Are you a tinnitus warrior?
I’ve had a t-shirt for a few years now which declares that I am a tinnitus warrior.
When I bought it, I felt empowered. I was declaring to myself and anyone who saw it that I was taking no **** from my tinnitus. I was going to fight it on all levels to make sure it didn’t stop me living the life I wanted.
It was like when I was a child. I hated my freckles. I used to try and scrub them off (yes, ouch!). As a teenager I tried to hide them with fake tan. They were still there – just now I’d dyed my skin between them to much the same colour.
I realise now that fighting reality simply doesn’t work. When we fight something we’re as far away from accepting it as we can get. There’s a chasm between our desire – a life without tinnitus – and our reality – a life with tinnitus. This chasm creates conflict in us every hour of every day.
Actively trying to diminish or control our tinnitus uses a whole lot of energy we can spend in far more productive or pleasurable activities. We end up not only distressed by our tinnitus, but also mentally and physically exhausted on top.
Plus, the more we fight against our tinnitus, the more we end up focusing on the very thing we want rid of – our tinnitus!
What you resist, persists - Carl Jung
What’s the answer? Acceptance.
Before you click away in disgust, just hang on a minute…
I’m talking about mindful acceptance. Acceptance that improves your relationships with your partner and kids, your performance at work, and your enjoyment of life. Not the "rolling on your back and surrendering" kind of acceptance.
Mindful acceptance creates a pause, enabling you to respond in a more skillful way to your tinnitus, rather than react habitually. It gives you a choice.
We learn to look tinnitus in in the eyes without making judgements, and to observe it as it is with our full attention; simply noticing it, and not avoiding or running away from it.
That might feel difficult to do that. The very thought might freak us out. But by facing our tinnitus, and seeing it for what it really is, we rob it of its power over our thoughts, our emotions and our lives. We learn that it is possible to have tinnitus and still enjoy each moment, and the many good things that life gives us. You can find out more here.
So do I still call myself a tinnitus warrior? You bet. But for different reasons.
Now I fight against lack of funding for research, lack of support from the healthcare system and lack of empathy and compassion for those who suffer with the condition.
And I’m always looking for warriors. If you’d like to fight alongside me I recommend you join or donate to the British Tinnitus Association or the American Tinnitus Association. Both are fighting our corner. Both do wonderful work. And I am proud to be a corporate member of them.