'Debiliating condition has robbed me of silence - but I refuse to let it win' - Daventry journalist shares experience of tinnitus

The important thing to remember is, you are not alone...

A Daventry Express reporter is sharing her experience of a debilitating condition that affects thousands of people in the county as part of Tinnitus Week 2022 (February 7-13).

I remember exactly the day the unwelcome 'visitor' arrived at my door.

At first, it was an unassuming, polite tap. The tapping got louder and more aggressive, like it demanded to be heard.

Linda Mitchell, hearing loss and tinnitus support team leader at Deaf Connect.

Had I been playing my music too loud? Maybe it was due to my recurring sinus infections?

No.

This loud guest has a name and refuses to go. Its name is tinnitus and it has robbed me of silence.

The condition has been with me for more than two years.

I've learned to tolerate my unwanted guest.

In just the left ear, all I can hear is a high-pitched tone. Sometimes a click joins in the party, like a loud, ticking clock. Other times it 'whooshes' and 'whistles' or bubbles, like when you have water in your ear or you've been on a plane.

But it is always there.

I try not to give it power and sometimes, with meditation, I achieve this.

In times of anxiety or stress, the noise intensifies until it envelopes me and can drive me to the edge of madness. Suicide rates are higher with people who have tinnitus. I can see why.

Help is out there.

Ultimately, no matter how invasive and frustrating my tinnitus can be, I have to remember, it's not life threatening. My hearing loss is life-altering, but it won't kill me.

Sadly, there is no quick fix cure for the condition, but I do live in hope, that one sunny day, my tinnitus will decide its had enough of haunting me and packs its bags.

Tinnitus is a debilitating condition that affects around 80,000 adults in Northamptonshire alone. It causes a ringing, buzzing or clicking sound in the ears, not caused by external stimuli.

A British Tinnitus Association report released shows that over the past two years one in 10 people who have tinnitus has considered self harm or suicide. That’s around 700,000 people in the UK.

Get support from the group.

Linda Mitchell, hearing loss and tinnitus support team leader at Deaf Connect, said support is available for people living in the county.

She said: "One of the biggest problems is that sufferers feel alone and that nothing can be done, but the opposite is true. They need hope and we are here to give them that."

Deafconnect is an organisation that empowers deaf, deafened, hard of hearing, and deafblind people to achieve their full potential and become fully-included members of the wider community.

Linda added: "When someone is struggling with tinnitus, talking to someone who understands is so important and can be a huge relief. They feel better knowing what they are experiencing isn’t uncommon, that what they are thinking or feeling isn’t stupid, that they are not going crazy. But most importantly, we give a message of hope, as they have probably been brutally told by the medics that nothing can be done and to go away and learn to live with it! This still happens far too often and is totally wrong and crushing for the patient. We provide practical information about the medical pathway, discuss coping techniques as it is different for everyone which is why our groups are good as people swap tips and experiences, advise on any technology or equipment that might help them and signpost them to any other help/support options they might need.

"We also advise on preventative measures. Forseeable noise induced ear trauma is the only preventable cause of tinnitus and hearing loss. Wearing the right level of ear protection in noisy environments is vital, but people misunderstand how ear protection works. They also hate being “nannied” and told what to do, so the badge of honour is to leave loud gigs with temporary deafness and ringing because they have not been educated to know the consequences of this and the fact that they have potentially permanently damaged their hearing.

Do you have tinnitus or another debiliating condition? Share your story by emailing [email protected]

For more information on Deafconnect, Spencer Dallington Community Centre, Tintern Avenue, Northampton, NN5 7BZ, or ring 01604 589011. On Facebook: Deafconnect1874