Jill’s tinnitus began just six months ago.

In this open letter, she explains how she’s felt and what her GP could have done to help her manage her condition better.

It came from nowhere, my tinnitus. I’d been feeling under the weather and then it just started – this noise, like a steam roller. I was at home and at first, I thought it was the boiler, but then when I got to work it was still there and I panicked. That was just over six months ago and the noise is still here. Of course, my immediate reaction was to go to my GP. After all, who else do you turn to when you’re concerned about your health? But I left my GP’s surgery in tears having been told simply to ‘get used to it’.

I felt alone

I’d hoped my GP would have been more understanding. I’d never experienced tinnitus before and I was terrified. I felt as though I was completely alone with the noise and had no choice but to try my best to cope. However, coping is hard when you’ve not been given the tools you need to manage. Sleeping became near impossible and, as such, I’ve had to change my role at work.

I didn’t know where to turn for support

In my search for a way to help ease my tinnitus, I’ve tried practically everything. I’ve spent money on private consultations and alternative therapies, I’ve had pushy salespeople try and persuade me to spend thousands of pounds on new technologies. Why? Because I left my GP’s surgery not knowing where to turn for help and support and, when you have constant tinnitus, help is all you want. If my GP had known and understood more about tinnitus, I’m sure I would have felt more reassured. Some tips and techniques would have been helpful and may have eased my anxiety before it got worse.

I’m learning to live with it, myself

It’s been an incredibly difficult six months, but I’m now trying to carve out a different way of life around my tinnitus, that works for me. I've been told by GPs to ‘take a year off’ or ‘move jobs’ – but unless you’ve got lots of money in the bank, life simply doesn’t work like that and I’m having to adjust my life around my condition as best I can.

With the help of the British Tinnitus Association, my family, my employer and my faith and Church, I’m beginning to find ways of living with my tinnitus. Some days are still very difficult and, although I keep getting the same answer – to just learn to live with it – I keep returning to my GP. From the very first appointment, I’ve felt dismissed and misunderstood. If my GP had a better understanding of tinnitus and the knowledge to give me the right words of support in that first appointment, perhaps my journey to date may have been more positive.

The British Tinnitus Association (BTA)’s #HearUsOut campaign is calling for better awareness of tinnitus, amongst GPs. As part of the campaign, the charity has released a postcard-size phrase guide offering GPs guidance on what to say to a tinnitus patient. 

To download the guide and for more information about the BTA and the #HearUsOut campaign, visit: www.tinnitus.org.uk/hearusout