Ringing in my ears. A constant, high-pitched ring. Never a moment of silence. Never a moment of peace and quiet.
I have no idea when it started. I always assumed the ringing was some sort of a normal, inner physiological refusal of silence.
The first time I noticed the ringing in my ears might not be normal was the only time it really disappeared. I had complained to a doctor about my pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and he suggested I try taking half of a mild anti-depressant pill for two weeks a month. He said that should help with my PMS symptoms. The very first thing I noticed a few hours after taking my first pill was how quiet everything had gone in my head. I wasn’t sure at first what was missing until I thought about it a bit. The ringing. The ringing was gone. What a tranquil feeling that was.
I didn’t take the anti-depressant for long. It was causing me to be very apathetic. I was losing the fire in my belly that made up a large part of who I was. And as a psychiatrist later assured me, I was not depressed to begin with.
This ringing in my ears is a medical condition called tinnitus. Many things can cause tinnitus but for many people, the cause of their tinnitus will remain unknown. Things like hearing loss, exposure to loud noise, impacted ear wax, problems with the inner ear or the jaw joint, and stress and depression have been linked to tinnitus. It’s possible to treat tinnitus in some people by treating the underlying cause. But for others, it is a condition that will remain with them. All they can do is train themselves to mask or ignore the sound.
I’ve had this sound with me for so long that I do not normally notice it unless I focus on it. When I focus on it the sound gets louder and louder until it’s deafening. Sometimes when I’m sitting comfortably and quietly at home reading a book the ringing will come to the forefront of my attention. If there are other noises in the house, the television set turned on or the children roaming about, the ringing is completely and subconsciously tuned out.
One in five people suffer from tinnitus. I’m part of that one-fifth of the human population.
There is a ringing in my ears. A constant, high-pitched ring. I wish it could go away.