Since I've posted «(I used to care but) Things have changed» I have received several PM's and RL-questions about two specific topics that fellow tinnitus-sufferers seems to be confused on what I really wanted to say.  I hope with this post that I don’t overstay my welcome on this forum, but since I’ve posted the «Things have changed» -text I have had a lot of thoughts over what I then wrote, and I would very much like to elaborate on the topics of time and setback.

Especially regarding setbacks, I may  have frightened some people  on how long they last.


 As with my last post, this one is also meant for the newbies, the newcomers to this crazy, wacky world of tinnitus. I do not believe I have anything to offer those of you who have had a longer relationship with Mr. T. than myself. I remember how thankful I was for similar «comforting» posts when I was Dantes seventh circle of hell.

So for what it is worth, here are my second take on tinnitus-healing and habituation.


 Once again, I must stress that this are my own experiences with tinnitus and should absolutely not be taken as gospel to tinnitus-remedy as a general rule. But as I've written earlier these experience seems to be a common factor with all the people I have talked with as fellow tinnitus-sufferers. By the way, erase the «sufferer» -part from your mind. None of those suffers any more. 

[size=150]Wearing the inside out 


Time  and setbacks seem the be the most pressing issues regarding tinnitus-sufferers who are still in the early stages. This of course because every «bad ear day» seem to last forever. And to make matters worse there's always the dread of the next day ( and the next and another day) 

«Oh, my God. Today was unbearable. If tomorrow is just as bad I don’t know what to do. I can’t take this anymore. This insane noise is sucking all the happiness out of my life. If this continues any longer I won’t be able to take care of neither myself or my family.»

 Sounds like a familiar thought? Of course it does.
These were my exact thoughts for almost two years.
Just when I thought I was out they pulled me back in ( I know, I’m sorry, but quoting Pacino in The Godfather Part III was just too much to resist  here).
 

There were so many times I thought to myself that now it is finally getting better. And during my second year I even experienced almost a month of recovery ( and I was convinced that I was THERE, finally THERE, on the road back to my old life and happiness), only to be knocked back to square one when the mother of all setbacks reared its ugly head. 
On this occasions, the only question in my head was this: «Why? Why? Why do I feel like I’m getting nowhere after a whole month of healing?????»

 Coming back to life

 But, of course, what I should have been asking is this: «Why in the world would you think that the healing process would follow a straight line?

 This question was brought up on this very board in an old, old post that I stumbled onto. Think hard. Do you know any other healing processes or recovery paths that follow such a straight line? Ask anybody who is recovering from...well, anything, basically, if they are experiencing that they are slowly getting better every day in every way? My guess will be that 99% of those people  will tell you that the  healing process is a seemingly endless road of ups and downs.

And why should the healing process from tinnitus be any different?

 I know the feeling of a particularly hard setback after days / weeks / months of feeling better is excruciating. But stop and think about it the next time you experience such a setback. Think back to when you first noticed your tinnitus. Isn’t this setback a teensy, weensy bit easier to live with than the horror you experienced the first couple of months?

 Some people seem to think that setbacks are something that can last a long time. Not not in my experience. The longest setback I’ve experienced ( this is, of course, the time period AFTER the initial two-three-four-month freak-out stage, we’re talking about here) lasted seven days. This was a one time experience. The shortest one one single afternoon.

Now, I understand that setbacks are different for everybody. Some may experience setbacks that last several weeks. But most of the people I have spoken to talks of setbacks that last one or two days at the most. And most of those setbacks are not even setbacks. Just regular «bad ear days».


 A Setback in my experience are periods of anxiety and unrest that comes after a prolonged period of healing and progress. One of these days You see, you are recovering. You are healing. This brain of yours is less afraid of the noise than it was in the beginning. But it is doing its very best to convince you otherwise. It’s like a reflex.  The anxiety you are feeling when the setbacks set in is a reflex, a memory of those early days and weeks when you were in panic mode.

As time goes by ( you must remember this a kiss is still a kiss….) these reflexes and memories will grow dimmer. The shrieking noise that almost had a physical pain to it will in a higgledy-piggledy way disappear. And with it the anxiety.
 You don’t have to «do» anything to achieve this. The brain and the body will work its magic on its own regardless of how you are trying to ease the pain with white noise, hearing aids and whatnot.  Of course white noise etc. are valuable band-aids in your panic mode, but personally I don’t think they in any way are speeding up the recovery. Like a band-aid it doesn’t heal the wound, it merely stops the blood from messing up your clothes. 

I have absolutely no medical or academic documentation for what I am writing here, but the more I think about it ( in context to how the brain works and its neuroplasticity  - how entire brain structures, and the brain itself, can change from experience), it just feels logical and right. 

The questions about setback and time in regards to tinnitus are forever entwined. They act in tandem and each and every tinnitus-sufferer wants to know just one thing:

«When will this freaking noise stop being such an issue in my life?»


 And of course: «Will it ever go away?»


 Louder than words 

It is easier to answer the first question than the last. For some lucky people, tinnitus does go away ( or perhaps it stops being and issue and the T-sufferer stop «hearing» it ), but for most of us it is here to stay.

 ( now don’t look so sad, this is not as bad as it sounds)

The first thing most of us do when we get this !!+@@* condition is to see a doctor. And as I’ve written before most GP’s don’t know the first thing about tinnitus. The next step on our «what-to-do-with-this-crazy-sound-in-my-head?» -list is to see an ENT or an audio-therapist.
 Now, if you already have been through all the steps on this list you probably now by now that that there is no drug that can take away the tinnitus, nor is there anything anybody can do to make the sound go away.

 Now you got to face the terrifying fact that you’ll have to learn to live with it ( in a nutshell, that is what habituation is all about). And the question you are asking yourself on a daily basis is this:
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE BEFORE I HABITUATE?


 Signs of life 

Once again, a question that nobody can answer. But let me put it this way: It happens so gradually and almost unnoticeable that you can’t put your finger on it. It is almost impossible to pinpoint one exact day when you can say to yourself «Hey! I’m actually a lot better». And if you do happen upon such a day you can be sure that it will be followed by an another setback which makes you say to yourself «Oh, no! I was feeling so good and now I’m back to square one again». 

Now, listen. These internal monologs are all part of your brain and your mind waging war on itself. But you can’t shut out your own thoughts, can you? Of course not. So you have no other choice than to eavesdrop to these «conversations».

 I remember reading a success story on this board in my darkest hours. Regretfully I haven’t been able to track it down again and I don’t remember who wrote it, but the sentence that stuck in my mind was something like this: «I just ignored the usual advice and just waited». 
What did this author wait for?
To habituate of course. And why did he ignore the «usual advices»? Because he suspected that it would happen by itself regardless of what «he did or did not do» to speed up the recovery process.


 Is there anybody out there?

 In hindsight, I find a lot of wisdom in this attitude. But at the time I was sure he (I’m quite sure he was a «he»)  was a raving lunatic. How on earth could he not «do» anything to make this bloody noise go away.
 I’m sure that a lot of people on this board who successfully has tried TRT or other therapies would disagree with me on this.
But I believe that no matter what technique your are learning to cope with, this it will not change or lessen the volume, pitch or other aspects of the tinnitus in itself. But it can help you cope with it and it certainly can help you to a better life in many cases.
 

I tried TRT myself and I can honestly say that it didn’t do anything for me. I also read all the self-help books there is on tinnitus and did all my «homework» of writing down my faulty thoughts and so on. All this was just me passing time while I «waited» to habituate.

 One again I stress that this is my experiences and that yours could be quite the opposite regarding TRT or other means of easing the pain. What I got the most help out of is reading success stories on this forum combined with good advice from the veterans here. I think Moz said it best when he wrote: «It is just a sound, it has not the power to hurt you or make your life a misery. Sort this bull***** out and get on with your life». 

Waiting for the worms 

Another member of this board wrote something like this: «So what are you actually going to do while you are waiting for habituation? It seems to me like you have two choices. The first one is to sit in and listen to the noise in your head while you freak out. The second is to paint your house, wash your car, help your children with their homework, do something for your wife that she’ll appreciate, go on a trip to a place you never imagined you would ever visit, learn something new...all this while your are listening to the noise in your head and freaking out ( perhaps a bit less now since your are so occupied). 

These words made sense to me. No matter what I did or would do, the noise would still be there.  It is just a noise. Not a severed arm, not a terminal illness, you are not deaf, nor are you going blind.
 IT IS JUST A NOISE. 
You will learn to live with it. And you will learn to live happily with it. 



( in comes me from two years ago, a miserable little self-centered fool who wants to have an argument with my present self) 


 - Ha-ha-ha! No, I will never learn to live with this noise, I would rather go blind.

Are your sure? Blindness is a total handicap, you know.

I’ll take anything, even blindness over this shrieking noise. It’s unbearable.

Unbearable you say? How come you already have managed to live with it for so long as you have now? How long is it? Three months already?

Yes, three months. But it is unbearable. I can’t take it anymore.

You can’t take it? But you have already endured three months and survived the freakout -stage. What do you think you should do?

I don’t know. Nobody can help me. I’m miserable. I’m in pain.

Hmm...is that so? According to your family, you were laughing yourself to tears while you were watching «Parks & Recreation» last night.

Eh..well, maybe I forgot the sound for a moment there, but it is unbearable most of the time.

So what your are saying here is that sometimes you «forget» the sound and actually enjoying life?

That’s just nitpicking. OK, sometimes it is a bit less of an annoyance than other times, but still… 

Annoyance, you say? I thought is was unbearable?

Yeah, well it is.

Well is it more or less unbearable now than it was three months ago?

Erm….less of course, but back then I was in total panic.

So if it was worse three months ago is there any reason why it shouldn’t be even a lesser version of «unbearable» in three months time from now?

Eh...because, mph,....because it is unbearable right now.

So what you are really saying is that if you accidentally break you arm tomorrow your arm is going to be broken for the rest of your life?

Of course not. It will heal.

And the reason that your fear and anxiety of your tinnitus won’t heal is….?


 ( at this point the «me» from two years ago had run out of arguments and was heading for the door looking like a dog in the rain). 


The happiest days of our lives


 A few last words regarding the never-ending question about time ( how long will it taaaaake before I habituate).We humans perceive time as a straight line.

Time in the case of healing processes is seldom as straight as our perception.


 During my darkest hours, the suffering felt like it was never ending. I was also convinced that it would be a never-ending suffering that lasted the rest of my life.
If you are having similar thoughts know this: Your thoughts are faulty.
Period.


 Everything changes.
Nothing is ever the same.
It doesn’t matter if we are talking illness, relationships, life situations, job situations, seasons, children, favorite foods.

Absolutely everything changes. It is a universal law.
So why should tinnitus be any different? Is your reaction to  tinnitus the only thing in the whole universe that never changes? That never heals? The one thing that is constant?

 The idea of this itself is by all laws of nature an impossibility.


 Wish you were here 


You WILL habituate. And you WILL be better.

As a matter of fact, you will be right as rain. Your tinnitus is just a bump in the road we call life. And if your tinnitus is the worst bump you’ll ever encounter, you should consider yourself one of the luckiest people on the planet.


 Days, weeks, months or years. It takes time. And all you have to do is let your body and your mind do the work for you while you do other stuff. Life’s short, but you’ll be damned if you are going to let your tinnitus prevent you of living and enjoying it. 

Now, if you are thinking that frosin is such a lucky son of a gun ( hilarious American expression used in a lot of old western-movies) and that he is fully habituated, I’m afraid I have to disappoint you.
I’m not there yet.
I still have «dark» days when the tinnitus is really bothering me. But compared to the first 18 months it is like night and day. Bothering me, yes. Anxiety and depression? No, Sir. Not so long from now even  you  will experience this yourself. Having a jolly good day while the tinnitus is playing catch-up with the tea-kettle and a pair of jet-fighters inside your skull.



 Louder than words 


I’ve saved the most important peace of advice for last. It is a bit of a two-edged swordbecause although it helped me tremendously in my search for relief during my darkest days, it also scared the living daylights out of me. 

This is tinnitus forums on the internet. Strangely enough, there are not that many you can find. This very forum is without a doubt the best there is. Most of the posters here are people who are genuinely interested in helping each other and who has a lot of good advice to come with. But as with every forum of this kind there are also a lot of scared people who may or may not be a natural writers.
The result is in some cases a text that is both misleading ( e.g. the author was not able to express what she / he wanted to say) and  exaggerated ( it’s the internet, people exaggerate or lie).


 So in your search for comforting posts you suddenly stumble upon this on guy or girl who is scaring you with their stories of reoccurring tinnitus that suddenly and unexplainably got a lot worse. Or what about the story from that guy who has had tinnitus for 14 years and is still struggling with anxiety and fear because his tinnitus has gotten louder by each passing year?

 It is impossible to check if such stories are true or not.
Remember this is the internet. There are bound to be some trolls out there.
People who are in a bad place for some reason or other. Sometimes people just like to hurt other people. Sad, but true.


 Without this board ( and other tinnitus-forums and blogs) I would never have learned so much of this condition as I now do. On the other hand, I have read things that have scared me sleepless and have had a profound effect on my self-esteem and my faith in that someday I would feel better.
It has been both a blessing and a curse.
 

So now it is up to you. How much time do you want to spend on the internet while you are figuring this out?
 Most of the time you find posts ( this forum excepted for the most part) from people who says that drinking coffee is bad for your tinnitus, that flying causes a higher pitch, that listening to music with headphones is a certain to make your tinnitus worse and so on and so on.

 These are in 99% of the cases just bad advice.
Why?
Because your tinnitus is not the same as theirs. You have to listen to your common sense. If you are a normal and healthy person without any mental problems to speak of you will be fine.



 Now, to finish this whole thing off, here’s a true story from last week when I went to see my GP. 



Hi, Frosin. How are you and what can I do for you?

I’m fine. How are you? I’m wondering if you can give me a prescription for Naproxen ( Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug ). I hurt my back doing some gardening work a few days ago, and it won’t go away.

Well, let us take a look at your back then. By the way how is that tinnitus of yours? We haven’t spoken for a while.

My what? Oh, yes. That. Ha-ha. Well. It’s still there, you know. Doing it’s thing as usual. 


( at this point in the conversation my GP is looking at me with a serious face and tells me to sit down)


 - But how are you holding up? Last time we met you were a nervous wreck. You couldn’t sit still on that chair. And you had lost a lot of weight and were having problems sleeping. Are you telling me your tinnitus has more or less disappeared?

Eh, no. Not at all. It is the same as it has been since day one.

But you are looking healthy and content. In fact you look somewhat overweight. Something must have happened. Two years ago you were crying in my office and talked about ending it all.


 At that moment, it was like an explosion of insight in my brain. He was right. The memories came rushing back. Two years back I was in the same chair, in the same office. Crying, moaning, begging him to do something that would make the noise go away. Now here I was again. With the exact same noise in my head as two years earlier and without a care in the world ( except a back pain that surely would soon go away). 


So you’re doing alright then? he said. - I mean, except the back pain? 

I guess so, I said, puzzled by my own thoughts and memories.

That’s great, he said. - And that is coming from a man who thought he would not be capable of taking care of his family or himself just two years ago.

I guess I was a different person then, I said slowly.

No. You were not, he said.  - You struggled with anxiety and fear. Those things are not to be taken lightly. But it seems like you made it on your own. You didn’t even do the drugs I wanted to prescribe for you.



Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.  
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Last Edited By: frosin 05/21/15 10:18 PM. Edited 6 times.