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How My OCD Is Affecting My Tinnitus Right Now

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. To find help, visit the International OCD Foundation’s website.

My issues with tinnitus are the epitome of how my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) works. I am sitting here writing as my ears are ringing, and it is quite literally (even as a bad joke) all in my head.

Just an hour ago, I stumbled upon an article about a potential cure — or at least help — with tinnitus. I didn’t even read the whole article, as it wasn’t all that interesting to me at the time. However, it got me thinking about how I’ve dealt with tinnitus in the past.

And now, I’m focused on it. And now, I am listening to the ringing in my ears, and now I can’t get it out of my thoughts. For all intents and purposes for me — and I know this is not how others navigate tinnitus — it is now “turned on.” I now have tinnitus, as I am now obsessed with the ringing in my ears.

Now, I can sense ringing in my ears, but my guess is it is not that intense. But once I am switched on to thinking about the phenomenon as a whole, I immediately find myself unable to stop going to obsessing over the ringing in my ears which is probably at a natural level otherwise. I would most likely not be thinking about tinnitus, and most likely not have the natural ringing in my ears at the forefront of my obsession if it weren’t for stumbling upon an article about it.

This situation is not about “faking it” or needing to have something to complain about to people around me. No, I like to silently obsess. Well, other than writing it down here, but I am including these caveats. And there is a reason I am exploring this a such. This is how my OCD often works.

I often find myself slipping easily into thoughts about something being wrong — a tiny thought, if you can measure them as such. A tiny thought becomes bigger and bigger, uncontrolled. This thought is usually about something wrong in me, on me, or around me.

Another example is the fit of my clothes. The mere thought that they don’t fit often triggers the sensation of them not fitting, and thus they now “don’t fit.”

So goes the ringing in my ears. This ringing is not massively “loud.” I know because if I turn on the air conditioner, it becomes muted. But once I think about it, I obsess over it.

Part of the obsession is the fear of a downward slope. When it comes to the ringing in my ears or the fit of my clothes, my OCD doesn’t just worry about those issues right now. Rather, I obsess over the potential snowball downward into these issues becoming worse. And thus, it amplifies the current somewhat imagined state.

My tinnitus becomes louder because I am thinking about it potentially becoming louder. And this is a real thing I am hearing in my head, but it is also a great example of my Pure OOCD that is “stuck” in the “obsession” part without compulsion — acting on the world around me. Or in this case, literally inside my head.

And the “inside my head” part cannot be lost in the world of metaphor. Tinnitus is a real thing, but it literally occurs completely inside one’s head. And it can’t be observed but inside one’s head, and thus inside one’s mind.

Because tinnitus is wrought with unknowns, it is ripe for my OCD to have a field day with it. Unknowns of the future (will it get worse?) and the present (do I actually have tinnitus or am I just amplifying the natural ringing in my ears?) I know my OCD is in my head. It can’t be anything but that. And how perfect is it that it manifests with a condition that only exists inside one’s head on many levels?

And I now must say, the worst has happened. As I am writing these observations down, wouldn’t you know… my tinnitus has become worse. Oh, I am positive the actual volume of the ringing in my ears has not increased. 

But my obsession over it has.

And thus, for all modes of observation that matter to me, so has the volume of the ringing in my ears.

My OCD exists mostly inside my head. It is now obsessed with a medical condition existing inside my head. And my OCD is amplifying the condition. I am now obsessed with it snowballing into something worse. And by virtue of this obsession, I am pushing the snowball down the metaphorical hill.

Photo by Jake Melara on Unsplash

Originally published: October 4, 2019
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