I’m a relatively new comer to the world and benefits of ASMR and I thought it might be of interest to some to share how I stumbled into this place. It’s a story of rags to riches, of a boy with nothing but a dream and…..oh hang on…..that’s a Disney movie. To be honest, my story is very plain and simple, but the importance of it to me is, I hope, interesting to read.
Throughout my life I’d experienced tingles across my scalp, up my neck and along my arms in response to certain sounds. For me it was particular voices over other sounds. Sometimes it might be whispering, other times it could be a soft, deep voice. It didn’t seem to matter whether it was male or female – it was more about the sound itself.
I always enjoyed these experiences and when they did occur I’d try and figure out what was causing it so I could recreate it later. Sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn’t but over the past thirty years or so I kept having these tingley experiences. I’d always assumed that everyone else went through the same kind of thing – maybe their trigger was different to mine, but surely we all had that lovely feeling as our nerves tingled in response to a specific noise. So when I asked my wife a few months ago “Darling, you know when someone’s voice makes your head tingle?” and she just starred at me like I’d asked her “you know when bananas are tomatoes?” I was confused. Not being put off by the look she was giving me I bravely (or maybe that should be foolishly) pushed on and tried to explain what I meant. As I my description became more and more detailed her confusion seemed to deepen, and once I paused to allow her to react she still gave me that same look. That’s when it then struck me – this wasn’t something that everyone felt. My brain that went to the next obvious question – does anyone else feel this way???
So I did what we all do when we have a question – I asked Google. After some enlightening results from the search phrase “make me tingle” I refined my terms and began to see four letters showing up again and again within the results. A S M R. After an initial scan of the all powerful wikipedia page I was smiling to myself – this feeling that I felt from time to time had a proper name, and there were others like me. Going back to the Google results page another reference kept showing up too – YouTube. This is where I fell deeply into the ASMR world because on YouTube I found just pot after pot of gold. So many people who had created these incredible videos that made my head start to tingle as soon as I heard their video. I’m even feeling a little bit of tingle right now as I remember the moment.
For a while I just immersed myself in the huge collection of material. I started to find my favourites – Whispers Red quickly had my YouTube subscription as did Accidentallygraceful. Springbok’s soft voice immediately drew me in. I began to decide what types of videos I liked best – I did like some role-plays but I didn’t like “what’s in my bag?” I did like videos where the artist spoke the whole time, and I decided I didn’t like the ones where the artist made sounds with things such as tissue paper or their nails.
But I think the real tipping point for me came when I started to read the comments, the blogs, the websites and the commentary around the videos. When I did this I started to switch from someone who was purely taking from the community (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if done with respect) and became someone who wanted to pro actively engage with the ASMR artists and community. I wanted to learn more about them and share with them what their art was meaning to me.
You see for me this discovery and exploration of the ASMR world came at a time when life was throwing up some real challenges for me. Two of my close family were very ill and had to undergo serious operations and recovery; my wife was diagnosed with serious depression and was off work and on strong medication; her grandmother (who pretty much raised her) fell very ill and passed away; we were having financial problems and work was not going well; our two year old daughter was developing into an amazing little person but I was feeling more and more pressure to be a provider and was feeling worthless. And on and on. To be clear – this is not the “Oh woe is me” part of the story. I am a very lucky person and incredibly fortunate. There are millions and millions who are worse off than me. I’m just saying that at this point in my life, I was finding it hard and I didn’t have the tools or skills to manage effectively what was going on around me and to me. I don’t want to exaggerate but ASMR – the artists and the community – really helped me during this period and continue to be an important part of my life today.
I started listening to recordings at bedtime and I would drift off to sleep much easier. I would listen to an artist while I was at work and trying to concentrate on something – it helped me focus and remain peaceful in my mind allowing the creativity and clarity that I needed to be present. I found the stories of other community members inspiring and reassuring and in that sharing and empathy I found strength to deal with the issues that I was facing.
There is an increasing amount being written about the rise in emotional and mental health issues in young men at the moment. I know from my own network that there are many guys in their 30s and 40s who are finding it harder and harder to keep a handle on everything. We are facing a set of pressures that no one else has before. That doesn’t make them harder – I’m not saying that – but it does mean that there’s not much advice already around from which to help and learn. ASMR has helped me in these times. It has brought me peace and pleasure, a sense of calm and a sense of joy.
I’m keen to immerse myself further into this community – hence this first article – and I welcome advice and feedback as I go from you all. In the meantime, I hope this little bit of insight into my story has shared what ASMR has come to mean to me and how valuable it has been in helping me address some really challenging times.