When you are new to tinnitus, it often helps to read the lived experienced of others. Reading how others have experienced this often-difficult process, can support others in overcoming their fear of tinnitus, slowly learn to manage their condition, take back their lives until tinnitus has little to no impact on their quality of life.
A Tinnitus Association of Victoria counsellor, who has counselled many hundreds of people in every state and territory of Australia, plus 10 countries worldwide, shares his insights on how the tinnitus journeys have helped thousands of people to date.
In your opinion and generally speaking, what is it about the tinnitus journeys that helps other new sufferers?
When someone develops tinnitus they think that they are the only one going through the anxiety, aberrant thoughts and fears that are very normal when one develops tinnitus. The journeys help the person realise that what they are experiencing is normal and many people experience the same initial thoughts, reactions and fears.
The journeys also illustrate the natural desire to ‘search’ for a cure or treatment, but at the same time they illustrate the futility of doing so as there are no ‘treatments’ or cures that work, irrespective of how much money the person is prepared to spend. I have had many people say they re-read the journeys whenever they are struggling with their tinnitus, giving comfort knowing that they are not alone and they will get through this devastating period and that in long run the tinnitus will not affect their quality of life in any way.
What is the common feedback you hear from others new to tinnitus after reading a journey? Do certain people relate to one journey more than others?
The common feedback I hear is that the journeys give people hope that they will be able to lead perfectly normal lives and this condition is not going to adversely affect their quality of life in any way.
I do not hear that one journey has more of an impact than any other journey, I believe this is because we all relate to different stories and even different aspects of particular journeys.
Based on your experiences, when does a person typically write their journey?
Some people do not want to revisit the chaotic headless chook stage only wanting to normalise their lives and moving on from tinnitus, so writing about their journey is often a hard thing for them to do. If I can characterise the typical journey people take with tinnitus it is broken up into a number of stages. The first stage which normally lasts 3-4 months is the ‘distress’ stage. People in this stage are highly distressed, anxious, experiencing difficulty in coping with this constant intrusion. Following this is the ‘annoyance’ stage, tinnitus does not distress them anymore because if they have found our website and spoken to one of the counsellors they have many of the answers they need and they have the ongoing support that will get them to habituation where they will not have any negative emotional response to the sound, but their tinnitus is still an annoyance. The final stage is when they reach habituation. In this stage their tinnitus is generally only a fraction of the level of intrusiveness it was when they first developed tinnitus, in many cases they do not hear it for days and even when they do hear it the sound will not bother them.
People write their journey when they are ready to relive what they went through. Often that is when they are nearing habituation – in other cases it is never.
As a counsellor, can you describe how you feel after assisting an individual through their tinnitus journey in some shape or form, and then being asked to read their journey?
When I first speak to people who are new to tinnitus they mostly do not believe me when I tell them it will not affect their quality of life in any way. However when they have adopted the 4 Keys to Successful Tinnitus Management philosophy and are nearing habituation I often hear the comment that they did not believe me at first, and this is understandable. Personally I get great satisfaction in helping others avoid going through what I went through when I first developed tinnitus.
When I read their journey I often read phrases that I may have used in the counselling sessions and I am pleased that they have listened to what has been said and taken it to heart.
To your knowledge, do all the journey authors listed lead rewarding and happy lives, some many years after writing their journey? e.g. does tinnitus continue to not cause them any major distress?
The short answer is yes. Some take longer to reach habituation than others but that is just how our individual minds work, people who are ‘worriers’ or who are ‘perfectionists’ tend to take longer to reach full habituation, but to my knowledge every person that has adopted the 4 Keys philosophy leads full lives unaffected in any meaningful way by their tinnitus.
The following links below are a series of Tinnitus Journeys, where each person describes their tinnitus experience, in their own words. These have been shared with many thousands of people to date. The TAV hopes it provides new sufferers in particular, great comfort and an important reminder that you are never alone in your own tinnitus journey. Many others have travelled the same path as you!
Karen’s Journey in three parts:
- Karen’s Journey part 1 – The beginning
- Karen’s Journey part 2 – Recovery
- Karen’s Journey part 3 – Habituation