How Do I Cope When I Work in Silence?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Library Girl, Jan 17, 2015.

tinnitus forum
    1. Library Girl

      Library Girl Member

      Location:
      Michigan, US
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      either virus or medication
      Hey everybody,

      I'm Sam, 26, and I've had tinnitus for going on four months now. It started when I simultaneously caught a mild cold and started taking Wellbutrin, not sure which caused it (though I went off Wellbutrin for a week and it didn't alleviate anything). It's been getting gradually worse ever since. I've still got a "plugged-up" feeling in my ears too, but they were much more painful in the first couple of months.

      I hear a constant, high-pitched buzz/ring (with an occasional loud pulse when it's really quiet). I've been to both my primary doctor and an ENT. Neither found anything wrong: no infection, no fluid buildup, not even any hearing loss, which I find strange because I struggle to understand movies w/o subtitles! (They didn't ask many questions either, basically just "what does it sound like?" and "which ear/s is it in?") The ENT is sending me for a CT scan next week, and then to a specialty ear clinic out of town.

      I'm struggling. A lot. I mask every moment I can, usually with a combination of fans and white noise apps (neither always works on their own). Sometimes I get insomnia from it. I've compared my T to my dad's (a 60-year-old drummer who didn't wear proper hearing protection for decades), and mine takes louder noise to mask.

      I'm terrified I might lose my job to T. I work in a library (hence the name), and I love it there. Usually I'm at the circulation desk or in the stacks. But, both of those places are quiet (I used to love quiet...), and I can't carry my phone or wear headphones. So even if I'm running the heater at the desk, I can still hear the T constantly, and several times now I've nearly broken down in front of patrons.

      I'm hoping the clinic will fit me with masking devices of some sort, so I can wear them at work and keep my job. But beyond that, I'm feeling rather hopeless; I had damaging depression and anxiety before this started, and the T has amplified them both, undoing all the good the antidepressants did. I don't see an optimistic future ahead of me, not when I'm barely able to function because of this. (Honestly, there's been a few moments where the feeling bordered on suicidal, particularly when the ENT told me there was nothing else he could do.) I'm going to talk to my counselor about this next week.

      So, yeah. That's my story at the moment. If anyone has words of advice or comfort, I'd love to hear them.
       
      • Hug Hug x 4
    2. conbsgc

      conbsgc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      october
      Do you have a clock in your library? you know, the one that goes TIC TAC, TIC TAC, TIC TAC... many libraries got them and they have the power to drive people crazy, but if you're around them long enough you'll end up not even realizing its there.... its the same with tinnitus!! Habituation is the key (your brain gets used to it and once it realizes its not a threat it will downgrade the tinnitus to something you only notice if you look for it) the only thing u have to do is be positive and don't let your mind rule you and obsess over every single beep that goes on, think about other things, force yourself at first and you'll end up thinking about other things in less than you think.... just wait for your brain to adapt!
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    3. Marcini
      Dreaming

      Marcini Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2008
      It must be difficult working in such quiet conditions. Have you looked into getting proper maskers fitted and running them while at work?
       
    4. amandine

      amandine Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      july 2014
      Think she said she is hoping to have maskers fitted so she can keep her job?

      so sorry to hear of your plight. working in a silent place like a library must be like torture. Maybe you can explain to your employers what has happened and ask for a little time off till you get the maskers fitted? Then u can rest at home and return equipped to be able to carry on the job you love..........
       
    5. Library Girl

      Library Girl Member

      Location:
      Michigan, US
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      either virus or medication
      Thanks everybody. I recognize that I'm still in the "panic" stage, and hopefully I will be able to start habituating soon, especially if the clinic can guide me on that, while also getting some maskers for work. My visit isn't until the end of the month though. I wonder if anti-anxiety medication would help? (I was considering it prior to all this too.)

      And unfortunately I can't take any more time off without risking my standing with my boss; I took off almost all of last week due to a combination of insomnia/vertigo (thanks for that, T) and a death in the family. :( Boss knows I've been having "ear problems" though, so I'll update her when I have more info from the clinic.
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
    6. Jeff M.
      Cowabunga

      Jeff M. Member Benefactor

      Location:
      La Jolla, CA
      Tinnitus Since:
      Oct. 2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Idiopathic
      @Library Girl , First, so sorry to hear of your struggle and where you are at right now with your T!! :( It Sucks!! No way around it. BUT, I am glad you found TT and are here seeking support/help!! Nearly everyone here, especially us who have had for a while TOTALLY get what you are going through! We have been exactly where you are....and got through it!! You WILL too!!(y) I know it's nearly impossible to imagine, but you WILL!

      I also work in a very quiet environment, and it's tough! I have worked hard on re-training my brain to focus on other things within the silence to minimize T's affect on me. Keeping you mind engaged throughout the work day, get creative with masking techniques, breathing exercises, and if you are really struggling, you may consider a short term run of AD's to even you out and stabilize you! I did, and it worked for me.:)

      As you get emotionally and psychologically stabilized, your limbic system (which is on high alert right now!) will begin to interpret your T as less and less of a "threat" to you. You T will become less of a debilitating condition and more of just a nuisance.

      I hope things go well at the clinic, let us know what happens. Hang in there and know you have friends and support here!!

      Jeff
      :rockingbanana:
       
      • Agree Agree x 2
    7. HThom4
      Not amused

      HThom4 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      @Library Girl I work in a very quiet office too. Sometimes I play the radio very quietly on my computer. No one else can hear it unless they are right next to me. Would this be a possibility for you? When I can't do that, I try to move around and do something that creates some noise. Making a copy, printing something, filing something, etc. When I'm busy I notice it less.

      I sympathize with you on the loss of your silence. One of my favorite things was to curl up with a good book in a nice quiet spot. I still do that, but now I have music playing quietly in the background. I've yet to habituate as I'm still rather new to having tinnitus.

      What concerns me most about your post is your anxiety and emotional state. If anxiety medication will help, I say go for it. Please call your doctor/psychiatrist to discuss the way you are feeling. As your anxiety comes down, I truly believe your tinnitus will become easier to handle. I've found L-Theanine to be helpful in easing some of my anxiety. I got it at my local health food store. It isn't habit forming and doesn't make you sleepy. You might want to ask your doctor about that as well.

      Hang in there. It will get easier. You will have good days and bad days as your work towards habituating. Just take it one day at a time. In the meantime, the forum is a great place to find support.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    8. Library Girl

      Library Girl Member

      Location:
      Michigan, US
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      either virus or medication
      Thanks Jeff and HThom4, I appreciate the optimism. :)

      I'm actually already on an AD, and I think that might be the primary cause of my T; it started right when I started taking it. Apparently T is a fairly common side effect of Wellbutrin (6% of people get it), wish I'd known that 4 months ago!

      And sadly I can't play any music at work. I did confiscate a fan to use at the desk though, which helps mask a fair bit. It's working in the stacks that is most difficult, especially on slow days.

      I have an appointment with my primary doctor today and my counselor tomorrow, so I will be addressing these emotional issues with them (along with the possibility of switching meds). I'm still begging my body to make the T go away, but it is comforting to see how successfully many long-term sufferers here have habituated.
       
    9. billie48
      Sunshine

      billie48 Member Benefactor Hall of Fame Ambassador Team Research

      Location:
      Vancouver, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2009
      Welcome Library Girl. Sorry to hear about your suffering with T and the difficulty with the work. If you are having suicidal thoughts, perhaps you can talk to your doctor(s) about writing up a medical note to the employer explaining your need for masking. I know you may not be able to play music loud in a quiet library. How about using smart phone, ipod, or even your PC with wireless ear buds such as this from amazon? Or google wireless ear buds for more selection. Perhaps with these ear buds you are more mobile with them and don't look intrusive to others:
      http://www.amazon.ca/s/?ie=UTF8&key...vptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_414smlsy5z_b

      For me, during the darkest time, I just used my work PC download with a free sound generator 'aire freshener' and a pair of wired ear buds. I told everybody and the boss that I have severely intrusive T and I needed to mask with high pitch nature sounds like waves and rains. I played it with a speaker on low volume and told everybody to treat it like in a beach when they hear it. LOL. I am an IT guy so it is a quiet work environment too. But in your situation, if a wireless ear bud works for you and your boss is ok with that, it may work for you.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    10. DebInAustralia

      DebInAustralia Member Benefactor Team Research

      Location:
      Geelong, Victoria
      Tinnitus Since:
      30/12/13
      Personally, what works for me is addressing the underlying anxiety around my t (and other things) rather than trying to constantly mask the sound (run away from hearing the sound). I am not sure if this is the right approach, as I have read so many of you saying we should be enriching our auditory external environment. But, I am happiest, and my most relaxed when I sit in the quiet as this is what I have always done; long before the t. When I feel anxious, I do occasionally mask, but like others have suggested, managing your anxiety will help you better manage your t.

      I like to remind myself of those who have experienced t for decades and have lived to tell the tale. I remind myself of the fact that I myself have had tinnitus for a little over a year. Whilst its definitely been a roller coaster ride, it hasn't actually hurt me. Accepting that your t WONT hurt you is a big step forward towards letting go of your anxiety. I hope this helps.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    11. astronomer
      Spaced

      astronomer Member

      Location:
      georgian bay,ontario,canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise induced
      well said deb, i have had it since april of 2012 and the realization of the fact that i am not ill and wish to stay that way helps me to live a relatively normal life, that said the first several months were devastating to the unknown of it all , i did not even know tinnitus talk existed until i just found it by luck one day then i knew i was far from alone, for me i have accepted my condition,DEAR LIBRARY GIRL, i enjoy to read my astronomy books,that is my hobby,and when i observe the moon stars and planets i do it in the silence of nature,at first i thought i could not anymore because to read books or observe with my telescopes it is quiet and now i have tinnitus,but perserverance has paid off,my mind learns to focus on the other things i enjoy,but yes it took sometime,anti-depressants and sleeping pills are no longer needed,having moved forward with it i am at my best physical and mental state since that april 12, 2012 day, and most of all, be good to yourself !
       
      • Winner Winner x 1
    12. Library Girl

      Library Girl Member

      Location:
      Michigan, US
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      either virus or medication
      Thanks for the comments everybody. :)

      Billie, I like the idea of wireless ear buds, though I'm not sure I could wear them at work. I've told my boss about the T though, and she's been fairly understanding so far. I may ask about that if I can't get a masking device.

      Deb, I'm starting to work on the fear aspect too. (I have generalized anxiety disorder, so that's easier said than done, but I'm slowly improving, I think.) My doctor just prescribed Xanax to help with the intense panic moments, and it's comforting to have that as a backup.

      Kevin, I'm very glad to hear that you can enjoy silence again. It's very encouraging! I'm nowhere near there yet, but I'm finding it easier to deal with for short periods of time. (If it's a good day, anyway.)

      As for my personal update: my primary doctor took me off Wellbutrin, as she thinks that's causing the T. I've been off for a few days and it has been noticeably quieter, though I'm not sure if that's from the withdrawal or if I'm starting to habituate (I suppose either option's good!). Since it's been quieter, work has been easier; running the fan at the desk usually masks most of it.

      Also, I got my CT scan results back, and have no brain tumors or aneurysms, but they did find a small "nodule" in my thyroid. So there's another thing to be nervous about until I see the doc again. :p
       
    13. JacktheDog

      JacktheDog Member

      Location:
      Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/14
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      sudden sensorineural hearing loss
      I have recently been fitted with hearing aids that have a built in T masking function. They can be programmed so that you can turn masking on/off with several volume preset levels and options for the audio file which are similar to those you can find on the internet.

      For me, it allows me to work in a no noise environment as my job requires this as well.

      http://www.oticon.ca/products/hearing-aids/performance/alta/about-alta.aspx
       
    14. Library Girl

      Library Girl Member

      Location:
      Michigan, US
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      either virus or medication
      Hey everyone, it's me again.

      I thought I was on a solid upswing for a while; three weeks off the Wellbutrin and the T had diminished quite a bit. It was down to just an "annoying" level, and having just one fan or some soft music on kept it from bothering me much, which was a massive breakthrough. I felt really hopeful about it.

      But over the last 3-5 days it's just gotten worse again. I can't think of anything I did to cause that. The only things different are that I started taking Vitamin D and B12 supplements (doctor's orders), and the weather's in a cold spell.

      I went to the specialty ear clinic, and the audiologist not only confirmed that he's seen cases of Wellbutrin causing T, but said I have a good chance of it rapidly reducing/disappearing entirely, now that I'm off. But I've been off Wellbutrin for a month now, and this low spike is just as bad as it was a month ago.

      Maybe I'm just in a random low spike right now, and my overall recovery is still going along, but five days of going back to multiple maskers is just dragging me back down again. I can't even sleep comfortably; pressing my ear into a pillow just amplifies the noise. :( Any advice for snapping out of this spiral?
       
      • Funny Funny x 1
    15. astronomer
      Spaced

      astronomer Member

      Location:
      georgian bay,ontario,canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise induced
      hi,
      just try not to be so down on yourself,its not worth it,we all know the feeling,best wishes !
       
    16. billie48
      Sunshine

      billie48 Member Benefactor Hall of Fame Ambassador Team Research

      Location:
      Vancouver, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2009
      Nice to know you are make progress even though you have to deal with a spike setback. It reminds me of all the setbacks I went through in the first 2 years of my ultra high pitch T. I felt into the mental black hole trap every time the spike came and scared me very much. Eventually, the brain and the body caught up with my will power. I just started to care less & less for what T would do high or low any given day. I take that as part of the habituation process, to have setbacks on and off. It is like a toddler who has just learned walking but the pace and balance are not steady yet. There are going to be some falls in between and the toddler who can get up and try again without putting up a lot of emotional crying or whining will be the one making much more progress than those who cry and fuss about each fall. So I have learned not to let set backs get me back into an emotional black hole by accepting them as they occurred, by preparing for them mentally before they even occur. A big part of the battle with T is the mental game. I learn that early and adapt myself to win the mental game of T by accepting the reality of T and its many setbacks. When we don't react to T regardless of its high or low, it will slowly lose its tyranny on us.
       

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