Four years ago, I woke up one morning with both ears ringing - both at different pitches and very loud. I made a visit to the doctors, was referred to the ENT and later had an MRI scan. I then developed hyperacusis after taking s herbal remedy for blocked Eustachian tubes. During this time of waiting and reading about tinnitus on the Internet and on many negative, disheartening forums and notice boards, I gradually became more fearful, anxious and depressed and truly believed that there was absolutely no way on this earth that I could live with the level of sound it was causing. A normal and happy life seemed completely out of the question and seemed like an impossibility.
I slowly changed from being a happily married mum of two wonderful teenage daughters to a completely depressed, anxious and suicidal wreck. I was unable to leave the house due to the frequent panic attacks and to the constant crying. I spent hours sitting and waiting for the tinnitus to go so that I could have my life back. I would constantly monitor the sound and check which rooms in the house it was better or worse in. Life was a nightmare. Every morning on waking, I would go straight into a panic attack. I lost three stone in weight and really did reach meltdown point. I lost my will to live and my fight against tinnitus.
However, at about ten months, my husband and our very good friends decided to take me away on holiday as part of an attempt to help me recover. I didn't want to go as was terrified of flying and I was still crying a lot at the time. Anyway, I went along.
During that holiday, I remember being in the car and forgetting about tinnitus for about 15 minutes. It was a massive turning point for me... I was amazed that I had actually managed to forget about it. I'm not saying that a holiday is the answer but I do know that it was getting out and about and doing things again that started to make a difference.
After that, the times of forgetting became more frequent and lasted longer. Later, I stopped reading about tinnitus and stopped trying to find a cure. Slowly but surely I started to live again.... I literally felt like I had come back from the dead. I stopped speaking in a monotone voice and started smiling again. Life all of a sudden was good and I was loving every minute of what I felt like was a second chance to live.
Nothing had really changed. I still had tinnitus - It seemed to be just as loud. The only thing that had changed was my perception or beliefs about tinnitus..
Over the past few years I have learned that tinnitus does not make me depressed or anxious. However, it's fair to say that depression and anxiety make tinnitus worse. In my experience, I have found that Tinnitus is largely a central nervous system problem and is exacerbated by negative emotions. Fear is the ultimate culprit which creates anxiety and depression. Our bodies go into fight or flight and our brains subsequently focus so intently on the noise because it is perceived as a threat. This results in the tinnitus sounding so much more 'intrusive' or louder.
In my personal experience, when I lost my fear of tinnitus, the anxiety left and so did the depression. The added bonus was that because my brain no longer perceived it as a threat, It stopped focusing on the noise which resulted in the tinnitus being much less intrusive and so it was so much quieter. I soon found that I was able to go for very long periods of time where I didn't even hear it.
For the majority of the time, tinnitus doesn't bother me. If I do hear it, it doesn't cause feelings of anxiety, panic or depression. However, if it ever does raise it's ugly head and becomes the monster that it once was, I know that in order to fight it, I need to focus on looking after my emotions. Positive beliefs have a powerful effect on our bodies and tinnitus is definitely a problem which is conquered in this way. Tinnitus doesn't stick a chance of ruining our lives when we are not fearful of it. If tinnitus doesn't cause us fear or depression and doesnt bother us, then it's as good as if its gone - think about it. 🙂
If you are reading this and are at your wits end, I want to let you know that things can and do improve massively. My life is as good now with tinnitus as it was before tinnitus. Take one day at a time. It just takes a little time and a different way of thinking.