On 7 September this year I was sitting on the sofa having my morning coffee and my right ear started ringing. I've had temporary ringing for a few seconds now and again - I think most people have - but this was much worse and lasted around 10 mins.
During that time I was literally freaking out, walking around in a state of panic until finally it quietened down. But it wasn't gone. When I listened, it was still there, only a bit quieter.
Many trips to the doctors, no cure was found. Learn to accept it the websites said. Accept it? How? Even if I went to the toilet, I had the tap on full, to sleep I experimented with sea and rain sound recordings all night long. Even the 5 second pauses between tracks woke me up if I ever managed to sleep. Silence invoked panic. Even a few seconds. When I was changing channels and choosing my next programme on the sky handset I'd have to sing to myself to avoid the silence. Anything to block the noise.
Back to the doctor again I begged him for antibiotics. I took so many I had an allergic reaction and came out in hives. Nothing changed. Every hope I had was gradually being dashed. I decided I would give 10 years of my life to rid myself of it. Sometimes I felt I would give my life immediately to rid myself of it. Those were dark days.
I have been prepared to try anything. Last month I went to a cranial osteopath but his room was so quiet I felt the panic mounting throughout the treatment. His manipulations made thing so much worse, the next few days were hell, so I cancelled my future appointments. He was offended and asked me to continue, but I told him I would rather punch myself in the head than do anything which I knew would make things worse. Silence is like an ice grip on my heart, I do anything to avoid it, but I used to love it so much. I often wore earplugs just to indulge myself in silence. To know I will never experience it again is like grieving for a loved one. It's real, painful, grief.
I did not want to -and still don't - accept that this is forever. I find other people to be so irritating in their reaction to my telling them about my problem, that I don't bother talking about it anymore. For that first month or so I withdrew from my friends. As a person who always makes a joke about things, my friends naturally tried to make light of it, but that made me furious and tearful at their lack of empathy. This was no joke.
Life started to improve a week or so ago when I bought this book. At first reading it was hard and made it all worse, like the chat rooms and forums which though valuable in the process, often focus your mind on the noise even more temporarily. I realised that it was probably not going to go away. Each day I wake up praying it's gone, but it's not going and probably won't now. Adjusting to it and thinking of this ringing that was louder than my conversations as benign seemed impossible. Surely these people who were able to do this had a quieter version of this curse. But I'm a strong person and my life was being ruined, so I had to try and come to terms with it and stop freaking out 24/7. It's simply too exhausting and was wrecking my life and my friendships, and hard though it is to admit, it was making me BORING.
The book does help, it really does. Even now I'm only conscious of the sound when I think about it, and even when I do, I remember that it's not going to kill me. Having a friend die a week or so ago at the age of 34 from cancer has helped. It puts things into perspective. In his final days when he was dying but so desperately wanted to live, I realised that if was offered a chance to live, but with a low decibel ringing in his ears forever, he would break down with relief. But he didn't have that option and now his ashes have been laid to rest in the Lake District. Even at the end, his concern was always to ask about my tinnitus - crazy isn't it?
I was convinced I could never adjust to the hideous high pitched noise in my head, I was suffering shock and grief. But I am adjusting. Please buy this book if you haven't already. Stop searching for a cure - when one comes along the RNID will let us know. Learn to love the good things you have in life and don't focus on this. Accept that there are worse things that could be wrong with you. I don't speak from the glib perspective of a relative who doesn't understand, I speak from the perspective of somebody who even contemplated suicide at the thought of living with this. Get this book and start living again.