I wrote a blog post a little while ago talking about my experience with having hyperacusis and how it makes me feel – which has since been taken down, because honestly I felt like I just didn’t go into enough detail about the condition and I didn’t express myself enough to get my point across. So, a year later here I am penning out more or less the same post which is hopefully, going to give you a true insight into what this condition actually is.
When I was sixteen I’d gotten to a point where I realised I’d had enough of having arguments with people over noises coming from them and I’d had enough of covering my ears as I walked down the street – I wanted to know what was up and why I was finding sound both infuriating and painful.
What is hyperacusis?
Hyperacusis is the name for an intolerance for everyday sounds. Hyperacusis causes significant distress and has a major affect on your quality of life and how you handle going outside or even just sitting in a room by yourself.
According to the NHS website, “the condition can vary a lot. Some people find loud noises extremely uncomfortable, some people find certain sounds particularly annoying, some people develop a fear of noises, while others experience pain when hearing ordinary sounds.”
- Feelings of extreme anger, anxiety or feeling distressed
- Feeling uncomfortable
- Feeling the need to cover your ears to get away from noise
How do I deal with it?
Ever since I was a child, certain sounds seemed to tick me off; it started with just the sound of people eating that I couldn’t tolerate, this would result in me lashing out at those around me and feeling extremely angry. I’d get so angry that my heart rate would increase and I would feel the literal urge to become violent. This is associated with misophonia as well which is a sibling to hyperacusis, but is a different condition entirely.
As I’ve gotten older though, I began to notice that I had a constant ringing in my ears (tinnitus), I learned to ignore it, how to distract myself from it, but sometimes it can get quite bad and takes a while for me to switch off from, and most recently I’ve been experiencing pain which feels like it’s deep inside my ear canal that I feel the need to keep putting pressure on my ears to try and alleviate the aching. This encouraged me to look more into the condition and to get a better grip of what it is that I’m experiencing, luckily hyperacusis cannot be inherited so my children may not get it, although I do think that they may get misophonia (don’t quote me on this), just because I definitely experience the instantaneous symptoms that are more commonly linked to misophonia as well. But this is just my unprofessional theory.
This isn’t something that I’d wish on my worst enemy and it’s not something I talk about to people outside of my inner circle often, I feel like this is a condition that people don’t understand: people look at me like I’m crazy when I explain it or someone will say something like, “Well everyone has a bit of that,” which always truly frustrates me: Yes, certain sounds are like fingers down a chalkboard to everyone, yes everyone experiences ringing in their ears from time to time and sure, you can get an ear infection which can bring pain to your ears – this doesn’t mean you’re experiencing the constant discomfort and pain brought on by hyperacusis. So, when people get aggravated for my constant use of earphones and need to have something soothing in my eardrums to distract me, I just choose to play the “I just like music,” card instead of going in and explaining what the true reason actually is. I also just feel like this isn’t really somebody elses business, I don’t want the sympathy but I am tired of the lack of understanding around the condition and the constant need to explain and justify myself for my often perceived as rude habits caused through having hyperacusis.
Can it be cured?
People do report having overcome hyperacusis, and I have read that the condition is known to improve and stabilise but then immediately worsen with sound exposure, so I do believe people when they write about how they overcame it since it does seem to be a possibility, but I’ve also read cases about people such as Jason DiEmilio who couldn’t live with the condition, who it was so bad for that he tragically decided to end his own life. I was in my first year at college when I finally had a name to put to what was going on, so I’d lived all of my childhood and most of my adolescent years just believing that I was irritable, it felt like a big weight off my shoulders to finally be able to understand what I was feeling was in fact something that a lot of people go through, I don’t feel like I have a full, complete grasp on the condition, I learn new things about it all of the time, sound therapy is an option but it’s not guaranteed to work as a cure, so I’ve been avoiding that option since I don’t want to waste my time with something that I may walk out of not feeling any different.