I’m not a hypochondriac.
I know to stay away from Google when it comes to matters of health.
But…I’ve been exceedingly grumpy lately and I want to know why. It can’t simply be PMS because I don’t have my period ALL THE TIME. Also, I abhor using PMS as an excuse for fluctuations in mood. To dismiss a woman’s anger or sadness or frustration as mere hormones is disrespectful. Sure, there are times we react perhaps more quickly or more harshly than we would at other times, but I guarantee you our reactions come from the same place. If we get annoyed one week at something and flat out furious at the same exact thing the next week, it’s all coming from a place of anger and maybe you should stop being such a dick all the time.
Anyway, I’ve been grumpy lately, above and beyond my normal emotional ebb and flow, and I’m desperate for there to be some sort of tangible explanation. My kids can be assholes sometimes, but so can all kids. A reasonable human being can deal with their asshole kids in a reasonable manner. I yell. Probably way too much. So much, in fact, that they don’t even listen to me anymore and me raising my voice doesn’t make a lick of difference. ‘Oh, look. Mommy’s loud-talking again. Let’s continue to ignore her while we litter our home with toy bits, get into slap fights over who knows what (not even us!), play with our food with our hands, and do gymnastics in the living room.’ So, I thought, maybe if I could figure out what’s wrong with me, I could fix it and then work on a new way of dealing with my brats. I mean kids.
I took to the Google because that makes much more sense than actually asking an actual professional with actual credentials. It’s much less work and I can do it from my comfy spot on the couch and I don’t have to change out of my happy pants (of the track variety). Google suggested S.A.D., Seasonal Affective Disorder. In some ways, it fits – irritability, change in appetite, inability to concentrate, sadness, anxiety – but not in others – fatique and lethargy are symptoms, and I’m falling asleep in the evenings more frequently, but then I’m plagued with insomnia when I physically go to bed, I’m not experiencing headaches or weight gain. If I was diagnosing myself, which I was, I’d say it wasn’t a good enough match to call it a victory, so I dove in further.
I stumbled across a bunch of words I either didn’t know existed or to which I didn’t pay any attention. Hyperacusis. “A health condition characterized by an over-sensitivity to certain frequency ranges of sound. The symptoms are ear pain, annoyance, and general intolerance to any sounds that most people don’t notice or consider unpleasant. Crying spells or panic attacks may result.” Yes. YES. One of the causes is chronic ear infections, which I suffered from throughout my early childhood and as a result, damaged my ear drum, leaving scar tissue on the drum. I’m no where near deaf and my hearing difficulties, I’m sure, would be described as mild or minor. BUT I’m very sensitive to loud or excessive noise, especially when there is more than one source. I do know that my social anxiety can be blamed in part to this sensitivity. And by “sensitivity,” I’m referring to “ear pain, annoyance, and general intolerance” resulting in panic attacks, on occasion. Too much noise literally hurts. Too much noise and at too high a volume and the details get muddled and become one loud, muffled, incomprehensible sound. Kind of like if you took two screaming children, put them in a room with a television on high and a running microwave, and then tried to have a conversation requiring responses. Just the thought tightens my chest and this happens every single day.
“As many as 86% of hyperacusis sufferers also have tinnitus.”
I’ve always had this ringing in my ears, since the damage had been done from the ear infections, but I’ve never paid too close attention to it. It was just one of those things that’s always been there. Sometimes, when there are other noises around, I can barely hear it. Other times, those rare moments when I’m surrounded by silence, it’s loud, especially when I go from one extreme (loud) to the other (silence). It sounds like the high pitched buzzing of a bee, right in my inner ear, but once in a while works itself up to a squeal that makes me cringe.
I don’t know what all this means. I’ve been aware of my sensitivities for a while now, but there’s very little I can do. Kids will be kids and they need to be supervised. People can help, but sometimes I’m all they’ve got and so I just have to deal with it. Are my hearing issues related to my mood? I have no doubt, but I don’t know if it’s to be blamed fully. Perhaps it’s a combination of a bunch of things – anxiety and irritability from my hearing, PMS, the weather and its lack of Vitamin D producing sunshine, a general mild depression, exhaustion, the children being bungholes. It’s a little annoying not being able to pin it down to one tangible reason. I wish I could say “There! THAT’S why I hate everyone and everything lately! See? It’s not my fault. It’s THAT thing over there!”, but I can’t. I have a whole bunch of little things that I’m reasonably and cautiously convinced I may have some mild or minor version of and I have to learn to deal with them on my own. Maybe with a little help here and there, but it’s mostly me.
Next time I’m just Googling something easier like “does this look infected?”
P.S. DON’T EVER ASK GOOGLE IF IT LOOKS INFECTED BECAUSE GOOGLE WILL SHOW YOU HOW INFECTED IT CAN GET AND THAT IS VERY, VERY INFECTED INDEED.