I was reminded by this fact not long ago whilst talking with a superb mindfulness coach. It really hit a chord with me and I have subsequently thought about this over the last week.
Through my tinnitus life I’ve had to go through many setbacks and dreadfully dark ‘broken’ times that have often scarred and shaped my expressive ‘land’ and ‘sound’ scapes.
Every time the tinnitus sufferer has a minor or major setback we are reminded that we have to restart the ‘habituation’ process again. I thought initially that I would only have to go through this once in my life (as the process can take from a couple of months to a couple of years ......... and longer)
Three times I’ve had to “TEAR” before I could heal.
At the time, the journey back to wellness seemed completely insurmountable, but with distance and armed with a further appreciation of the time spent learning about tinnitus I am able to positively reflect on these challenging times.
I now feel the need to write about my habituation experience.
The habituation process is a natural response taken by the brain where the sufferer naturally adjusts to the presence of tinnitus and then stops responding to it. It happens over time and when the person finally begins to react to the stimuli in a non threatening way.
By going out late at night walking around town, the woods and the beach, I was slowly able to make sense and reconnect with my auditory world again. Traffic sounded therapeutic from a distance (not when it was right in my face), and footsteps on the beach and gravel helped mask a couple of my tinnitus frequencies.
Walking close to the ocean was incredibly therapeutic. Allowing my mind to bathe in natural and unnatural auditory environments was key to the habituation process.
A lot of my ideas for sound enrichment came from this debilitating condition and my nocturnal journeys that I would go on.
At one point, I was working at Toerag Studios in Hackney (home of producer Mr. Liam Watson / The white Stripes / elephant LP) with an Icelandic artist doing live recordings in the studio. I had to wear strong earplugs as soon as I left my front door on the Isle of Wight, for fear of normal everyday sounds cutting into me, boat travel first , then train travel and finally the long tube train journey and then a train to Homerton, my final destination. I did have an added complication which was Hyperacusis*, which can really mess up the habituation process and make things last a lot longer.
For someone with this condition its excruciating just going outside the front door! Once I made it to the recording studio I had to put on ear plugs and industrial ear defenders just to be able to sit at the drum set to begin the three day session. Every day I just hoped that I could survive ( let alone make sure I was doing a great job ) I felt that every time I approached the drum set I was going into the Gladiatorial arena to fight lions and that at any moment I would be left unable to cope with my internal shattered hearing system. Every time I made it through the day I at least felt that I was surviving, but it was these huge challenges and achievements that helped me to recover.
I think these achievements (small or large) act as milestones and are hugely powerful motivating factors in being able to get ‘well’ again.
As members of our beloved tinnitus community that are recovering (or have recovered) we all have the ability to help heal other less fortunate sufferers that are struggling with tinnitus. By communicating and listening, whilst at the same time sharing a wide array of coping mechanisms and suggesting good professional information (from excellent quality ear health practitioners) we can do so much to help people to HEAL.
For me, the sound therapy is the most important background or backdrop to the information gathering and learning.
I was inspired to write this blog this evening after meeting my good friend Peter Stoughton ( Reiki healer ) at the beach.
As we were walking through the gentle lapping waves he asked about the T-Minus tinnitus App. He then further spoke to me about.
I will leave this blog with the brief description of CHIRON ( the wounded healer )
I believe this to be everyone in our tinnitus community.
‘Wounded healer’ is a term created by psychologist Carl Jung. The idea states that an analyst is compelled to treat patients because the analyst himself is "wounded." The idea may have Greek mythology origins.
Chiron was wounded by a misguided arrow from Heracles' bow. He did not die (because gods are immortal); instead, he suffered excruciating pain for the rest of his eternal days. It was because of his grievous wound that Chiron was prepared to help and take on the pain of Promethus, who was being punished and tormented daily by the gods. Chiron’s sacrifice to heal Prometheus by taking on his pain, was exactly the thing that liberated Chiron himself. Zeus saw his incredible sacrifice and not only liberated Prometheus from his shackles but also Chrion too from his pain.
‘To be on the path of the healer is a gift which hurts at first, but leaves one with a wholeness, a sense of being knitted together and of access to all of one’s self that would not be possible if the wound had not been there in the first place’.
Chiron became known as a legendary healer in ancient Greece.
Hyperacusis is a condition that affects how you perceive sounds. You can experience a heightened sensitivity to particular sounds that are not usually a problem for others. This means loud noises, such as fireworks, and everyday sounds like telephones can feel uncomfortable and sometimes painful.