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My story: Audrey Carlin, North Derbyshire Tinnitus Group

This is my story of how I have managed my Tinnitus. It was twenty-five years’ ago and at that time there was not a local Support Group where you could talk through your feelings to people with a positive attitude. Also there was very little information available about Tinnitus. However, my GP told me that the brain is a ‘wonderful piece of machinery’ that will accept the constant sound of Tinnitus as another bodily function and learn to ignore it (habituation). Similar to a ticking clock that you ignore because it is not a threat to you. He referred me to ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) but there were no onward referrals for support at the time. My Tinnitus did make me feel miserable because it had taken away my freedom of choice – that of spending a “quiet” moment. I grieved for what I had lost. This also affected my family, as it does those close to you.
However, I resolved to do something about it myself. I read an article about changing the way we perceive issues affecting ourselves and decided this was the way forward for me. My Tinnitus had started spontaneously, I didn’t know what had caused it, so I decided to plan a strategy to help me through each day. This gave me something positive to focus on that I was determined would work for me. These were my simple techniques – I bought a clock radio, so I was awoken by music (rather than a noisy alarm clock). Before getting out of bed in the morning, I would sit up for a few minutes (and still do) and my husband brings me either a cup of tea or a glass of warm water. Daytime is not a problem because there are plenty of environmental noises at work or elsewhere. When at home during the early days, I would play music or listen to a taped story.
At bedtime, I played a cassette of quiet music, the sound level just below that of my Tinnitus. As I played the same music every night it acted as a relaxation technique and helped me to sleep. And yes, my doctor was right, my brain eventually learned to ignore the Tinnitus and still does. Our Support Group was started in 1986 with the help of the Hearing Therapist who had an interest in helping people experiencing Tinnitus.
I can honestly say that during the intervening years my Tinnitus has never caused me a moment’s anxiety; I resolved to CHANGE - and once I accepted that Tinnitus was not a threat to me, my perception of Tinnitus also changed. Hopefully, I have been able to turn something that initially seemed ‘negative’ into something ‘positive’ by helping others over the years who need support in managing their Tinnitus. (2009).