by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
You’ve all heard the old saying, “If you can’t lick them, join them.” Bet you never thought that this could be true in dealing with your tinnitus sounds.
Carol came up with a cool way to deal with her tinnitus—one that lets her sleep in spite of her incessant tinnitus. Here’s how she did it. She explained:
When my tinnitus began I didn’t have a clue that it was tinnitus. What’s that racket? It was 2 or 3 AM and I thought the guy next door was outside warming up his motorcycle. After a few nights, I started getting up, getting dressed and going outside to ask him to just get on it and go wherever he was going at that hour. However, when I got to his parking area, there wasn’t any motorcycle there. I walked around the whole neighborhood and couldn’t find that &@#$% motorcycle. I did that for several nights.
Then I decided it was the neighbor’s heater malfunctioning. Strangely enough, when I stayed at some friends’ house, their neighbor had the same heating system with the same malfunction. How weird was that? Later, when I moved to England, I noticed that the apartment building there also had the same malfunctioning heating system!
I still didn’t have a clue that these sounds were inside my head, not “out there”. That took a couple more years. Eventually, I realized what was going on.
How did I deal with it? I eventually learned to reframe the tinnitus sounds in my mind—to change them from something annoying to something pleasant. For example, I reminded myself that I like motorcycles—that I used to ride one.
Now, when the “motorcycle” tinnitus starts bothering me when I’m trying to sleep, I just tell myself that it’s my frends coming up the street to pick me up to go riding. Then I imagine myself climbing onto the back of a trusted friend’s bike and visualize riding down wonderful country roads. (OK, so I live in a major urban area, not the Midwest country roads of my youth, but it IS my fantasy! I get to go where I want to go!) The dips and rises of the road, the wonderful curves, all the while leaning into my friend’s warm back—visualize a good, safe driver—and while leaning into that warm back with the trust of a good friend…I fall asleep for awhile.
Nowadays I get different noises, and hear the “motorcycle” sounds less often. “Crickets” take me camping. Sometimes I even call up the “motorcycle” memories to drown out the high- pitched whine. My strategy is the same—take myself some place safe and pleasant that incorporates the current tinnitus sound and gives it a reason to be in my mind. I don’t know that I get rid of the tinnitus sounds—but it reduces my tension and I get some sleep.
After reading Carol’s story, another lady quipped, “The next time I hear my tinnitus train rumbling through my head, I will visualize that I am on my dream train trip across the USA.”
So there’s another tinnitus coping tool that you can take from your tinnitus toolbox and use as the need arises. Try it. You just might find yourself falling aslee…….zzzzzzzzzzzz!
To learn more about tinnitus and a number of tools that you can use from the tinnitus toolbox to help you successfully cope with your tinnitus, see my book, When Your Ears Ring—Cope with Your Tinnitus—Here’s How.