Misophonia

I have always been irritated by people making noises. Eating, breathing, sniffing, tapping… even talking.
Now, I think at this early point, most people would say, “Oh, yes, me too!” No one wants to listen to someone loudly chomping away on a bag of chips, or constantly sniff rather than get a damn tissue.
But I need to be clear – I am practically enraged by certain sounds. I become filled with such bone-deep, skin-crawling anxiety and frustration that I cannot focus on anything else. I can’t be distracted. My brain becomes locked, clicking over and over like a scratched record. My heart beats faster, my limbs feel restless, my jaw clenches, and in particularly bad moments I even break out in a cold sweat. If it’s something like, for example, someone eating chips, I want to snatch the bag violently from them, throw it on the ground and stomp on it.

So, eating is a major one. I also can’t stand certain people’s voices (Julia Gillard is one); humming; whistling; finger-tapping; repetitive noises like dripping taps, doors being moved by draughts, or bird calls (especially if they come in a predictable pattern); the sound of muffled conversation; the sound of loud, bass music from a distance; repetitive movement like someone absently tapping their foot in the air… I mean, I could go on.
I can’t remember not being like this. I remember dreading family trips away, because not only would I be trapped in the car for hours with four other people and their noises, I would also have to sleep in the same room as some or all of them. When watching TV with my sisters, I’d constantly swat their legs because their fidgeting in my field of vision would drive me nuts.

And you know all I’ve ever been told?
“Just ignore it.”
“Everyone is annoyed by those things, you just have to learn to block them out.”
“You’re too sensitive, why can’t you just ignore it?”
I mean, for reals, guys! Don’t you think that if I could ‘just ignore’ something that was making me crazy, I would? I am not an overly-dramatic person in any aspect of my life, so why would this be any different?
I’ve cried, many times, because I can never make anyone understand how much these things affect me.

And then.
About three months ago, I found something. A word.
Misophonia.
It is a real thing – a sensory processing disorder – that causes some people to be uncontrollably sensitive to trigger sounds. They become extremely agitated and stressed by certain noises (or movements), and can be driven to fits of rage by their triggers. Apparently, it is similar in symptom and treatment to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I almost cried again when I discovered this, but this time from relief.
There’s no ‘cure’ for it, but the mere knowledge that this is a legitimate sensory disorder has made me feel so much better. I have, for the past few years, suspected that I have some sensory issues (I also have a low tolerance for loud noises, bright lights, crowds, and touching), and though I am admittedly self-diagnosing, I at least now have an answer that is satisfactory to me.

Now, Devin… Devin is adverse to certain loud sounds, too. He hates the vacuum cleaner, blender and kitchen mixer (actually, my mum told me today that I was much the same at his age). If he does hang around while they’re on, he insists on wearing ear muffs. He uses public restrooms only after clarifying, several times, that we aren’t going to use the hand dryers.


We recently went to the airport to watch the planes arriving and departing. The aeroplanes that service our town, though certainly not quiet, are small and it’s not uncomfortable to be right next to the runway when they land and take off – but I still had to keep my hands firmly over Devin’s ears, at his behest.


This was after the plane had turned around, so the engines weren’t quite so loud, but he still only let me take one quick photo with one hand removed.

Even this evening when I was playing with him, pretending an old McDonald’s Transformers toy was an ambulance and pushing the button to activate the ‘siren’, he told me to stop it because the noise was “too loud.” (Which made me very glad that Jene and I are very against toys with automatic sounds.)

As you might imagine, having such adverse reactions to such common noises isn’t going to win me any popularity contests. I try hard to tolerate things, but there comes a point where I can’t hide my discomfort and eventually I have to admit, “Well, your humming/breathing/eating/general movement is driving me nuts.” And that’s not the kind of statement people generally take well. Especially not the people who have heard it from you before. Many times. (Hi, Jene.)

I learn to deal the best I can, and if Devin’s aversion develops into something similar to mine, at least I have the personal experience to be empathetic and considerate towards his frustrations. I’ve never had a violent outburst as a reaction, but the irritation and suppression can cause lingering bad moods, and that’s something I really need to control.
White noise and noise-cancelling headphones are my two best friends. I have an app called Relax Melodies, which can loop a huge variety of sounds including rain, waves, wind, clocks, birds, city noise, a fan, music… there’s even one called ‘womb’.  When I’m on the computer, I usually have Rainy Mood open in a tab, and I find it very difficult to sleep at night without the ceiling fan on – even in winter.

So, if ever I ask you to stop breathing, please don’t take it personally. It’s just my brain being incapable of dealing with such complex, strange sounds… (According to my brain.)

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Slope

Do you ever have a run of being relatively content and calm with life, and think, ‘This isn’t so bad. What was ever so bad about the bad moments? I can handle this.’ ?
… Perhaps it’s an anxiety thing.

Well, I’m going through a bad moment. It’s the culmination of many factors, and the kind of mood where I find myself attributing my current situation to the entirety of my life up to this point. I know things will improve.
Eventually.
But now… is not awesome.

Devin is not a part of the bad. Have I mentioned undies are now his butt-wear of choice? Yep. Most of the credit for that goes to Jene and Devin. I just crossed my arms and said, “I am SICK of buying nappies.”

A few days ago, with a bottle of juice in hand, he told me, “I love juice, Mummy. For all of my life.”

Today, as we were playing with Ruby (our dog), Devin said he could feel her heart beat. Then he said what I had told him, that Taz’s heart had stopped. I said yes, that’s right. He struggled for words for a moment, and eventually asked, “Maybe Taz’s heart will start beating again soon?”
Oh, I had to swallow a lump at that.
He also asked later, after his nap, if we could play in the backyard, “where Ruby is, and where Tazy is buried.” I’ve been fine about it for the last two weeks, but those two sentences today…

The hardest moments with him lately are the times he is being… well, opinionated, for want of a better word. I will tell him it’s time to get ready for bed, and he will look at me and say, “No.” I know the word is nothing new, but the way he says it is as if he has the final say on the matter. I told him today to not tip the cloud dough in to the sandpit (after he had done it), so of course, he scooped more up and dumped it in. It wasn’t that he was testing me or being deliberately defiant – he just wanted to do it. So he did.

He is also developing some not-so-subtle persuasion techniques. Phrases along the lines of the juice comment, for example, are often used when he wants something…
“Mummy, what you got on your toast?”
“Vegemite.”
“Hm. I like Vegemite, Mummy. I do.”

And he whispers questions that he thinks will receive an answer he doesn’t like…
Tan I have something?
“Pardon, Devy?”
“Tan I have something to eat?”
As if we will say yes because we can’t hear him?

That’s all for now, it’s later than I realised. I hope life is kind to you this week.

August ends

I think I mentioned here that I recently made a rash decision to order an iPhone on a plan. It was a Big Deal, because I’ve never been inclined towards fancy phones, and I’ve been on the same prepaid number since 2005. (I was a little sad to let go of the phone number…)
Since I’ve had it, Devin likes to ask if he can “play with you, Mummy?” – but he doesn’t mean play with me, he means play with my phone. He only gets limited time on it, but his favourite games are the ones by Toca Boca.

This was Devin ‘reading’ Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist. The cover features a man riding a horse, so Devin’s interpretation of the story was, “One morning, a horse came to get him…”
All of his stories begin with ‘one morning.’
(Ithoroughly enjoyed both Magician and Silverthorn, and I’m about to start A Darkness At Sethanon. I found myself close to tears in parts because I was just so happy – it was such a nice change from the cold, sweaty feeling I constantly had while reading A Game of Thrones.)

August saw some very cold mornings, and for a few days in a row we’d go outside to pull out the ice from Devin’s pool and then stomp on the huge shards. It was like glass.

This is a novelty to an Australian, ok?

But perhaps not to this poor fellow.

Back to the burnt gully. We’ve had some really windy days…

… but they have been beautiful.

Who did he buy the rocket for?

Devin’s favourite thing to do, ever, is dig. Just to dig. Anywhere, with anything. There are all these little holes everywhere around the property…

He also likes saying ‘magic’. There are a couple of sparkly hats around, and they are ‘magic hats!’
Jene told me he was bugging Devin in some (non-magic-related) way, and Devin, becoming increasingly frustrated, said, “Stop it… Stop it!… You’re not magic!”

Generally we three are not perturbed by cold (though I’m not a walking furnace like Jene and Devin are), and we go out in all kinds of weather, but this day was especially bitter and windy and I wasn’t in the greatest mood…


… And that’s how I felt about that.

And finally. Grandma and Poppy’s birthday present to Devin was this bike, so I set to work teaching him how to pedal, and actually, it only took him a couple of sessions to get it. He is very (very) much like me in that he is stubborn and easily frustrated when learning, so I can have trouble teaching him new things.
There were plenty of exasperated sighs and grunts and “I tan’t DO IT!!”s, but he did do it, and we were very proud.
And yep, he has fallen off, and crashed into the wall… I helped him up, dusted him off and (after making sure he was ok) explained that that sometimes happens when we’re learning something new, and he’d get better with practice. He got back on both times.

Tales of a two-year-old.

If there is an unknown substance on something, Devin will almost invariably pronounce it to be poo.
“What’s that?”
“I don’t know, Devy, maybe a bit of fluff-”
“Poo!”

He was recently playing hairdresser with my hair, using a rotary play-dough cutter, a grabbing claw and a Duplo block. The rotary tool was, as it always is, a circular saw. I’m not sure what the claw was. The block was electric clippers, I think. Then I had to do the same to him, and he made sure to tell me if I wasn’t doing it right. It’s becoming more evident recently that he’s well on his way to being a three-year-old child, not a two-year-old toddler.

If he’s really enjoying some food, he likes to tell us that it’s his favourite. Soup, noodles, pasta, apricots, chocolate and corn are all his ‘fave-rit’ so far.

He says ‘sorry’ a lot. A lot. Mostly for some very minor thing that hardly warrants an apology. Most often, he repeats, “Sah-ee ’bout”, which is ‘sorry about that’. I’m not sure why he dropped the ‘that’.

We were playing a popular game that I have just now named ‘Mummy-Devy’, and it works in much the same way as Marco Polo, except that in this instance (and many others) we were right in front of each other. When I switched around and pointed to him and said, “Mummy”, pointed to myself and said, “Devy”, he shook his head and laughed, then gave me a huge hug and said, “I lub you!”
Now, my shameful admission is that I don’t say that very often. To anyone. Jene says it to Devin more than I do, but I was still extremely surprised to hear Devin say it. I was speechless for a few seconds before finally saying, “Oh, Devy, I love you, too!”

He refers to himself as either “debbin”, “deh-win” or “deh-wee”. It is insanely cute.

Like many boys, he likes to do silly things on purpose and then say, “funny!” to get attention. We do tell him that he’s a ‘funny boy’, so I’ll take responsibility for that. Today, though, he was running at a park and fell over in a very awkward and amusing way – when Jene and I got past that split second of making sure it was a harmless fall, we both burst out laughing. Devin looked at us from the ground and said, “not funny.” That, of course, made us laugh harder, so he repeated it. It was especially amusing because neither of us could recall a time when we told him that something was “not funny” – he’d put the words together himself. Which might not sound super amazing, but it is – he’s moving from a wholly repeated vocabulary into one that he can mould to his needs.

Everything is “stuff”. If there’s a bunch of something, Devin refers to it as “stuff”. He brought Jene into his room one day after I’d been playing with him, pointed to the assortment of cars, animals and Mario plush toys on the ground, and said, “stuff!” If a room is untidy, he looks around and says “oh, stuff”, accompanied by a little ‘tsk’.

We specifically give hugs and kisses when he goes to bed and when he wakes up… Usually we have to ask for ours, but sometimes he’ll decide to bestow them on us unasked. He often does it when I’m getting him changed, which I think is partly a delaying technique. “Hug?” is followed by a fierce and long squeeze, and “tiss?” is followed by a very well-aimed peck on the cheek.

Pretending to talk on the phone –
“Hello, is this Devin?”
“Ummm, yes!”
“Oh, hello. What are you doing?”
*pause* “Talking.”

And finally,
We pulled up at some traffic lights next to a truck that was transporting sheep, and unfortunately our (manual) windows were wound down. I told Devin it was about to get stinky…
“Pee-yew! Stinky! Need to change it!”
“Need to change… their nappies?”
“Yes! New one on!”
“Yes, that’s a good idea, Devin. The sheep should be wearing nappies.”
Now every time he sees a livestock truck, he exclaims something like, “new nappy!” or “change it!”

For two.

We go to the indoor playground fairly regularly, because there’s not a whole lot else to do here. It’s a bit dilapidated, but I suppose it’s more exciting than being at home for Devin. At least until we install the giant slides and tunnels…

I order a cappuccino when we’re there, and a milkshake or juice for Devin. Lately, though, he’s been more interested in the froth on my coffee, and while I’m perfectly happy to share my food with him… hey, sometimes I want some of that froth, too.
So a few weeks ago, I swallowed all of my preconceived ideas and a bit of my pride, and ordered a babycino for Devin.
You know how opinions form in your head and get stuck without you really thinking about them? I try not to let that happen, but trivial little things like this can slip past. And my opinion was that babycinos were ridiculous and unnecessary.
But they’re not. They’re fantastic. Especially when they’re 65 cents and come with two big marshmallows.

But this isn’t a post about hot drinks. It’s about what Devin does with the marshmallows.

He shares with me. Without being asked.

I’ve never asked for a marshmallow, but he always gives me one.

I don’t know if I can convey how awesome I think that is. I get proud tears.

Little things like that are what keep parents going, I think. Moments that bolster confidence and reassure that you’re doing a good job. That he is doing a good job. That really, everything is ok.

I don’t really like marshmallows, by the way, but I eat the ones he gives me. They taste better.

Octobstuff

At the beginning of this month we went to a concert held at the zoo… Unfortunately it rained all day and the event still went ahead, so it was disappointing. We went just so as not to waste the money we spent on tickets, and stayed for maybe forty minutes before giving up. It was just crap. We ended up at a pub bistro, eating potato wedges and watching the AFL grand final, just because.
There were two good things about the zoo, though – Devin had his first ride on a bus. Don’t tell him it was actually a minibus.

 

And we got to dress him in a poncho.

Other October highlights include –

Putting weed flowers in a chain on the creek bridge to hopefully bring a smile to someone’s face.

Devin showing off his magnificent photography skills by taking essentially the same photo five times.

Devin taking a shovel full of sand as an offering to the large bird that landed in the yard. Shockingly, the bird wasn’t impressed.

The brand new sensory garden experiencing flooding issues not once, but twice.

Also, the area outside the garden.

My sous-chef attacking broccoli with a butter knife while an empty ostrich egg observes from a glass vase.

Finding that the food wholesaler down the road sells the sushi we normally buy from a cafe on the other side of town… Eating said ‘soosi’ while watching NFL.

Making a hula hoop rug using old skirts and t-shirts, with ‘help’ from Devin.

More creative brilliance from Devin, who managed to change the camera setting and then take a photo.

Exploring the skate park.

A certain little someone always scrambling into the driver’s seat. Only 14 years too early.

Dandelion destruction along the creek.

Actually, doing a lot of things around the creek, because it’s close to home, smells surprisingly good at the moment, and runs along a fair distance.

Yet more October occurrences –

  • No more dummy. Finally. We can thank Daddy for that.
  • A family of magpies constantly hanging around the front yard for food. One in particular is so tame that I think it would take food from our hands, but I at least have not been brave enough to try that. We feed them chicken. They don’t like strawberries.
  • Devin started Kinder Gym, and it’s really great. To think I put it off for so long…
  • So many more words! His speech is getting so much better, and quite suddenly. This, of course, presents a new set of challenges. When he says “soosi” or “sooshi”, for example, he could mean sushi, or strawberries, or Yoshi. “Again” and “all done” sound exactly the same, and considering they’re pretty much opposite, well… You see.
  • He is counting, kind of. Usually it goes, “doo, sree, wore, sicks, ayyte, nnn-en!” Often “sicks, ayyte” is repeated over and over.
  • I found sugar-free chocolate that is tasty. And expensive.
  • I lost $20 due to my crappy short-term memory, and this time I can’t blame it on being pregnant. I’m just really flaky.
  • I almost left $60 in the ATM for the same reason, even though the whole time I was thinking, ‘Don’t forget the money, don’t forget the money’.
  • I’m getting distracted by David Bowie, so that’s all for now.