From my journal for January 6, 1984 I am just beginning to experience the noise phobia. It will continue until 1997.
I’m having an extraordinarily hard time lately. I’ve been oddly sick, up and down, for about two weeks. Sore throat, cold, fever, nausea, lack of energy, lack of appetite. At one point I got badly dehydrated and when I started drinking a lot I began to feel better physically. But mentally I feel just awful. At first very depressed, not seeing any reason for doing anything, can’t get in touch with what I want. Doing something like washing dishes seems to require a huge effort, is joyless. Read some books about the Holy Grail. That work was fun and meaningful and very exciting. Then began this awful harassment by noise. The Car crusher down the street was running for three days, somebody’s been running a snow mobile in Whitney’s woods, there have been chain saws nearby, or maybe not nearby, I can’t tell any more I’m so freaked out. All my muscles are tense and my stomach in a state of nausea. Every time I hear a renewed snarl, a renewed shot of adrenalin throws me into spasm again and then I seem to go on tingling and vibrating for a long time. Every time I think of the Taylor’s logging their property, the same spasm shakes me. How will I live through it? (Well, I lived through Whitney’s logging, but we weren’t living here then and we were doing our own cutting) Well, I have chosen to increase my tolerance to noise, and to come to terms with the part of me that is causing this thing with noise to be such an issue. I’m sick of being so overly sensitive, sick of being thrown off balance by such little things. And thats another thing I do to myself is judge myself harshly for letting such a little thing upset me so. Forgive, forgive. Forgive them their noise and forgive me my weakness.
I feel utterly overwhelmed and utterly helpless.
Some kind of very delicate balance must be found, between the resistance which gives it energy and the passivity which allows it to flatten me. Some kind of taking a stand, some kind of robust strength within myself.
In the margin of the printed version is a note: “Dear Jenny, it’s called “hyperacusis” and it’s one of the symptoms of PTSD. May 2008″
All my life I’ve been overreacting to things, taking them as personal insults, getting upset about something that hasn’t happened yet. And it didn’t seem odd because it usually seemed justified: trouble with a boyfriend, money difficulty. But now, with something as trivial as the noise, I can see that I have been overreacting and I can work on this discipline for being more tolerant and robust, not so sensitive and nervous. I can also see that I’ve been expecting in some childish way that the world should be arranged for my comfort. It seems unfair that I should have moved to the country only to be harassed by noise. But that’s the condition of life in this industrial age. I want to live in a world in which people value the beauty of nature and don’t deface it by noise, smells and pollution, but cherish and enhance it by appropriate building, gardening and forestry practices. That’s my vision for the world.
Here I am taking responsibility for the symptoms of PTSD. “I’m sick of being so overly sensitive, sick of being thrown off balance by such little things.” Exactly what it feels like to live with PTSD. Imagining that I am creating them for some sick need, since my efforts to change don’t work. I have no idea how big and overwhelming is what I am up against. It will be 13 years before the phobia ends, as a result of anti-depressant medication and an astute therapist.