incest porn is something I'm always drawn to, even though it makes me feel vile. I think I've started to feel better about it, but just better about it within my own head, not with other people. I never have liked any actors that actually look like members of my family and I have no fantasy about having sex with any of them, but I think I find the casualness and acceptance in the scenes are what attract me to them the most. Sharing that makes me feel like a fucked-up, creepy little shit.

Dude, do you have any idea how many people are turned on by incest fantasies, about all the fantasies that I read on the podcast? Give yourself, give yourself a hug. I kind of meant that in like a half-cheesy, half-serious way.

What, if anything, do you wish for? To leave my parents' house and move on to something else and start my own life. Have you shared these things with others? No, not even a therapist, because it makes me feel awful and broken, not even broken, more never right to begin with, never human, always a subhuman creep, but I just started a new therapist so maybe this time I'll open up about it.

That, dude, I am so, I know I don't know you personally, but reading this, I feel proud of you, because you are working through one of the biggest mind fucks, which is surviving a childhood of covert incest and a sexually charged, flirty environment in the care of a sick caregiver. And it is a mind fuck. And I really encourage you to share these things with your therapist.

This is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by Lucky Lucy. She writes, I finally landed the job of my dreams and bound out of bed with excitement every day. I was committed to impressing my new employer with my efficiency, industriousness and intelligence.

One month into my employment, I popped out of bed on a cold winter morning and decided I wanted to be more creative with my outfit. This would involve grabbing some clothes that were stored in the attic. I ran up the attic stairs and quickly found the items, but when I tried to leave the attic, I discovered that the door had slammed and locked. I didn't have the key to the lock, and the turn mechanism was on the other side of the door.

My heart began to pound, since my fiancé had just left the country on business and would not return for another six weeks. Here I was, in a flimsy nightgown, locked in my own freezing-cold attic. I threw my shoulder into the door, trying to knock the door down, but it didn't budge. I ran back into-, I ran to the back of the attic and opened the tiny attic window that looked down on to the street.

Every 30 minutes or so, someone would walk down the sidewalk and I would yell out to them, asking them to call the police [chuckles], who might bust me out of my locked attic. Everyone looked at me like I was a crazy person.

I've got to tell you, just the image of a little head poking out of a tiny attic window, saying, please help me, call the police, I'm trapped in here, I would have taken it seriously, but it is fucking weird.

Everyone looked at me like I was a crazy person. Nobody talked to me. Nobody called the police. Hours ticked by and I imagined myself starving in my own attic. I got to tell you, that would be, it would make a terrific Lifetime movie.

Finally, I saw a worker from the nearby factory crouch on the sidewalk for his smoke break. I had seen this grumpy guy many times before. I yelled to him and asked if he would please grab my extra key on the porch and come save me. Surprisingly, he complied and freed me from the attic.

After thanking him, I immediately called work and, in my high state of hysteria, I told them the truth of why I was late. Many years later, I still have the reputation at work of being a bit of a flake. The factory worker, though, gives me a big smile whenever he sees me during his smoke break. He points to me and says to whoever is smoking next to him, I saved her life.

Oh, this is such a fucked-up thing to say, but [chuckles] what he should really say is, while I’m sitting here, while I was sitting here, taking my own life, I saved hers. That is so wrong [chuckles].
This is a Happy Moment filled out by Tell Me We'll Never Get Used To It, and they are, she identifies as an agender-ish female. I felt so removed from humanity this past year while going through a lot of changes and battling depression. Thanks to the depression, I let ties weaken with a few close friends I had, and I lost a lot of less-close friends during the life change.

Intellectually I know this doesn't mean I'm some kind of bridge troll, but some of that poison inevitably seeped through the cracks and I'd started to feel that way. These last few weeks I've been attending my first support group and looked forward to seeing one of the other group members. We're the same age, going through similar struggles, and I always thought his comments were very insightful and intelligent.

We seemed to share a dark sense of humor and would often make eye contact across the room and grin at each other. I thought, new potential friend, and tried not to scare him off with my hopes or excitement. Yeah, I've got social anxiety and attachment issues.

After the next meeting, I opened my mouth to ask him to grab coffee, but before I could, he blurted it out first. Well, we've started hanging around regularly, like old buds, and it's brightened up my whole life. I find myself secretly happy, enthusiastic and motivated, and I know it's because I have this interesting new friend to get to know.

As always, however, I assumed this effect was one-sided and endeavored not to let any of it show. Nothing sparks a friendship better than keeping it cool, right?

But today, over breakfast, I asked him how he was doing, and he said he was bizarrely good. All of a sudden, he had more energy. Life seemed brighter. I found myself beaming, saying, me, too, it's weird. We looked at each other and I said, hopefully the meds are kicking in. He grinned, yeah, who knows? And I found myself, for the first time in a long time, giving myself a little credit.

Thank you so much for that. That, that is what recovery looks like. That is one of the tiny little steps forward.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey filled out by a guy who calls himself Jamison, and he is, he writes, I only find women sexually attractive, but I have had fantasies about an adult having sex with me as a child, so I don't know how to define my sexuality. He's in his 20s, and he writes that he was raised in a slightly dysfunctional environment. After you hear me read this, I think you will agree it is a lot more than slightly dysfunctional.

Ever been the victim of sexual abuse? Yes, and I reported it. When I was around 10, and I know this is a cliché, I was sexually assaulted by my Scoutmaster. It was during my time before Boy Scouts while I was in a group called Webelos, which I think is technically still Cub Scouts.

My mother was a black single mom and she put a lot of effort into keeping us in high-achieving white schools, a white church, and gave us, quote, respectable white male role models. As a result of this effort, this man picked me up damn near any time he wanted to and no questions were asked.

The sexual assault would almost always happen inside of his study. He would place his hand on my shoulder and I would know it was time. To this day, I am still anxious when someone places their hand on my shoulder unawares. In the beginning, he would stop when I said stop, but months in, he wouldn't. I knew that this was my payment for his attention.

Oh, that just breaks my fucking heart.

But at some point, I got the courage to tell the bishop of my church. The bishop talked to my mother. Later, I had to meet with the bishop and he explained to me that the man I accused was a man of God and that I needed to be sure what I was saying was true. He told me if it wasn't completely true, it would be the worst thing I could do.

Now, I would say that an adult preying on a child, especially meeting them in a church setting, is a lot worse than a child potentially not telling the truth. Anyway, continuing.

The way he was talking to me, I was literally, I was terrified. I remember I was just sitting there crying. I told him it wasn't true. When my mom found out, she was furious. It was literally the only time I can remember my mother hitting me in anger. It was the only time I can remember her hitting me and not knowing if it would ever stop.

Shortly after that, I began acting out with boys younger than me, and when my mother found out, she called the cops on me. I don't actually blame her for doing that, and the cops didn't do anything but reinstated the idea that I made everything up about my Scoutmaster. I was just a sexual deviant. I hated myself. My little brother had sickle-cell anemia. I used to stay up night after night, kneeling at my bed, crying out to God to let me have his disease so he could live and I could die.

That is one of the most heart-wrenching things I've ever read. Just that sweet, that sweet little soul that you had was trapped in this place where nobody knew how to or cared to listen to you. You spoke up. And these adults failed you, because the way that they talked to you is not how you should talk to a kid who makes that accusation.

He's also been emotionally abused. I left the church at 18 when I went to college. Half of the boys my age also did, and it was a bit unprecedented. The women of the church started a rumor that all of us boys were gay. That lie was easier to swallow than the truth.

While I was in school, my mother called me to ask me if I was gay, and I refused to answer. I do not identify as homosexual. The moment I discovered girls, I was hooked. I told my mom that I didn't believe that anyone should have to announce or defend their sexual preference. While that is true, a greater truth is that I don't know if I have a polarized sexuality.

Years later, my mom would go on a rant, calling me all kinds of derogatory terms for a homosexual. She would attempt to find every button and push it. At this point, I'm fairly emotionally detached from my mother, so I let her rant. When she was done, I hung up the phone and took a few days off work because I just couldn't leave the house. I guess I wasn't as detached as I thought.

At the behest of my therapist, I cut off contact with my mother. It's still new, but we haven't had any contact for eight months. Good for you, buddy, good for you.

Any positive experiences with the abuser? My mother is a fantastic grandmother. I don't know how it is even possible, but I cannot deny her that.

You know, my thought is, it's probably because her ego isn't wrapped up in how the rest of society perceives her grandkids, whereas she perceives you as an immediate extension of herself, and so she felt the need to control you, whereas it's more clear to her that she can't control her grandchildren.

Darkest thoughts. I have, on multiple occasions, had sexual fantasies about my abuse. In my head, I'm a child all over again. I've only done it a handful of times, but I've cried after every time. I've not even told that to my therapist.

I know that you are not alone in that, buddy. You are not alone in that. A lot of us who survived childhood stuff like that have had those fantasies, where we're the child again and it, I'm told that it's our brain's way of wanting a do-over, you know, our way of going back but having some semblance of control, because we're deciding that it happens and the details of it. And I'd encourage you to share it with your therapist. It might be a fruitful thing to talk about.

Darkest secrets. I torture myself by pretending to be an extrovert when I am not one at all. Sexual fantasies most powerful to you. Probably the ones I'm most ashamed of, the ones about my abuse.

What, if anything, do you wish for? I wish I was a better role model for people who are victims of abuse. I refuse to become a statistic, so I set my goals and met them. I stayed away from drugs and alcohol, but every time I hear about abuse victims who help other victims, I feel ashamed. I just can't do it. I can't be that honest. I can't publicly identify with the group.

You don't have to. You don't have to. You can just start with one person who's safe, your therapist. Maybe try going on our forum, because you can do it anonymously. Just a thought.

Have you shared these things with others? Two of my exes know about my abuse because there are some things I am uncomfortable doing sexually. I could only pull away so many times before they would start to think it was about them.

How do you feel after writing these things down? I'll think about it more after I stop shaking.

I wish I was there so I could give you a hug and tell you that you are okay exactly as you were made, as you are, and you're not bad. You're not sick. You were just wounded. And I'd love to see you heal.

This is a Happy Moment filled out by Ugh. And she writes, several years ago I was living in Upstate New York for the summer and working at a holistic retreat center. One of the things I like to do on my day off was ride my bike into town.

One day I was on my ride, about halfway between home and town, and it suddenly started to pour, like buckets. My immediate reaction was to worry about how ugly my super-curly hair would look when I got to town, and ugh, how uncomfortable I would be soaking wet. I cursed myself for not bringing my rain poncho, but something happened as I continued to cycle through the rain.

I stopped resisting it. I opened myself up to being drenched and having my hair ruined. It was so freeing to just be in the moment, accepting what I was experiencing, the warmth of the rain pounding down on me and the beautiful green hills and trees surrounding me. I felt so present, and I was filled with unexpected joy and the most intoxicating freedom. That was the first time I really experienced the concepts of radical acceptance and being in the now, and I am still so grateful.

That is beautiful, man. That is, you painted a little movie. You don't paint movies, asshole. You film the movie. You paint a picture. Do you like how I turned and just shit on that and made it about me at the same time? That takes talent. [In DJ voice] I’m so proud of you, Paul.

This, seriously, that is, I felt like I was watching a movie, just that picturing you on the bike with your hair going crazy. Yeah.

And finally, this is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by Mal-adaptor. And he writes, I remember a moment during my hospitalization for my bipolar psychotic event in which I was totally overcome with rage in a way I have never experienced before or since. I was simultaneously convinced of the righteousness of my anger and unable to connect it to any concrete cause.

I would later find out that I was denied my request to step on to the patio for a cigarette. Eventually the anger was so great that I knew I needed to expel it through some violent act, and I picked up a chair. I stalked the room for a target. I saw a fellow patient sitting in the common area but passed them by because I did not wish to hurt them even in the throes of my psychotic rage.

I passed by another person and again felt neither any desire to attack them nor a reduction of my anger. Finally, I found a window, put my full force into three swings of the heavy wooden chair, shattering the first of its two panes, which was enough for me to snap out of my trance. At the time, this was merely one more in a seemingly endless series of unconnected and meaningless events designed to maximize my confusion and the torment of my soul.

Looking back on it, it has become the proudest moment of my life. It is my best tool to fight my own self-loathing. Every time I begin to think that I'm a worthless piece of shit, I remember this moment.

I now know that, even when all the layers of who I am have been systematically and mercilessly stripped away by my disease, the core is still there, and that at that core lives only love for my fellow man. As an added bonus, after this event, my requests for a smoke break were taken a little bit more seriously.

Man, that's hall of fame right there. That is hall-of-fucking-fame awfulsome. That's actually a beautiful moment for me. I guess you've got to make it awfulsome because you were in a psych ward, but, fuck, dude.

Thank you, guys, for your surveys. Thanks for supporting the show. I think I've mentioned before that if you want to become a monthly donor, the best way to do it is through our Patreon page. It's Patreon, P-a-t-r-e-o-n dot com, slash Mentalpod, and that would really help out. But enough about that shit, let's talk about you, the listener, shall we?

Thank you so much for supporting this show by listening to it, telling your friends about it. It's so cool watching it grow and knowing that something that we're doing is connecting to people, and either entertaining them or comforting them or educating them or who knows what.

So, thank you, and I hope, if you're out there and you're struggling and you're afraid to ask for help, I hope you find the courage to take that first step, because it truly is the hardest and the scariest step. And once you do that, at least for me, nothing was really as scary as that first--

 

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--that first reaching out and saying, I need help, will you please help me. So, you're not alone, and thanks for listening.

 

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