The Tinnitus Highway – Neuroplasticity

Hi Everyone,
Here is another attempt at trying to help.  I am not sure if this works as an analogy but here goes!

We tend to produce the same mind version of ourselves every day.  Taking your awareness away from Tinnitus onto to something else is not easy.
As we know Habituation happens when your awareness is elsewhere.
However, you have to accept what kind of powerful neural pathways networks you have created since this started.

I am not an academic or an expert so I am going to use a couple of images to explain (see below).

Image one shows ‘The Tinnitus Highway
I have used this to illustrate the size of the problem and why it feels so hard to feel you are moving forward.

The Tinnitus Highway is built by ‘FEAR’
Fear told your brain this was the most important thing in your world and should be given all the resources available. Your brain does as it is told and puts it ahead of anything else 24/7.
It is now on its way to being more important than when you learnt to walk as a toddler. It is that huge.

As we repeat our Tinnitus thoughts in the brain, we are firing repetitive inputs, just like muscles, they develop and strengthen their connections.
These nerves tracts will become thicker and more pronounced.  Look at the photo with all those cars. Each car represents thousands of people travelling from one city to the next along the same highway. This Tinnitus highway has become your most common road, it is busy and in constant use.  The only way to cope with this increase in demand is to add another lane and then another.
Your brain will just keep throwing more resources at this problem.

Your nerve cells also respond in the same way, growing stronger and stronger.  As we utilise this Tinnitus highway over and over, accessing it gets even easier.  It takes little effort to keep growing it and it becomes even more hard-wired into our brain.

The more we think about the sound, the more experiences and memories become involved.  The more we think the same thoughts on a daily basis the more we strengthen this neural network with even less effort.
By now it will take a very weak signal or thought to activate this network and for even more neurons to fire and wire together.
With this level of commitment to the subject, monitoring, reading, dwelling, trying to find a cure your brain is now doing all of this automatically.

And then someone mentions Habituation.

Image Two shows the Habitation Highway
This is built by Hope and Doubt
It also not much more than a dirt track when it starts…

You have to remember you have spent months (perhaps years) building the Tinnitus Highway, this going to take some time. You will still have nearly all your resources on the Tinnitus highway, each time you doubt your progress you will be back on the Tinnitus Highway.
However, the more time you put the work in ‘Fake it until You Make It’  the more neurones will fire together on the Habituation Highway.
The Tinnitus highway is still there, but even though you cannot really notice any real improvement there will be less cars on the road.

This is when we need to put the work in. We have spent a long time cultivating the Tinnitus Highway. We need to double down on cultivating the Habituation one.

Take you attention elsewhere, use focused attention, then repeat again and again.  Each time you fall and find yourself on the Tinnitus highway, try again. Take your awareness to other sounds,

Over time there will be fewer cars (tinnitus thoughts) and eventually, one of the lanes will be withdrawn.  This is a large highway and you will have setbacks and find yourself on it again and again.  But remember the other road is getting surfaced, getting lights and a better view.

It takes time, focused attention and repetition but eventually, the doubt falls away and your brain starts to divert resources to the new highway and the old one develops a few potholes and at some point will display a sign that says….. ‘no entry – dead end’.

Important – You have spent a long time building your Tinnitus Highway.  It going to probably take a while to build your new road out of this.  Be patient and kind.  There is no time limit.  This is your journey.

I hope this helps a little

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