Habituation Hope: A New Outlook on Setbacks

Discussion in 'Support' started by Mark McDill, May 31, 2014.

tinnitus forum
    1. Mark McDill
      Curious

      Mark McDill Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Papillion, NE
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Likely stress, anxiety, an antibiotic and nsaids
      @Kathi just recently posted about her set back and it inspired me to reflect on my rocky-road to habituation (and its resident setbacks). So, I thought I would spend a little time and write down some thoughts in the hope they will help my fellow T sufferers (especially during those dreaded setbacks).

      Kathi, I hope you don’t mind I used your post as an inspiration; it just got me to thinking and I felt compelled to write (respectfully).

      After a year of T I consider myself largely habituated (although there is always room for improvement). In my mind, habituation does not mean I don’t hear my T anymore. It does mean I no longer react (to it), T no longer interrupts my sleep, it holds no sway over my moods, it no longer steals my focus, T does not depress me nor does it cause undo angst, and, quite frankly, most days I will go for hours completely oblivious to my T (cause it no longer registers in my conscious awareness for hours at a time). It also means I can truly say ‘ha, ha T, I so kicked your butt!’:)

      Right now you may be thinking ‘well good for you Mark, now what about me?’; and I don’t blame you for feeling that way (I did for most of last year), T is serious business and habituation does not happen overnight (or nearly fast enough for any of us). Furthermore, as if T were not difficult enough, it would appear most of us will just start to get on top of our T and start feeling positive about the future only to have a major setback. At least that is what happened to me several times. My setbacks were frustrating, scary, and downright discouraging – hated them!

      Nonetheless, as much as I hate setbacks I must admit it was a major setback that finally pushed me into my habituated state. It was a biggie, a grand mal T spike. My T was going ape; the proverbial 600 lb. gorilla named ‘T’ using my mind and emotions as a play-toy! I was a year into T and already had many ups and downs and thought I had a handle on things; this one proved me wrong – thought I was going to lose it.

      T sufferers are going to experience setbacks whether they want to or not; it’s a hard, cold fact – I hate it, but know it’s true. That being said, why not gain something from them? Make them work for you; get something out of them. If life is going to drag you through the mud why not dig for some gold? Why not challenge yourself with a new outlook? My last major setback pushed me into such an outlook (unwittingly) and I’m glad it did.

      A New Outlook: setbacks are workouts for T sufferers

      I go to the gym (some people say a lot); I love sports and I love staying active and competitive. I’m well aware of the quintessential improvement paradigm – failure is good. In other words, if you want to increase strength, endurance or athletic performance you must take things to failure. If you want to run faster/farther then you must take yourself to a substantial level of exhaustion (failure) and the next time you will run further – faster (even if just a little). The same idea applies to muscle and athletic performance. Of course, doing all this without injuring yourself (it’s about growth, after all).

      You may say ‘great Mark, you go to the gym of your own volition (I get it); but I’m not a willing participant when it comes to T’. That’s true, neither was I – nothing anyone can do about that (sorry).

      Setbacks may cause emotional, mental, and spiritual failure; an equivalency to muscle failure. We may feel deep fear, dread, angst, anger, we may cry, we may lose focus, we may get depressed (at least I felt those things and more) – but we do not have to lose hope. Just like our cardio system and muscles fail, feel sore, and are weak for a time, so, too, our mind and emotions are torn and weak; but there is no call for a loss of hope – our emotions/mind/spirit can heal and get stronger (just like our muscles); even if we are not willing participants.

      Therefore, a new (dare I say positive) outlook on setbacks is warranted. They are opportunities and cause for more strength (emotional, mental, and spiritual). Don’t worry about an emotional breakdown (even crying in the corner sucking on your thumb), don’t project negativity into your future (thinking it will be like this forever), don’t fret an inability to focus (in fact, take that into account – you are not focusing well during a setback, so don’t draw conclusions at that time) – all this (and more) may happen but realize it’s all part of the workout (exhaustion/failure). Instead, realize it does mean you are still standing here (T has not destroyed you) and you are going to come back stronger; better equipped to handle the future (T and all). Furthermore, you may become enlightened about some of the emotional and environmental factors precipitating your spike(s) and learn how to either avoid them or handle them better.

      I found this outlook diffused the power of setbacks (and resident fear) and allowed me to actually gain something from them -- even if I was an unwilling participant.

      Habituation takes time and is not easy; however, until they find a cure I firmly believe we can all eventually and collectively say ‘T is not the boss of me!’

      I hope this helps someone out there; until then – prayers for all, big ears to listen and a tender heart for the suffering…

      Mark
       
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    2. loosse up

      loosse up Member

      Location:
      Victoria BC
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2007
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      unknown
      Sorry you have not had T long enough for me to get excited. Good for you though, lets hope you are still this positive 5 years from now,
       
    3. Jay M
      Thinking

      Jay M Member

      Location:
      South Carolina, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      4/4/14
      Lets hear your outlook and habituation process for comparisons. Not being wise just curious since you spoke up.
       
    4. Stina
      Psychedelic

      Stina Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Tartu
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/13
      Interesting post Mark, although I have to say that it sounds like a philosophy of life: I don't think any of us came here voluntarily (not that we know of anyway) and we all have find ways to deal with setbacks. Nice to have people with life experience here :)
       
    5. Mark McDill
      Curious

      Mark McDill Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Papillion, NE
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Likely stress, anxiety, an antibiotic and nsaids
      Stina
      Sorry, maybe that was too much of my own philosophy. I've just learned that failure precedes growth; even if we are thrown into something unwillingly (like T) so why not make it work for us? Not that we have failed because we have T, I just mean the failures we experience while learning to manage T. Just trying to help...

      Mark
       
    6. Stina
      Psychedelic

      Stina Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Tartu
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/13
      No I liked your post a lot :) Ive thought a lot about recently why I'm here and I haven't found a solid answer. Being a greedy human I can't help but think whether all the pain and failures we endure in life really pay off eventually but I guess its like you said - we have to make the best of what we have and maybe eventually we will be able to grow. So thanks for the post :)
       
    7. Mark McDill
      Curious

      Mark McDill Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Papillion, NE
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Likely stress, anxiety, an antibiotic and nsaids

      Stina
      Not sure how you see yourself as a greedy human; I've seen many of your posts and you have a very generous, compassionate way about you (LIKE!). No one can spend as much time on this site (as you) and offer so much to others and consider themselves greedy. I'd go along with 'maybe you're too hard on yourself' :LOL:.

      I just figure we are here to love God and love people; anything that frustrates efforts to that end is considered a problem, challenge or dysfunction -- I have many problems, challenges, and dysfunctions; but I know God loves me (us) anyways; but I must admit I'm still struggling to comprehend it all.

      Mark :)
       
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    8. Blair14
      Tired

      Blair14 Member

      Location:
      New Brunswick, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2002
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure
      Hi, I am new to this forum, is there anything available on a step by step direction on how to habituate?
       
    9. Karen
      Talkative

      Karen Manager Staff Benefactor Hall of Fame Ambassador

      Location:
      U.S.
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2010
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      First time: Noise 2nd Time: Ototoxic drug
      Hi, Blair, and welcome!

      Habituation is an individual journey for each of us, so it is hard to give you a step-by-step guide for how to habituate. What we can do, however, is give you some guidelines for what it has been like for us. Others may wish to comment and add to my observations.

      1. The first thing to do is to try to get enough sleep. To do that, you might need to resort to a prescription sleep aid, or try over-the-counter natural aids, such as melatonin, valerian root, or 5HTP. There are also some combination sleep aids out there in the stores, which you might want to experiment with. At any rate, sleep is important and will help you calm down, and keep your tinnitus at a lower level, too.

      2. Find a way to calm your fears and anxiety. Again, you might want to request a short-term prescription drug, such as Remeron, to get you through the initial anxiety that comes with tinnitus.

      3. Use background sounds to help mask your tinnitus, both during the day and when you want to sleep. There are some great apps out there that will help with this. You can also look into getting a hearing aid/masker from an audiologist.

      4. Find a supportive person, or persons, you can vent to when you are going through the tough times, i.e., when your tinnitus spikes, and when you're feeling depressed. This may be a person close to you, a professional counselor, or the people on this forum --- or all three. You may even choose to try TRT (tinnitus retraining therapy) as part of this process.

      5. Distract yourself by finding activities that will occupy your mind and keep you from constantly focusing on the tinnitus. Those activities may include work, exercise, games, puzzles, reading, whatever it takes to distract you from the sounds in your head.

      6. Try to live your life as normally as possible, in spite of the tinnitus. Don't let it get the upper hand! When you're ready, try socializing, going out to dinner, shopping, going back to work, whatever you normally do. It will help you get back to living your life again.

      There is no timetable as to when habituation will occur. It is an ongoing process, and it is very individual, depending on the person, and the intensity of the tinnitus. When you have habituated, it does not mean that your tinnitus goes away. It is still there, but you no longer react to it.

      I hope this is helpful, and others may wish to add additional suggestions.

      Best wishes -- good luck in this process!
      Karen
       
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    10. Blair14
      Tired

      Blair14 Member

      Location:
      New Brunswick, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2002
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure
      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for the very quick response. My T has gotten worse very recently, running circles, now on meds for the first time. Off work and do not see ever being able to go back, on short term disability. I feel the meds anti-anxiety are working, depression perhaps though only on them a little over a week, but the noise really doesn't diminish. I am on a sleep med as well, that I am not sure works, but a sleep pillow I bought seems to eventually between the two gets me sleep. I have the radio on during the day, but it still is blasting. I tried a hearing aid that set me off to get to this point, and was told by an audiologist that maskers really don't help - he claims he has tinnitus too, obviously not at my volume. Not sure if there has been a measured db for tinnitus. I got checked into Mental Health after doing the ER suicide ideation episode. I have started Neurobiofeedback, scared to death it will make it worse, but guess I got to try something. I find it hard to distract, any ideas. I keep focusing back on my screaming. I can\t mow my lawn as hearing protection intensifies, like I'm in a bubble. Do you know of any chat rooms or other support forums. I am trying not to dwell, but having a horrible time. I accept there is no cure, but I can't manage, especially during spikes. Any help appreciated.
       
    11. Mark McDill
      Curious

      Mark McDill Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Papillion, NE
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Likely stress, anxiety, an antibiotic and nsaids

      Blair
      I would agree with @Karen; it is an individual journey but I've found what seems to be a running theme -- controlling anxiety/stress and protecting your hearing.

      Sleep is a big deal; anxiety can cause a lack of sleep and a lack of sleep can cause anxiety. Anxiety causes T to go up which, in turn, can cause a lack of sleep. T going up can cause anxiety; again, causing a lack of sleep. Around and around it goes.

      However, anything that spirals up can spiral down; anxiety can be managed and sleep is a reality (even for us T people).

      I found the antibiotic for anxiety was acceptance (of my situation); as much as I hated what was happening to me I found I was fighting it too much and not accepting it. Acceptance took a while (I hated it, it was depressing for me); but I found I was able to manage my reaction to T much better once I accepted things (not 'like it', just accept it). I was far more objective about things and found I didn't react to my T as much. Habituation, after all, is how much (or how little) you react to your T -- not how loud your T.

      Prior to habituation, I had to get sleeeeeeep!! I imagine you do too. I took Ibuprofen PM for the better part of a year and used masking noises (I have hearing aids with white noise generators).

      Habituation is a reality (worth working toward)

      Until then...prayers!!

      Mark
       
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    12. Blair14
      Tired

      Blair14 Member

      Location:
      New Brunswick, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2002
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure
      Hi Mark, Thanks for your reply. Your closing comments to Stina really struck home, " we are here to love God and love people; anything that frustrates efforts to that end is considered a problem, challenge or dysfunction -- I have many problems, challenges, and dysfunctions; but I know God loves me (us) anyways; but I must admit I'm still struggling to comprehend it all". I feel so stuck, I want to do, but I am stuck. Emotionally I don't feel anxious, but perhaps subconsciously I am. I believe I have accepted it, I know there is no cure, but I can't MANAGE. I sleep and lay in bed longer when I wake, now I am off work, and try to squeeze a bit more rest, before I know I have to get up and face the day. My short term memory is shot. My brain sounds like accelerated freeway. I pray a lot and welcome your prayers too.
       
    13. Mark McDill
      Curious

      Mark McDill Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Papillion, NE
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Likely stress, anxiety, an antibiotic and nsaids

      Blair
      I totally understand; it was no small thing for me to finally accept (way down inside) what was happening to me. My pastor (who also suffers from T) kept telling me that when things get real bad that I should just start praising God for life (et al). I knew he was right (and he's not a charlatan) but I just couldn't bring myself to do it (I was so overwhelmed). I honestly thought God had kicked me to curb; after all, I probably deserved it. I was crushed.

      I'm glad that statement 'got to you' but as I read it I think I left out the other part; we are here to 'be' loved by God and to 'be' loved by people -- I've had to rely on others (something that really doesn't settle well with me or come easy). There were times when I failed, failed, failed (everything and everyone); but at the risk of sounding trite, He really doesn't give us more than we can handle (though I didn't believe it at the time). I had 2x nervous break downs, massive depression, and extreme anxiety -- three things that are way out of character for my life (not the usual for me). I don't even know how I got through the days/weeks -- life doesn't stop. But I must say, I look back and I see His hand everything (now). And I believe I can love others better than before.

      Yes, prayers always -- you have a T-bro out here in internet land!

      Mark
       
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    14. Blair14
      Tired

      Blair14 Member

      Location:
      New Brunswick, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2002
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure
      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for the kind welcome, you brought tears to my eyes. I am having a hard enough time now, let alone what you must have went through. I really can't imagine. I too for the first time in my life have to rely on others (something I have never been good with either). I was a Rehab Counsellor helping others, now I have to accept I am on the other side. I have had struggles from time to time too, but this is the ultimate!
       
    15. Jay M
      Thinking

      Jay M Member

      Location:
      South Carolina, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      4/4/14
      Blair, I noticed your profile says youve had T since 2002 if Im not mistaken. You must have some insight and advice how youve coped for so long. What caused your recent increase?
       
    16. Blair14
      Tired

      Blair14 Member

      Location:
      New Brunswick, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2002
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure
      Hi Jay,

      Yes, it was manageable because the tone was low. I noticed it would be naturally masked by being outside, I live in the country and even when entering the house it really wasn't noticeable. It seemed to have stepped up in 2010 to a bit bothersome, but in Feb of this year it seemed to worsen and to the point a few weeks ago has now put me off work struggling to survive! I wish I knew what caused it, perhaps overload with work. I am now trying Neurobiofeedback scared to death it will make it worse, but trying something. I have no appetite so salt or caffeine is not an issue. I tried a hearing aid for like an hour and perceived that it made my tinnitus worse (?) put me in the ER and now trying to stabilize myself. No support groups around here, few understand anything about this. I have researched a lot, but I guess now I have to try things like everyone else. Problem is I can hardly function - rough shape!
       
    17. Jay M
      Thinking

      Jay M Member

      Location:
      South Carolina, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      4/4/14
      Have you been taking any Rx meds or over the counter drugs? Have you had an upper respiratory problems? Do you participate in any activities that are noisy or your workplace with or without protection? Is there anything you suspect thats caused the increase, I don't know how young you are but age related hearing loss? Have you had your hearing tested?
       
    18. Blair14
      Tired

      Blair14 Member

      Location:
      New Brunswick, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2002
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure
      Hi Jay,

      I am now as a result of the T been put on an anti-anxiety med, depression med and a salt reduction/BP pill, the later I am not sure is required, but could be of benefit. I was only on Warfarin, a blood thinner for an embolism I had two years ago. Was managing fine up until lately as I have been working in a home office for the past 12 years. I believe it to be related to noise exposure being in the military for 22 years, but my audiologist says that I have only mild hearing loss so T would not be related, I dispute this as you can have T with/without hearing loss or on its own. Maybe I am suffering burnout from my job and my T has been made worse. I am 51 yrs old.
       
    19. Karen
      Talkative

      Karen Manager Staff Benefactor Hall of Fame Ambassador

      Location:
      U.S.
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2010
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      First time: Noise 2nd Time: Ototoxic drug
      Blair,

      My situation is somewhat similar to yours. I'm 68 years old now, and mine got worse four years ago, after taking a blood pressure drug for the first time. I was doing fine before that; I had tinnitus for a little over 25 years without any problems. The sound was low, and I was habituated to it. The blood pressure drugs, however, really knocked me for a loop! I also ended up with adrenal fatigue, anxiety, and pulsatile tinnitus, on top of much louder regular tinnitus.

      I had to take a short-term leave of absence back then, too, but I ended up going back to work part-time. I'm so glad I did! Work really helped me to get through the worst of my struggle, and kept me from focusing too much on the tinnitus. I also have some hearing loss, and it didn't really get any worse; it's about the same.

      I'm so sorry you're having a rough time. Stay strong, pray, and things will begin to look better soon!!!
       
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    20. Blair14
      Tired

      Blair14 Member

      Location:
      New Brunswick, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2002
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure
      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for you kind words. I can't believe it is the med I was on, it is meant to prevent clots and to my knowledge the least intrusive, though can be troublesome if you take other meds - more regular blood work. I do not plan to return to work, only if it is on a volunteer basis as I know stress can exacerbate the condition. My wife wants to go back to work, so that takes the pressure off me. I hoped to retire early, enjoy my kids, enjoy life, serve my church, I can barely function, short term memory is shot, etc. I just can't distract. My wife can read a book amongst noise, I can't, I need training!
       
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    21. Jay M
      Thinking

      Jay M Member

      Location:
      South Carolina, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      4/4/14
      Your wife has loud T as well?
       
    22. Karen
      Talkative

      Karen Manager Staff Benefactor Hall of Fame Ambassador

      Location:
      U.S.
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2010
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      First time: Noise 2nd Time: Ototoxic drug
      Blair,

      I certainly understand. If you have had a high-stress job, then it wouldn't be a good thing for you to return to working in that environment. Maybe retirement would be just the thing for you! I know how you feel about wanting to do all those things, and yet not being able to function. I felt I was "robbed" when this thing first started. I couldn't do much of anything back in 2010, including reading books, which is one of my favorite pastimes. It took quite awhile for me to get to where I am now. It does take time, and it takes some of us longer than others.

      It may not have been the Warfarin that caused your tinnitus to get worse. We may never know for sure what caused our worsened tinnitus; the main thing is to learn to deal with it now, in its present state. Please don't give up; I believe that you will begin to feel better --- maybe not today, maybe not next week, but soon!!
       
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