My advice to anyone who has recently started experiencing tinnitus is that it will get better. I know it doesn’t feel like it when you’re grappling with those unwanted and intrusive sounds, or when your tinnitus is so loud, you’re struggling to hear the person you’re speaking to, but with time this will all settle down.
About My Tinnitus
I began experiencing tinnitus in 2016, when I lost the hearing in my left ear due to sudden sensorineural hearing loss. There was a cruel irony in losing hearing so suddenly and gaining the unwanted sounds of tinnitus in its place.
My tinnitus is constant in my deaf ear, and my right ear has since developed intermittent tinnitus. The foundation layer of my tinnitus is the sound of water whooshing past my ears. When I focus on my tinnitus, I can hear other sounds including the sound of a kettle, boiling with a shrill continuous whistle, and bursts of crackling radio static.
I really struggled in the beginning with my tinnitus. I found it difficult to concentrate on conversations with the constant noise and I struggled to get to sleep. It was hard to believe that it would be possible for me and my tinnitus to live a “normal” life together.
Learning to Live with My Tinnitus
For me, I had to accept my tinnitus, before learning to figure out how I was going to be able to manage my daily life with its constant presence. I had to learn to stop fighting it (which was my natural instinct) because chances are, it was here to stay. When I say, “acceptance”, I like to think that I have reached around 90% acceptance —the 10% is saved for what I see as a healthy amount of hope for a future cure.
With this acceptance, I set off on a mission to find the best management strategies for me, which surprisingly turned out to be quite simple.
Taking Back Control
I noticed that my tinnitus became more prominent due to certain factors. I started keeping a diary of my symptoms and began to identify my triggers. I determined that stress, lack of sleep, alcohol, salty foods, and stormy weather all caused my tinnitus to spike. It seemed my tinnitus fed off these triggers—I aimed to starve it! Though I was unable to prevent a storm from coming, I could control my other triggers. Just having more understanding of my triggers made me feel more in control.
I didn’t, and couldn’t, completely avoid my triggers. But, if I chose, for example, to have a glass of wine, it was my decision to do so—I had weighed up the positives of enjoying a drink against a spike in my tinnitus, and I had decided whether it was worth it. No longer was my tinnitus in control.
I found that the less I thought about my tinnitus, the less it bothered me. I know, it’s not always easy to ignore tinnitus; it’s in its nature to make itself known. In the early days, the more I tried to ignore it, the more I was consciously thinking about it, which in turn made it worse. It was a vicious cycle!
Instead of trying to actively ignore it, I shifted my attention to other matters. Keeping myself busy, kept my tinnitus at bay. I found that writing helped me switch off from my tinnitus, as my brain would be too busy thinking of the next word to pay attention to the sounds of tinnitus.
I love walking in the countryside, and as soon as I am surrounded by nature, I feel calm. Add the gentle burble of a stream to the mix, and it’s a perfect tinnitus-minimising and masking scenario. I also practice yoga and controlled breathing exercises to help reduce stress levels, lift my mood, and promote better sleep. The calmer I remain, the less bothersome my tinnitus.
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My Tinnitus Today
My tinnitus is still there, but it rarely troubles me. I can go for days, sometimes longer, without even noticing it. It is nearly always the underwater sound—a white noise that generally takes a backseat in my brain. Perhaps my tinnitus has calmed down with time, or maybe it’s just that I manage it better. It’s impossible to know. The important thing is, that it is no longer in control.
Connecting With Others
Through sharing my story in my blog, My Hearing Loss Story, I connected with people from all walks of life, living with hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders. I realised the power of connecting with people who really understood what it’s like to live with hearing health conditions and decided to create a space where people could connect. The My Hearing Loss Story Facebook support group is a private group for people with all types of hearing conditions, where members are invited to share their hearing loss stories, ask questions, and offer each other support and advice.
A Need for More Support
It was so wonderful to watch this Facebook community grow. Through this, I identified a need for personalized service to support people on their hearing loss journeys, so I decided to do something about it by becoming a Transformational Coach.
A Personalized Coaching Service for People with Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
Transformational coaching is a conversation and relationship that explores your personal beliefs, values, behaviours, and purpose. It focuses on moving forward, setting goals, and working toward achieving them.
My online coaching practice is one of the few dedicated coaching services for people with hearing conditions. A fully qualified coach, I specialize in coaching people affected by hearing health issues such as hearing loss, tinnitus, noise sensitivity, and balance disorders to move forward positively, achieve their goals, and live a life they are proud of.
Some of the themes I support my clients with include:
- Exploring identity as someone with hearing loss/tinnitus and determining the life you want to lead
- Limiting beliefs (that little negative voice in your head that holds you back from accepting great opportunities)
- Changing career
- Overcoming feelings of low confidence and/or isolation
- How to be your own advocate
and much more!
If this sounds like a good fit for you, for more information, or to schedule a free coaching session, reach out via the contact page on my website.
You can also follow me on Instagram for updates.
As I continue my hearing loss journey, I look forward to supporting many people in moving forward positively with their hearing health conditions and achieving their goals.