Sounds disrupting

The world is too loud to focus in.

The dishwasher swooshes and gurgles in a constant drone. A Roman numeral clock ticks away seconds of productivity. The 114, the 6 and the 17 buses grunt past the too-bright daylight that illuminates the room. The Doors sing a muffled rendition of âÄúLight my FireâÄù from one apartment over. And I sit poised at my keyboard, wincing as an airplane flies across my consciousness. I am distracted, irritable, and am beginning to have anxiety. One day at a time, one thing at a time, I tell myself. Breathe. The world is not ending. My lungs will not implode, though they feel as if they may. But I am used to feeling like this. In fact, I usually experience this daily. I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which causes a higher than normal sensitivity to outer stimuli, thus making it difficult to concentrate in noisy situations. Most people have irritability toward noise to some extent, particularly when trying to study, read or concentrate. But I canâÄôt keep but wondering if the world has gotten louder, or if I have simply become more sensitive to sound. Lately I feel as if there is nowhere thatâÄôs truly silent. IâÄôve attempted to study at the library, but I swear itâÄôs too quiet. You can hear everyone sniff, readjust in their seat or open a bag of Doritos. And coffee shops might be suitable for a brief get-together with a friend, but not for concentration. Coffee shops are actually one of the noisiest places to study. Not only do you have screeching espresso makers, but there is usually loud background music and a hoard of people chatting and clicking away at keyboards. So IâÄôve settled with my apartment, which happens to be on a busy street and comes nicely equipped with doors that do little but give the notion of visual privacy, while leaving all of the luxuries of inter-hallway eavesdropping and game updates from the neighborâÄôs TV. ThereâÄôs also this great little vent in the kitchen that flaps on windy days. It sounds like a spinning weathervane or a creaking gate. ItâÄôs windy today. IâÄôm irritable. For some people, sensitivity to sound is conditional. When you are stressed, you might find it difficult to study if there is disruptive exterior noise. If you have a headache, migraine or even a hangover, you may be more sensitive to noise and light. And if you have ADHD, noise is just another thing to constantly distract you. There are, however, a couple portable solutions that work to decrease sound sensitivity. One option is to get noise canceling headphones with a built-in processor that analyzes background noise and creates an inverse sound wave to cancel it. However, this is an expensive solution, and most reviews show that they do more to cancel constant sounds like engines and airplane vibration than inconstant noise, such as voices or the tapping of pencil. For most people, it is the inconstant noise that is the most distracting. I came across an affordable product called White Noise that seems to help with these types of disruptions. It produces ambient noise, such as rain, wind, or a fan and loops the sound continuously. It can be purchased for 99 cents as an audio track or a program for an iPod or iPhone and functions by balancing exterior noise with a sound that is constant. The truth is, in our fast-paced society, noise is inevitable and it is something with which we all must learn to cope. The best solution is to find a place where you can concentrate. Since that seems to be impossible for me, IâÄôm going to give these ocean waves a try, and if they donâÄôt help, I might need to start studying at 4 a.m. when the rest of the world is asleep. Ashley Goetz welcomes comments at [email protected]