How I turned the cornerSeptember 6, 2015
I’m both proud and relieved to report that I turned a corner in my life. I have trudged through darkness and come out on the other side.
There was almost a year in my life when I didn’t believe that life would get better. My hearing conditions are permanent, the options in my life narrowed, and many ordinary life situations became more challenging. This was the time when I was unable to see the path forward, so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, since people depended on me.
How did I get to a better place? By having an amazing support structure and trying many things. Here is what made a significant impact:
I saw an awesome and very compassionate cognitive behavior therapist. He helped me understand that my automatic reactions and behaviors to challenging situations can be changed. I made thought log after thought log under his tutelage, and it became very clear that my behaviors were cyclical and predictable. We worked on better coping responses to my automatic thoughts, and over time I was able to monitor my automatic thinking and graft in these new responses reflexively.
Friends and family really stepped up. They saw I was hurting and needed help, and supported me in any way that they could. Most of that was just hanging out and being present for me. My parents and in-laws came out to help multiple times. It made a huge difference.
I joined a men’s group called the Men’s Circle. It was a transformative experience, and the group became a big part of my life. It pushed me to lean into my edge, get clear about my purpose, and to be in support of my community. It is not often that you make a lot of new connections that have nothing to do with your kids when you a parent in your late 30’s. Getting initiated into the circle was a herculean task that I take a lot of pride in completing.
I moved into a new home. The timing of the move was perfect. It gave me an opportunity to re-establish my identity. The packing / unpacking / house projects filled up all my time so I had less time to wallow in my circumstances.
We determined that physical weakness is a big issue for me, so I started working with a personal trainer. It’s amazing how quickly I’ve gotten stronger, and now my knee pain is much less intrusive than it has been.
I saw a naturopathic doctor who told me my diet was really out of balance. For some reason, this advice really stuck (possibly because I paid $350 for the visit). I eat far more fruits and vegetables now, increased my protein intake, and for the most part try to be more conscious about what I put in my body.
Discovering a latent interest in nature. I’m really excited to discover more of the beautiful spots in the bay area, of which there are many.
But really, the thing that made the biggest impact was my wife, who was my rock. She never gave up on me. She guided me to try CBT, pushed me hard to join the men’s circle, frequently checked in with me, and insisted that life would get better. She challenged my attitudes and assumptions. She made sure that our life was on track, burning her candles at both ends, and never complained. This experience really tested our relationship, but she was determined to make it work. I am so grateful that she chose me as a partner. At this point, I probably owe her two ponies.
For the record, here are things that I tried that didn’t stick:
Mindful meditation and breathing techniques. I may return to this though – it seemed like it had potential.
I saw a homeopathic doctor a couple times, and I tried a few homeopathic “remedies”.
I tried a few different modalities for body work and chiropractors. I went so far as to try NUCCA adjustments.
I attended several tinnitus support meetings. I was the youngest person there by 30 years, and simply didn’t take away much from the meetings.
Extreme diets to see if salt or sugar affected my tinnitus