I’ve been overwhelmed with the response to my last blog post and am so happy that my words have managed to help someone else!
As I mentioned, I have had tinnitus for nearly four years now and feel that it is time to share my story. This may be a long post so if you would like to grab yourselves a nice cup of tea or a hot chocolate then feel free! (I would)
So as mentioned, I contracted – I suppose that’s the correct word- tinnitus around four years ago. At the time I had just moved to the University of Lincoln from my town in Hertfordshire (a long way!) and was having a rocky time. Whilst I was incredibly happy with my flatmates, going out, spending days under the duvet watching youtube videos (where my love really began) and generally getting into Uni life; I wasn’t entirely overjoyed with my course.
I was going out a little bit but not an excessive amount but one morning after a night out I realised my ears were ringing… Now, this is common for clubbing but usually goes before I wake up. But this time, it wasn’t going away. I also had a pain in both ears.
I originally tried to ignore it for the first few days, but naturally the googling began, and that is where I started to panic. Actually, writing this is also making me feel a little panicky but I’ll persevere!
I soon started to really feel sick with worry and after about five days I went to the campus Doctor.
He did various tests including hitting a metal tuning fork on his desk so it vibrated and then held it against my forehead to test the vibrations along the cranial nerve. I never did find out why. He told me that I had an ear infection in both ears and prescribed me antibiotics and assured me that the ringing would go away.
However, as you know by now – it didn’t.
Being so far away from home made the tinnitus very difficult to deal with. It wasn’t going away and none of my uni friends seemed to understand why I was so inconsolable. I stopped going to lectures, I didn’t want to eat, nothing was making me happy and I hoped that going home would cure me.
I made a very difficult decision to go home and got the train home from Lincoln that very evening. I just had to be around familiar things. My lovely Mum picked me up from the station and I just burst into tears.
I had fully intended to return to University once I felt better but for anyone who has tinnitus, you’ll know that it takes a LONG time to feel better.
I decided to drop out of University completely. I just felt like I couldn’t cope. I was upset, I was worried, I had extreme anxiety and I knew that I couldn’t continue with my studies so far from home with a serious illness.
Nothing could have prepared me for the struggle of the next 5 -6 months. I was incredibly depressed. I couldn’t do anything without crying for about a month! The only time I was relatively calm was when I was outside in the fresh air where I couldn’t hear my ears. Safe to say I spent a ton of my time walking. Which in hindsight definitely helped towards my recovery. It lifted my mood and allowed me some relief. I found myself just doing ridiculous things to make noise and honestly I just exhausted myself because I didn’t stop! My current relationship broke down (ended up being a very good thing) and I didn’t go back to the job I had before university.
However, this is not an all bad story!!
Eventually I went back to my job; I met my current boyfriend after about 4 months and fell completely in love! He gave me a reason to get up in the morning and be excited and encouraged me to carry on doing what I love and to go back to University. My parents were so so supportive and helped me to enrol on a college course doing make-up, I started my youtube channel and I reapplied to University – this time near home. It helps to have loved ones around you to get you through the hard times!
I saw an audiologist every three months where I was given a special tinnitus aid. They were two little ‘hearing aids’ which made a noise which replicated the tinnitus. By keeping this on a low level for about 7 hours of the day, it got my brain used to hearing the noise rather than my tinnitus and meant that my braid learnt to ignore the tinnitus and tricked it into thinking it was normal and honestly – my tinnitus is so so quiet now!! It doesn’t keep my up at night and I very rarely think about it. Which is awesome!
I also had cognitive behavioural therapy which taught me to look at my tinnitus positively instead of negatively and it definitely helped me to realised that it isn’t the end of the world!
It wasn’t an overnight fix and it’s taken around a year and a half in total to feel more like myself, more positive and generally happier!
You still need to take precautions to ensure it doesn’t worsen for example, wearing ear plugs when you’re in a loud environment.
Visiting the British Tinnitus Association can be helpful as they have lots of advice and sell lots of useful products.
I hope that you see similarities between my story and yours and that it gives you comfort and reassurance that while it may seem horrible now, it does get better!
As always, I love to hear from you and am happy to be an ear to listen to your worries. My email address is email@example.com feel free to email me anytime.
Take care and be happy!