Imagine if the Tooth Fairy became the Stalker Fairy. I know, because it happened to me.
Do your hear it? The ringing. If you are like most of us, you occasionally hear a faint, high frequency ringing in your ear. For most people, the noise will be a little like the Tooth Fairy, fluttering by occasionally but not outstaying the welcome.
For some of us, the Tooth Fairy hangs around and becomes the Stalker Fairy. Doctors call this experience Tinnitus. Tinnitus is a strange name for a condition where a person hears a perpetual noise in their ears: ringing, humming, dripping, whooshing, flushing, or pittering. I think we should eliminate the name Tinnitus and call it Ear Stalking.
Ear Stalking. I like the name, but not the experience. The experience is like chronic pain, but this pain is pain that you hear. Yes, the pain is really in my head! Aspirin and Tylenol do not work for this kind of pain. Trust me, I have inserted several Aspirin in my ear and it does not help.
I have lived with Tinnitus for over three years. Every waking hour my ears pulsate with a high pitched ringing noise. It first began in my right ear and about a year ago my Ear Stalker began to sing in both ears… so that I now broadcast in stereo.
I would not wish this on anyone, but if you have Tinnitus or Ear Stalking, I hope that this little survival guide will help.
16 ways to cope with Tinnitus
1. Do not under any circumstances put Aspirin in your ears. Trust me. My doctor told me that was not a good idea, especially the second time.
2. You will become really good at ignoring. Use it to your advantage. When you forget to take out the garbage, wash the car, empty the dishwasher or clean the garage… it’s all because of the Ear Stalker.
3. Even when you can hear perfectly, ask people to repeat themselves. Then say, “I heard you the first time” and walk away. People enjoy that.
4. Use it to get free stuff… stuff like toques and ear plugs. Honestly, people don’t really give you stuff for ear ringing. We can always advocate for change.
5. When people say they have voices in their head, ask them if the voices sing. You can always trump the people who hear talking. Imagine high pitched screaming.
6. When you are alone, scream loud enough so that you cannot hear the ringing. See if the Ear Stalker likes it when you yell back.
7. Ask people if they hear the ringing. After they have been quiet for a while, say “I guess it’s just in my head.”
8. Buy a cowbell and ring it constantly. This probably won’t increase their empathy… they will probably hate you. Just blame the Ear Stalker.
9. Wear earmuffs. Just because. Wear them in meetings and when you are on the phone. The earmuffs won’t help, but it may make the time pass a little.
10. Compensate by increasing your other senses. Buy a pair of binoculars and then watch your coworkers. When they tell you they are uncomfortable, scream. Then ask them how fun that was.
11. Wear tinkly bells on your shoes. Just because.
12. Invest in ear plugs and wear them all of the time. Especially in meetings.
13. When in large groups, constantly turn around and ask people “Who said that.” Then watch their reaction.
14. Don’t go chronic on your chronic ear ringing. Chronic means smoking marijuana all of the time. I don’t advise that. High pitched ringing and being high are probably not mutually beneficial. Just sayin’.
15. Remember that you have a disorder of your communication system. Be gentle with yourself. If your words don’t come out right or you misunderstand something, remember that your internal communicator is screaming at you. ALL OF THE TIME. Take it easy.
16. Laugh a lot. Whether the ringing stays or goes, you may just have to live with it. May as well enjoy yourself.
Hope you enjoyed this piece. Please share it with anyone who suffers from Ear Stalking or anything else that feels chronic.
If you enjoyed this piece, you will enjoy another article I wrote, Mental Health Stigma is Really Just Undiagnosed Verbal Illness.
Keep it real