“I feel much more in control and so happy to be out the other side”

It’s hard to understand how someone can go from being a care-free, loving grandmother to a desperate and anxious woman within just 10 weeks. But that’s the reality for Joy Lunn, from Chesterfield, who, after suddenly developing the debilitating ear condition tinnitus, became a shadow of her former self.

Joy, aged 56, said: “In 2013 I woke up one day with a hissing noise in my ears. It was getting really bad so I went to see my GP who initially thought I had an ear infection but after trying lots of medication I was finding that the noise was becoming more unbearable and getting no better at all so I went back.

My GP referred me to the hospital

I went to see an audiologist but during the time I was waiting for an appointment, my condition got significantly worse. The incessant noise was all I could focus on and, despite having a lovely husband, daughter and two grandchildren, I couldn’t distract myself away from the sound and it began to take over my life. Because I hadn’t been diagnosed yet either I started to think I had every illness under the sun which was also taking a real toll on my mental health.

10 weeks 

“Within just 10 weeks, I was anxious and depressed which I’d never had before so it was quite a shock to experience those feelings. I wasn’t eating or sleeping and had lost all confidence in myself to do anything including going to my job as an occupational therapy support worker. I was losing weight, sleeping when I could on the sofa every night and I would describe myself being in a really desperate situation at this stage. Everyone around me could see I wasn’t well, I was like a rabbit in the headlights just not knowing where to turn. In the end, things got so bad, I just took myself off to A&E. It was a cry for help really.

“When I did get to see my audiologist, things started to take a turn for the better. The diagnosis of tinnitus did help me and I slowly got my head around the condition and began to accept that there is no cure and I would probably have it for life.

“I found the British Tinnitus Association (BTA) website really helpful and also now do a lot of tai chi and mindfulness to relax. I am a member of the Chesterfield and North Derbyshire tinnitus support group and I find it useful to talk to other people who know what I have gone through, as the general understanding about tinnitus and the impact it can have on your life is not really fully appreciated by most people.

Coping with tinnitus

“I think the noise I hear is still at the same level but I have trained my mind to cope with it better and not fixate on it. I have bad days now but I feel much more in control and so happy to be out the other side when compared to those initial weeks when I first started with the tinnitus.

“Learning to accept the condition is the absolute key so that you can then find your own ways of dealing with it which will enable you to go back to enjoying life. My family has been very supportive to me and I feel like a completely different person now to where I was three years ago.”

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