Almost everything bothers me. Can I be fixed?
November 18, 2014 6:59 AM   Subscribe

For most of my adulthood, I've been unable to fully deal with normal things the way most people seem to be able to. I have a decent full time job, a nice home, and a great husband... really nothing major to complain about. But many things bother me to the point that it affects my daily life, and I want it to stop but I don't know how to make it.

Everyday annoyances that everyone else seems to be able to cope with drive me crazy and sometimes make me actually angry. I know it makes no sense, yet I have trouble controlling it. Then I feel guilty because I have so much to be thankful for and I realize things could be so much worse (even though I really hate to hear that sometimes).

My wonderful husband has to walk on eggshells around me, and I don't want him to have to do that. He made some popcorn before I got home today, and I yelled at him because it smelled up the house. I react ridiculously to various things at least weekly, if not daily. I want him to be able to do regular stuff without having to worry about me freaking out. I also lose patience with my parents for stupid reasons; I love them both completely and would never want to upset them.

I live in a nice home, but I don't like several of the unchangeable things about it (well, okay, most of them could be changed, but only by spending a lot of money and then I'd just worry about the debt), and my husband doesn't want to move. Sometimes, I obsess about how much I hate those things and how much it bothers me that they can't be fixed, even to the point of losing sleep. Surely everyone has parts of their home that they don't care for, so I know it's not normal to let it prey on my mind like that.

I like my job a lot, but some of the people and the cubicle atmosphere make me want to scream most days. I realize this is a common theme for anyone living the office life, but my reactions are different than your standard annoyance. I'm one of the only ones bothered by problems such as cigarette smoke coming in the building from the multitude of smokers outside, or the loud laugher whose hearty guffaws are nearly constant, or even more serious issues such as others goofing off while there's plenty of work to be done. I feel like my irritations are valid, yet when I (rarely) bring them to the attention of management, I'm given an empty "we'll look into that" which never comes to fruition. They aren't just brushing me off with the attitude of "she's just complaining again" because I honestly hardly ever complain. I mostly just keep it in, maybe occasionally mentioning my displeasures to my closer co-worker friends every now and then. They usually agree with me, but without the passion that fires my desire to get the problems fixed. Which in turn makes me question myself: "Am I really the only one who is bothered by this?" It's enough to make me feel crazier than I already know I must be.

I never feel like harming/hurting anyone or myself, so it's nothing like that. I'm in my mid-thirties, if that matters. I have a fairly high IQ (146). I've had 2 bouts of mild depression in the past, both treated successfully with a few months of Prozac, and I haven't had issues with that in about 5 years.

So, what is my deal and why can't I deal? Is this another kind of depression? Am I just super-sensitive? Do I need therapy? Medication? Meditation? A long vacation and some liquor? Something's gotta give. I want this obstacle out of my life so I can grow and concentrate on the good stuff.

Throwaway email = everythingbothersme at gmail dot com

Thanks for reading all of this, and I appreciate very much any advice you may have to share with me.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (38 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Therapy might be an avenue. Here's something I learned as a coping strategy for this. When I'm feeling something that I find disruptive to my life (for me it's OCD thoughts, but it works on depressive/angry stuff as well), I don't try to push it away. Instead, I'll examine it. How angry am I? At what? What, specifically, is making me angry? Can I change something about it? What makes this incident anger-worthy? Can I make myself angrier? Even angrier than that? What does that feel like? Do I want to feel like that? How about I deflate the anger a bit? A little more? How does that feel? Etc.

It sounds kind of intensive, and it is (it's a technique for intrusive thoughts), but it did teach me that emotions are things that don't define me, they're just things that happen inside my head. I can control my reactions to those emotions and let them define me or not, and if I really examine what's going on when I have non-helpful emotions/thoughts, I can control when they hit me more and more often.
posted by xingcat at 7:10 AM on November 18, 2014 [12 favorites]

There are a lot of potential things I could say here but I'll just say the first thing that came to my mind - this is the way I felt when I was on high dose hormones for infertility treatment. Are you on any hormonal drugs?

Anything that's keeping you awake at night is a legitimate reason to consider therapy and a physician's visit to see whether there are any things that can be identified that might be affecting your mood or might work to change it for the better. Meditation or yoga are unlikely to hurt, and certainly helped me when I was in the infertility situation. Given the level and duration of mood issues you describe, I think that alcohol or vacation time would only be temporary fix, if they helped at all.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:10 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

Maybe something else is bothering you, and you're pushing it down, so you are only getting angry at "safe" things and not the real thing you're angry about.

Maybe you feel powerless to make small positive changes.

Maybe you're a people-pleaser and you've been pushed to your limit. You don't know how to enforce the small boundaries, you're afraid to rock the boat, you don't express your true wishes and desires, and now you're ready to snap.

The other thing that may be helpful is learning how to change the things you want. You can't change the laughing at work, but you could request to move cubicles to a quieter area. You could ask for a window filter for the smoke. If you don't like popcorn smell, open a window (or call out to your husband "baby that stinks! open a window mmkay?") There is a difference between asking others to solve your problem (I believe that's called active passivity / apparent competence; you can name the problem but feel powerless to enact the solution), and actually coming up with the solution yourself. Coming up with the solution yourself is empowering and can reduce anger, because you don't feel so powerless and trampled upon.

It sounds like you're stuffing your anger down in order to function. You need to get this anger out in a healthy way, and examine it, and put it to rest. In addition to feeling more free to take action in your life, you can google "coping with anger" or "anger reduction" for helpful articles. I hate to beat the therapy drum, but try therapy. Just show up in their office and say "I am angry all the time and I don't know why."
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:12 AM on November 18, 2014 [24 favorites]

Were these irritants better on Prozac? That was my first thought before you mentioned it.
posted by supercres at 7:14 AM on November 18, 2014

I hate to sound so trite in the greater context of AskMe, but... Therapist. Just do it.

It sounds like you're somewhat familiar with the inside of your own head; you say you've successfully worked through bouts of depression in the past. I think it's time to do some more thinking. Other people make the most mistakes - which is to say, I am at my most critical, perfectionist and difficult-to-live-with - when I am mildly depressed, when I feel like I'm failing at something (emotionally) and don't want to deal with it, when I am discontent with choices I've made. Depression is at its most insidious when my conscious mind is telling me that I've got everything I want, things are actually good, and I should be thankful, and I ought to be happy. And I ought to not care that the house smells like popcorn.

In short, there's something going on that is perturbing your ability to feel content. I think that talking with a therapist could help you sort through some of that.
posted by aimedwander at 7:14 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

One other thing - remember that people aren't doing these things on purpose to make you angry. It can feel like they blatantly disregarded you, but in truth they probably just weren't thinking at all. Think of all the times you cooked something smelly or burst out giggling - you certainly weren't thinking of the person next door, right? You were just living your life. It's the same with these people. They aren't actively out to harm you.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:15 AM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

I had similar feelings and my doctor said it was anxiety even though I don't feel what I would think of as anxious. I take a very low dose of Zoloft and it really made a big difference. So sometimes mental health things can look very different in different people. It would be worth talking to a doctor about possible causes.
posted by maxg94 at 7:18 AM on November 18, 2014 [10 favorites]

IANAD and IANATherapist, but a few things came to mind: 1. While I myself do not experience deep, profound, "typical" clinical depression, I find that a very small dose of sertraline (Zoloft) works absolute WONDERS. Without it, life's various irritants/problems feel like they're STABBING ME DIRECTLY IN THE EYEBALL. With it, they just feel... normal. Irritating, yes, but normal and endurable. I like to call a wee dose of an SSRI "life's handrail"... because if you are on the depressive spectrum (if not fully depressed-depressed), it REALLY helps you gain stability and perspective.

Second thought: I think DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) might be good for you. It was invented for people with borderline personality disorder (which I am not, not, NOT saying you have, at all!), and it focuses on teaching people to be mindful and "talk yourself through" your feelings (basically, to FEEL your feelings, but to also not let them CONTROL you). Since you have both strong emotional responses AND a good amount of self-awareness, I think DBT may be a good fit.
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:21 AM on November 18, 2014 [10 favorites]

Maybe something else is bothering you, and you're pushing it down, so you are only getting angry at "safe" things and not the real thing you're angry about.

It's total projection and confirmation bias on my part, but this was my exact thought.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:29 AM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

Nthing depression/anxiety. Do you speak to a therapist? I would recommend it. I went through a similar period where I was just so annoyed at small things in my life. After a couple of months on antidepressants I realized that the problem was that I was unsatisfied with my life as a whole, so I made some major changes (went on a trip, ended relationship, moved out of state) and I feel much better. I realize those are drastic changes but my point is that your problem might be large and staring you in the face, but you aren't ready to face it yet. Meds and counseling help.
posted by pintapicasso at 7:47 AM on November 18, 2014

When I flip out about small things (example: towels being folded "incorrectly" in the cupboard), it is a sign that I need a day off and/or that my depression needs examining.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 7:48 AM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

I have been through a phase of "EVERYTHING IS IRRITATING" which was caused by super extreme vitamin D deficiency and was fixed by a course of horse strength Vitamin D tablets. So far as I can tell, nothing about my life was objectively more annoying at that time.
posted by emilyw at 7:51 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't know if my observation will be helpful or not, but most of the examples you describe have to do with sensory awareness, hearing, seeing, smelling. Which makes me think it might not be you pushing some other issues down, but maybe it's more of the physical side of anxiety or a different health issue? I don't know, but I just thought that observation might be a clue.
posted by Vaike at 7:55 AM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

It could be a lot of things. I would actually start at your GP before heading to a psychiatrist. There are some physical illnesses that manifest like this -- e.g. hyperthyroidism, which is common in women in their 30s. It can manifest in anxiety, racing thoughts, and sleeplessness, all of which you have. (Or it could be Vitamin D as noted above. Either hyperthyroidism or Vitamin D would be diagnosable with a blood test.)

Once you've ruled out a medical cause, I'd definitely agree with all the suggestions to get depression/anxiety/OCD assessment.
posted by pie ninja at 7:56 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I know that this will sound like an odd solution(and mefites will roll their eyes), but it stands out as a commonality of all your various problems. This is only meant to be temporary (I think Xingcat's solution is doable, or therapy, or an SSRI, but those things will take time).

The commonality that I see is that you don't have control and seem to crave it, whether it be people listening to your or the physical parts of your house. Is there something in your immediate life that you can get absolute control over and will be respected? Maybe a room in your house that can be just you. Or a project. Or something about yourself.During an hour each day, just you, get to work on it and have absolute control.If it is a room, I would explain to your spouse as to why. I don't think that it is a long term solution at all, it is just meant to be a transient solution as you gain control with any of those other solutions.

Good luck.
posted by Wolfster at 7:59 AM on November 18, 2014 [7 favorites]

The first thing I thought of when I read your question was that you should make a doctor appointment to see if you have anything physical wrong with you that could be causing these symptoms, like a hormone imbalance. Your symptoms sound a lot like how I am when I am having severe PMS/PMDD.
posted by Librarypt at 8:37 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

In addition to the great advice about therapy and seeing a physician, I would encourage you to look into finding a meditation practice that works for you and/or trying a restorative yoga class.

Both will help you quiet your mind, relax, and give you some tools for calming yourself in your everyday life.
posted by brookeb at 8:39 AM on November 18, 2014

Yes, it's absolutely time to be looking at therapy. Your therapist will ask you what your goals are--you've articulated that very well in this post: "Everything bothers me and I don't want it to" is a really good jumping-off place.

Until you are able to get into therapy, here are some strategies that may help:

- Mindfulness exercises. I've commented at length about the concept before; in essence it's a kind of meditation aimed at being fully in the moment. The funny thing is that it seriously helps with emotional turmoil by fostering detachment--one observes the moment without being overwhelmed by it. One of the simplest techniques is to just breathe slowly and focus on your breathing. In for a slow count of four, hold for a slow count of four, out for a slow count of four, hold for a slow count of four. Repeat; you'll find yourself slowing down. Practice this when you're not having an emotional moment, and you'll find that when you are having such a moment, a few breaths will have you calm almost immediately. Allow your thoughts to flow past you.

- take an inventory of the moment; be objective. What is actually happening right now? Is my response proportional?

- action-opposite-to-emotion: if you are sad, do something that makes you feel happy, even if you're not feeling happy. If you are angry, do something that calms you--even if you're gritting your teeth while doing it. Eventually, it'll work.

- appropriate self-soothing: what are adaptive things you can do that help you feel better? Make a list, and when you're upset pick something proportionate from that list.

Really though, you want to look for a therapist, and consult with your doctor about medication--also get a full blood workup done to be sure everything's within the appropriate ranges. Most likely, you want to look for a therapist who specializes in CBT or DBT.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:42 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

My experience is exactly the same as julthumbscrew's - for me, this is one of the main ways that my depression manifests and mindfulness practices combined with a SSRI makes it much better.

YMMV, but definitely consider talking to your GP and a therapist.
posted by cimton at 8:45 AM on November 18, 2014

Oh, also: cold helps to interrupt ruminative/cycling thoughts. Run cold water or an ice cube over your wrists, eat one of those small Freezies, something like that.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:48 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with getting a full blood work up, seeing a therapist and possibly asking your GP or a psychiatrist for some Prozac (or other SSRI) again.
There have been stretches where I have not taking my antidepressant and what you're describing is how I felt during some of those times, despite therapy (although just therapy alone can certainly help people).
The comment about the sensory issue is interesting and something maybe look into as well.

Do you have someone you can call when you start to get upset? Anytime I get upset or start to get angry, I call my sister and rant to her - and she usually is able to give me a dose of reality. I also do the same for her.
posted by KogeLiz at 8:52 AM on November 18, 2014

People with higher IQ's are 3X more likely to suffer from depression. Reasons behind this are various, but I'd like to focus on what I believe is the main reason- If the left brain is too strong (IQ test mostly bow at the altar of the left brain) it is often an indicator that the right brain is atrophied. Not literally, but figuratively. Too much "mind" as spiritual teachers often call it. This means you judge yourself and others more than average and that's just a recipe for unhappiness.

" I honestly hardly ever complain. I mostly just keep it in,"

When I first read about you screaming at your husband over the popcorn I thought to myself: This sounds like someone who is angry at work or was angry during childhood, but felt forced to keep it inside instead of expressing it in some way. Of course there are healthy and unhealthy ways of expression. I was angry my entire childhood. I was taught growing up that girls shouldn't be angry or defend themselves. That it was "unlady-like" and if I dared defend myself against any attack, it wasn't the attackers fault, but mine for being a girl who actually fought back instead of taking it. When I became an adult and separated myself from my family, I found that I would have trouble knowing how I truly felt about things, how to express those feelings appropriately, and I would be angry at people over stupid things. It was like my anger was finally released, but it was indiscriminate and unstable. I would especially be angry towards "safe" people. As in people who love you and are willing to put up with it more than others. I didn't realize this was what I was doing- basically taking my anger out on the people who deserved it least. You yell at your husband over the popcorn because he loves you and so you think of him as "safe" to treat this way, since you found out that expressing yourself at work hasn't done anything for you. I second the therapy advice, but also realize that if something is bothering you the first thing you need to do is accept it. Accept that this is the situation right now. Don't resist it or attack it. Then once you've accepted it ask yourself if there's anything you can do to change it. If yes, try to do so with the full understanding that the results are not within your control. If no, then just accept it as it is as if you had chosen that situation for yourself. Thirdly- I'd like to suggest you go to a gym every night after work. Since you seem like you might be the workaholic type- Leave work when you're supposed to- not any later and go take a gym class before heading home. It will not only help you blow off steam before getting home to meet your husband, but if you make it a regular routine it will help a lot with your depression, I promise you.
posted by rancher at 9:03 AM on November 18, 2014 [8 favorites]

There is a lot of good advice here. Definately rule out any physical issue. Get a full panel of blood work done. Make sure you're getting enough vitamins, minerals and sleep. Therapy could also help.

And what I also wonder is do you think or expect things to be different than they are? Is that why you get annoyed? If so, some mindfulness practice might be helpful in living in the moment and being with things as they are.
posted by PeaPod at 9:11 AM on November 18, 2014

This is how i felt- constantly on edge over everything- when I was dealing with some MAJOR stress induced depression a few years ago (my father and sister and dog died in a short span of time). I yelled or cried or raged at the drop of a hat until my life got back in order and the stress subsided. Absent of any major stress inducing changes in your life I would look at medical issues (so echoing those who said get a full blood panel done w your doctor).
posted by TestamentToGrace at 9:26 AM on November 18, 2014

Talk to your GP. You may have a hormone imbalance, you may be starting up a depressive episode, get tested and see where you are.

I will say this. Do you lose your shit with random strangers? How about the people you work with? The reason I ask is because yelling and screaming at people you love is not okay. So your husband stank up the house with popcorn. That's no reason to complain. When you pop popcorn it smells like popcorn. You know this.

So before you do anything, stop allowing yourself to treat your loved ones poorly.

Anecdote: My mother was irritable, and she screamed at one of her employees in front of everyone. She ended up getting fired from her job because of it. Mom needed a lot more estrogen than she was getting.

My teenaged years (post-hysterectomy for Mom) were nothing but my mother finding fault with every little thing I did, and lots of yelling. Trust me. It's not okay. Even if the people you're screaming at love you, there's only so much of that anyone should have to endure.

Please find out what the problem is, and exert the same restraint you exert with strangers when dealing with your loved ones.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:27 AM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

A simple thing to try is to have a YES day. On this day, you say yes to everything: questions, permission, approval, novelty, dirty, lateness, and your kid's chaos. It's a lot of fun, and it's only one day, so any damage done by permitting situations you would otherwise say NO to are mitigated. The key is to be on autopilot YES, no excuses. Of course this is done while seeking therapy.
posted by waving at 9:35 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with everything said above, and I have a similar issue. In Buddhist psychology, there are three personality types. I'm an "angry" type. When I walk into a room, the first thing I see is what's wrong. There are a lot of benefits to this personality type -- we're really good at getting things done, we have a lot of clarity, and it's said that because it's such an uncomfortable way to live your life, angry types reach awakening most quickly of the three types.

The best way I know to work with this is a mindfulness practice in order to gain some perspective on the irritation/anger, as well as other emotions. Emotions arise from causes and conditions. Take away the causes and conditions, and the emotions go away. Understand how they arise and the conditions have less power, so the irritability goes away. Or, well, it doesn't go away, but it's more easily ignored.

You seem to already be aware that the things you're angry about aren't causing the anger, but that the anger is arising on its own. Knowing this is really important, but intellectual awareness is just one step. The experience of sitting in meditation with no distractions and watching your mind get angry at everything will ultimately lead you to see just how ridiculous it all is. It doesn't cure it, but it gives perspective, and it makes it much easier to go, "oh there's anger again, well, let me ignore it so I can get something done here."

I wish you well. I think I have an mp3 of a talk given by Sharon Salzberg on the three personality types. If you'd like it, send me a memail and I'll see if I can dig it up for you.
posted by janey47 at 9:58 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

Many are suggesting therapy, and I agree. I would specifically suggest cognitive behavioral therapy, which tends to be very goal oriented. Essentially, you identify destructive thought patterns, triggers, warning signs of impending destructive behavior, and work on developing new behaviors. I have borderline personality disorder, so the brand of CBT I did was called "dialectical behavioral therapy." There was a *very* strong focus on self-awareness and mindfulness. For instance, during DBT I noted that some of my inappropriate reactions could be forecast by my body posture. When I felt my shoulders tensing and my hands clenching, I knew that a destructive behavior was about to emerge. Through this mindfulness, I was able to stop myself and evaluate my reaction and do various tests to see if this reaction was based on something real or imagined. So, take the popcorn example. I enter the house, smell the popcorn, feel myself tensing up and getting angry. Before DBT I would just let the words fly. After DBT I would stop and ask myself what the real problem is. Am I really about to explode in anger over popcorn? What is it specifically about this situation that is causing this over-the-top reaction? Does it make rational sense to conclude that my spouse is a thoughtless jerk simply because he made popcorn? Or is my real problem that I had a terrible day at work and I'm about to take it out on him? If I really do just hate the smell of popcorn, I could respond in several sane ways. "Husband, I really dislike the smell of microwave popcorn. Would you mind using an air popper instead? I will get one at the grocery store this week." Or, "Husband, would you mind opening a window when you make microwave popcorn? I would rather pay for extra heat/AC than smell it, if that's ok."

Because of DBT, I am much more able to align my actual reactions to the size of the problem at hand. It doesn't mean holding myself off or not dealing with things at all, but it does help me match my reactions to situations appropriately. I'm not perfect. A few months ago I told my mother 65 year-old mother to shut the fuck up because she'd interrupted me three times. I had to grovel a lot for that one. But in retrospect I realized that my outsized reaction was not to *this* specific situation, but rather to the general sense that people in my life don't listen to me or tend to dismiss me. My doctors, parents, friends, family--I felt like I was always being ignored or diminished. But telling my mother to shut the fuck up does not solve that problem, obviously. That sort of thing can only be managed through frank discussions about the *actual* problem.

Anyway, I hope you pursue therapy. I think you will find it very helpful to deal with the anxiety and depression you describe here.
posted by xyzzy at 10:14 AM on November 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

Some things to look into: Sensory Integration Disorder, and the book "The Highly Sensitive Person". Some people (I am one) have a hard time coping with sensory stimulation that other people seem to find tolerable. I am bothered by smells, noises and sensations that don't seem to trouble most people to the same extent.

SID can be related to ADHD, OCD and similar disorders, many of which are frequently found in together in the same person. (Hi again.) Together they could form the constellation of symptoms you describe: obsession with things that bug you about your house and other people, sensitivity to noise and smells, an inability to block this stuff out so you can focus on things you WANT to focus on.

I would suggest getting evaluated for some of the above. (The hormonal testing is a great suggestion also... when I am premenstrual the above problems are an order of magnitude worse.)

Meantime you could try taking magnesium supplements. Magnesium can be very good for general irritibility.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:31 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

This is a good one to try: Natural Calm
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:34 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had phases where I would have baffling (to me, later) blow ups at my husband. Then he got therapy for unrelated reasons and began refusing to take blame. That's what he said, "That's all on you. I'm not letting you pin it on me."
He said it really calmly. And this big wave of bad feelings came crashing all over me. It wasn't anger at him (I felt mostly good about him standing up for himself!). It wasn't guilt, though I also felt like an ass. It was the anxiety I had been staving off by criticising and grousing at him. The anger had been my way of managing my own stressed out emotions about my job, health etc.
I later read that this is what abusers do, and was horrified by myself.
Anyway, it has gotten a lot easier to stop my blow ups now I know why I was having them!
posted by Omnomnom at 11:31 AM on November 18, 2014 [7 favorites]

Piggybacking onto Omnomnom's comment, I think his reaction to your yelling probably plays a part in this and I wonder what kind of reaction you really want from him, and if yelling at him is accomplishing that.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:27 PM on November 18, 2014

When I've been irritable like this, it was suppressed/unacknowledged anxiety. It was made worse by some undiagnosed health issues and not getting enough sleep. In other words, it was a lot of things. You've reached out for help here, and I believe you don't have to live this way. Talk to your GP AND a therapist. You can do this.
posted by purple_bird at 3:19 PM on November 18, 2014

I am you when I am not on Prozac. I have been diagnosed with ADHD and I have pretty strong texture/sight/smell issues.

Get back on Prozac, wait a couple of months, and see if it helps.
posted by tacodave at 3:56 PM on November 18, 2014

Oh god, this sounds so familiar. Like tacodave, I've been diagnosed with ADHD, and I guess I've always been very "sensitive" when it comes to sounds, smells, textures, etc.

For me, sounds are the biggest thing. The sound of TV or people talking or the clock ticking (even quietly) can make me feel SO MUCH RAGE. (For sounds in particular, you might be interested in reading up on misophonia.)

I find when i'm really stressed or really tired this gets a lot worse. Have you tried doing a lot of intense physical exercise? That can be a good rage defuser.

Getting medicated for my ADHD has also really helped. I think that's because I'm better at controlling where my attention goes so I'm better at tuning things out and focusing on things other than the rage-inducing stimulus.

I've also noticed that when I feel trapped the feeling gets worse. Not literally trapped, but like if I'm at home or at work I'm much more likely to be extremely irritated by these things. One of the things that I've found helpful is to create "escape routes" that don't actually involve escape. For sounds, this has been ear plugs, white noise, fans, etc. Smells are less of an issue for me (terrible sinus problems=poor sense of smell), but I think if you found something that was tolerable but very smell-y (like vaporub or whatever), you could maybe put a bit under your nose so that you aren't stuck smelling the awful thing.

As with any rage feelings, relaxation techniques like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation could be useful.

With all that being said, I think it's totally reasonable to consult with a therapist and/or psychiatrist to try to work through this. A therapist who is trained in CBT might really be able to help you work on redirecting your attention and learning to handle these situations better.

Good luck! I really feel your pain on this one.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:51 PM on November 18, 2014

An overactive thyroid manifested like this for me (amongst other things). And when I am carrying some other emotional wound around, I can react like thia as well. So a dr, and mindfulness therapy, helped a lot.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:24 AM on November 19, 2014

Indicates some possible autism/aspergers continuum causes of some of the sound/smell issues, and I agree that hormones/chemical&vitamin imbalances could also be a cause. Serene ED also has a good suggestion.

Bottom line is you probably need to talk to an actual doctor with actual lab work. :)
posted by Jacen at 10:32 AM on November 21, 2014

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