Life's Better Than Ever

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by svaults, May 20, 2016.

    1. svaults

      svaults Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Possibly in-ear headphones, otherwise unknown
      Hey guys,

      (this site is much fancier and nicer since I last came about 3 years ago, well done)

      Let me start off by saying I've had tinnitus (T) for over 4 years now and I rarely think about it, most often once every few weeks and sometimes months. It lead me to make some life changes that mean my life is better and more in tune with who I am than before I got it. I remember thinking "my life is never going to be the same": that's true. To get over this you have to change and become a stronger person, and realize that nothing will stop you if you don't let it. So I am happy, healthy, and maybe even glad I got it :) Because now I am confident I can take on anything life throws at me.

      I used to come to this forum when I first got tinnitus in second year of university. At the beginning this helped so I didn't feel like I was the only one suffering through this, but it stunted my growth after a while because it violated the one rule to getting over your your T and getting back to life: don't think about the T.

      Second thing is, no one explained this essential truth to me, which is the key. If you're on this forum freaking out you have two things 1) tinnitus 2) anxiety.

      The second one is actually what is causing the issue. I know this because at the same time I got it, a friend of mine also got it but was carrying on with life as normal... I was thinking that their tinnitus must* be different. No, their reaction was different. You can't control this at the beginning. If you react by thinking "I'll never be the same", "My life is over", "Why did this happen to me?" - even subconsciously, your brain (specifically a part called your "amygdala" is stimulated and caused what you're feeling. So what are you feeling?
      • Fear
      • Increased heart rate
      • Thoughts of the future (my life is over)
      • Thoughts of the past (my life was so much better before this)
      • Reduced self esteem (I won't be able to achieve my goals)
      • Sadness because of all those fears
      • Hearing the tinnitus itself
      • Overly emotional about everything else in life
      • Inability to focus
      • Body discomfort and tenseness
      Well, those are some of the common ones, that I've experienced. And guess what, they are all related to anxiety - EVEN hearing* the tinnitus itself. That may sound absurd but, the truth is, if I'm not thinking about the T, I don't hear it. Now when I say think about it I don't mean I am never conscious of it, because there are times throughout the day in silence where I realize it's silent and uncomfortable and then turn on music or a fan and forget all about it. That was part of the life change, though, I'm sitting in silence right now and to be honest I can hear it occasionally but I don't have those anxious symptoms above, and right after this I'm going to rollerblade to the gym and get on with my life :) so it doesn't bother me. I still get those feelings from time to time but it's just anxiety so I calm myself down with some methods below (just subconscious/automatic now) and get on with life!

      Now, people think of anxiety as some mental illness or just don't know how to relate to it. In reality, everyone gets it, but people who are more future oriented or under stress get it more often. Think about when you have to do a presentation, are late for an interview, etc. That sweaty palm, my life is over, discomfort is anxiety. And let me tell you, if you can master getting over that, it will be smooth sailing.

      I have mastered it, in that, you can't control your initial anxiety response, sometimes I just get it out of nowhere or hear my T or something and I begin feeling uncomfortable (this happens at the beginning especially when after a few weeks you don't hear it (stop thinking about it) for maybe even a few minutes, and then when you hear it again you realize "oh yeah my life is over" and it comes back and just gets worse. That is the point where you have to cut it off. Your actual thoughts have to go against your amygdala's (that part of your brain that causes fear) response. And actually, once you get the anxious feeling, there is no way to just snap out of it and feel normal (scientifically. the amygdala keeps your body in fight or flight mode long after the fear is gone. And it was originally to be alert for predators. You know, you're busy collecting berries thousands of years ago alone in the woods and all of a sudden hear a twig snap. Instantly you become alert looking out for danger. This same alertness, feeling danger (anxiety) makes you focus on your tinnitus, and makes you less likely to be able to focus on other things and enjoy them. Which can easily make you depressed, if you can't enjoy doing the things you used to.)

      Now, how to get over it, that depends on you.
      But actually, after a month of having it, I went on a long trip (took time off university because I couldn't focus and was freaking out) and during that trip, I was happy! With my brother in south america, going out to parties. I tricked my anxiety and amygdala by consciously realizing I could still have fun with T, so my fear of it was greatly reduced and for 6 months I was just fine. This is why many people on here suggest going on a trip. But then winter came and I got my anxiety back, so too did I start hearing the tinnitus more. Back to square one. Why? I didn't realize anxiety was the real culprit. And anxiety very often leads to depression, which many people get because the flow is:

      Have/hear tinnitus -> Worry about life being over/not as good -> Get anxiety -> Get depression

      Now If you stop that flow at get tinnitus, it's not so bad. Because if you asked me right now, would I rather have cancer, be poor, lose an eye (a friend of mine just did on the job and has to deal with that), or even have the common cold for 2 months a year instead of tinnitus I'd stick with my T 100%. And there are many more things people have to go through and get over that are far worse than T.

      So the first step is to realize you can stop that flow right at the tinnitus part. The next 3 are the bad feelings you're going through now, but they are INDEPENDENT of tinnitus. Once I (and everyone who got over their T) realized this (that life could be good even with T) everything turned out just fine.

      So, after my anxiety came back I got depression also, because again I was not able to enjoy things. You'll see people mention CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and anti-anxiety meds, this is because they both treat anxiety (and if you're like me you'll say that's BS I don't have anxiety, I have this terrible life-sucking disease called tinnitus).. Well, once I realized I had anxiety and depression, it took me over a year to fully get over them and be at the point I am now. And yes a year is a long time but in the grand scheme, it's not. It seems like ages ago since I got over those bad feelings many of you are likely feeling now. The things that helped me were:
      • Realizing I can calm myself down (at first by focusing on breathing and just being in the moment, but now to be honest I've become so confident that when I get the anxiety feeling and just say I know this is just a bodily reaction and I'm just fine.. And it goes away, every time. Usually within an hour or so, but once or twice it took a few weeks. But I was so confident it would go and I was fine, I just pushed through it and carried on with life despite feeling down - you will feel down at points throughout your life because of T, because of other things, it's just a part of life)
      • Be patient, life is like seasons, sometimes it's dark and you're down like winter, but spring is just around the corner. The corner could be months, it could be a year but the reward you'll get if you take advice from this forum and cultivate your own methods and wisdom will carry you through life as a strong person that can even help others :)
      • When I do that, the bad anxiety feeling will not go away instantly (not possible, amygdala remember), but it doesn't mean I didn't beat it
      • Once I calm down enough do something I enjoy (at first this was not work or study), I decided I would be a gold miner and I kid you not, spent a long time researching and buying gold mining equipment (I later abandoned this, but the project showed me I could focus on and enjoy something)
      • Then *important just do something you actually like (or would like if you weren't depressed) Could be a tv show, going for a walk, doing work, the closer it is to a project the better (I was running a contracting business at the time, but I really didn't enjoy it as much as I thought, so I changed to *computer programming* which I didn't know I would like but honestly being able to work from home and learn new things every day is great) The important thing is to find something that works for you*
      • Find what worked for me (Music, having a fan or rain music on while sleeping and in quiet rooms worked best) Psychiatrist, anxiety medication, those ear devices, didn't work for me. Mostly because what did work was:
      • Picking up a big project you're interested in (for most of you this will likely mean within your job or if you're at home, some sort of hobby or goal) It just retunes your brain into realizing you can do things
      • Don't push yourself (at first I couldn't read and didn't see how I could with the sound.. Now I can read every night before bed and *enjoy it* .. not hear or think about the T at all actually)
      • Don't worry about the social life. When I was going through the dark, sad, depression times, I had one friend I talked to, family and a LOT of watching tv series I liked. Once I got enough strength I'd make myself go out to the gym or for a walk or to hang out with people, but most of that helped once I built my strength of mind and calm
      • Build your strength of mind and calm. Read quotes and books about people overcoming. When you get bad feelings, tell yourself you can do it, recognize the feeling as an anxiety reaction caused by your brain. Disassociate with it and try to flush your body with a feeling of calm. Eventually it will start to work and after a while you'll calm yourself down. The feeling will come back and you'll calm yourself down. You'll eat a meal or watch a show, then the feeling will come back and you'll calm yourself down. You'll go to sleep, have a nice dream wake up.. you get the idea haha. That ability to bring yourself into a calm state will turn into confidence. If you can calm yourself down, why can't you enjoy going out? or a movie? or friends? or cooking? You can. Once you realize that, keep building your strength and ability to calm yourself and control the outcome. That is beating anxiety and the T. Then you'll be like me and the other success stories, and can come back and help others (heard this 4 years ago and said yeeeaahh okay.. well look where we are).
      • Get healthy (go to the gym, eat right etc. just as a project every day make a salad and eat it. Sounds dumb but doing things like that avoid depression and keep you healthy during your tough time)
      • If you have depression now, well that last time I had it was about 3 years ago (during that time I mentioned up there where my anxiety came back) Now for 3 years straight since taking responsibility/control of my mind I've been happier than ever
      • Stop blaming every bad thing on the T (I would contribute every bad feeling I ever got at the beginning to this T, not anxiety, not the fact that I just got a life-altering issue, but just this noise, so I believed as long as I had this noise I couldn't be happy *This is the key- it isn't true. I am happy, and the noise never goes away, I just don't hear it because I'm not focused on it. Bad feelings and anxiety come to everyone* Just because you feel you can't achieve your goals you can get anxiety. I sometimes doubt myself and start getting anxious and the feeling spreads but I realized that's okay. The key is to be brave in those situations and rely on your ability to calm yourself down and get on with life. So another key is:
      • Building self-confidence. As you can tell, I'm a self-confident person. But not at the beginning when I felt like my life was over. I changed for the better. I can focus and am more compassionate towards other people and their struggle than ever. When I hear the T it causes a bit of an anxious feeling but, as I said I quickly use my trained reaction to calm myself and then back to life. Unless it goes away (unlikely) it will be with me for life, I am okay with that and can deal with it very well now, so can you.
      That's why I came back here to post. I beat tinnitus, anxiety, and depression and have never been happier or more confident that I can and will achieve my goals. Ambitious goals, even. To become a millionaire, to travel more (I've been to India, sri lanka, and colombia since getting T), and to create a not-for-profit organization to make a big impact on poverty. I'm on my way: I've learned enough web development in the last two years that I can make websites for people and sell them, and am working on a few big ideas.

      I'm not trying to brag or impress you, and to be honest, I relied very heavily on my friends and family during the experience - but I am saying that once you get over this thing, you can get back to happiness and purpose in life.

      Just a note on the getting over it thing, just like not coming back to these types of forums, building inner strength helped more than anything. I became more spiritual and in tune with myself. Reading inspirational quotes about the mind and overcoming. This may not work for everyone but it did for me. Here are a few
      • As you think, so shall you become - Bruce Lee
      • Know thyself. - Delphic maxim
      • Courage: “when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what” Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
      • Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen - Michael Jordan
      • You are only stressed if things matter to you beyond their real importance - Jason J Drew, sustainable business entrepreneur (2013)
      • If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present - Lau Tzu
      • You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength - Emperor Marcus Aurelius
      • If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. - Bruce Lee
      • Always be kinder than you feel
      • When you eat the fruits of your labour, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. - Psalm 128:2
      • Seek the wisdom that will untie your knot, seek the path that demands your whole being - Rumi
      • You are the community now. Be a lamp for yourselves. Be your own refuge. Seek for no other. All things must pass. Strive on diligently. Don’t give up.
      • It's not what happens - it's what you do about it.
        1 Corinthians 13:4-8
      • Be strong when you're weak, brave when you're scared, and humble when you're victorious
      I became more loving and understanding, and confident, and strong. And now I will get back to my life and go to the gym. It may (likely will) take time, but you can do it to. Life is a journey, and the journey is the destination. Try to be in the moment and enjoy it, little by little you will build on your new strength, and you will be a better person than before once you're through it. Get help when you need it, but when you don't, focus on being calm, just in a state of calmness at every moment, when anxiety comes and you start feeling bad, keep trying to get back to a calm neutral state. From that neutral state you can build confidence, laughter, happiness, love, ambition. That state of calm you will reach (with tinnitus all the while) became the building block to the rest of my life. I'm not afraid of depression, anxiety, or tinnitus, because I have beat them and can do it again if they come back (if the noise I'm hearing changes, whatever happens). It's this confidence, spiritual peace, and state of calm that I built slowly over the months and years since then that has made me a better person.

      I won't reply to questions because I have very little time, would like to continue achieving my goals and helping my family, and also would like to think about T as little as possible, because life is much bigger. I posted as motivation to others and to show that life can be better than before, things I never believed when I first got it. I hope I don't come off as arrogant, I'm really just driving home the fact that it is very possible to get over the T, anxiety, and depression, and come out strong, confident, and better off than before. I truly hope this helps someone

      -- In closing
      Be confident in your ability to beat whatever you're going through. Be patient and accept that you feel down now, work on being calm, then work on being strong. You can do it also, don't give up :)
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    2. nimx

      nimx Member

      Well said, you are right and I'm experiencing the same journey. It is not T that causes anxiety and depression, it is a person prone to anxiety and depression that makes T a suffering experience. Point is that with LOT of work on yourself you can beat those tendency, and rewire your brain to be stronger and more resilient (that's why I'm not a big fan of psychiatrists who say that only meds are efficacious in depression and anxiety , athough meds are necessary some times). Reality is that T has a strong connection with the amygdala so mood and t are reciprocally influenced, so working on the only thing that you can work on (your mind) has a huge influence on your T. That is why lot of ppl has T but just 1% of us "suffers" from T. And yes, often if not always, once you are more calm and stable your T will also decrease in volume (that's why most of you can in fact experience a huge decrease in T when you get benzos or other gaba drugs, but drugs are just a temporary fix).
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    3. Travis Carter

      Travis Carter Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      @nimx Hey man, in reading some of your other posts I saw that a big contributor to your successful habituation was Mindfulness meditation. Could you share some tips in how to do MM? The couple of times I attempted to make T the object of the mindfulness it just made my perception of the Tinnitus worse and I was super tuned into it. Is this normal at first? Could you share some tips and/or experiences with using this?

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    4. Mario martz

      Mario martz Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Thank you for posting Svaults!
      i hope your journey keep getting better and better.
    5. AUTHOR

      svaults Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Possibly in-ear headphones, otherwise unknown
      @Travis Carter - A bit about my experience with mindful meditation

      @Mario martz , @nimx and to anyone else in the future thanks for the positive replies!

      I'll just add one more thing in reply because it was something I didn't touch on too much in my post.

      I also tried mindful meditation and focused on the T, which didn't work and made me aware of it. I read many books on it and came to the conclusion that, you have to focus on life. What would you be doing if you weren't thinking about the T? Then do, be mindful, and "meditate" on that. I was always tempted to think every time I tried to do something else I was just "distracting" myself from it. But it's not true, those "distractions" are life.

      An example of something passive is: watch a movie. Say the movie is 2 hours long and you manage to go through it for 5 minutes without thinking about the T and enjoy 5 minutes, while trying to enjoy the movie despite the emotion and discomfort etc. That* is a form of meditation and a way of life. 5 min out of 2 hours seems like nothing, but it is a huge accomplishment and it IS progress. You will build on that, maybe in a month 10 minutes, in 6 months, 30 minutes, and in time enjoy an entire movie without thinking about it, because at that point you would be living your life and your brain would get the idea to put it in the background, where you're not conscious of it and it doesn't affect your emotions. In that same movie example, sometimes I become conscious of it in the middle of a movie, random, something caused me to think of it, whatever the reason - this is when I use the mindful meditation to be mindful of what I'm doing *watching a movie, and focus on that with my mind and body. It may not work fully, but I am being *mindful and consciously trying to enjoy it, sending signals to my brain that this activity, and not the T, is the important thing.

      After a while my brain got the idea and started doing it for me. Now I only use this mindfulness when I need to. When working, at a party, etc. if I become conscious of the T, I start trying to calm my inner self (reducing anxiety) and practise mindfulness (being in the moment and trying to enjoy it).

      • Be conscious of what you're doing in this exercise. Is it studying? working? enjoying a movie?
      • See/define it as a positive action/activity that is part of life (enjoying a movie) rather than define it as a negative activity centered around the T (ignoring your T)
      • Realize during the mindfulness, there is not a 1 to 1 relationship between trying to feel a certain way, and actually feeling it. If you manage to calm your inner self/mind a little during the movie and still you hear the T and feel anxious, people tend to feel like they have failed. It's not true, the things in your body that cause the anxiety reaction settle on their own time. Even for me, could be minutes, hours, days sometimes. But I know this being calm, reinforcing positively that I can do it, and mindfully going about my life, will eventually beat the feeling and the T.
      • You have a normal state (what were you like before the T?), that your brain/body seek to get back to. Doing the things suggested on this forum help you get back to that state that existed before your T, and in some cases bring you to an even better "normal state" that can include more compassion, understanding, calmness etc.
      • Do what works for you. I found psychiatry, psychologists, meditation in silence/closing my eyes etc, running to try to shake the feeling, reading books didn't help me. I think this is because I wouldn't have been doing any of these things if I didn't have T. So I was trying to change who I was. What did work was doing what I would normally enjoy* a big one at the start was TV series and planning a trip.
      • Focusing on a project is an alternative to focusing on your T for mindfulness (the project worked for me, focusing on the T didn't). A project is something you can go back to and take a break from, and is relatively long term. It could be a TV series (I watched about 4 seasons straight of a few of them, actively trying to be mindful of the plot and show, and by the end of the series, I was a little bit better at it), a book (I couldn't do this until about a year after), exercise (very good, running seems to help a lot of people), cooking, hanging out with friends, going to work and doing your job as best you can.
      • If you have trouble sleeping. For me some good advice that helped was: think as much as possible about another project in your mind. Try to solve a business problem, replay the events of a tv series in your head, think about people you love such as family and friends, think about the places you'd want to go and what you'd want to do there. Someone even found creating a little world in their mind they could go back to when drifting off (sort of like the SIMS, a little oasis or city they created mentally and could think about whenever they needed). This is a form of meditation also and in this case the activity is not lying in bed, it's relaxing while solving a problem, or building a little world. Even to this day when I'm going to sleep by default I start thinking about business problems and how to solve them. In the next day or week, my subconscious uses those thoughts to help me while I'm awake.
      • Having a fan or comfortable music helped/helps me be mindful - however, I genuinely love music and the gentle hum of a fan. I never found sitting in silence helped. And I'm 4 years in and habituated. I am sitting in silence right now because I'm focused on writing this. But I have music going as a preference. Find what works for you and what you're comfortable with while mindfully meditating on your activity. In this way you create *your own* form of mindful meditation and keep perfecting it so you are most able to focus on and enjoy life. Think about it, all these people who wrote books about it and can give advice (me even), tried things and found what worked for them, you can* find what works for you with practise. (Outside of illegal drugs etc.) If the activity helps you focus on life and enjoy it, with T in the background, then it's working for you and you're slowly becoming an expert at your own form of mindfulness for *your mind, body, and soul.
      • The point of the mindfulness is to be as immersed as possible as you can in the activity you're doing, not thinking about the past or projecting onto the future (projecting negatively on the future is what causes anxiety). Being in the moment, trying to be as peaceful as possible, and enjoying it as much as possible.
      • Being mindful is a decision and action. I found especially at the beginning I'd have to battle of thoughts of "what if this fails", "is this working" etc., plus the sound of the actual T. I found immediately swapping those thoughts with something positive such as "You can do it, let's focus on what we're doing" and trying to do an inner smile (try to feel what it's like if your brain and entire body were to smile - just an abstract feeling, but one of peace) and calm myself, to replace the negative ones - every time they happened helped. It's like training your body to respond to negative with positive. It takes work, but it really helps with being in the moment and enjoying the moment.
      • On that last point, there are even times where my body can be feeling anxiety and I hear the T, but I am consciously happy and going about my life. The T always fades out of consciousness eventually, and now in the mean time I don't "suffer" from it. What a thing, right? Eventually your brain kicks in and does this for you *most of the time (this is habituation, remember). But when it doesn't you have the toolkit you've cultivated to be mindful and get back into your life until habituation takes over and you're not thinking about the T at all. This is how people (me too) can go weeks, months etc. without "thinking" about or suffering from T at all.
      • Others can comment with their experiences, but I found over time, this truly helped me. Now I can read books despite hearing the T and get into the story, I can sit hear and type despite hearing the T and enjoy the possibility of potentially helping someone. I can finish up this post and get back to my working day, with the confidence that I will mindfully put my energy into making it a good day :)
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    6. Travis Carter

      Travis Carter Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      @svaults thanks man, your success story along with your further insights on mindfulness help TREMENDOUSLY! I feel like i'm on the right path. It's been about 6 months since I realized T wasn't normal and started freaking out about it but my life is slowly but surely getting back to normal and I feel habituation is around the corner for me.

      THANK YOUUU! This is a huge thing for me to read because I have had those exact same thoughts and they only served to confuse me. You are absolutely spot on with this.

      best of luck with your business and life in general man, you give me hope that I can have the old me 100% back on day!
    7. Path Maker

      Path Maker Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:

      Love this, on all points!!!

      Thank you SO much for your beautiful posts!!!
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    8. nimx

      nimx Member

      Sorry for being late. seems like Svaults already reaplied to your question. Anyway, yes, at the beginning listening mindfulnessly to your T makes it worse. Mind that if you are anxious or your mood is low, you have FIRST to work on this issue, because your reaction to your T is modulated by your central nervous system (limbic system in primis), so you have to take some degree of control on it and meditation is a precious tool to rewire the system, yes, it can take quite some time (months, or in cases like mine where I wanted to cultivate a new life's vision even years, mind that after my emotional trauma I had been diagnosed with Gad, and I'm no more, my suffering is gone, still I keep up with this journey and, as svaults said, life is becoming better than ever), but it is doable. Every revolution needs a good amount of effort and intense dedication. Mindfulness is not the only technique I use, which one to use is subjective, every meditation has (as you can look up on pubmed) different working mechanisms and changes different brain areas. (for ex. When I was under stress anxiety or fear I usually used mantras which deactivate limbic system and calms you down and only then I could begin with a mindfulness session). Nothing mystic if you are not prone to, you can look at this for what they are, brain excercises.
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    9. dudeguywithstuff

      dudeguywithstuff Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      I can't believe this hasn't gotten a bigger response. I haven't found a story more uplifting, optimistic, and life-affirming than this one.

      Even before I had tinnitus, I really fucking hated my life. Like, every part of it. And I strongly believe that when (yeah, folks, I'm saying WHEN) I adapt to this condition, it will reforge me into someone who actually makes something good of his life here on earth.

      You're my hero, OP. And hopefully a hero to countless others.
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    10. AUTHOR

      svaults Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Possibly in-ear headphones, otherwise unknown

      I'm so glad to hear it helped. I believe in you, and just that decision to overcome and become better is huge. I make that decision every time I doubt myself, many people here are proud of you for that.

      Best of luck, you'll do it.
    11. AUTHOR

      svaults Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Possibly in-ear headphones, otherwise unknown
      @Travis Carter @Path Maker and anyone else in case I don't reply, you're very welcome and I'm so glad if it can help you on your journey to your new and fuller life.
    12. Eltel

      Eltel Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Top post svaults
    13. valeri

      valeri Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Nice story but do you have tinnitus or TINNITUS?
      • Good Question Good Question x 1

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