The Path of Bereavement

Discussion in 'Support' started by jmccombs82, May 22, 2014.

    1. jmccombs82

      jmccombs82 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      October 29, 2013 at 10AM
      Hello dear friends,

      I wanted to post something that I feel is very important to the individuals path of "habituation". I believe our experiences with tinnitus are unique. Everyone experiences more or less similar symptoms; however, the onset, duration, volume, and sound varies. I am a mental health therapist at a community mental health clinic and came across a correlation between grief and recovery and tinnitus. For many of us, the first few months/years of our experience with tinnitus is filled with anxiety, sadness, loss, hopelessness, fear, and anger. We go about our days endlessly searching for a cure and usually end up feeling more defeated and hopeless. Our sadness is not so much that we cannot find a cure, rather it is that we are slowly having to face the fact that we may have to accept this new sound as part of our reality. This my friends is grounded in the grieving process. We are grieving. The pattern of grief follows (the order varies greatly as does the strength of each experience)

      Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
      • Anger:Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
      • Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
      • Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”

      Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

      The grieving process can take anywhere from 1-5 years depending on our internal and external coping skills. Some of us have a more difficult time accepting the change because change is HARD. Especially for those of us that experiencing anxiety at a much higher rate. Accepting change is more or less forcing us to feel the anxiety that accompanies change.

      Instead of a series of stages, we might also think of the grieving process as a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, highs and lows. Like many roller coasters, the ride tends to be rougher in the beginning, the lows may be deeper and longer. The difficult periods should become less intense and shorter as time goes by, but it takes time to work through a loss (for us this means loss of hearing/silence/calmness).

      I often work with my clients to redefine ideas/beliefs/words that we grew up with. For many of us this accompanies our own definition/perception of silence and happiness. Happiness is a subjective experience and we have to teach ourselves to be flexible with the definition of happiness. Rigid thinking keeps us stuck in our sadness/anxiety/anger.

      My friends, we are grieving. We are relentlessly trying to find an answer to something that does not appear to have a concrete solution. Like most things in life, we must try to find our own answer. This path is DIFFERENT for everyone. When we feel our anxiety creep up...let's try to remember to be calm with ourselves. We are trying to find our ground in this new place. Our steps our wobbly and our perception is very different than what we expected it to be. Let's look at this as a teaching moment NOT a setback. Let's look at this as a way to practice conscious living and breathing. Think about often in your day before you had tinnitus did you pay attention to your breath? It seems that since the ringing started I have been VERY aware of the sounds/my anxiety/my stress. To counterbalance the stress I have had to change a lot in my life. I have had to SLOW DOWN and take one thing at a time. Before tinnitus I was moving at hyper speed and not consciously living.

      I want you all to know that I am in now way "habituated". I am still grieving and trying to find my home in this new place. Everyday is different. Some days I find myself saying "I got this" and other days I find myself a sobbing mess. Let's try to change our way of thinking an instead of looking at the loud days/spikes/changes as setbacks...let's use the term "learning opportunity".

      We are strong and resilient human beings. This is hard at times, especially the unknown! Slow Down and Breathe. If it is loud and you have to change your plans...that is OKAY! If it is loud and you don't get to have as much fun as you hoped...that is OKAY! Each day is one step closer to acceptance.

      So today I say to breath and watch those catastrophic thoughts. Let's learn how to manage that damn anxiety!!!!
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    2. I am definitely grieving :*(...just sold my motorcycle jacket....between the h, the t, the pain, the fear, I don't know how to handle the anxiety some days....
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    3. lapidus

      lapidus Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I can relate to that Lynn. My acoustic guitar and synthesizer just stands in a corner, mocking me.
    4. LadyDi

      LadyDi Member Benefactor

      Florida, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      A very wise post, @jmccombs82. I remember telling my CBT therapist, when I first started working with her, that she needed to understand I was grieving for the person I once was, and the life I once had, and she should allow me to work through that. I am a different person now, and in some ways a better one, and I don't let tinnitus run my life. But indeed, almost one year after my onset, my life is not the same and never will be. I have accepted that -- and still able to do everything that is important to me.

      My anger and denial, in the beginning, cost me greatly. It triggered anxiety that was crippling. I am grateful I was able to move beyond it, into acceptance, although it wasn't easy. I wish peace and success to those still making that bereavement journey, which happens for each of us at our own speed. And as you pointed out, @jmccombs82, its not linear. I'll be getting better and better and better... and then have a really bad day or days. But at least I am moving. Thanks again for your insight.
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    5. Jeff M.

      Jeff M. Member Benefactor

      La Jolla, CA
      Tinnitus Since:
      Oct. 2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Thanks for your poignant post jmccombs82!! So spot on! And I agree with LadyDi that your post contains much wisdom about the habituation process! It is truly a grieving process!! As one who has toiled and struggled through that process, I can testify to this truth! Thank God I am now on the "other side", but my memory is still fresh about how dark my days were during the first many months of realizing I had T. :eek:

      BUT..... I have as much as possible accepted my T and my new life, and have conquered my anger and depression! Again, in agreement with LadyDi, "it wasn't easy" though. Slowing down and breathing, just as jmccombs82 mentioned, were simple, but essential components to getting myself stabilized, so that I could start the process of acceptance and habituation. Living my life just day to day, sometimes hour by hour, and not worrying about my future with T was key.

      And, I have posted on this in the past, but SLEEP :sleep::sleep::sleep: is SO important to the whole process!! At least it was for me! Early on, when I wasn't able to sleep or get into a proper sleep pattern, I wallowed in despair and hopelessness. YET, once I was able to get my sleep on (initially with the help of meds, then thru exercise and other healthier methods), I quickly found myself in a much better place, emotionally and psychologically! When properly rested, my thoughts were clearer, m anxiety abated,and I began to embrace hope!!

      Sorry for the long reply, but just as jmccombs82 and LadyDi have shared, habituation ("learning to live with") is a process, a grieving process, yet IT IS POSSIBLE!! We are living, dare I say happily, with our T, and if you are reading this and in the midst of the struggle, I hope this thread gives you hope!!!:)
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    6. AUTHOR

      jmccombs82 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      October 29, 2013 at 10AM
      Well said everyone! I realize how hard I am on myself at times due to me not being able to "cope better". We are all trying to find our balance but I believe key components to that process is: sleep (@Jeff M. thank you), slowing down, watching those darn negative and catastrophic thoughts, practicing gratitude, and recognizing that SELF CARE is essential!!

      I am going back to bi-weekly massages (thanks to not having budget allows for it). It is not a cure but SOOOOO helpful with my anxiety and mood. I wish I could do weekly, but we all can't live like kings right!
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