Many years ago, I developed tinnitus, a constant ringing in my ears. My case is far milder than many, but it was a disturbing change. At its onset, I panicked; the noise did not just distract me but rather scared me, made me anxious. I couldn’t sleep (and learned that I am immune to at least one sleeping pill), and was on edge for days.
Finally, I figured out how to cope with it. I learned that if I focused on the ringing, I would become more anxious and notice it more. The sound would be all-consuming. However, if I relaxed into it, reminded myself that it wasn’t harming me, focused on other, soft sounds around me that I could still hear, as a way of proving to myself that I could still hear quieter noises, I was able to relax. Fighting the noise made it worse. Accepting it as a part of life made it more or less, most of the time, go away. Now I often forget about it completely until I listen to hear if it’s still there. (It is.)
I’ve taken what I learned about coping with tinnitus and I try to apply it to other irritating situations. I’m not always completely successful, but it does help. And often the situations I’m dealing with are temporary, unlike the tinnitus – which means when they’re gone, they’re really gone. I’ve learned that if I can just settle into the irritation, not fight it but accept it as a part of life, and focus on other things, then the irritant goes away much more quickly.
The last few days I’ve been extremely cranky. I know why I’m cranky and knowing why I’m cranky doesn’t help. I’ve laid … lain … uh, I’ve been awake in the middle of the night, staring at the back of my eyelids for hours on end the last few nights, thinking about the things making me cranky, and it has gotten me nowhere but crankier.
So now, I’m going to try my tinnitus coping method. Relax into the crankiness. Accept it as a normal part of life. Sometimes I’m blissfully happy and sometimes I’m cranky, and this too shall pass. Focus on other things and not think about the things that are irritating me. These things shall pass. It’s okay to be cranky sometimes. This too shall pass.