Hyperacusis

One of my trauma therapists told me that my extreme sensitivity to noise, called hyperacusis, is one of the symptoms of PTSD.  At one period in my life, before I got on anti-depressant medication, I suffered badly from the noise of small planes taking off from the Franconia airport.  During the 13 years that I suffered from this, I had to leave the house on days when the planes were flying.  I had to take everything with me: books, tea, food, and go to someplace where I couldn’t hear the planes.  Thank goodness I had friends who were willing to provide sanctuary for me.

During this time we got a new refrigerator, and I heard it go on, and run, and run, and run and run and run and finally go off.  The normal buffeting capacity of the normal brain when a noise goes on and on was not working for me.  One day I heard what sounded like a chainsaw, and my heart reacted with shock, and then I saw that it was a fly buzzing at the window.  That was when I realized how sensitive my hearing had gotten.

I’ve been pretty much OK for a long time.  I still have a bad time with the noise of lawnmowers.  But since I moved to a new place, I am noticing all kinds of new noises.  Eventually, I hope, I will stop hearing them.  I’m hearing different refrigerator noises from the ones in my house that I am used to.  I seem to keep noticing a particular noise that sounds like an elevator, but there is no elevator near me, and it goes off after only a short time.  I finally tracked it down to my refrigerator.

From my journal, December 2017:

I’m feeling pretty bummed out right now.  I think yesterday’s experience of a lot of noise overhead was very discouraging.  At least my response to noise is not triggered terror or depression.  But I can’t not hear it. yet.  It’s interesting that if I know what the sound is it’s not so bad.  I guess that makes sense in terms of trauma.  If you don’t know what the noise is, it could be a threat.  I remind myself that I did finally stop hearing the airplanes.

Noise from my upstairs neighbor: last night there was a sound, a loud “crack!” that sounds to me like a board, 2”x 8”x 12”, stood on its end and then knocked over.  It happened twice last night when I was trying to get to sleep.  I’ve been hearing it for several days and even looked to see if Mocha knocked over something.  Thinking about it, I realize it’s only been happening in the last week, since my upstairs neighbor came back from Christmas visiting.  It happens on a fairly regular basis, so it’s not something being knocked over.  I wish I could let go of the need to find out what it is.  Which is partly scientific curiosity, but it’s also fueled by the reptilian brainstem’s need to know if it’s dangerous or not.  Fortunately, my nervous system doesn’t get triggered into fight/flight any more, I’m momentarily startled, but then calm right down.  Thank god.  There have been times in my life when such a thing would have triggered a long bout of what I used to call “shocked heart.”  I remember when that would happen if I even saw a sign for an airport during the worst of the airplane phobia.

Several weeks have gone by and I am hearing a great number of odd noises which I am pretty sure are the heating system.  I’ve gotten interested in the great variety of the sounds.  Even the one that sounded like a board being knocked over has mutated and is most likely the heating system.

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