Interesting Anecdote re: "Volume" vs "Reaction"

Discussion in 'Support' started by linearb, May 28, 2015.

tinnitus forum
    1. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      I had a useful and somewhat instructive experience yesterday.

      I have a friend who had never heard of "tinnitus". When he heard me complaining about it at one point, he asked "oh, like the high pitched TV-screen sound I can hear loudly when it's quiet? Huh! I always assumed that was normal, I've had it forever and I don't think about it much at all".

      I have always assumed that part of the reason he "doesn't think about it" must be that his is quieter than mine and thus easy to ignore. Makes sense, right? Of course, even when mine was much, much quieter and I couldn't hear it in most environments, I still bugged the fuck out about it, but still... if he's not bothered at all, it must be easy to mask, right?

      So yesterday, I was hanging out with him outside his apartment. We were sitting 80' or so above a busy road, so there was a ton of ambient traffic noise. It was a windy day, so there was a lot of wind noise. Then his HVAC kicked on, and we were sitting right next to the thing -- probably 70 db at least, not deafening or scary, but loud and cutting through a huge swath of frequencies. I figured that there must be no way he could hear his head sounds in this environment, since it had gotten loud enough to make mine a bit hard to pick out of all the noise, so I asked him, and he said "oh yeah, I mean, it's a very high pitch sound, you know? So I can hear it sort of above and beyond and over all these things".

      So, from that, I became pretty convinced that my friend's volume is roughly the same as mine... and yet, he's never been on a tinnitus forum, did not know what the word meant, and doesn't see this as any kind of obstacle or difficulty.

      I'm not saying that my T didn't bother me less when it was quieter, and I'm not saying it wouldn't bother me more if it got louder... there's a reason I carry earplugs around with me all the time! But, different people process sound very differently, and reaction and conscious machinery around perception, clearly has a ton to do with how people categorize and experience things. So that again comes down to, "freaking the fuck out about tinnitus is probably the worst thing you can do, because you wire your brain to freak the fuck out about it better and better."
       
      • Informative Informative x 2
      • Like Like x 1
      • Agree Agree x 1
      • Helpful Helpful x 1
    2. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      I think the thing that gets missed in these conversations often times, too, is the idea that "reaction" is a structural brain issue just like "volume" is a structural ear issue.

      I think some people have this sort of magical view of "psychology", that it's the same thing as will, and that people suggesting that reaction is a problem are therefore saying "your willpower is weak". Nothing could be further from the truth. We have the imaging studies to show it now! People who display aversive or anxious reactions to stimuli, have structural brain differences from people who do not.

      The reason that this is important, is that, as of now, there is no fix for the audiological physiology that causes volume. On the other hand, there are all sorts of things we know about which cause brain structure to change over time. Chronic stress is your worst enemy in this regard, it is literally neurotoxic. It shrinks your brain. It reinforces the negative structural problems that cause anxiety. This isn't some crackpot theory. There is a ton of hard data. Anyone who tells you otherwise has a 1950s view of the human brain.
       
      • Like Like x 1
      • Agree Agree x 1
    3. Beth
      Inspired

      Beth Member Benefactor

      Location:
      England
      Tinnitus Since:
      quite a while...
      I couldn't agree more. You are so right. Learning not to be bothered by tinnitus is simple.....just don't react negatively to it and your subconscious will eventually get the message that it is a perfectly normal safe sound (which it is) and will start to filter it out. Easy. ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! It is the hardest thing I have ever done. I had to will myself not to become an emotional wreck for the next 2 minutes when I was so traumatized by it, and I tried (one step forward 2 steps back sometimes) to increase my 'not reacting' time by a couple of minutes at a time. This took me longer than I care to admit but I know if I can do it, anyone can. For years I judged my progress by asking myself when I woke up, if I had a pill to take to end my life, would I do it? For years the answer was 'yes'. Very, very gradually the yes answers got fewer and bit by bit with many setbacks, I learned not to react. So, as I said, 'Learning not to be bothered by tinnitus is simple....just live life as if you do not have it, don't react in any way however much it tries to get your attention. So what could be easier than doing absolutely nothing?!!! It was for me the hardest thing in the world but I now know it to be the only thing that worked for me. I also think that it's important to recognize that stress and anxiety are the big baddies but it is usually (as I quoted in an earlier post) the anxiety or stress that triggers the awareness of the tinnitus when most people believe that they are stressed and anxious because of their tinnitus. I spent about 5 years thinking that that was hogwash but truly believe it now. Slightly off topic....what is hogwash?!! Is it a shampoo specially for pigs?
       
      • Like Like x 2
    4. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      @Beth , that's a great post, and reassuring to me personally to hear another account of someone who took quite a while to come to terms with this. I am also reminded by the way my father always describes the act of meditating: "It's simple, but not easy".

      I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that if we had fMRI imaging of your brain now, and back when you had severe distress from tinnitus, we'd see obvious differences in the structure of the right anterior insula, the amygdala, and possibly the thalamus itself. It is amazing how much better we understand the neurology of this condition now compared to only 10-20 years ago -- and as someone with an interest in meditation, it's amazing to me how much of that knowledge overlaps directly with a growing understanding of how meditative and contemplative practices affect brain development (even among adults who don't start the practice until later in life).
       
    5. Beth
      Inspired

      Beth Member Benefactor

      Location:
      England
      Tinnitus Since:
      quite a while...
      Thanks linearb, it took me a long time because I had great difficulty in accepting it. I'd go for so long not reacting, then get very frustrated, upset and angry that I wasn't habituating when all I was doing was making it worse by getting frustrated, angry and upset. I felt that hearing it was a failure and it was only when I fully understood that the whole point is not, 'do I hear it?', but, 'do I react to it', that I started to make progress. Not reacting produces changes in the brain concerning amplification of the signal and I had been giving my subconscious a very loud and clear message that this thing was terrifying, so I just heard it louder. My t therapist also constantly reminded me that it is only ever our thoughts and reactions that can change it and it is the attitude to it that we CHOOSE to have that determines our success or failure. Also, any belief that gives tinnitus more meaning than it deserves, will just slow down any natural tolerance towards it and attachment to a certain outcome will just keep you focused on it. I got to the point where I thought I would have to end my life because it was (is!) so loud so I gave it one last almighty effort in not reacting and I eventually after all those years of hell, started to see progress. My t is just as loud but I have no reaction. I can tell from reading your posts that you're a very intelligent person and you'll want to analyse it and want answers but remember that it is just giving it meaning and importance when it's best to regard it as completely unworthy of thought. My amygdala is completely worn out and my limbic centre is ready for new parts; they were so overworked!!
       
    6. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      haha, you're probably right, I literally intellectualize things to a fault. I actually had a psychologist say to me one time, "I have never in my career told someone to be less introspective, and it's difficult for me to even say that. But, with most of my patients, I have to work very hard to get them to be even a little bit self-analytical. With you, it is like turning on a faucet".

      I just think that if I had a way of visualizing whatever progress I was making it might make things easier :D I'm toying with the idea of getting a Muse headband for just that purpose. (Not for tinnitus, specifically, just to have some metrics about how meditating is changing my brain patterns over time...)
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    7. Beth
      Inspired

      Beth Member Benefactor

      Location:
      England
      Tinnitus Since:
      quite a while...
      Join the club! When I'm meditating I start to wonder if I'm doing it right and then think that I shouldn't be thinking but just 'being' then I wonder if I'm doing 'just being' OK! I use bio-feedback and love to see the results on screen just from controlling my thoughts. My library of books is full of all the (living) great thinkers such as Gregg Brandon, Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, David Hamilton, Joe Dispenza (brilliant), Jon Kabat-Zinn etc, etc. I want to know the why of everything to do with how our minds work. I find it fascinating that a lot of our brain and heart cells are in our guts but then why wouldn't they be when for years we've known we had 'gut feelings' which unfortunately humans are no longer using as much as they used to. I'll stop now before people start to think I'm weird and I know at least one person will because I was rude to him in a post! Oh well, it's not good to bottle up our feelings or they just get held at a cellular level and cause problems later............is this getting off topic!?
       
    8. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      I think all this is fascinating, and it's not like this thread is burning up with on topic discussion :D

      Have you seen this study? Blew my mind... http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/n...teria-changes-behaviour-in-mice/#.VWd4j1zByR8

      If gut flora really directly and significantly affects gene expression in the brain, it's no wonder that people report all sorts of bizarre problems after using antibiotics.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    9. MattK

      MattK Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2/13/2014
      Huh, I figured you opened Pandora's box with this one but I guess not.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
      • Funny Funny x 1
    10. Sleaford Mod

      Sleaford Mod Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2005
      If I might add a further, tangential post, I would also recommend the writings of the late Darlene Cohen. Right now, I'm also looking at another author with a view to a purchase: Vidyamala Burch. Like Kabat-Zinn, Cohen and Burch both seem to be utilizing mindfulness (a.k.a. zazen) as a method for managing chronic pain. So some people may find their approach useful for tinnitus as well.

      If anyone reading this is that way inclined, I would also suggest having a look at Pema Chodron and Steve Hagen's books on meditation.

      None of the above authors are annoyingly, cloyingly New Agey from what I can tell. There are no dubious Eastern metaphysical claims to grapple with.
       
      • Helpful Helpful x 2
    11. Beth
      Inspired

      Beth Member Benefactor

      Location:
      England
      Tinnitus Since:
      quite a while...
      Sleaford Mod, thanks for the recommendations, I have 'When things fall apart' by Pema Chodron but haven't heard of Vidyamala Burch so I'll check that one out. I found quite a few books that had nothing to do with tinnitus, very helpful when I was struggling with it because you're quite right, it is often our attitude and approach to life that need changing and especially our habitual thoughts, reactions and habits so many of them are well worth reading.
       
    12. Beth
      Inspired

      Beth Member Benefactor

      Location:
      England
      Tinnitus Since:
      quite a while...
      Gut flora....you bet. Have you read what candida in the gut can be responsible for? And if you've ever taken antibiotics the candida will be rife because the antibiotics will have killed off all the 'good' bacteria along with the bad. That was one of the improvements I did to my health; getting rid of candida and taking pro bios every day. It cleared up a skin condition I'd had for more than 20 years and all my craving for sweet stuff totally disappeared. Well worth a look on youtube for anyone who is interested.
       
    13. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      Yup, I've read all sorts of things about candida, and despite the widely held notion in mainstream medicine that it's not a real problem, my own experience contradicts that.

      What did you do to get on top of that? I was taking caprylic acid and ACV daily for a while which did seem to help my guts, but I ran out of the tablets, and I have a general distrust of supplements. These days I try to avoid grains as much as possible without being completely militant about it, I drink plain keifer at the beginning and end of each day, and I do try to avoid sugar and all processed foods.
       
    14. MattK

      MattK Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2/13/2014
      Going back to the original point, the first ENT I saw about my tinnitus told me he has loud tinnitus in both ears. But the thing was that he's had it as far back as he can remember. So he said he thought it was normal and thought everyone heard it. It wasn't until he became an adult that he realizes it wasn't normal.

      It's funny how our minds work. If everyone was born with tinnitus, I bet it wouldn't bother us at all. It'd just be the way the world works. I recon that it's because we know it's not normal, and that most of us have had the luxury of silence that it bothers us so much. In short it is about reaction.

      By definition, if you don't react to something, then it can't bother you. I doubt anyone is 100% immune to reacting to tinnitus. But the reaction sure can be minimized.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
      • Optimistic Optimistic x 1
    15. carlover
      English

      carlover Member Benefactor

      Location:
      London
      Tinnitus Since:
      1986
      Nice...but what if the Tinnitus symptoms are on top of that horrible stuffed aural fullness, plus pain that starts to kick in if the T isnt masked and it gets louder and louder? ..they are very hard to be blase about sadly
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    16. Beth
      Inspired

      Beth Member Benefactor

      Location:
      England
      Tinnitus Since:
      quite a while...
      I got rid of all my mercury fillings because candida feeds on toxins and I spent several months on a strict candida diet of no sugars, fruits, wheat or cows dairy. I ate mostly veg, lean meat and fish but not small fish as they contain mercury, brown rice, rye flour, buckwheat, quinoa, lentils and lots of nuts and pulses. I lost weight which I needed to and felt so much better. I didn't think anything would ever solve my itchy skin problem but that went completely after about 4 months. I now take probios every day plus magnesium and zinc because I was tested for those and found to be very low in both. I still avoid sugar because I just don't like the taste of it any more.
       
    17. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      This is all fascinating to me. Thankfully I have no fillings. I do have one root canal, but as far as I can tell, that's not a mercury vector the same way that fillings are.

      I have likewise struggled with the skin thing on and off for a long time; perhaps I should really buckle down and fix my diet for long enough to see a difference.
       

Share This Page

Loading...
If you have ringing ears then you've come to the right place. We are a friendly tinnitus support board, dedicated to helping you discuss and understand what tinnitus treatments may work for you.