Time – Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day.
What follows is an observation from my own experience and story.
I missed silence so much when this hit, I work from home and could no longer work in silence and I found reading and concentrating almost impossible.
(I actually never really worked in silence I always had music playing in the background – but my catastrophic thinking decided because I now did not have the choice of being in silence then life was ruined).
Something you cannot see in the first few months (or years in my case) is that everything is driven by fear and a lack of subjective data that only time can give you. It is fear, it is always fear that takes us to these inner prisons of our own making.
The fear is obvious in the beginning but it also sits next to anger, irritation, self-pity etc. Fear needs very little energy from you before it barges into your mind telling everyone and thing that you are doomed.
You are not doomed and you never were.
In the beginning, the sound is new and after feeding the fear with negative google searches the sound is given centre stage and is now the biggest threat to your life on this planet (faulty thinking). Your brain has no choice but to believe these feelings and faulty thoughts. It has no reference point as this is a new experience, so it believes every crazy thought you feed it.
However, as time passes and no matter how much you are freaking out your brain is starting to notice that actually you have not died and life is continuing. There are also these weird pockets of time when you actually did not notice the sound. You still continue to monitor the sound and get alarmed at any changes and think it is getting worse. The difference with each of these phases is that your brain is now collecting data of its own, and as it looks back over time it can see that actually this Tinnitus thing is not the threat it was told it was.
The Ticking Clock
In my midterm, I still found being a quiet room an issue and would hate having the Tinnitus at all, which meant it got louder. I read about someone that had forced their awareness towards the ticking of a clock to try and get their mind away from the T sound.
So over the next few days, I searched for wall clocks, mantlepiece clocks, any clocks as long as they had loud ticks and tocks! I actually bought 3 just for the living room (my wife had to put up with so much!)
So now we had a living room that sounded like a clock shop.
A ticking clock is just a sound it is not a bomb or a sign of doom
With the clocks in place, I sat down to meditate and to try to keep my focus on the clocks. As hard as I tried very quickly each time I forgot the clocks and stopped hearing them.
You see no matter how hard I tried with no fear associated with the sound my brain was not interested. The ticking of the clocks was not a bomb, it was not the sign of illness. My brain had data on this sound, it was a clock, they tick, so what.
I then began to realise after a few days that I never heard these clocks, any of them. If I stopped to listen, I could hear them ticking away immediately but within seconds I lost the sound again. There was no emotional reason to keep listening. When I did listen, you could say they were louder and I was surprised that I did not notice them but then the sounds effectively vanished.
People say Tinnitus is different, it is a sound you cannot escape from. I know it feels like that. My Tinnitus was louder than anything. But I started to think if I am in the living room with three loud clocks and I am not hearing them, could I not do the same with my Tinnitus?
I then went down another rabbit hole trying to find out how to do this when the answer was there all the time…..lose the fear.
My brain was not hearing the clocks because there was no fear attached and my awareness was elsewhere. What would happen if I just tried to live as if I did not have this Tinnitus thing and just let it be?
In fact, just let my brain see it at another sound.
What happened (it took time) but my mind treated the Tinnitus sound like the clocks. The sound was there if I looked and not there if I didn’t.
My brain has it’s own data now, over three years in it knows the facts and finds it incredulous that this was ever the problem it was told it was.
When Tinnitus hits you just want it gone so you can never hear it again. But before T arrived did you take yourself into a quiet room and try and listen to silence? I doubt it, you just thought it was a quiet room.
I used to walk into a quiet room and check if I could hear it. Now I go into a quiet room because I have a real reason to go there and guess what. I do not notice any Tinnitus or the clocks!
We are all different, our journey is our own but we will all get there in the end.