Singer & Music Lover — Struggling to Keep My Head Straight

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by SilverLimit, Sep 30, 2016.

tinnitus forum
    1. SilverLimit
      Depressed

      SilverLimit Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/16/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure, Stress or both.
      Hey all.

      So I've been lurking on these forums for about a month now. I've read stories that have both inspired me and others that have sent me into a tailspin of self-pity, but I've decided to finally take the dive and reach out for support. I've got a bit of a long story here, so please stick with me :)

      I've been a lead singer of a band for about 6 years now. We started out pretty noisy, and about three years in I decided to invest in some hearing protection (Etymotic Research Plugs). I’ve always been obsessive about my hearing, keeping the plugs in for any loud gig I've ever been to, and always wearing them during practice. I've never been able to adjust to them when performing live... just couldn't find my pitch. I've even gone as far as singing in a separate room from the band from time to time. I've also recorded and self-produced all of our material, meaning I've spent a lot of time wearing monitor headphones, but tried to keep them at a modest volume level.

      A little over a month ago, we played an outdoor gig that was abruptly interrupted by a thunderstorm. It's funny... it's almost like a higher power was telling me STOP! Before the show, I played around with the idea of trying a new type of earplug that would provide more clarity, but ultimately decided against it because it put a lot of weird suction on my inner ear and was fairly uncomfortable. During the downpour, I helped some of the local artists of the event cover their wares with plastic tarps and got drenched from head to toe in the process.

      To escape the storm, the band and I hid inside the press-tent for the event where a local radio podcast was broadcasting. Feeling like we had some time to kill, we did an impromptu interview where they made us wear headphones... the volume of the voices felt a little uncomfortable, but we proceeded anyway with little fanfare. Afterwards, I had a few beers, but my head started to feel a little strange and my ear pressure felt compressed. I proceeded to un-pop them by holding my nose and blowing (an exercise I often do when riding airplanes to equalize the pressure). Sobering up and feeling unusually tired, I proceeded to head home. My ears were left ringing after the whole ordeal, but I had become used to this being pretty temporary after playing a gig with no plugs. This was a mid-day event, so I got home around 6:30pm, felt exhausted and went immediately to sleep with the sun still up.

      Right here I want to just say that during this entire month, I'd been going through an intense amount of pressure. I'd been self-producing the band's latest album for two years and had finally committed to having it done by this year's end, so I was dedicating at least a few hours a night to mixing, taking plenty of breaks as to protect myself. On top of that, my long-term girlfriend of nearly 5 years was interning out in California for three months (we currently live in together in Indiana) and I knew that my lifestyle with the band would probably be running it's course and this album would be our last hurrah if we had to make the move out west. With my girlfriend gone and me tied up in various music and art projects, I had taken to becoming a bit of an insomniac and drinking coffee 24/7 like it was water. My career was also becoming more stressful, with uncomfortable changes putting more weight on my shoulders. I had started taking GABA and Melatonin supplements to get to sleep and had developed a jaw-clenching issue. Long story short, I'd been burning the candle at both ends for quite some time.

      Back on track. The following Sunday morning after the show, I noticed the ringing was still sticking around. I thought nothing of it, made a cup of coffee and proceeded to work on some work documents for a presentation I had to give on Monday. I had a pounding headache and took an Excedrin. As the day progressed, however, I began to notice that I was becoming hypersensitive to high-pitched sounds. Other sounds felt a little muddy and unclear. I became concerned and looked up a youtube video hearing test. Keeping the volume fairly low, I listened to a tone go from the lowest to highest frequencies of human hearing. Everything felt normal, but when I removed my headphones, I noticed the pitch had changed from a noticeable mid-tone ring to more of a high-pitched almost dog-whistle level whine. I also removed a considerable amount of earwax using a q-tip (not recommended, I know). I felt like this was at least an improvement and went about my day, and even slept fine that evening.

      The following morning, however, I awoke again with the tone in both my ears. This is when things began to spiral. You see, I work in a quiet office with the constant buzz of fluorescent lights, computers and printers squealing. This sounds had transformed from background noise to extremely noticeable and irritating, as they basically matched the tone of my ringing. Days became constant frustration, while nights became a terrifying battle for peace, as I attempted to mentally will the sound from a ringing tone to a “cricket” noise. I began taking ZzzQuil daily, but knew that path was ultimately unhealthy.

      I called an ENT telling them it was an emergency. I was starting to have anxiety attacks at work. During the visit, the Audiogram came back as “Normal”. He said the noise might be an issue, but seemed more in the camp of it being pressure or allergy related (I have a history of cat allergies and own one). He prescribed me some Flonase and mentioned steroids if things didn’t improve.

      The following week, the noise got louder. I would have conversations with my boss and barely hear him over the tone. I felt like I was going crazy. I called back my ENT and told them I was ready to take the jump into steroids. I saw immediately why the doctor was apprehensive about giving them to me. What started as a simple weekend work session with a friend at a coffee shop quickly devolved into a nervous breakdown. The noise got louder than I could bear. I feared being able to keep my job. I dreaded my girlfriend finding me in this state and leaving me. I mourned for my musical hobbies being dead forever. I felt like I would never be able to become a functional person again and saw nothing but the wreckage of my future.

      My family finally came to my aid and my doctor put be on a prescription of Ativan 10mg to accompany the steroids. For the next two weeks I would take the steroids and Ativan hand in hand. They didn’t prevent the occasional panic-attack, but they did keep me mostly stable and functional. Some days, I would barely notice the ringing, while others would have it creep in to haunt me. My hearing, which initially felt slightly “under water” began to resolve to the point where voices and music sounded normal again. I even had an extremely good day where I could have sworn it was gone. Sleep was still a battle, though, and I was getting very little of it. As I finished my steroids, I began reducing my Ativan intake as well. This led to some serious problems with mood-swings and withdrawal. I was still having panic attacks throughout the day.

      Distressed, I called an ear specialist referred to me by a hearing-impaired friend. Here I got my second audiogram, which the woman referred to as “perfect”. “You have the hearing of a 3-year old” she told me. The new doctor did a much more thorough study of my ears. “Squeaky Clean” he said. “Like they came off the show-room floor”. My canals looked in good shape. My drums appeared equalized and didn’t display the normal discoloration or irritation of drums with noise or physical damage. No impacted wax. My tubes were clean.

      His diagnosis was stress pushing myself to exhaustion. He recommended a healthy diet, no caffeine, no alcohol and plenty of rest. He put me on Nortriptyline as an antidepressant and gave me Clonazepam (Klonapin) to help me sleep and control panic-attacks daily if needed for three weeks. Overwhelmed, I started to break down in front of him. I asked him “do you honestly think this will go away?” to which he responded “Yes, yes I do”.

      That was last Tuesday. My swapping out of the Ativan to the Clonazepam has been a tough one, emotionally. I still have break downs, occasionally. I do continue to have awful anxiety about this condition derailing my adult life. The loss of my career, my girlfriend, my social life. I have a lot of regrets. I will say that the sound has dropped considerable unless I’m in a quiet room, and has progressed from more of a ringing to a hissing noise. I have also discovered sound therapy using tibetan “Singing Bowls”. Whenever I have a flair-up, I move to a quiet room and ring the bowl, focusing on the tone. This causes the volume to drop and the ringing to return to hissing. I’m hoping that this meditation combined with more consistent sleep will eventually provide me a more long-term peace.

      If you stuck around to read all this, I really appreciate it. This past month, I’ve felt like nothing but a burden to friends and loved-ones, and I feel like just getting this all out has provided me some relief. If anything I’ve mentioned above resonates with you, please let me know. I still have no idea if this will leave or if I’ll simply have to adapt, and despite the noise exposure, I still have conflicting beliefs about what caused this all to happen in the first place. How can I sleep without constantly medicating myself? Will I ever be able to join the world of music again? Any insight would be appreciated.

      Thank you so so much for listening.
       
    2. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @SilverLimit You need to stop being around loud sounds to give your ears a rest. I advise you not to listen to any type of audio through headphones even at low volume. Try not to become too dependent on the clonazepam as it can become addictive but it does help some people with tinnitus. Use a sound machine by your bedside at night for sound enrichment. Click on the link as you may find the information helpful and explains more about using a sound machine particularly at night. You are at the early stages of tinnitus and could make a good recovery if you keep away from loud music and headphone use which is my advice.
      Best of luck
      Michael
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/an-introduction-to-tinnitus.12100/
       
    3. SilverLimit
      Depressed

      SilverLimit Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/16/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure, Stress or both.
      @Michael Leigh Thank you so much for the info! It's really brightened my day :)
       
    4. SilverLimit
      Depressed

      SilverLimit Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/16/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure, Stress or both.
      @Michael Leigh Concerning white noise machines. I have been using one to help me sleep comfortably for about two days now, but I always notice that my ringing is significantly louder after the noise is removed. It eventually goes back down to baseline, but I'm curious if the masking is actually aggravating it? It does keep me from focusing on it at night.
       
    5. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @SilverLimit
      Some people believe when using a sound machine it spikes their tinnitus and hyperacusis. What they don’t realize is that their auditory system, particularly the cochlear in the inner ear, is already hypersensitive due to noise trauma previous caused by loud noise exposure which caused the tinnitus and hyperacusis in the first instance. Example: listening to music through headphones a high volume levels or attending music venues where music was played loud etc.

      It takes time for the auditory system to settle down again, and this is why TRT (tinnitus retraining therapy) is often recommended to people whose ears have been subjected to loud noise trauma.
      In your case, I believe the sound machine is doing its job and that you should continue using it. Set the volume just below your tinnitus and play it throughout the night until morning.

      Although hyperacusis can improve naturally without sound enrichment there is no guarantee this will happen. Many people do not understand, unless they use sound enrichment, which treats hyperacusis. Either wearing white noise generators under the care of a hearing therapist and using a sound machine at night, they will always have problems which will manifest itself with sensitivity to sounds and tinnitus spiking.
      Michael
       
      • Like Like x 1
    6. MikeL1972

      MikeL1972 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      3/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Uknown
      Hello and welcome.

      Four words for you to keep in mind: stress, sleep, anxiety, and distraction.

      Get as much sleep as possible. Avoid stress as much as possible (easier said than done, I know). Try to limit your anxiety. Ringing ears will not physically kill you. Keep yourself as busy as possible with work, social life, etc. Over time, it will get better as you get 'used' to it. More than likely, you will have spikes, like I am having now due to stress and poor sleep the past few days (not related to tinnitus).

      All tinnitus really is is your brain's inability to repair itself after some type of trauma or stimulus from the ear to the brain. It's a human condition and tens of millions of people alone in the U.S. have it. Unfortunately, science and medicine still fully do not understand how the brain works nor how to regenerate the lost hair cells in the ear that provide the "loopback adaptor" that is the handshake between brain and ear.

      Remember this axiom: your health is your wealth!
       
      • Like Like x 1
    7. SilverLimit
      Depressed

      SilverLimit Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/16/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure, Stress or both.
      @MikeL1972 Thank you so much! I can happily say that with the use of a white-noise machine and lots of rest, it has been gradually getting better. I just need to get in the habbit of not seeking it out so actively. Art, Reading and friends have been a great help.
       
    8. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @SilverLimit You have had tinnitus for a very short while and are asking a lot of yourself expecting not to be seeking out the noise. It is something your brain is doing which to some degree you haven't got much control over. Your brain wasn't aware of the tinnitus or hyperacusis prior to its onset. All of a sudden, the tinnitus which the brain sees as an interloper is not used to this intrusion focuses on the tinnitus. For this reason using sound enrichment particularly at night is so important. Over time your brain will no longer see the tinnitus as a threat and will gradually push it into the background and thus giving it less importance. Try not to worry about seeking it out as you're likely to make yourself stressed. Give it time and just try to carry on with life.
      Michael
       
      • Like Like x 1
    9. SilverLimit
      Depressed

      SilverLimit Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/16/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure, Stress or both.
      @Michael Leigh
      Again, really appreciate the help! Been tapering off of the Clonazapam very gradually, getting more rest and seeing a masseuse. Things have improved a great deal already. The white noise at night really is a godsend for rest. Thank you, again!
       
    10. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @SilverLimit
      Thanks SilverLimit and I hope things continue to improve for you.
      Michael
       
    11. Penate

      Penate Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/04/2015
      Michael I have a question for you, did you have a TRT Busines or you are audiologist trying to sell hearing aids to every body, I'm sorry, I don't want to be rude but in all your posts you try putting on TRT every body, please don't do that, TRT only works for people with mild tinnitus , is only masking, costs 4-5000$ and don't work, that's why we don't have a real treatment, hearing aids company's don't want to find the cure because the money, stilling from us suffered, TRT definition: is another way to stilling from us suffered in combination with hearing aids company's .
       
    12. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @Penate
      You are so right Penate and I'm sorry you have seen through my scam. I am an Audiologist and times are very hard. So I'm trying to keep my business afloat by visiting tinnitustalk to sell my TRT programme.
      Now, if you believe that then you'll believe anything.
      And by the way, you are quite wrong. I had very severe tinnitus and excruciating hyperacusis. My hyperacusis was completely cured using TRT and I fully habituated to my Tinnitus.
      Michael
       
    13. Penate

      Penate Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/04/2015
      You are lucky my friend TRT works for you, congratulations.
       

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