Hey guys! It's been awhile and some of you may or may not remember me.
Back in early 2012, I came down with T, more than likely due to an ototoxic side effect to some medication I was taking to deal with tension headaches at the time.
The first six months were the toughest by far. I had never really dealt with anxiety and depression in the past, but this condition put me into the worst of it and now I can at least better empathize with people who go through it daily. In those early months, I spent my free time during overnights at work as a hotel desk clerk looking up treatments, potential causes, reading horror stories of how it could ruin peoples lives. (The silver lining is that's how I found this forum) I had major insomnia issues which only exacerbated the anxiety/depression. I would worry during work of how or if I was going to get to sleep when I got home. I went from calling my mother from once every few weeks to daily just to have someone to talk to since I lived by myself and nearly drove her nuts with my constant complaining of how my life was ever going to get back to what it was. Spent a couple grand on seeing doctors and medications trying to deal with anxiety/insomnia that was mixed at best in helping.
Looking back, it wasn't one specific thing or epiphany moment that got me over the hump. It was baby steps and changes in my life that helped little by little.
- At the six month mark, I finally was able to quit my overnight hotel gig and got a retail day job that keeps me pretty busy most days and on my feet. Don't have a lot of time to think about it now and there are hours that go by when I don't even think or notice it unless it's a slow day.
- Also around the six month mark, I got a cat. I had always thought about getting a pet since I lived alone but never really put a lot of emphasis on it because of the cost. This actually allowed me to have to start worrying about something else other than myself for once. Instead of my mind being on the noise in my head when I walked into my quiet apartment, my kitty usually greeted me and I had to worry about feeding her and tending to anything related to her. The fact she's a snuggler and great lap cat never hurt either.
- I did bi-weekly acupuncture sessions for about 9 months which I also started at about the 6 month mark. This wasn't so much to try and get rid of my T, but deal with the symptoms of anxiety and depression it was causing. I won't say it's going to work for everyone, but even if it was a placebo at the end of the day, I do think the sessions helped me some.
- Getting my sleep back to consistency turned out to be about half the problem. Once I got comfortable and confident in myself in being able to fall asleep with no assistance in medications/sleep aids/background noise, that was a major step in the right direction to habituation.
- At about a year, I made more of an effort to hang out with friends and go out and be social instead of being cooped up in my apartment to my thoughts and the noise.
I would say by 18 months I was probably back to about 80% of my normal self before T and now at 3 1/2 years I'm probably 98% back and in full habituation. It's just background noise to me at this point. There were a couple people close to me who passed away in the last couple of years and some friends of friends and family I was hearing some major stories of dealing with things FAR worse than I was like tumors, cancer, pain, etc. and I look back on my early days dealing with this condition and thinking to myself I've got it pretty good compared to a lot of people in this world if my biggest problem is a bunch of noise in my head.
My T is what I'd consider a lot of white noise and low tone. I have a low refrigerator running in my right ear that is really only audible in quiet rooms or at night and don't here it during the day. My left ear has garden variety T with quiet days being a pulsatile hiss to my loud days being full on white noise/hissing/roaring like turning on an old tube TV with the occasional high pitched beep here or there. Given my T was not caused by noise has allowed me to still be around most loud noises and general activity. About the only thing I haven't done yet is go to a loud sporting event/concert and in the event I do, I'd probably just wear ear plugs as a precaution because I still do worry about my hearing since I have lost about 20% of my hearing in my left ear due to this. Everyone's T is different and I'm pretty thankful that at worst, mine is comparable to a lot of white noise while I know many others struggle with far worse than what I have.
I won't sit here and completely sugarcoat my recovery because I do still occasionally worry about "what if it gets worse or I start hearing something that doesn't go away after awhile?" "Where's it and I going to be in 10 years? 20 years? Since I'm only 35 now and know it can get worse with old age. This would probably be my 2% I still struggle with on a semi-frequent basis. I try not to let it bother me, but it still creeps in my thoughts from time to time. Compared to where I was back in 2012, it's like night and day. This forum did help me get through some of the darker times I will admit and reading the success stories and I can also safely say, it does get easier to deal with in time. For some it can happen quickly, and for others it might take a handful of months or even years, but you just gotta power through it.
I know that's easier said than done, and there were times where I was ready to give up, pack my %%*# up, and move back home with my mother to deal with it and I'm so glad I stuck it out and did not do that. My family and friends helped a lot and the biggest thing was just time and small steps here and there. Getting your sleep under control was the biggest issue and to me 50% of the battle. Once I got over that hump, it started allowing me to focus on other things in dealing with this and fortunately after a couple of years, I can finally say I hit habituation. It didn't happen over night for me, but it can for most in time and I truly do believe that. With so much going on in ones life, I know it can be easy to lose hope, but don't let it beat you. At the end of the day, it's just noise. Once you take ownership of it and put in the background, that's where you begin to beat back the depression/anxiety and it paralyzing your daily life. Don't sit around at home and let it control you like I did the first six months. Get out and be with friends, be active, be social, get back and do the things you do to help you relax and I have full confidence almost anyone can beat it back. If a gaming nerd like me get there, I know people with much stronger wills can too.