I have a tinnitus.
But of course, it is me so it isn’t as simple as that. Mine is bilateral, which is not all that uncommon. But what I hear on one ear is not the same as what I hear on the other. The tones are different and so are the volumes. Which effectively makes it two tinnitusses (tinniti?).
On top of that, their volume is quite loud. When I was being tested, the phonoaudiologist couldn’t quite believe how loud it was. She said she had never encountered a tinnitus that loud in her professional experience.
As it is quite common for tinnitus sufferers, it drove me nuts at the beginning. None of the treatments work, which is also common, so I was left with the prospect of living the rest of my life with it/them. Since I was about 21-22 at the time, that’s one heck of a long time.
Medical wisdom said that if the tinnitus didn’t lead me to commit suicide, I’d learn to live with it. A white noise creator near me around bed time (a somewhat noisy fan, music, ocean waves, crickets and the likes) would help me fall asleep.
I did not kill myself over it, and I did get used to it. To a certain extent.
Whenever people learn about it, they always say they are amazed I remain sane despite it. To them I say, some days I tolerate it better than others. Some days it sounds/feels incredibly loud, some other days it is masked by the daily life’s sounds. Some days I silently cry for my life to end so I don’t have to listen to it anymore and some days I don’t even consciously hear it. The same variations apply within any given day. I may feel desperate at 10 am but be totally fine by 1 pm. And then again overwhelmed by it by 7 pm. It is exhausting at times.
I have noticed that my coping ability for the emotional roller coaster mirrors the tinnitus one. And this does not apply only to the emotional lability that comes with mental illness. The same goes for depressive episodes and even PTSD.
I cannot in all honesty say I remember even a full day without any kind of mental illness related struggle. As in a day absolutely free of depressive or PTSD symptoms. It is possible I’ve had such days, I suppose.
For for the most part, however, it is a constant struggle.
I may wake up happy and full of hope for the day, feel utterly hopeless by mid-morning, then only mildly sad by noon; be launched into a chest-compressing, hair-raising, full flash-back episode, and then be able to pick up the pieces and put myself together by the evening when then I can enjoy a nice conversation with a friend.
Day, after day, after day.
Full blown depressive episodes where I am not able to find any happiness or a reason to smile for weeks or days at a time rarely, if ever, happen to me.
It is all about micro-episodes, in my experience.
I don’t know if this is good or bad. I don’t know what it means. But I can certainly tell you it is tiring as hell, just like dealing with my tinnitus is.
Most of the time I am left exhausted and numb by the end of the day.
But on the upside, it also means I am almost always guaranteed to have at least a couple of happy moments every day. I like that.
I haven’t decided if that is better or preferable to having extended periods of some sort of normalcy, a more or less stable emotional baseline combined with some other extended periods of being so far gone that no light gets in.
I don’t know. I guess both scenarios have their pros and cons.
But since I don’t seem to have a saying in it, I’ll take the happy moments and enjoy them as much as I can. Because just like with my tinnutus, since depression and PTSD have not so far led me to commit suicide, I am also learning to live with them.
And as I go, suck that elusive bone marrow of bloody life, you know?
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