Christina’s story | British Tinnitus Association

Christina Kennedy first developed tinnitus in August 2019 after an ear infection that left her struggling to hear. Over the course of a few weeks her tinnitus got worse and worse until the ringing in her ears was all she could hear.

Christina saw a number of GPs over a three-week period and tried antibiotics, sleeping tablets and nasal sprays, while some doctors just said to ignore it. Nothing worked though and, feeling increasingly helpless, she Googled ‘tinnitus’, which led to her reading a number of alarming articles stating that there is no cure. She explained:

“By this point it started to feel that this tinnitus sound, which was completely new to me at that point, was going to be with me forever and there would be nothing that I could do about it. I began to feel extremely distressed and I couldn’t eat for worrying – which led to me losing weight – and I couldn’t sleep either. In fact, I was scared to lay in bed and scared to get up – I just couldn’t escape the sound. It all started to spiral. I just felt like a different person and couldn’t see a way out. I didn’t want to live anymore and I was afraid of how I was thinking.”

After the panic attack Christina knew that she had to look at her tinnitus differently and asked for an appointment with a doctor to discuss her mental health. The way the GP approached her condition changed everything for her:

“This doctor stopped, listened and then educated me – all in the space of a 20-minute appointment. For me, talking through the mental health challenges I’d been experiencing and having them validated by a health professional took a weight off my shoulders. She explained what tinnitus is and we talked about different management strategies. For the first time I could see light at the end of the tunnel.”

I had a really helpful call with someone on the British Tinnitus Association helpline and joined a local tinnitus counselling group, where I learned why the brain reacts the way it does and how other people cope with their tinnitus. It was like putting a jigsaw together and, once I understood it, life just got a lot better. 

Woman in an outdoor setting sitting on the steps of a staircase with a dog sitting at her feet.

“I have since discovered that I suffer from high-frequency hearing loss and so I now have a hearing aid, which helps. I also found that meditation – something I never would have considered before – improves things as stress and anxiety are major triggers for tinnitus.

Tinnitus is a really misunderstood condition and it’s not taken as seriously as it should be. The fact that it’s invisible makes it hard for people to understand and that can make dealing with it quite a lonely experience. I definitely think my healthcare journey could have been a lot better but it really improved once I addressed the mental health concerns of tinnitus.

I would advise anyone who is struggling with tinnitus right now to access support as early as possible and to ensure they share the mental health challenges right from the first appointment. Once I did that, things started to improve, and I haven’t seen another doctor since.”

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