I think I have noise anxiety. I Googled “sensitive to noise” and followed the rabbit hole and landed on noise anxiety and now I think I have it.
Noise anxiety is a condition which is characterized by an extreme sensitivity to noise. Someone with noise anxiety suffers a variety of stress and anxiety related emotions when he or she is exposed to certain types of noises; these emotions can range from a general sense of uneasiness to aggression. Living with noise anxiety can be extremely frustrating, and the condition can be difficult to treat; typically the assistance of a skilled therapist is required.
A very general term, noise anxiety is sometimes used to describe a variety of different conditions. For some people with anxiety disorders, certain loud noises — or even extended periods of silence — can cause anxiety to build; phonophobia is a fear of loud noises. A condition sometimes called misophonia is an intolerance to certain sounds, usually causing an intense reaction like rage. Hyperacusis, which can have many causes, is an over-sensitivity to noises in a certain auditory range, sometimes causing pain or stress.
When I come home, especially after a particularly busy or stressful day at work, I’m a beast. I’ll admit it. Not always and I certainly don’t intend to be, but I am. And while blaming something or someone else for my mood and behaviour is sort of lame, I’m pretty certain I can pinpoint the volume of my house in the evenings. Either the television or iPod is playing, LOUDLY, both kids are talking at an incredible decibel, usually at me and both at the same time and often one or both is crying, AH understandably would like to occasionally say something, the hood fan is on high, the dog is demanding dinner, and I’m still wound up from work. With all of this, I often times snap. I get frustrated and flustered, I can’t concentrate and I feel like my insides are about to explode. So I yell. I yell for people to stop talking all at once. I yell for someone to turn down the tv or music. I yell at the dog to give me just one goddamn minute. I yell at everyone to stop fighting. I yell and I hate being that mom who spends the precious few hours she has in a day with her kids yelling at them.
I don’t want to blame my actions on anything other than myself. I should man-up and own how I behave, but noise anxiety just makes so much sense. See, when I was a very young child, like so many others, I had ear infections. Many, many, MANY ear infections, so bad that they left my eardrums permanently damaged. I’m not deaf, can actually hear fine, under the right conditions, but my eardrums have scar tissue from the infections and several rounds of tubes, which makes hearing detail difficult when the conditions are not right. I watch mouths to help with detail. I can tell from the way lips move if the speaker is pronouncing a b sound or a d sound. Again, I will have heard the word just fine, volume-wise, but just I just need a little help figuring out the specifics.
The right conditions, therefore, are when there is no background noise to muddle up the sound and when I can see the person’s face. The wrong conditions are when there’s many different sounds happening around me at the same time or when I can’t see the person to whom I’m trying to listen. Obviously, at home, during the times that drive me crazy, these are the wrong conditions. I believe this contributes to me losing my figurative shit. I’m already exhausted from work, I’ve got kids and a dog demanding my attention, and on top of it all, I can’t really understand what anyone is trying to say. It’s all very loud, very irritating (I’m not calling my family irritating; the noise is literally irritating to my ears) noise that I have no control over. And so I panic. I feel like I’m being crushed, that I can’t breathe, that it’s fight or flight and I usually fight. My insides are itchy, my mind is racing with so many things I can’t seem to focus on just one, and that it will all never, ever end.
From what I’ve read, the cure to noise anxiety is simply to remove the noise or, if that’s not possible, wear earplugs. I can’t do either of those things. I can ask my family to tone it down a few notches, but it’s their house, too. I don’t want to turn into my step-grandmother (God rest her soul) and adopt the philosophy that children should be seen and not heard. I want them to be able to have dance parties after work and to run around and be normal kids. And, obviously, wearing earplugs all the time is out of the question. I need to hear what’s going on in my house. I need to be able to talk to them and they need to be able to talk to me. I’m just having a real hard time with that right now.
I’m an ‘ignore it until it goes away’ sort of person usually when it comes to medical stuffs. Don’t pick it and it will heal up nicely. But I don’t think this will just scab up and take care of itself. It’s been getting worse with no peak in sight. So I’ve been looking for a more natural way of dealing with it. I’m very reluctant to go to the doctor for something like this because it’ll be weeks before I’d see him and then I’d probably imagine myself better anyway. I’m taking Omega-3 calming formula and vitamin D. I just picked up a B complex. I don’t know if improving my body chemistry (as opposed to my brain chemistry) will do anything but make very expensive pee, but we’ll see. It’s not going away, no matter how much I ignore it, so I’ve got to try something.
I really don’t want to be that mom who yells at her kids for being normal, loud, rambunctious kids. I don’t want to be the wife who’s not in the mood to have a conversation with her husband. I don’t want to be the pet owner who gets angry at her dog for wanting sustenance. I just want to be normal and I can’t be that when there’s so much noise tearing at my insides.