We have been trained for this.

Sarah Richardson sharing her tinnitus storySarah Richardson shares how her experience of managing tinnitus has equipped for coping with the Covid-19 situation.

We have been trained for this.

While my experience with tinnitus will differ from many others, I believe that there is hope in these trying times as tinnitus sufferers. My tinnitus – like an attention-hungry child – has not allowed itself to be ignored during this pandemic. Even prior to lockdown, I had been experiencing inconsistent spikes in my tinnitus with no obvious cause to name. I had not been near loud noises or changed my diet, and nor had I recently run headfirst into a brick wall. This, for me personally, left only one possible cause: stress.

Given the scientifically proven links between tinnitus and stress, this should have come as no surprise to me, and yet I was surprised that the outbreak of Covid-19 was having such an impact. During these unpredictable times, I am fortunate enough not to have to put myself at risk in order to put food on the table by continuing to work, nor am I involved in the selfless and potentially dangerous front line efforts in places such as hospitals, supermarkets and care homes.

But still, my tinnitus is raging.

There is nothing out of the ordinary with experiencing stress and worry, especially during the extraordinary circumstances we currently find ourselves in. After all, we are being attacked by a nefarious, invisible foe.

Sound familiar?

The emotions that have risen to the surface – fear of the unknown, the frustrations of isolation, the helplessness when confronted with heart-wrenching statistics – are not alien to us as tinnitus sufferers. You could say that we are uniquely prepared to face and overcome the stresses and changes in our altered lives. We have a fully prepped arsenal of coping techniques ready to go. For myself, dealing with tinnitus spikes over the past months has been a strange kind of poetry, a return to the same methods that I used all those years ago when I was first afflicted with the condition. Thus, my tinnitus coping methods became my pandemic coping methods.

Like everyone else, I’m taking it one day at a time – for the sake of my tinnitus and my well-being as I face the strange new structure of the day. I make sure to take regular breaks from work, spend time out in the garden at least once a day – got to get that vitamin D, everyone! – and keep a closer eye on my sleeping, eating and drinking. Meditation and breathing exercises are my friends, keeping the bad habits and existential dread at bay.

Sure, as a tinnitus sufferer, I am tired and frustrated, but my condition has given me a unique set of skills that I can call upon in these trying times.

So remember, call upon your training!

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