My tinnitus started in 2013. I can remember so clearly the morning it started.
I was snoozing in a post alarm clock slumber, not wanting to drag myself out of bed. Then, without warning, the ringing started - a high pitched ring, the kind you get after a loud concert. The kind that usually stops after a few seconds.
This time it didn’t stop.
I got up, turned the radio on and had a shower - the sounds of the water and the music masking the ringing. I thought to myself surely it will stop at some point and I’ll just forget about it. I got ready for work and then turned the radio off, plunging the apartment into silence. The ringing was still there, loud and clear. It had been an hour since the ringing started. I remember the tinge of panic that started to envelop me.
I tried my best to put it out of my mind and walked to work - the sounds of the outside world helping to mask the ringing I could hear in my head. I tried to get on with my day as usual. However, as much as I tried to ignore the noise, it was always there staring to drive me crazy.
The days and weeks that followed were a mix of panic, dread and despair.
I went to the doctor who did all of their normal checks. At this point I had done some reading on ‘ringing in the ears’ or ‘Tinnitus’ as I found out it was called. I was hopeful that it was just a build-up of earwax or an ear infection - something that could be easily fixed. Nope, no ear wax, no ear infection. The doctor told me that my ears were perfectly fine. Then came the dreaded news – it looks like you do have ‘a bit’ of Tinnitus. It may just go away on its own or it could carry on.
Oh, and there’s no cure for this condition. This is when the panic really set in. Many thoughts crossed my mind. How will I cope? I’m never going to be able to sit in silence again! My life is ruined!
I was referred to the ENT clinic at my local hospital. Once again, no ear wax. I had a hearing test, absolutely no hearing loss. Your ears are absolutely fine, we can’t do anything for you. You’ll have to manage the condition – you’re discharged. Bye.
I lost all hope. I thought my life would never be the same again. I couldn’t think of a future where I’d be able to cope with this noise and live my life. All of these thoughts helped to feed the panic and despair, in turn making the Tinnitus even worse.
I’d come to the conclusion that I would have to end my life.
My saving grace, and the only thing that stopped me from doing something drastic was an amazing support network. My family and my partner were fundamental in my survival and helping me cope with my condition.
Very slowly, but surely, I learned to live my life with the burden of Tinnitus.
I’ve never got used to the ringing in my ears. I’d read somewhere that eventually the brain would consider the noise normal and block it out, but this has never happened for me.
The most effective coping mechanism that works for me is masking.
The day-to-day noises of everyday life help to mask the ringing in my ears and sometimes I’ll forget about it completely. At night, however, it’s a different story. Trying to sleep in a silent room with my ear pressed against a pillow is impossible for me.
My sleep routine now consists of a pedestal fan which is on every night, even in winter. I also have a speaker pillow which pumps out white noise. It seems drastic, but it’s the only way I can sleep, and I love my sleep! It’s been this way for years now and I’ve got used to it and my amazing and supportive partner has also got used to it!
I can finally say that I’m coping with Tinnitus and living my life to the fullest. It’s always there, but it doesn’t control me like it used to. I feel like it’s time to try and help others and that’s why I’m running the Leeds 10K for The British Tinnitus Association this year. I want to raise as much as I can so we can find a cure for this awful condition.
I wish I didn’t have Tinnitus, but I think living with the condition has made me a stronger person.
Bring on the Leeds 10K!!
The British Tinnitus Association is the only national charity specialising in tinnitus support. Their vision is a world where no one suffers from tinnitus. They receive no money from the government, so are 100% reliant on the generosity and support of members of the public and grant-making organisations to be able to support people with tinnitus across the UK.All of their work is paid for by the generosity of supporters like you.