Why I’m thankful for my tinnitus (yes, really!)

Although we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in the UK, the focus on thankfulness and gratitude over the last week has got me thinking about my tinnitus journey.

I’ve had tinnitus since 2005. I lost the hearing in my right ear in the space of 12 hours and was plunged into the world of hearing loss and tinnitus literally overnight. But living and working with tinnitus has led to a whole range of positives for which I am very grateful. Here are just four of them:

1. I found a great support network

As I’m sure you have found out, when life hits the skids you soon find out who your true friends are. They were the friends who, when I wasn’t comfortable asking for the help I needed, knew to pick quiet cafes for us to meet, rather than loud, trendy wine bars.

They were the colleagues who could tell that I was struggling at work, even when I said nothing, and would beckon me into a meeting room to make sure I was ok.

They were the members of my family who, although they didn’t really ‘get’ tinnitus, tried their best to understand it, and how it affected me.

What I learnt: you can’t deal with tinnitus alone. Build a supportive team around you who have your best interests at heart.

2. I worry less about what people think of me

For a long time, I was reluctant to admit that my tinnitus made it hard for me to concentrate. I worried it would make my colleagues and my boss think I couldn’t do my job properly. Eventually I realized I had to explain why some days my work took longer than others, and my manager could not have been more supportive.

What I learnt: tell your colleagues very clearly what struggles you are having and, importantly, how they can help. Be an educator and advocate for all those affected by tinnitus.

3. I’ve come out of my shell

I grew up as a real introvert. I might have appeared dynamic and outgoing at work, but once the day was done, I was delighted to shut the door at home and spend time on my own. Tinnitus is not great for introverts, it gives us a great excuse to avoid socializing. But that wasn’t fair on my husband who is a social animal. So, I had to dig deep to find the courage to go to pubs, parties and restaurants with all of the noise challenges that they present. You know what? The more I did it, the easier it became.

What I learnt: sometimes you need to be brave, for your sake and for others. The more we do it, the easier it becomes.

4. I’ve been able to pay it all forward

I know how scared, frustrated, exasperated, depressing and anxious our tinnitus can make us feel. That’s why in 2015 I started to help people manage their hearing loss and tinnitus at work and home. When I realized just how much mindfulness training helped my tinnitus, I became certified as a mindfulness teacher so that I could share these wonderful practices with others. My Bee Empowered course has been written specifically for people who are struggling with tinnitus. Want to know whether the Bee Empowered course might suit you?  Find out through this fun quiz