Tinnitus Ending My Career — Lost on Where to Go from Here

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Tsahvan, Jan 31, 2021.

    1. Tsahvan

      Tsahvan Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Variable over the years, persistent 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Hi there - first post and all. I registered a while back but then just couldn't work up the muster to say much. Now I'm facing a bit of a crossroads and feeling very stuck. Luckily remembered this site existed, so hoping for any suggestions.

      Pardon the long read. I tend to write too much. TL;DR version is I need to find a new job/career entirely and would love any suggestions on jobs/careers that don't involve much listening/talking communication because I just can't anymore.

      The long version: My tinnitus is (likely) caused by Neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2), though my NF2 docs are a bit perplexed because the tumors in that region haven't really grown or shifted that we can tell from the MRIs in recent years. Docs at first thought the tinnitus was part of withdrawals from Cymbalta, that my PCP had ordered a low dose of to try to manage some of my nerve pain. I missed a dose and that was the first time I heard the whooshing sound and felt vertigo from it. Been off the Cymbalta for over a year now, no change in the tinnitus.

      Deaf in one ear entirely for about 20 years now from NF2. Tinnitus started about 1.5 years ago. It started as intermittent high pitched beeping, and "whooshing" when I moved my eyes from side to side. Like if I'm looking left, then look right, it sounds like a wave sloshing along in my ear. The beeping then wanted some company and added a gong sound now and then, and now any movement of my arms/shoulders triggers what sounds like chimes - you know those little metal balls with chimes in them that you swirl in your hands to relax? I forget what they're called - but it sounds like that. Anyway, now my tinnitus has settled to a constant loud high pitched squeal that is persistent at all times, chimes/gongs when arms/shoulders move, and whooshing. Sometimes vertigo with the whooshing. The frequency the tinnitus is squealing at is causing a significant dip in my comprehension of speech. The audiologist and ENT said it's right at the frequency that we often hear vowels, so I spend a lot of conversations playing auditory madlibs and trying to guess at what I think I heard.

      It doesn't go away at all, but I have been luckily able to distract myself for periods of time to keep functioning. Where I'm falling apart is my career.

      I'm a therapist - so of course I listen to people all day, every day, and when your therapist is struggling to hear your words clearly, they're not going to be very helpful. While I have been getting by, the tinnitus is to a point where I don't think I can do this much longer. My anxiety is through the roof before every session, and honestly if I could afford to, I'd put in my notice immediately. Phone calls are virtually impossible for me at this point, even if the person has a mostly clear connection. I'm exhausted, depressed, and feeling trapped.

      I feel like I'm in this in-between place of being not functional enough to do my job, but too functional to get help. I'm desperately seeking something else financially viable (I don't make a lot as a therapist but anything below $40k is going to be unsustainable long term) that doesn't involve phone calls at all, and not a lot of time listening. Physically I'm pretty limited due to other parts of NF2, so can't be on my feet or physically active. On top of that, given the pandemic, work from home is important as well, as I have other mitigating health issues and have been working from home for nearly a year now.

      I never thought I would leave the mental health field, but with the tinnitus, I just can't sustain it any longer, and for my own well being (as well as my clients) feel that it's time to find a new path. I don't know what else to do with myself, have no idea where to start looking or what jobs would work, and feel like my requirements are too high to even have hope of finding something.

      Anyway - any suggestions on fields/careers/jobs that don't require any phone use or talking directly to people that a soon to be defunct therapist could explore and maybe dig into would be simply amazing. I just don't know where to start.
       
      • Hug Hug x 5
    2. Drachen
      Tired

      Drachen Member

      Location:
      United States
      Tinnitus Since:
      December 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Currently unknown; awaiting evaluation
      Wow. I'm not even sure where to start here. I am dreadfully sorry to hear about your case, Tsahvan. It's good you have made an effort to reach out. Just reading slightly into your genetic condition is beyond terrible. You've been bombarded by health condition after health condition. It's truly admirable that you're managing as well as you have been.

      Dealing with tinnitus on its own is bad enough, but when it starts to have a pronounced effect on your life, especially when it comes to your hearing, that's just awful. The fact that your case seems to be idiopathic, though there is a belief it might have to deal with NF2, makes matters even worse. There is always hope for natural recovery, though, or at the very least your symptom may mitigate itself to a much more manageable condition.

      From what you've said, it seems that your ENT and audiologists are familiar with your hearing loss. Is it possible that hearing aids may be helpful in your case? If your problems are pronounced enough to appear on an audiogram, you might be able to receive some sort in terms of intelligibility from hearing aids. They aren't useful for every hearing-related problem, but they may be in this case. Granted, the etiology of your condition regarding the NF2 might make them not particularly viable.

      Is it possible for you to continue your work as a therapist yet through text only? I know face-to-face communication is very important and likely preferable, and I don't know much about the industry myself, but you might be able to find some resources in this regard. I apologize that I cannot offer much advice in this respect.

      I considerably hope you are able to figure out what to do going forward. Experiencing this symptom on its own is already debilitating. You shouldn't have to deal with your professional life being upended as well. I certainly hope that you receive the support, clarity, and recovery you deserve.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    3. Gman45

      Gman45 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Oklahoma USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/13/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Concussion or ETD
      Sorry to hear about your career issues related to tinnitus. I hope that it gets better in time for you to find peace. Seems like some sort of business job that allows commerce through primarily emails would be best. I wonder if you could claim hearing disability to help find such career.
       
    4. billie48
      Sunshine

      billie48 Member Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2009
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      not sure
      Here is a site talking about some possible places to work as counsellor. Perhaps they don't need to use phones and may not require heavy couselling work load. Perhaps look for an administrative job in couselling than actually doing counselling.

      Also have you tried hearing aids? You may also consider talking to your employer or any therapist Association on what to do. Since you are already thinking about quitting, there isn't much to lose anyway to talk to the employer.

      Is there possibility of temporarily disability leave with pay?

      Hope all is well with you. God bless.

      Top Places of Work for Counselors

      You may try looking for some government jobs which require psychology degree or counselling background but more on administrative duties than actual heavy couselling. Go to some human resources or job firms and talk to them too.
       
    5. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Tsahvan

      Tsahvan Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Variable over the years, persistent 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Thanks for the kind words. NF2 is an awful disease, and while I've been relatively lucky with it in some ways, it still has a profound impact daily.
      I have an appointment with my audiology people in a few weeks and am going to ask again about these, however our last appointment we opted not to try. I'd done hearing aids about 4 years ago as a "booster" for my hearing, before the tinnitus started. I lasted about a month with them and found they actually made it harder for me to hear/comprehend what was going on. I'm not sure if they'd do any differently now with the tinnitus, but it's something to ask about.
      It's quite alright, no apologies! Theoretically, I could try to work for one of those texting only counseling app companies, but honestly I really don't want to do that. I'd also need to finish getting my license (lots of reasons that hasn't happened in ages, most of which end up coming down to my heath, and moving around the country a lot) and I don't find myself with any motivation to get it anymore, not since the hearing continues to get worse. I'd rather change careers entirely than engage with mental health that way.
      Thank you. My spouse is being wonderfully supportive but also challenging me to persist with work as long as I can. It's a weird place to be.
       
      • Hug Hug x 2
    6. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Tsahvan

      Tsahvan Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Variable over the years, persistent 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Thank you! I've been researching careers for Deaf/HoH to see if I could transition to something there. You're spot on - if I could get something that was communicated primarily through email/chat programs I would be ok.
       
    7. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Tsahvan

      Tsahvan Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Variable over the years, persistent 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Thank you! I will absolutely explore these. I hadn't thought about the HR or admin aspect of therapy, that's a good suggestion. I'm going back and forth on talking to my supervisor soon. I worry that if I disclose too much they'll fire me for inability to perform job duties appropriately. And while I love my local office, I know the head office will fight unemployment tooth and nail. So until I'm more certain of what I can do to transition, I feel like I have to keep quiet to keep a paycheck.

      I'm going to talk to my primary care doctor this week at an appointment about if I might qualify for a temporary disability or anything that would be a reprieve. I worry that it won't be seen as "bad enough" to meet criteria, because if things are perfectly quiet and the stars aligned, then yes, I can technically still hear and could probably do ok on a basic hearing test.
       
      • Hug Hug x 3
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