Sound Sensitivity and Distress
A friend recently received quite drastic treatment for Tinnitus in the form of hearing aids that create a form of white noise in his ears. Remarkably the treatment has revolutionised his experience of this frustrating affliction. Tinnitus is understood to be the perception of sounds in the ear that are not resulting from the external environment.
The sounds can be like a constant ringing or buzzing or pulsatile like occasional beeps, whistles or chirps. Some people also experience a relative of Tinnitus called ‘Musical Ear Syndrome’ where they perceive faint musical tones in the distance when exposed to other background sounds like running water or whirring fans.
I have been surprised by how prevalent these things are and how many people find them distressing and anxiety provoking. It appears that the causes of Tinnitus are very varied; from overexposure to extremely loud music, to anxiety and depressive disorders. Alongside Tinnitus are other distressing auditory conditions such as ‘Soft or Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome or Misophobia,’ ‘Hyperacusis’ and ‘Phonophobia’.
There is no doubt that across a range of severities we can all develop sensitivity to sounds that, particularly when tired or anxious, can become very distressing. Part of the problem is that peace and quiet is in itself so difficult to achieve today.
I was considering the serenity of 1st century Palestine, lightly populated, without electricity or engines. When Jesus retreated into the hillside to rest and be with his Heavenly Father, that really meant silence and stillness. Today we may be wondering along in the park to the beat of five different mobile phone music players, offset by low flying jets, car alarms and reversing vans. Life in the 21st century is a wall of sound and stimulation that can exacerbate any underlying sensitivity.
In John 14:27 Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” I am sure that it is helpful for us not to battle against the environment for peace, but to start by finding it the presence of Jesus himself.
Whatever you’re level of distress today or your specific wrestle with the issues I have mentioned, Jesus promises you the gift of a peace that cannot be taken away. Meet him in prayer and request the gift that he offers, receiving it and allowing yourself the space to focus away from the clamor of the world around you.
If you have a testimony about Tinnitus or any of the issues mentioned about please feel free to post supportive and helpful tips for others here.
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Will Van Der Hart, 03/11/2010
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