Thursday, October 2, 2008

the sick sense


It's the auditory overload that really gets to me.


Smells don't bother me, I almost never max out on visuals, I'm fine with touching and being touched (except for fingers in my ears after sexual assault training), and one look at the size of my butt proves that there's no holding me back on taste. But sound is a real stumbling block.


My house is never quiet. Never. At any given point, there is at least one television going full blast, one computer at top volume, and a gaming system playing the same music loop over and over until I feel like I'm trapped in a fun house. My kids all talk loud, my dogs bark even louder, and every single noise bounces off hard wood floors and ten foot ceilings until you could go mad.


It was an oft visited theme in my marriage that I didn't get family dynamics in multi-child households. As an only child, I never had to shout louder or talk faster to get my voice heard. Well, that isn't the case here. If the TV is set at max volume, so is the kid's voice talking. The only thing louder is the kid trying to talk over them. They will then each get louder and louder, but it doesn't really matter because I couldn't hear them over the TV to start with. I smile and nod and look agreeable, but I can't hear a damned thing they're saying. Maybe it's a good thing.


Tonight was a perfect example. Project Runway - a show I legitimately love - was (of course) blasting on the TV in the living room. So was a laptop. Two kids were "watching" the show, but at the same time arguing about the computer game, asking me about my day, telling me about theirs, popping bubble gum bubbles, calling the dogs, reading me the (seemingly four hundred page long) specs on a superhero in their computer game, telling me all about who they did (and didn't) want to go home on PR...all at top decibel levels.In the meantime I was failing miserably at filtering out what I didn't need and hearing what I wanted to. There was too much going on. And it wasn't just tonight. It's every day. We have a house full of big windows in an area where everyone walks their dogs. My dogs bounce off the walls all day and night. All three of my kids feel they can't fall asleep unless the TV is on, which kills me. I like it dark and I like it quiet when I sleep. I don't get it.


During my Psych rotation at the Big Bad Scary Psych Hospital, they made us do an exercise devised to give us empathy for schizophrenics having hallucinations. They fitted us with these devices that simulated auditory hallucinations and sent us about a bunch of mundane, everyday activities. For hours. You would be writing a check to the electric company and all of a sudden someone would start screaming in your ear about how worthless you were or just laugh uncontrollably or hiss or howl. Did I mention this went on for hours? It was horrendous. And it just reiterated my feeling that, for me at least, sound is the weak link. Auditory overload can make me nuts.


With my life this is not a good thing. Am I the only one who gets bothered by stuff like this??

14 comments:

Kaycie said...

I completely understand. Noise overload is my biggest problem as a parent. And there's a point at which I just lose it totally. Three kids, two dogs, two cats (for the dogs to chase in a noisy manner, incidentally), five (yes, five) television sets, lovely daughter's kick ass stereo (what was I thinking?), three guitars, drumsticks and a practice pad, (no drums, thank goodness), the computers, the PS2, xbox, xbox 360, wii . . . oh my gosh, I'm wearing myself out just thinking about it.

My solution is to send them all to bed by 10pm. Or hide in my bedroom. Sometimes both.

my two cents said...

No, and I was overloaded before I finished the second paragraph. It is why we both like the beach - the people around you can be as loud as they want and all we hear is the ocean. Bliss.

ped crossing said...

Sound and smell. My migraines give me a bionic nose, so perfumes and chemically scents will drive me over the edge. Though it has come in handy lately.

Sounds can drive me to distraction. I can't process them well. It's like they make my nerves vibrate faster and faster until I am one big mess of annoyed. My students learn that if they are loud and obnoxious they get an annoyed teacher. My children are generally quiet.

I guess you could go throw the breaker and force a little quiet. Otherwise, relish any time you get alone.

ciara said...

i definitely know where you are coming from, but then when they are gone to their dad's or whatever, i totally miss the noise they create. of course when they're at their dad's, they're not allowed to make a peep. his gf makes sure of that. they got in so much trouble during the summer for noise. they came home 4 wks early. their choice. mini-me was told that she was stomping all the time when she would go upstairs...but there's wood floors...uh, hello, dummies...don't you know that wood floors make things LOUDER when you walk on them. frustrated me.

i know that sometimes noise from crowds can get to me. they start to sound like a loud buzzing and my ears hurt. i hated that about my old job.

anyways, i do like my occasional quiet time, but i like my kids being kids more.

Potty Mummy said...

No, you're not the only one. I find it's worst first thing in the morning. I should probably wear earplugs until around 9.00am...

Aoj and The Lurchers said...

I am terrible with noise, I can cope with it for so long and then my brain demands that I have silence and I start to lose it big time if I don't get it.

Devon said...

I am the Zen mom on the block. Noise makes me nuts faster than just about anything! I have classical music playing when the kids get home and do their homework.

I have volume restrictions on all the electronic crap in the house. Hubby and I are both quiet people and so it seems are our kids. They love to talk, but it is not loud.

My friends always appologize for their loud kids at my house... I tell them it is fine, and it is, but I wouldn't want to live it day in and day out!

LCM said...

I have acutely sensitive ears. TD is semi deaf and the volume of his TV drives me batty. I told him that I don't really get headaches, but sometimes, my head just feels excrutiatingly full of other people's voices and noises, like an over filled balloon. Sometimes, you just want peace.

Lil Mouse said...

nope. i'm getting ready to have a newborn and i wonder if the sound of crying alone is going to make me want to jump off a cliff (not literally)...but figuratively. i'm hoping some maternal sense will kick in because right now... well what the hell, we're getting ready to change jobs, move and have a baby. nothing is going according to any sort of plan and i feel like screaming. but i'm calm on the outside.

Iota said...

NO, YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO IS BOTHERED BY THIS!

aims said...

oh crap honey! I don't have any sound on all day long. When The Man comes home we watch tv. Usually a movie. I always have to ask him to turn it up because I can't hear it.

I found out I've lost hearing in one ear - who hasn't. But standing beside those 8 foot speakers for 10 years slinging beer - that probably knocked it out of me. Watcha think?

Jenn And The City said...

Me too! And to top it off the BF can't hear a thing, so I have to yell to be heard, even before the t.v., the video games, the dogs, and the computer. Drives me nuts.

CrazyCath said...

No you are not the only one. Which is why when my mum asks me why I shout I reply "Because I have to".

Akelamalu said...

My hearing is failing (well I am getting old!) so I have to have the TV on LOUD but not loud enough that it can be heard at the end of the street I don't think!