Distraction, Big Bang Theory at Night & Games (+ Avoiding Prolonged Stress!)

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by Cassidy, Apr 5, 2014.

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    1. Cassidy

      Cassidy Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Stress Overdrive
      I'm new to the forums but have been reading everyone's posts a LOT over the last 3 years since my tinnitus started. First off I wanted to thank you all for being here and some great posts - it really helped me see that I wasn't the only one with this problem and I was often comforted by just seeing how supportive everyone was.

      I'm 27 years old. The day my tinnitus began..... 03/10/2010. I was just about to hand in my master's dissertation and a few days before the deadline I randomly woke up at 5AM in the morning and heard a very high pitched hiss in my left ear, which didn't go away. In the weeks leading up to this day I had been under a lot of stress so I think that major stress was the cause for my tinnitus, even though the medical community at the moment doesn't seem to agree that this can be a direct trigger of tinnitus.

      The next few months were very depressing and horrible. I could barely sleep, I could barely eat, I didn't have the energy to talk to anyone and was happy to get 30 minutes of sleep during the day in the car when I was driving around (because I couldn't get a good nights sleep in the night and would sleep only 2-3 hours every night). My tinnitus was very loud: I could hear it on the streets or in loud places but eventually settled down to a quieter level when I wasn't so anxious about it. Although at first I could even hear it over some of my favorite TV shows which I tried to watch in order to distract myself. Whenever my tinnitus seemed quieter, I would go into the bathroom and check if it was still there (I shouldn't have done this, I know). First thing I woke up in the night, my tinnitus would sometimes seem quieter so I would go to the bathroom to check.

      In the end, instead of going straight into work after my Master's degree I decided to take a 1 year break to stabilize myself. At the beginning of the year I honestly thought that I would never be able to work again due to the emotional mess that I was. I did all the tests (except for MRI) which came back normal and no hearing loss (at least in the measurable frequencies). This was comforting in one way but also highly annoying in that I just could not figure out a reason for my tinnitus occurring. I tried many days to track what made my tinnitus louder/quieter but could not find a distinct pattern which was frustrating. The only thing that I did know is that the less I slept, the worse mood I would have in the day which meant little or no energy to handle my tinnitus in a positive manner.

      Within the first few months of submitting my Master's dissertation, I started to play computer games to distract myself from thinking about the ringing. In particular I played Left for Dead 2 (not sure if all the gamers out there are familiar :p) and played daily for a few hours every night. I met some friendly people on-line to play with (no trolls) and started playing in the evenings until 2-3 AM when I was so tired that I fell asleep pretty quickly. My ringing was a bit louder after I had finished playing games but at that point I didn't care because I was so exhausted. Just in case I always had my laptop by my side playing music or "Big Bang Theory" so I wasn't in total silence. Point is that I exhausted myself into sleep and it seemed to work.

      I also stopped living in silence - no matter where I went I would have a MP3 player or my Laptop playing "Big Bang Theory". The reason I chose this over plain music is because the comedy in the show would make me laugh, which I think helped keep positive about my ringing, as opposed to just masking. I promised myself I would stop thinking about the ringing and just live with the fact that now my everyday life will have to be filled with some level of sound.

      Eventually after 6 months, while I was still living the day carrying my laptop around with me and playing games in the evening, I started preparing for job applications which gave me another thing to think about other than my ringing. I got really into it because let's face it playing the same computer game for 6 months can get a bit boring! 6 months later I managed to find a job in London and eventually moved there. All these new experiences kept my mind off the ringing.

      At some point during this year my tinnitus stopped bothering me so much. I could still hear an annoying hiss in my right ear, but I didn't care about it because my day was filled with things to do. If it ever did get louder, I would just increase the volume on my laptop and make sure I didn't think anything bad about it. This was especially key at night - ignore all negative thoughts, it will get better.

      Shortly over a year, I have to say that I completely habituated to my tinnitus. I'm not sure how it happened but I was able to walk into a quiet room, listen out for my ringing but I would think that it is just the "sound of silence" and that it was normal. If I REALLY thought about it and tried to remember what it was like before, then the ringing would get a bit annoying and distinct. But I think the key is to trick your brain into believing that your new ringing is actually what silence should sound like. Of course this is more difficult with more reactive and fluctuating tinnitus, but I think in theory could still be done.

      That being said I went 2 years without even thinking about my tinnitus. However I do always fall asleep with "Big Bang Theory" in the background every single night. Just in case to avoid silence. There were a few occasions were it increased in volume but settled quickly within a few days. The key is to stay positive and acknowledge, but not react to, any negative thoughts.

      That being said in the last 2 months (I believe due to prolonged stress at work) my tinnitus has increased a bit and also appeared in my left ear with a different tone. It is also more reactive and fluctuating then it was before. At first I felt slightly back to square one but I am definitely able to manage it much better then when I first got tinnitus. And I believe that I will be able to conquer it again. But I do believe this would not have happened if I would not have let stress build up in my day to day life. So please, don't underestimate stress management activities and techniques in your day to day life, even if you are feeling good!

      Oh and I have a fullness in my ear from time to time too & slight hyperacusis with certain sounds.

      If I can manage, you can too ;-) but we should stick together - it helps !

      Anyways sorry for the long post and it's probably a little disorganized but hope it helps someone :)

      Oh and I don't play as much Left for Dead anymore, but I still <3 games :D

      Take care everyone!
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    2. Beessie

      Beessie Member

      The Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Stress? + badluck? Clubbing? IDK!
      This looks very familiar to my situation although I am in the early stage, (just) have tinnitus for two months now. At this point is still can't think about anything else. I hope it will get better just as it did in your situation.
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    3. click

      click Member Benefactor

      West Cornwall, England, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Not sure
      @Cassidy - I wonder how many of us were helped by The Big Bang Theory - I must have watched every episode 100 times during those long, long nights in the first year of my T :LOL:
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    4. Danny Boy

      Danny Boy Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear infection
      Haha...I play too many video-games but they are a good distraction.

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