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The sound in my head

I wish I could say that the title of this article was just a pleasant metaphore for saying how I've grown with music making and that this title could symbolize the close connection to sound and music that I have had troughout my life. However the thing I want to talk about here is much less positive and it turned for the worse last week.


For 13 years now I've been having this condition called tinnitus. That is a constant ringing signal that you can hear in your ears after having damaged some nerves in your inner ear responsible for converting sound to audible waves. Up until now it has been very managable. It was in the background and I would barely hear it during the day because of normal daily noise washing over the shrieking pulsating noise in my head. I already reduced my activities as a musician but I couldn't downright stop because I feel music is the way to express myself profesionally in life.

For some reason the ear ringing turned worse at the end of august this year (2012) and the sound really doubled last week. I believe working on my last E.P. has made it worse as well as doing some music work for other projects and well: one doesn't make music by being active and doing much sports in life so I wouldn't deny the possibility that my "sitting life" might be an impact as well.

So why would it be so bad now, although I could sleep and live well for 13 years ? You would think that I'm already used to it ? Well, people can indeed habituate to tinnitus under certain conditions. If it's a constant tone you can "become accustomed" to it because it becomes "part of your life". If it doesn't change or if the tone doesn't get higher or lower it's really only a bit scary the first months that you have it. Then it becomes no different than that fridge that you hear all the time when you are sitting in the kitchen. You're not "aware" of that either and it certainly will not annoy you unless the fridge sonds broken. But then you just repair it or install a new one.

With tinnitus however, you can't "install a new brain" to solve the 24/7 sound that you hear in your head. I have always been able to manage it well because of the above mentioned situation. However what I hear now sounds a bit like below!


You don't need to be a rocket scientist to imagine that this will get very annoying by time. Not only did the overal sound that I hear doubled over the last weeks, it now actually has this "pulsating" sound added to it which makes it much more hard to habituate to because it's always rhytmic to my heartbeat and it's never constant. (sometimes the heart rate is a bit faster than othe times).

The incredibly hard mission for me rightnow is to just cope with this change and hope that I can possibly habituate to this. There's one sparkle of hope to get rid of the "pulsating" sound because it's known to be a more easier fix. It could be done with an operation where a blood vessel is moved or, it COULD work with some medicine to flush away overpressure from the brain. But these are really some prospective investigations that I have been doing over the past week on myself.

As my sleeping habits are seriously distorted now, and I never go to bed without feelings of panic and desparation. The hard part is that I now have in front of me is to start a journey towards habituation therapy, hospitalization and brain imaging investigation. Tinnitus isn't simply diagnosed in a one sided way like a sore throat. Tinnitus usually has multiple causes at once but never the same with each person.

To make matters worse, you really have to dig inside forums and user groups to find out the right clinic for these treatments. Tinnitus isn't fixable by conventional means and there's a big chance that you simply can't go to your local hospital or doctor who is specialized enough in jumping trough the hoops with you. If you just don't pay attention you might endlessly jump trough hoops without having any improvement for your tinnitus if you don't know the right people who give you the right pointers and directions. To be honest, not every audio doctor, neuro surgeon and therapist is really knowledgable enough about taking the right turns while investigating this condition.

There's lots of charlatan-ism out there about this subject and that's which is adding a huge layer of uncertainty to my predicament rightnow. I just can't go in my own town and expect to be fixed, there's simply not enough knowledge there for this particular case.

It's a bit strange to say this but If I would had cancer or aids, chances are that I could have been helped in a much more straight forward way. Treatments for these things are not only much more elaborate, a bigger pool of physicians and doctors are much more versed in diagnosing them than tinnitus. I don't want to shock people by saying this but cancer is almost a more "casual" disease to have compared to tinnitus if you purely look at it from a medical treatment possibility.

So for those who'm I'm working with rightnow I would like to say I'm sorry but I don't know if I can do so much projects anymore. I can't even handle the vacuum cleaner soudn anymore, and if I play a game, the sound will be very silent. The continuation of my "sanity" will  depend on me being able to sleep better in the future. Depending on the road medical investigation of my problem takes, I'm having a slight hope. Just a litle improvement in the pulsating tinnitus would be a great leap forward rightnow.

I'll probably never make music in "full force" again, because I'm simply agonized by the fact of not being able to sleep anymore.

The only thing I can be happy about is how long I was allowed to stretch some quality of life by immediately stop using headphones, never go to concerts or noisy locations and always wearing earfilters when going to the movies. But I knew at some point the Tinnitus tone would start getting worse and be omnipresent. This is that time and I need to take measures, so I sign off now from any music activities.

I can't even bring up the energy creating a goofy xmas track for refx christmas contest because well, if you don't sleep well you don't have any energy.

I hope I have something more positive to say in 2013!


Filip Degryse

Filip Degryse wrote


I just read your tinnitus-story on cosmic (I don't know if you speak Dutch). How is your tinnitus these days? Did you find some useful and adequate help for it?

I'm just wondering and I'm interested because I had this condition in a very mild form since the age of 12 (that's 33 years now) and it just got a lot worse since 2-3 weeks (after doing a DJ set at a party).




It's already better in a sense that i'm geting used to it. I already sleep beter for more than a month already and that's good. My big reason for panic in january was "can I get used to the pulsating sound in my head", but the answer seems to be yes. BUt I still feel that when something new would come around it'd be "alert time" again.

Surely it's not for the better if you continue to make music like you and me do, but I don't use any headphones anymore. I started to adapt to use speakers only.