“During my Music degree I was exposed to loud noises and gigs and I got a bad infection which triggered the tinnitus. I have a high pitch in my left ear and a low pitch in my right ear along with hearing loss.
The first few months after developing tinnitus were a whirlwind; I couldn’t gig and I had to change my modules as I wasn’t able to do Performance. It affected my concentration and my social life – other students used to go to the pub after practicing but I couldn’t do that for a while, or if I did I’d have to wear earplugs to mask the background noise.
All the normal thoughts went through my head; “Is this going to last forever, will it get worse, is there a cure?” As soon as you google it, it says there’s no cure so you start panicking.
My main way of managing my tinnitus over the last 18 months has been Neuroplasticity - learning how to rewire the brain through Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and getting used to sounds. If I’m watching a movie now I’ll put the subtitles on so I can concentrate, instead of thinking about my tinnitus or the noise of the movie.
Getting to sleep can be difficult so I put the radio on. I aimed to gradually decrease the volume so I would learn to tune out the tinnitus. Some days I’m now able to get to sleep without any music.
At the start my tinnitus was severe – there were periods when I couldn’t sleep properly for 16 or 17 days. I was emotionally wrecked, I had to wear earplugs at work and I was stressed from my degree. Looking back now my tinnitus has definitely got better through management.
I’m delighted to now be working for Action on Hearing Loss Northern Ireland as a Tinnitus Support Officer in the North West. I was able to make a difference to my tinnitus in a short space of time, so I’d like to help others benefit from the management tools available, and raise awareness amongst musicians.
If you’re based in Northern Ireland in the North West and you need support with Tinnitus, contact Aoife at 07951 709923 / Aoife.firstname.lastname@example.org