Some Thoughts / Advice on Habituation and Getting Better

Discussion in 'Support' started by Xynic, Sep 8, 2015.

    1. Xynic

      Xynic Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      I'm posting this out here in the open because I've just written something similar to someone in a PM and realized this might be useful for a lot of you.

      BEFORE YOU READ: This is a post for people who suffer from chronic tinnitus, anxiety and depression that is NOT accompanied by pain or other heavy symptoms. For example, tinnitus that was brought on by noise exposure or by stress. If you are one of those people, I strongly believe what I'm trying to tell in it will help you with motivation, habituation and getting better. If you have an acute physical illness, suffer from pain, etc., you might still find helpful things in my thoughts but, as Nucleo has pointed out, I really only address chronic tinnitus and the anxiety that so often accompanies it in its early stages.

      First of all, let me say I am doing so much better than I did three months ago! I have my life back! I'm getting happier by the day. I still suffer from my depression but it's waning, with each day the beast gets weaker and smaller. And do I still hear the tinnitus? Sure do. It's weaker I think. Or do I just really not care anymore? What's even the difference? One thing is for sure - I just don't give a sh*t anymore. It's just annoying sometimes, no more than that, and even those times are getting rare. I'm happily going about my life, enjoying music and making music, helping other people, reading good books, making plans, enjoying the company of my friends, sleeping better and better, no sleeping pills required whatsoever. I've been through it, OCD, anxiety, the circle, all of that - and I'm leaving it behind me.

      So here's one thought on habituation and getting better, and trust me it can get better! You CAN have your life back, your life can be exactly as good as it was before the tinnitus (or better, because chances are you didn't get tinnitus out of good life). There's loads of good advice spread throughout this site and you know it all - don't google, don't pay attention, exercise, relax, do good things for yourself, the things you like to do, etc.

      But I bet many people find all of that very hard to do. They find it very hard because they basically think, "I would do all of that - if only my tinnitus/depression/anxiety was a little better. But just right now, it's so bad I cannot quite get out of the circle of tinnitus, anxiety, depression and tinnitus! I hope this new med/this forum thread/waiting for a couple more days will just get me over the hill enough so I can get moving and move on with my life." Ask yourself - did you ever tell yourself that, if unconsciously?

      Well, let me tell you I've been there and got out of there. Lately I've been trying to be supportive to a couple of people still caught in the anxiety/depression phase and give some advice on how to get out and get better. It was sometimes puzzling to me how to drive the point I wanted to make home - the point that the secret to getting out is to simply get out and start doing whatever it is you love, start living your life again and making the change. I was trying to put it in a manner that wouldn't make it sound cyclical.

      Then just now, it hit me. I know how to explain it now - and it's so simple!

      Take people who quit smoking. Many smokers find it incredibly hard to quit and not pick up smoking again because what they do is quit and then... they just wait. They stoically suffer and wait. They wait for Some Great Reward, the moment when they will Finally Not Want To Smoke Anymore. Think about this - they want to smoke all the time, they think about cigarettes all the time, that makes them feel really bad and so what they do is they basically just sit there, their normal lives stop, and they wait. They wait for the moment of truth, the moment that they will suddenly feel that they are non-smokers. Those of you who have tried to quit smoking in the past probably know the feeling. That moment never comes, and eventually you just buy another pack of cigarettes.

      That approach doesn't sound like it can work now, can it?

      The mistake these people are making is reversing the order of consequence. Mistakenly, they think they need to somehow magically become non-smokers first (by waiting x time, presumably - how long?) and then they can finally go about living their lives.

      You see how wrong that is? They're already not smoking cigarettes. So... they can and should simply go about and enjoy their lives now. This is it, right here. There is nothing stopping them. And then they will at some point, just as an aside, realize they don't even think about smoking anymore.

      Do you see the parallel? The truth is, you don't need to wait for anything at all. There's nothing to wait for. Let this sink in for a while. Think about it - what exactly are you waiting for? Do you really think sitting there sulking, waiting for the tinnitus to subside, will get you to a point, somehow, at which you will feel better, and then you can do all the stuff you really want to do? That's like thinking you can get somewhere by walking in place really hard.

      Here's the whole secret - you can start living your life again, and you can do it right now. There is nothing stopping you. And habituation will simply happen - as a consequence. It will get better just like that, as a consequence of you doing whatever you want and living THAT, not your wait for habituation. If you are waiting for habituation and think that once that happens you can finally live again, don't. You're seeing things in reverse. This is the most important part right here of what I have to say - you are thinking of it in reverse, that's why you're stuck. Take a moment to really think about it. It's like saying you want to become a great piano player first and THEN you can touch the piano for the first time. Sounds ridiculous, right? But ask yourself - are you perhaps trapped in precisely that kind of ridiculous logic?

      So I hope this helps someone do what they want to do, take their lives and live it. If you have something you wish you could do if only it wasn't for the tinnitus, do it. Now. You don't have anything to wait for. There is no such point in the future that someday will miraculously come just from waiting - you can just do it RIGHT NOW if you want to. And you will get better if you don't wait for it and just do it.
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    2. glynis

      glynis Manager Staff Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      England, Stoke-on-Trent
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Meniere's Disease
      Great post xynic...lots of love Glynis
    3. Nucleo

      Nucleo Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      You'll find that most people here who struggle with tinnitus also have other health related things going on as well. Chronic pain and hyperacusis as well as other tinnitus related physical symptoms.

      You can get used to a constant sound. Can the same be done for pain? Not so sure myself. That would defeat the whole purpose of nociception.
    4. AUTHOR

      Xynic Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Sure, good point, my post is for people who simply have chronic tinnitus and want to habituate - not for people who suffer from acute pain. I will note this at the top of my post.

      Edit: done.
    5. linearb

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      It is not the same problem, but I have found some connection. To be fair, my chronic pain problems are less severe than my tinnitus -- basically I have an annoying inability to manufacture collagen in the "normal" way which makes me prone to joint problems (hello, TMJ!)

      But, there is reason to think that sensory-related distress of all kinds interacts with a similar neurological mechanism... and there's a growing body of evidence that stuff like meditation, over time, rewires the way the brain processes distressing input including pain.

      For instance:

      Obviously, the less severe one's problems are, the easier they are to deal with or ignore. However, I don't read that as a sign that people with severe problems cannot benefit to some extent from some of the same management strategies as people with less severe distress. I have a close relative with a severe, intractable condition which necessitated heavy-duty painkillers for years, which completely upended their life. In retrospect they have said that yoga was at least as useful as any other strategy for managing all that (and they have subsequently withdrawn from nearly all the drugs...)
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