I have suffered from tinnitus for my entire adult life (a few years of my late teens as well). This interminable ringing makes concentration improbable and conversation a violence. It is a struggle to hear and comprehend, so there are a lot of “huh?” and “what?” tossed about. There is a cloud of self doubt that covers me, and I often feel dumb. This leads to depression and anger when I try to articulate myself. Because I don’t want others to feel like I do, I try to speak clearly and concisely, and to think about what I will say before I do so.
When people stumble over the middle of a sentence, mine or anyone else’s, it becomes impossibly frustrating. As I mentioned, concentration is improbable, so the sentence interrupted becomes a mangled thing. I struggle to find the point originally being made and follow the new focus of attention. All while being bombarded by a screech that originates in my head. It is less than ideal.
Mornings are the worst. I rise from dreams to the endless “EEEEEE” in my ear ten times louder than it will be the rest of the day. Every sound amplifies the ringing in ways that distort my perceptions, my vision twitches, scents once pleasant revile, my skin crawls at the contact of sheets and clothes. The last thing I want or need in that few minutes is human contact, and yet I crave it. To hear my toddler chirping in my ear without pain, to feel my wife‘s loving hand on mine without the confusion of senses, to smell my dog’s stinky popcorn feet without nausea, these things would be divine.
I will never know silence, though I remember it fondly. The best I can hope for is a few minutes of calm in which I can forget the screaming monster in my ear. I’m aware that won‘t happen often (if at all) and that I should somehow remain stoic, as I cannot change it. My failures at stone-faced glaring at the pain and noise make me feel more dumb and more muted than I should.
I’ll live, of course. There is nothing life-threatening about my condition. But that doesn‘t mean I have to be happy about it. I will miss the nuances of my daughters’ musical performances. When we were young (and I could hear), my wife had this soft lilt that coated the high range of her voice. I have no idea if it is still there. And I’m mad about it.
There are more pressing things going on in the world, and they are worthy of our attention. Sometimes, however, I just need to blow off the steam and focus on my griefs and gripes. Now that that‘s done, I’ll get back to bringing about the end of the universe. Thank you for reading!