Do Not Underestimate the Power of Habituating to Tinnitus

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by flimflam, Aug 1, 2020.

    1. flimflam

      flimflam Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/08/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Flu
      Hi guys,

      I remember the day I was woken up by a multi-tone variable pitch ringing in my left ear. August 7, 2016. I remember sitting in my car after pulling into work and googling "ringing in ear cause" and then learning about tinnitus. I will confess, I spiralled deep into a very dark place- like most of the people here did.

      I saw ENTs, audiologists, GPs, and even opened up to a few close friends but it seemed like nobody could understand the pain I was going through. I spent days and weeks just googling stories, research, and treatments all to no avail.

      One word that kept popping up was habituation. The idea that your mind can get used to the sound of your tinnitus and either filter it out completely or remove the negative feelings you get when you hear it. I didn't want that. I wanted silence. I wanted to go back to the way things were before this nightmare.

      But then, you know what? I habituated. I found myself spending less time on Tinnitus Talk, and if I did - I limited myself solely to the success stories. I sorted out my sleep, and with the help of some OTC meds, I was able to achieve 3 hours, 4 hours, six - then eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. I avoided situations that stressed me out like being alone in my quiet car or trying to sleep in a quiet room so I got a white noise machine. I basically did a whole bunch of little things that ended up combining to help my brain habituate.

      I then found myself going whole days, then weeks, then MONTHS without stressing over my tinnitus. I say stressing since I still hear it to this day, as loud as ever, but 95% of the time my brain just filters it out. The other 4.9% it just simply doesn't send me into cold sweats anymore. There was one night this past year where I was pretty bad but by the next morning, it felt like a bad dream that had passed.

      This whole ordeal felt like a nightmare but I am here to tell you that there is hope. I have this theory from anecdotes and experience that the majority of the population actually has tinnitus to some extent. It's just that their brain manages to filter it out to be a non-issue 24/7 but for a small portion, people like us, the stars just align and we get thrown into this fight of flight tinnitus situation.

      Look, all I really wanted to say is that habituation, for me, was like a cure. My tinnitus is still there but it does. not. affect. my. life. whatsoever. I went from logging into Tinnitus Talk multiple times an hour to logging in once a year to give you an idea.

      Don't dismiss habituation as a 'compromise' - it was all the cure I needed.
       
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    2. Lilah
      Mellow

      Lilah Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      What do think helped most with sleep? I find myself waking up wide awake frequently. I have many dreams (not really anxiety dreams) and I usually wake up once the story is over.
       
    3. Contrast
      No Mood

      Contrast Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Clown World
      Tinnitus Since:
      late 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise injury
      This is underplaying the suffering of some people who have it very bad.
       
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    4. CAgirl

      CAgirl Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      3 M80 Firecrackers
      Thank you for posting this. Is yours the type of tinnitus you can hear all day over everything? Or do you only hear it an night and/or in a quiet room? I have a loud, high-frequency hissing I can hear over everything and I’m wondering how I’ll ever habituate it this...
       
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    5. Falchion

      Falchion Member

      Location:
      Utrecht, Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/05/20
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Hammer drill
      Appreciate this post. My T is shoving my face into my everlasting perfectionism. Habituation seems like second best to someone who can usually get away with most things. If it doesn't go away, I will embrace it as life therapy.
       
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    6. Tony Phylactou

      Tony Phylactou Member

      Location:
      Limassol
      Tinnitus Since:
      sept 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Cement factory noise lowT,then stress high T
      When my tinnitus was mild, like you said, I habituated and could not hear it for days or even weeks. But since it has changed to high pitch, no habituation is possible.
       
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    7. Tanni
      Devilish

      Tanni Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      October 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      ???
      Thank you for coming back to share your story. Congratulations on your success :)
       
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    8. Tanni
      Devilish

      Tanni Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      October 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      ???
      How? He says that for some of us, Tinnitus becomes an issue. That's a completely correct and innocuous statement.

      I think people here can have a knee jerk reaction to these sorts of success stories after years of being on the forum. There was nothing to be offended about; he didn't negate anyone's suffering, and even said the words 'for me' in the post, to show this was his personal experience and not universal.
       
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    9. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I agree with you @Tanni and well said. Some people on this forum are so consumed with negativity towards tinnitus and life they are unable to see anything positive in this world only doom and gloom. Anyone that dares to say they have had success, will be instantly challenged and often ridiculed by these non believers.

      Michael
       
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    10. Tanni
      Devilish

      Tanni Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      October 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      ???
      Hi Michael,

      Just to be clear, I don't believe that everyone can habituate (esp as I'm probably one of them), and don't agree that anyone who says they can't is overly negative or somehow to blame, because they're/we're not.

      But equally, the people who can habituate have the right to tell their story and offer hope to others. Vulnerable people rely on the Success Stories section of the site, and I personally want to encourage people to post there, not dissuade them.

      I can understand someone being defensive if the OP had claimed that habituation was possible for everyone, but they did not. They only talked about how it had worked for them. So I think the negative response to it was an overreaction.

      Anyway, sorry for derailing the thread.
       
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    11. Zugzug

      Zugzug Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Autoimmune hyperacusis from Sjogren's Syndrome
      If I'm being honest, habituation success stories make me jealous since I know it is utterly unrelated to my problem. But as long as the OP is extremely respectful and understands that many people on here do not have habituation in the cards, I am happy to see these stories. There are people out there who really need to be told to try to habituate.

      When I developed eye floaters way back, I bought a book on reducing them. Didn't work. Eventually, I kept reading about habituation and gave it a try. I didn't change my lifestyle at all. Sunlight bothered me -- in particular reading in the sun. But I didn't alter my behavior and sure enough, I fully habituated to the floaters. I have to imagine a similar phenomenon happens with certain types of tinnitus.

      But at the same rate, I never got the impression that everyone with eye disorders could treat the problem the way that I did. Habituation has a rough history of victim blaming. Hopefully some day, when biomedical research is more mainstream, we can neatly get into groups based on who needs habituation and who needs medication. While it's true that our ear problems have different levels of severity, it's also true that our brains have different capacities for habituation based on all sorts of complicated things.
       
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    12. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      HI @Tanni

      I also want to make a few things clear about habituating for I have written many articles on it which you will find in the link below should you care to take a look. My comments are about certain members who are negative to the point they refuse to see anything positive about tinnitus or life. Peruse their posts and you'll see what I mean. They use this forum and other social media platforms, to blame their government and medical professionals for not finding a cure for tinnitus.

      Tinnitus is one in a long list of medical conditions for which there is no cure at present. However, in many instances people can live their life with treatment and this comes in various forms: medication, counselling, sound therapy and relaxation techniques. Sometimes professional help is required by seeing an Audiologist or Hearing Therapist trained in the treatment of tinnitus and hyperacusis. I have habituated twice to tinnitus. The first time took 2 years and the 2nd 4 years and I have written about this in my post: My experience with tinnitus in the link below.

      In 2010 I reached my lowest ebb and was unable to read for two years and thought my life was over, as rarely a day passed that I didn't endure a cacophony of noise in my head and ears, so I know what severe tinnitus can do to a person's mental and emotional wellbeing. I am not talking about people that visit this forum seeking help because their tinnitus makes them feel miserable, depressed or negative about life - it's those that have a deliberate vendetta to quash every ounce of positivity that is mentioned in this forum.

      All the best
      Michael

      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/the-habituation-process.20767/
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/my-experience-with-tinnitus.12076/
       
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    13. Martin D
      Alienated

      Martin D Member

      Location:
      Lacey, Washington
      Tinnitus Since:
      July 14, 2007
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Bad Advice From a Natural Quack Doctor
      When mine was mild starting July 2007 (I thought it was bad then) and I had habituated, bothered me sleeping some, but no big deal. Then August 2018 all began to change, much louder and higher pitched. Now a year and half later the screaming is unrelenting but it keeps getting to a higher pitch. The hope is it will go above the brain's ability to generate the noise (13,500 HZ). Mine was spawned by following the advice of a "Naturoquack" who makes big bucks selling his crap, that was several years ago, I happen to be allergic to one of ingredients and it nearly put me six feet under. No need for the gory details. I currently use Clonazepam 1MG hour before bed, plus OTC sleep aids. I also have an eleven hour MP3 track called "Frog Chorus" which breaks up the noise. One advantage is I also am able to rationalize the stress in the brain from preventing it being sent to the body, learned that years ago for a high stress job.
       
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    14. asey20
      Buzzed

      asey20 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Toronto
      Tinnitus Since:
      July 13, 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Not sure.
      I believe this actually can happen. I wish my tinnitus was 20,000 Hz.
      Where can I find this Frog Chorus? :whistle:
       
    15. JohnFox

      JohnFox Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown. Sudden loss of 100% hearing R ear with Tinnitus
      I'm sorry that you feel hopeless about your tinnitus. I thought I would chime in because I too have a very high-frequency hissing type of tinnitus that never goes away. It's loud and clear throughout the day. Yet, like the author of this thread I have habituated to it quite a bit. At least to the point where it doesn't ruin my life. I am living with it. When I say "living", I mean I am doing pretty much what I did before except it still does effect how I spend my time in highly social environments where there are a lot of people talking. Along with severe tinnitus I also have severe hyperacusis. I still often have to insert an earplug into my good left ear. My right side is completely deaf. It all happened very suddenly and was very traumatizing. I don't know if I can tell you how to habituate other than it takes time. I have been this way for about a year and 9 months. One thing I will tell you is that you will not habituate unless you enter into full acceptance. Stop trying to fight it. No more "why me" or anything like that. To begin the road to habituation you must fully accept that this thing is not going away,..ever. Now who knows,...it may indeed go away (or improve) some time. But for now, you must have the attitude that it is not going away.

      Like the author here, the volume and magnitude of my tinnitus today is no different than it was in the beginning. It's a loud static, hissing, metallic noise on the right side of my head as if it was coming from my right ear (my deaf ear.) The volume of it does fluctuate a little bit but never goes away. Any noise at all entering my good ear causes the hissing noise to increase. On bad days it can sound like a idling 737 jet. Fortunately at night when things become very quiet, the volume subsides some. I can actually sleep with it. But as soon as I get up and make any kind of sounds like running water or dishes touching each other, the noise fires up.

      My habituating is like this. Quite a while ago I decided to not fight it anymore. I completely accepted it. Fully embraced it. This is me. I'm not going to end my life, so I have to learn to live my life. So I began to just start doing as many things that I did before that I could do. Sometimes I would find myself in an environment where the noise became too unbearable and I would just tell myself..."Oh, that isn't good. I need to get away from here." It also really helps me to be involved in things that keep my mind busy. For example I love reading books and I found that I can still do this. But first the full acceptance must come. Thus, I am now discovering that I am logging more time through the day where I am not even aware of my tinnitus. It is still there, loud as ever, but I am not aware of it. At first the time periods were only for 10 or 20 minutes. But it grew from there. I still hear it, but it means nothing to me. It's like,.."oh yea, that noise in my head....pffft."

      Having said all this, there are STILL situations that I simply cannot endure. I cannot sit in a crowded restaurant without using some kind of ear plug in my good ear...(hyperacusis). The hissing noise simply becomes too loud and begins to feel like the inside of my brain is literally vibrating. But,...I still don't let it ruin my day. I know, that it is the environment that I am in, and I just need to change the environment by inserting an ear plug, or by leaving. I used to not be able to endure just going to the hardware store without an ear plug in my left ear, but now I can do that. Maybe someday I will be able to go to a restaurant without an earplug.

      I used to come on this Tinnitus Talk website a lot, but I don't spend much time on it any longer. I used to come here to seek help, but now I come to offer some help to others. I hope this will help you to get to a place where you are not simply enduring your tinnitus, but you are actually living with your tinnitus.
       
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    16. Ava Lugo
      Irritated

      Ava Lugo Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Virus
      Hey John, does your reactive tinnitus get louder with every sentence spoken to you? Like does it get noticeably louder when you hear someone talking to you? And does it react to every little sound?
       
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    17. Ava Lugo
      Irritated

      Ava Lugo Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Virus
      I’m sorry about the long post. Are you able to listen to music without it sounding distorted or have you had problems with things sounding distorted? I wonder how some with reactive tinnitus listen to music. And was there ever a time when you wore of the tinnitus every single second of the day all day? That’s all I want to know cause after almost a year I’m still aware of mine all day.
       
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    18. JohnFox

      JohnFox Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown. Sudden loss of 100% hearing R ear with Tinnitus
      Even though my tinnitus is reactive to every outside sound, I don't think I am experiencing any "distortion". My tinnitus is of the static hissing type and the intensity of it increases dramatically with sounds entering my good ear, especially certain kinds of sounds. The most bothersome sounds are when I am inside a building. I suspect that is because of the sound waves bouncing off the walls. If I am in a building with poor sound quality like "echoing", that is the worst and I usually have to insert an ear plug into my good ear. (My right ear, is completely deaf). I still listen to music. For some reason I am able to separate my brain from the tinnitus when I am listening to music I enjoy. This may be a part of my habituation, and I don't notice any distortion of the music. I play the guitar, and still enjoy doing that although it's definitely not as enjoyable as before. Little by little am I having longer periods where the tinnitus noise is sorta on the back burner. It's there, but I don't pay any attention to it. This is much easier when I am outside doing outside activities that I am in control of. Nature sounds are much less intrusive than man made sounds. I have pretty much accepted this thing, and don't complain to myself too much about it. I know it is here to stay. Having said that, if someone told me I could have it cured by walking from Seattle to Miami FL, I would begin walking tomorrow.
       
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    19. JohnFox

      JohnFox Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown. Sudden loss of 100% hearing R ear with Tinnitus
      I have been living with very significant hissing static noise in my head for nearly four years now so I know what you're talking about. It never goes away. It is part of my life. I hear it over everything, and I also have hyperacusis to deal with. 100% deaf in my right ear. Can you ever habituate? Yes, you can. But it requires full acceptance of your condition. That needs to get settled in your mind once and for all. Full acceptance. My condition happened all at once for no apparent reason. I went to bed with no hearing issues, and woke in middle of night with total right ear hearing loss, hyperacusis and loud hissing static noise on right side of head. It never got any better. Habituation doesn't mean it goes away. Not at all. It means it doesn't rule your life. It means you may have hours where you realize you didn't really notice your condition those past few hours. It means you live life without always this feeling that something is wrong with you. It's okay to feel sorry for yourself now and then and recall better days... but then you have to drop it. Don't live there. Full acceptance. Good luck.
       
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    20. just1morething
      Benevolent

      just1morething Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      U.S.
      Tinnitus Since:
      2008
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Airplane barotrauma to left ear, noise exposure.
      That’s very true. We all want our old lives back. Noise in your head till you’re dead doesn’t sound too appealing. I have some toe numbness and stinging too I don’t like.
       
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    21. Mandyyyyyyy

      Mandyyyyyyy Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise-induced
      Very inspiring. Thank you very much!
       
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