I Feel So Dumb for Ignoring My Instinct to Protect

Discussion in 'Support' started by SugarMagnolia, Mar 19, 2018.

    1. SugarMagnolia
      Jaded

      SugarMagnolia Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      After a noise three weeks ago, I had hyperacusis, ear pain, and a clicking sound when I swallow, but I figured it was due to muscle tension from my panic, so I worked hard to reduce my anxiety. After a quiet weekend at home, I was feeling so much better. Then I went to work. :(

      It's usually quiet there, but as I was walking up the stairs there was a forklift backing up going beep beep beep. My instinct was to close my ear with my finger but I stopped myself.

      I told myself that if I was afraid of every high-pitched beep I would develop phonophobia, which I know I am prone to due to the nature of my OCD. From the CBT I've had for my OCD, I learned that by trying to protect myself from all perceived threats I end up dysfunctional.

      Since my fear is related to my health, a fear of loud noises hurting my ears would fit in perfectly with all my other health related obsessions. So I used the ERP (exposure & response prevention) I learned from therapy. I exposed myself to the noises (which all the other people were exposed to) and prevented myself from responding by plugging my ear.

      Big mistake! There must have been a good five beeps before I got to the top of the stairs and just like that the ear pain and clicking were back. :cry:

      I hope this doesn't mean more damage, but I think it is damage.

      I didn't want to start wearing an ear plug whenever I'm not at home because I could end up with more hyperacusis and phonophobia. With my OCD, I could end up fearing every sound, overprotecting, and keeping my anxiety high. But today made it seem like, if I'm not overprotecting, I'm underprotecting, because the entire workday was quiet except for the few seconds it wasn't, and it's those few seconds that could make me so much worse.

      I feel so dumb for ignoring my instinct to protect. But OCD has ruined my instincts. If I listened to my OCD about other health-related matters, I wouldn't be able to function at all. At my worst with OCD I was afraid to touch anything. I was afraid to move. I had to abandon my faulty instincts and just do what other people were doing. But that strategy really backfired for me today.
       
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    2. Michael B
      No Mood

      Michael B Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      '11
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Induced
      There's definitely a balance between under protecting and over protecting yourself from noise. This forum is filled with questions & answers when it comes to this particular topic. In this case, your initial instincts were correct, but we can't be and won't be correct every time when it comes to tinnitus. Please try not to be too hard on yourself. We all face this together, and there's no easy answer.
       
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    3. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      What you could do to ensure that you don't get H is to watch TV every day at a maximum volume that you can tolerate without having any problems. This had worked for me.
       
    4. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      SugarMagnolia
      Jaded

      SugarMagnolia Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      If only there were a way to find precisely where that balance is. I thought I had found it, but I was wrong. Everything I learned in therapy was wrong.
       
    5. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      SugarMagnolia
      Jaded

      SugarMagnolia Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I do watch three or four hours of TV per day with DH, although he commands the remote and hence the volume.

      Is it safe to wear an earplug for eight or nine hours per day? I worry about getting an ear infection.
       
    6. Rajin

      Rajin Member Benefactor

      Location:
      PA
      Tinnitus Since:
      9/7/17
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Hearing loss ,noise
      Hi sorry to hear what you going thru. If you at work 8 hrs and you plug your ears for 1 minute that I think is not overprotecting. I would say you protecting from further damage.I work outside and anytime I feel uncomfortable I protect my ears. It been working for me .
       
    7. BobDigi
      Kick ass

      BobDigi Member

      Location:
      UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      5.6.14
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud noise
      Don't feel dumb. You're trying to do the right thing. That isn't dumb. I have health anxiety and OCD so I get the place you're coming from.
      I cover my ear when ambulance or fire engine goes past me with its siron (can't spell it) going. But with normal day to day noises I don't worry. I would say sirons (still can't spell it) concerts, car horns and drums etc aren't day to day noises. So be careful around things like that. And fear not all other times.
      Are you sure the spike in T isn't your OCD and over analysis isn't tricking you?
       
    8. Michael B
      No Mood

      Michael B Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      '11
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Induced
      The consensus on this forum is to wear earplugs (or cover your ears) when you're in noisy situations. It's subjective for each of us. I wouldn't discount what you learned in therapy. I'm sure it was helpful to you in many ways.
       
    9. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      At one point during my first month of T, I wanted to get used to T (so that T that I would here when trying to fall asleep would not be as much of a shock). To do this, I wore an earplug 24/7. At the same time I was getting HBOT treatments. They would look into my ear before each session. After about 7-10 days of me wearing the earplug, they told me that I had some irritation on my eardrum.

      So you are right to worry... You could try to take it out for 5-10 minutes every hour. But it would be hard to remember to do, and it would not guarantee that you would avoid an ear infection...
       
      • Informative Informative x 1
    10. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      SugarMagnolia
      Jaded

      SugarMagnolia Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I didn't take any chances today.
       
    11. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      SugarMagnolia
      Jaded

      SugarMagnolia Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      For two years of T, I had no problems. It didn't change my life much. I covered my ear sometimes even though I probably didn't need to. But my second noise exposure changed everything. Now my whole life needs to change.
       
    12. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      SugarMagnolia
      Jaded

      SugarMagnolia Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      The T isn't louder, but I had ear pain at first and a clicking sound when I swallowed. The ear pain has mostly subsided, but I still feel very sensitive to noise and lesser noises hurt. The clicking is still present, but not as constant.
       
    13. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      SugarMagnolia
      Jaded

      SugarMagnolia Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      With my fear of doctors, the thought of an infection is frightening because the only way to get an antibiotic is through a doctor. I bought ear muffs, which I think are great for home in case the construction noise outside gets too much, but at work I don't want to have to answer questions. Part of me thinks I would be safe once I'm inside the building, but then I remember how my second noise trauma happened: sitting by the door in a waiting room, a place where I should have been safe.
       
    14. Jcb
      No Mood

      Jcb Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      December 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      possible TMJ, came on after severe cold and chest infection,
      How you feeling today? Are your ears any better?
       
    15. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      SugarMagnolia
      Jaded

      SugarMagnolia Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      This morning, the pain and clicking when I swallow were less, but they have increased again after a phone call. I'm hoping it's just muscle tension brought on by anxiety. I had these symptoms last week after a truck horn, but after a quiet weekend and working to reduce my anxiety, I felt better. So I hope that's the case this time too. But naturally I'm afraid that this is the time I have royally screwed myself.
       
    16. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      SugarMagnolia
      Jaded

      SugarMagnolia Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Nothing like doing one dumb thing on top of the previous dumb thing. I decided to "fix " my H, so I found some pink noise on the internet and listened to it for about fifteen minutes. Now my T seems louder.

      It was played through my computer speakers, not ear buds/headphones. I didn't have it cranked up, but I did have it about as loud as I would play my music. Now I'm reading that it should have been barely audible.
       
    17. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
    18. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      SugarMagnolia
      Jaded

      SugarMagnolia Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Looking back, I'm not sure the sound really was louder. The new symptoms of pain and the feeling like something was in my ear had me very anxious. It may be that I simply became extra aware of the sound after not noticing it for a while.

      After the first few months of tinnitus I must have habituated because most of the time I was only barely aware of it in the background. Sometimes it would suddenly be brought into the foreground, usually in response to high-pitched tones. But then it would slip back into the background once I got busy with something.

      After the incident on 2/27, I got those new symptoms plus what I believe is hyperacusis. This has me petrified. I was dealing with my T like a champ. (Although from what I read here on TT, mine is probably mild to moderate.) But still, I'm a weakling and I was tolerating it well. But this sensitivity, especially to high-pitched tones, is undoing me.

      I used the microwave this morning for the first time since before 2/27 and forgot about the five beeps. I panicked after the first beep and froze instead of covering my ear. Now I feel like my T is louder, but I don't know if it really is louder or if I've just become super-aware of its presence.

      My ear also hurt for a little while after the beeps and it still has a weird feeling. I don't know if pain automatically means damage, but I tend to believe it does. If my ear can be damaged by the microwave's beeps, there's no telling how many more times I'll be damaged before I discover everything, even in my own home, that can damage me.

      PS: I like that those ear plugs are individually wrapped. I can put extras in my purse and they'll stay clean.
       
    19. Jcb
      No Mood

      Jcb Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      December 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      possible TMJ, came on after severe cold and chest infection,
      I don’t think you have, it’s probably your anxiety playing tricks with you it’s very good at doing that. As well as the tension once you’ve calmed down a bit everything should slowly go back to normal including the tense muscles.
      Keep me posted on your progress and hopefully each day you’ll start to feel that much better.

      Just try and not over protect your ears I know you have hypercausis but over plugging them can make things worse in terms of being more over sentive to sounds. I like some of Bills tips regarding this.
       
    20. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      SugarMagnolia
      Jaded

      SugarMagnolia Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Thanks. I am trying to distract myself from the sound and the other symptoms. The T does seem to be a bit louder since the forklift incident on Monday, but perhaps it will come back down to baseline. I hope so. But if it doesn't, then I have to adapt, so I might as well start now.

      I managed to read a chapter yesterday, though it wasn't easy. I don't have any anti-anxiety meds, so I have to use will power and books.
       
    21. Jcb
      No Mood

      Jcb Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      December 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      possible TMJ, came on after severe cold and chest infection,
      Yes hopefully it’s just a spike and it’ll calm down soon for you. It can be so debilitating at times this, especially when you try your hardest to be safe and bammmm out of nowhere there’s a loud sound and add anxiety into the mix and it can be scary as hell. I’m sure it’ll just be a combination of a spike and anxiet and it’ll calm down for you.
      I tried to read today but my mind is all over the place today haha it’s hard to concentrate on one thing, I thinks this morse code I keep hearing is the culprit. Glad you managed a chapter though :D
       
    22. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I think that there is a good chance that your H will eventually disappear. Have you seen the thread below?
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/first-major-setback-since-onset-almost-a-year-ago.22718/
      In her updates, Lex mentions how more than 6 months after the incident, her H had improved.
      I thought that only MY microwave does that! What the hell is up with that?! Why do people need FIVE beeps?....

      Are you feeling any better today?
       
    23. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      SugarMagnolia
      Jaded

      SugarMagnolia Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I am relieved to know that H can go away. It's affecting my life so much more than the T was. With the T alone, I didn't jump out of my skin from every high-pitched tone.

      I never before noticed just how many things emit high-pitched beeps. And yes, five beeps is truly overkill. The car is another one. Can I get a few seconds to adjust my butt in the seat before you nag me to fasten my seat belt?

      I'm feeling better today. And I noticed that I was feeling better last weekend too. There's no construction work on the weekend. It's generally quieter and I don't have to go out.
       
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