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MaisyS's avatar

How long before I completely shred my vocal cords?

Asked by MaisyS (731points) April 19th, 2022

Basically I love to sing. I’m no professional, but I’m intensely passionate about it and can’t imagine living without it.

We have a cat. I have cat phobia. We can’t rehome it now that we own it and I don’t have effective therapy for it right now. And for the past five months or so, I’ve had bad encounters with the cat that’s resulted in me screaming intensely loudly for short bursts, from like 30 seconds up to 2 minutes. This has happened every 5 to 10 days. Somehow I haven’t sustained damage yet. What I’m trying to ask is, how dangerous is this (say on a scale from 1 being do your best to avoid it but it isn’t an instant death sentence, to 5 being an instant death sentence)? How soon will this break my voice? Let me add that it usually results in an itchy throat for an hour or two, plus maybe a slight pain in the ear, although I can’t tell if that’s a side effect of my anxiety or the screaming.

Also what is the best thing for me to do after a screaming episode to reverse any damage, given that I can’t go on complete vocal rest?

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23 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

What do your parents think about you screaming loudly at the cat?

chyna's avatar

For starters, maybe you could work really hard to have a different reaction to the cat. Every time you see it, turn away from it and work really hard not to scream.

MaisyS's avatar

@chyna I’ve tried that. Believe me. In the moment I have absolutely no control over myself. When I say phobia I don’t mean it just like that. I mean a clinically diagnosed issue.

@Hawaii_Jake my brother adores cats. When I bring up how terrified I am of losing my voice I’m dismissed because apparently my mother feels not giving my brother a cat is unfair to him. And my parents don’t support my singing. It’s kind of stacked against me. To me it feels like they don’t much care, idk.

KNOWITALL's avatar

It’s not healthy for you or the cat to live that way.

Cats hear up to 64k Hz, things we cannit hear. Your screaming must be painful. Since you aren’t a professional, I will say 1–2.

Could you get therapy for your phobia against the cat or possibly confine it to a certain portion of the house? If you are diagnosed, it’s hard to imagine your family doesn’t care, if not about you then at least the poor cat.
When you scream you are banging your vocal chords together.

MaisyS's avatar

@KNOWITALL the idea was to keep the cat away from me but with the way our house is set up it’s proving far harder than we thought.
I mean, I did warn my parents before we got the cat that it wouldn’t be ideal for either the cat or me. As for therapy, I have therapy for my adhd and ocd, which I take online, and we tried to incorporate treatment for phobia. But with it being online, it isn’t proving effective for the phobia.
Worst of all, I do want a professional level voice. I have put years of work into perfecting my technique and learning as much as i can. Given that you’re rating the situation 1–2 for someone who isn’t a professional, I’m assuming something like 4 or 5 for a professional.
I don’t quite know what to do. I can’t move out just yet. I’m at a loss. And I’m sorry that my yelling causes the cat pain, but Im selfishly only really concerned about my voice. I’m considering confining myself to my bedroom on complete vocal rest for the next week to impress how serious I am on my parents. Although I don’t know what good that will do because rehoming the cat is apparently not an option. Maybe they can rehome me.

janbb's avatar

There is more to this than we can deal with online. I suggest you find another way to express your fear rather than screaming but what I think would be most helpful would be for you to have some sessions of family therapy with your brother and parents.

MaisyS's avatar

Or to be more specific, its not that I don’t care that it hurts the cat. I’m just panicking about myself right now. I would love to avoid causing the cat any pain at all, but im stuck as to how I can achieve that.

gorillapaws's avatar

It sounds like you need to see a professional therapist. Look for one that specializes in anxiety and progressive desensitization therapy. I believe it’s possible to permanently damage your vocal chords, and regardless this is an unhealthy reaction to the presence of a cat.

Wishing you the best finding someone who can help.

smudges's avatar

I agree with @gorillapaws, you need a professional therapist. Phobias can be cured. Until you get an in-person therapist, go online and read about phobias and treatments. Educating yourself will help you when you get into therapy. Since your parents don’t seem to think this is a big deal and aren’t willing to help, you should get into therapy as soon as possible. You and the cat are simply torturing one another and it’s unhealthy for both of you and the family in general. Many therapists have a sliding financial scale, and it should be relatively easy to find one who deals with phobias. Best of luck!

jca2's avatar

It sounds self centered that you only care about your own issues with the cat and not caring about what it’s like for the cat. Instead of screaming, you can removey yourself physically from the area.

@janbb is right. You need to address this with a professional who can provide some short and long term solutions to this problem.

filmfann's avatar

When I used to shred my vocal cords, I used to drink a banana milkshake. It did wonders.

SnipSnip's avatar

Talk to your mother.

MaisyS's avatar

@jca2 I wrote that comment in a fit of anger. Please take my words with a pinch of salt. I clarified that in another comment, that I was speaking rashly due to panic at the time. Not to mention I called myself selfish anyway lol- if anything, at least I’m self aware.

To everyone that’s suggesting therapy, the therapist I have right now is a professional. She usually takes patients in-person. But she is in another city, and we’ve scoured my own city for a good few months and found no one. I’m in a third-world country. Legit services are few in number. This country still doesn’t take mental health half as seriously as it should. I’m doing the best I can on this front, I’ve done all I can. I’ve exhausted all the psychologists I could go to, and the one I currently have is the only decent option.
I will find a way to deal with the cat. I have already talked to my mother and we’re coming up with a timetable of sorts, where the cat stays in a certain area of the house for certain hours of the day, so i know which rooms to avoid at any given time.
While I am grateful for the responses I’ve been given that centre around the phobia, I asked a voice related question. Thank you to everyone who answered that too. The reason I’m saying this isn’t to take a jab at anyone or anything- I genuinely am grateful for everyone who took the time to write something out. But the reason my question doesn’t centre around the phobia is because first off, it’s a bit of a complex situation, and secondly, I will find a way to fix the situation. I always do. I’m not a novice at handling my disorders, I’ve been doing it a while. Maybe they’re not the best methods but I’m working, not without a support system per se, but definitely with a rather interesting one. So yeah.

Also please, despite my phobia I’m hardly cruel to the cat. Where I can manage to leave the room without screaming, I do. But not every case is like this, particularly not with this cat who seems to have a weird obsession with running at me out of the blue. And there are definitely instances where I’m stuck in the room with the cat blocking my exit route. So yeah this is kind of how it stands.
If anyone has more vocal advice, I’d love to hear it :)) feel free to talk about the phobia as well if that seems more pressing to you, but rest assured that I will find a way.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@MaisyS Great job at working on a solution with mom and the cat! You deserve to feel safe and comfortable in your home.

smudges's avatar

I think the reason you got a number of answers responding more about the cat is because that is the problem. You may see the problem as losing your voice, but without the cat, you wouldn’t have to worry about it. Clear case of cause and effect – work on the cause, then you won’t have the effect.

I also doubt that an online forum is the place to ask how long it’ll be before you ruin your vocal chords. I’m not even sure an expert actually knows that. I’d suggest researching how screaming and other things can affect your voice.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Thank you for coming to us with your problem. Unfortunately, no one here knows how long it will take to damage your voice. We are all certain, however, that screaming at cats is inappropriate behavior.

I’m very glad to know you’re in therapy. I also see a therapist, and my sessions are also online. I hope you get as much value from therapy as I do. All the best to you.

RocketGuy's avatar

The cat probably doesn’t understand why you don’t like him. There has got to be a way for you and him to come to a mutual understanding. If it were me I would start with verbal warnings, and if that didn’t work, escalate by keeping a squirt bottle of water handy for correcting any untoward behavior.

smudges's avatar

@RocketGuy The problem isn’t that she doesn’t like the cat, it’s that she has a phobia. Do you have any phobias? like snakes, or heights, or enclosed spaces, speaking in front of a crowd, fear of germs, or crowds? She can’t simply talk herself out of it and work it out with him. It’s not that specific cat, it’s all cats, all the time.

RocketGuy's avatar

That’s where talking to the cat and the squirt bottle come in. The cat has to know not to approach her.

smudges's avatar

<sigh> nevermind

snowberry's avatar

I like the idea of keeping a squirt bottle on your person. If you find the cat has blocked your exit, squirt it. It will give you a sense of power, that you are not helpless. Start by just aiming at a picture of a cat that you taped to the wall.

chyna's avatar

I think squirting and screaming at the cat will make it neurotic.

snowberry's avatar

@chyna That might be true, but it sounds like she will scream anyway. The people she lives with don’t seem to care about her well-being or the well being of the cat for that matter. Maybe she will scream, but if she has a squirt bottle she has a way to defend herself, and if she aims properly the cat will learn to avoid her.

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