My Journey Toward Habituation

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by brody24, Feb 9, 2016.

tinnitus forum
    1. brody24

      brody24 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2002
      Its been a long time since I have stopped by, and it may very well be my last, but I wanted to share a bit of my story with those who are scared, angry, depressed, etc. at their condition.

      I have a history of serious medical issues with my right ear. I've had multiple surgeries and have severely diminished hearing in that ear. Since I was 15, I had tinnitus, but had learned to cope with it since it wasn't particularly loud. But then I had another surgery last summer (at age 28) for a fairly serious condition in my ear. Surgery was successful, but made my tinnitus MUCH worse. Worse enough that I could hear it all the time, over everything but a passing train.

      For months, I was a shell of a person. I was horribly depressed, skipping work regularly, unable to sleep, completely excluding any social activities and not seeing my loved ones. It got to the point where I started to think about taking my own life and its a though that came and went almost every day. I could hear my tinnitus 100% of the time, but worse, I was thinking about it 100% of the time. It led to horrible panic attacks and anxiety. One panic attack was so bad that I was hyperventilating and passed out, and ended up in the hospital.

      Fast forward about 7 months, and my life has changed substantially for the better since I have made great progress on my path toward habituation. Habituation is a 2-part process. First, your brain begins to stop thinking of the sound as a "threat" meaning that you can stay calmer and not have that panic attack reaction to it. And when your brain does that, it stops perceiving it on such a regular basis. Let me be clear. The sound in my ear is the exact same as the day I had my surgery. Same pitch, same volume, etc. What has changed is my mind's perception of it. I sometimes go half the day day without thinking about it (I'm not yet at the point where I truly put it out of mind all day long, day after day, and may never reach that level). But the grip it had on me has lessened in a way I would never have thought possible.

      So what helped me along my path to habituation? Here are some tips I followed, many of which you will find discussed on this site:

      --Try to spend as little time as possible reading about, thinking about, or discussing tinnitus. I used to spend full days reading about remedies, therapies, etc. And on those days, I would inevitably be up all night focusing on my T. Yet on the days when I was relatively distracted from my T, I slept pretty well. And that made me realize something. It wasn't the T that kept me awake. It was my constant thinking about the T that kept me awake.

      --Keep in mind that the VAST majority of people can and do habituate to this, even when the T is really bad. That isn't to say all will. There are unfortunately a number of users on here who still suffer mightily even after years. But you have to remember that the stats are in your favor. And also remember that this site is not representative. For most people who overcome T, the last place you want to be is on a site like this since it reminds you of the one thing you don't want to think about anymore.

      --Don't stop living your life. I spent weeks to months sitting on my couch sulking, skipping work, missing social events, etc. T had taken over my life and I stopped doing everything. And it was when I began to come out of the my shell that I began to have brief moments of distraction. Even things as small as doing my chores, grabbing a drink with friends, etc. It was at work during a busy project where, for the first time, I had a moment where I said to myself "I haven't thought about my T in like an hour". And that was a huge milestone to me, and reminded me it is possible to continue living, and that it is possible to distract myself. But remember that this happens subconsciously. The more you think about distracting yourself, the LESS successful you will be in doing so. It has to happen organically (which is why habituation can take so long).

      --Check with your doctor about hearing loss. I have severe hearing loss, so its not like there was any question what caused my T. I ended up with a hearing aid that my insurance covered because it was due to a history of ear illness (as opposed to natural hearing loss). The aid doesn't really help with the T since its a bit out of the aid's range. But it takes the edge off a tiny bit since I can hear louder in general (and it has a white noise feature I can turn on if needed, but I try not to).

      --Focus on the positives in your life. When I was beginning to think about suicide, I wrote a list of all the reasons I had to live for. I have a good job, I'm set to marry the girl of my dreams in just a few months, I am an otherwise healthy person, etc. Whatever your reasons are, reaffirm them and let them be your strength.


      So here I sit today, with T just as loud as ever (now that I'm thinking about it). But it doesn't trigger any panic attack or anxiety. And within 30 min from now, I will be doing something else and likely not even thinking about it. I remember thinking that I would suffer forever and I came to this site for support. So many people kept me positive and gave me the advice I needed to start me on my path to recovery. My goal is to do the same, and offer a bit of hope to those still suffering.
       
      • Like x 11
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    2. Rina
      Energetic

      Rina Member

      Location:
      florida, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/18/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Really don't know
      Great post ! Thanks for sharing and I'm glad you are doing well!!!
       
      • Like Like x 2
      • Agree Agree x 2
    3. Sound Wave
      Curious

      Sound Wave Member Benefactor Team Tech

      Location:
      Finland
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably headphones
      Brilliant! :)
       
      • Like Like x 1
    4. Jahhsoul
      Curious

      Jahhsoul Member

      Location:
      Spain
      Tinnitus Since:
      9/24/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unkown (not acute acoustic trauma).
      Thanks for post.
       
    5. danny grant

      danny grant Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2001
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Listening to loud music I presume
      Well done fella. Love reading stuff like this. Awesome x
       
    6. Joeri

      Joeri Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2010
      Thank you, great story
       
    7. Andersson
      Worried

      Andersson Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2012
      Thanks for the post.
      I read so many posts lately about how people overcome their new tinnitus in just a few weeks or months.
      Which is great for them. But they all have very mild tinnitus that can be only heard at night.
      Reading those just makes me feel worse.

      I am in the same situation as you were. Increase in Nov 2015. It's still super hard,even more then in nov because I thought it would lower itself.

      Good to read that you overcame non maskabe tinnitus. Since that is what I'm trying to do myself.
      Gives me some hope.
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
    8. brody24

      brody24 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2002
      Just keep moving. One step at a time, you will get there. Its what I kept telling myself every time it became unbearable. And it absolutely does get better. The body has this amazing ability to adapt and to survive. You can't make it consciously happen, and the more you think about habituating, the less likely it is to happen. Even awful tinnitus can be absorbed by the body to some extent. Again, you may always hear it, but the impediment it poses will be less and less.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    9. InfiniteLoop
      Sunshine

      InfiniteLoop Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Redwood City, California
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Not sure. Long-term microbial overgrowth?
      I agree that habituation has to come on its own, and it has a different path to each person. We can just help setting up the right stage to happen.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    10. Daniel Nichols
      Woot

      Daniel Nichols Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Jacksonville, FL
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown/minor hearing loss/sinus
      Great post
       
    11. noisebox
      Loved

      noisebox Member

      Location:
      Yorkshire, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      West End show. Came back 2015 vitamin D overdose prescribed
      Oh if only I knew how to move on. Oddly i did move on with my original T to the point I mostly did not hear it, that was a year ago. Now stress, medical negligence etc has brought it back, super reactive and with H too and I am struggling to 'NOT' care.
      I'm winning with H through desensitization. But reactivity drives me nuts, i pop out all calm doing something nice and super reactive monster rears its head. I do care that's the problem. I don't panic, I'm not anxious, I just hate the intruder and feel this time I cant overcome.
      sorry my misery should not be in success stories.
       
    12. InfiniteLoop
      Sunshine

      InfiniteLoop Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Redwood City, California
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Not sure. Long-term microbial overgrowth?
      Some qualities of T make the process of habituation more difficult. I consider my T to be a good example of bad qualities:
      - Very fluctuating (anywhere between 1 and 7)
      - Ever changing sound types (it is like a synthesizer manipulated by a mad monkey)
      - Ever changing tempo (varying from slow drones to crazy techno-like patterns)
      - Very reactive (road noise, cooking noises, etc... will set off the T).
      After two years I am still getting used to this monster, and it is starting to feel like a new normal. I will say that I am 75% back.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    13. Bobbie7
      Wishful

      Bobbie7 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Extreme stress, sinus infection
      Very uplifting Brody. Best wishes to you.
       
    14. brody24

      brody24 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2002
      I posted this a few months back, but wanted to share it one more time for those who are scared, angry, depressed, etc. at their condition.

      I have a history of serious medical issues with my right ear. I've had multiple surgeries and have severely diminished hearing in that ear. Since I was 15, I had tinnitus, but had learned to cope with it since it wasn't particularly loud. But then I had another surgery last summer (at age 28) for a fairly serious condition in my ear. Surgery was successful, but made my tinnitus MUCH worse. Worse enough that I could hear it all the time, over everything but a passing train.

      For months, I was a shell of a person. I was horribly depressed, skipping work regularly, unable to sleep, completely excluding any social activities and not seeing my loved ones. It got to the point where I started to think about taking my own life and its a though that came and went almost every day. I could hear my tinnitus 100% of the time, but worse, I was thinking about it 100% of the time. It led to horrible panic attacks and anxiety. One panic attack was so bad that I was hyperventilating and passed out, and ended up in the hospital.

      Fast forward to the present, and my life has changed substantially for the better since I have made great progress on my path toward habituation. Habituation is a 2-part process. First, your brain begins to stop thinking of the sound as a "threat" meaning that you can stay calmer and not have that panic attack reaction to it. And when your brain does that, it stops perceiving it on such a regular basis. Let me be clear. The sound in my ear is the exact same as the day I had my surgery. Same pitch, same volume, etc. What has changed is my mind's perception of it. I sometimes go half the day day without thinking about it (I'm not yet at the point where I truly put it out of mind all day long, day after day, and may never reach that level). But the grip it had on me has lessened in a way I would never have thought possible.

      So what helped me along my path to habituation? Here are some tips I followed, many of which you will find discussed on this site:

      --Try to spend as little time as possible reading about, thinking about, or discussing tinnitus. I used to spend full days reading about remedies, therapies, etc. And on those days, I would inevitably be up all night focusing on my T. Yet on the days when I was relatively distracted from my T, I slept pretty well. And that made me realize something. It wasn't the T that kept me awake. It was my constant thinking about the T that kept me awake.

      --Keep in mind that the VAST majority of people can and do habituate to this, even when the T is really bad. That isn't to say all will. There are unfortunately a number of users on here who still suffer mightily even after years. But you have to remember that the stats are in your favor. And also remember that this site is not representative. For most people who overcome T, the last place you want to be is on a site like this since it reminds you of the one thing you don't want to think about anymore.

      --Don't stop living your life. I spent weeks to months sitting on my couch sulking, skipping work, missing social events, etc. T had taken over my life and I stopped doing everything. And it was when I began to come out of the my shell that I began to have brief moments of distraction. Even things as small as doing my chores, grabbing a drink with friends, etc. It was at work during a busy project where, for the first time, I had a moment where I said to myself "I haven't thought about my T in like an hour". And that was a huge milestone to me, and reminded me it is possible to continue living, and that it is possible to distract myself. But remember that this happens subconsciously. The more you think about distracting yourself, the LESS successful you will be in doing so. It has to happen organically (which is why habituation can take so long).

      --Check with your doctor about hearing loss. I have severe hearing loss, so its not like there was any question what caused my T. I ended up with a hearing aid that my insurance covered because it was due to a history of ear illness (as opposed to natural hearing loss). The aid doesn't really help with the T since its a bit out of the aid's range. But it takes the edge off a tiny bit since I can hear louder in general (and it has a white noise feature I can turn on if needed, but I try not to).

      --Focus on the positives in your life. When I was beginning to think about suicide, I wrote a list of all the reasons I had to live for. I have a good job, just got married to an amazing woman, I am an otherwise healthy person, etc. Whatever your reasons are, reaffirm them and let them be your strength.


      So here I sit today, with T just as loud as ever (now that I'm thinking about it). But it doesn't trigger any panic attack or anxiety. And within 30 min from now, I will be doing something else and likely not even thinking about it. I remember thinking that I would suffer forever and I came to this site for support. So many people kept me positive and gave me the advice I needed to start me on my path to recovery. My goal is to do the same, and offer a bit of hope to those still suffering. Good luck and god bless.
       
      • Hug Hug x 2
      • Agree Agree x 1
    15. Scared111

      Scared111 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      6/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Do you use anything to sleep? How do you keep away from the fear or panic that it may get worse? Thanks for your hopeful story
       

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