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loud fireworks

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by eskimoeskimo, May 30, 2020.

  1. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    I know this isn't necessarily precisely TMS related, but I feel like this is the only place where I can post a question like this where people will understand my psychology and understand how that might be interacting with my concerns.

    Ever since Memorial Day weekend, my neighborhood has been crazy with fireworks. I have a feeling this is going to go on all summer, and I can't bear to think what July 4th will be like. I'm trying to move away from here ASAP, but in the meantime I am terrified of hearing loss. To be clear, I've been worried about hearing loss and tinnitus for years and years. Music is one of my only sources of occasional joy after all these years of pain and unsuccessful TMS treatment.

    So there are the normal fireworks and firecrackers. Those don't worry me too much. But at least once per day, sometimes 6+ times per day, someone in the neighborhood is setting off these ludicrously loud bombs essentially. Surely illegal, these things rattle the windows, set off car alarms, and send a shockwave straight through my body which makes me jump every time. It's hard to tell how close to the house they are ... sounds like right next to me, but could be 25 ft, could be 100 ft. I've started wearing hearing protection all the time, but I am still so worried about hearing damage. I am not sure that ear plugs and ear muffs are enough to protect from such an explosive bang. I know my head is not right next to the source, but we're talking many, many times louder than a gunshot. I'm thinking 175 decibels at the source. So from 30 ft away that's still a very dangerous level.

    So now I'm wearing 33 db NRR earplugs and 20 db NRR ear muffs on top of those. But I'm still worried it's not enough. I thought I'd be okay, but then one went off about 2 hours ago and I haven't been able to calm down since. I catastrophize about hearing loss and research excessively. I've spent far too much time looking into the physics of sound travel, the structure of the inner ear, reading horror stories of people with permanent tinnitus and hearing loss from fireworks and gunshots, etc etc etc etc.

    This on top of every thing else I'm trying to cope with (including constant neck pain which has not responded to years of TMS treatment) is just too much. It's bad enough to be trapped due to covid lockdown, but now in my isolation there are bombs going off outside my window everyday.

    Does anybody have some wisdom to offer here? Thank you as always
  2. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    Hi, Eskimo,

    First, I empathize. One of my favorite Bukowski quotes says something like "poverty means having to share other people's noise." I've got a neighbor who likes to blast loud music into my back yard, and it's a real source of stress and anger. Your situation sounds more extreme. Have you checked with your local authorities about noise ordinances and rules about fireworks? Many municipalities have restrictions and ways of measuring decibel levels. I'm no audiologist but I suspect that the hearing protection you describe you're using should be sufficient to protect your hearing from damage. Sounds like you're making plans to change your living arrangements. To deal with the stress until you get a resolution to the noise problem, what can you do to keep yourself in the present moment (not adding stress by projecting/worrying)? Finding ways to ease the worry (via the Serenity Prayer) will reduce the emotional pain. I wish you well. I so understand how exasperating it is to deal with this sort of noise.
    eskimoeskimo likes this.
  3. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have a crew of 20 or so building a new Home sunrise to sunset, Monday through Saturday right next to me. The old me would have lost his shit about it, tried to barricade out the noise,etc. I used to come unglued about Partying people, barking dogs,etc.

    I learned a 'trick' reading Eckhart Tolle. Whenever I hear a sound that is annoying me, I go inside and try to see what it is about the noise that disturbs me... where is the resistance in me that says 'This noise is NOT Ok!'

    Usually I have found that the part of me that wants to control my experience (Ego) is in full flare against this intrusion on my control. "That dog shouldn't be barking....where the F are the owners" is from My ego. When I sit still and just allow the noise to be and contemplate how lucky I am to be a part of the All and just listen to it, I have fallen asleep having the most annoying things going on.

    Thich Nhat han wrote "Miracle of mindfulness" to fellow monks who were having to live around and service communities amidst the horrors of the Vietnam war. Many of them were getting killed and arrested for simply assisting the villagers. It's a good read.

    A couple of years back I was serenaded with semi-automatic rifle fire on a pretty regular basis. I used it as a barometer on my spiritual condition. I also worked my ass off to save up and move to a better neighborhood (LOL).

    Trust god, but lock up your camera
    eskimoeskimo likes this.
  4. Dfw

    Dfw Peer Supporter

    First—you failed to mention if you have T at this point or any hearing loss. I can tell you first hand the protection you are using, non-stop, WILL create more problems than it will solve. So STOP that NOW, please!
    To keep yourself in a sound proof environment will exacerbate & or create hyperacusis, proven.

    second—the dynamics of sound, which over the last 3 years, I've become a sudo expert, not by choice. You have the protection of your house, depending on the age, some houses offer in the 50dB range others in the 30’s. Distance is your main friend here, with a 6dB drop every doubling of distance. Duration is also the key, as any type of instantaneous sound is less than 1-2 seconds in duration. Even if you calculated the highest (170) which it probably isn’t, the chances of hearing loss inside your home at say an average of 50 feet away, I see as not an issue. 170, is very high, so more than likely is less.

    third—-if its only the fear and you have no hearing loss, tinnitus or hyperacusis at this point, may i suggest you quit reading about that on the internet. That alone will scare the h...... out of you. Unfortunately, what has been read, can’t be unread, so i can give you as many good truthful stories you want when it comes to sound. I have been living with mild hearing loss, tinnitus and hyperacusis for a bit over 3 years and i can tell you it IS NOT the horror stories you read. I have adjusted my life to compensate for the hyperacusis, but other than that nothing. We still travel, eat out, lounges (not clubs) listen to music, etc.

    I, certainly, cannot imagine living next to neighbours as such. So, not knowing your day to day experiences, i cannot judge or see your situation first hand. Therefore my comments are based strictly on the dynamics of sound and living with T & H.

    i hope you can find a calming way to move forward & please feel free to reach out if there are any specific question you may have.

    eskimoeskimo and Dorado like this.
  5. Sita

    Sita Well known member

    Why not just call the police? Where I live, The California Penal Code states that it is illegal to maliciously and willfully disturb another person by loud and unreasonable noise.

    Take care.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020
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  6. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    The right call of action depends on where you live. Personally, I live in a major U.S. city with millions of people and a lot has been going on over here. Neighborhoods all over my city experienced continuous fireworks that were making people on Facebook and Reddit question whether they were hearing explosions, gunshots, etc. There was a sense of relief when someone would confirm they saw the fireworks from a window or reminded panicked people how to tell the difference between gunshot sounds and fireworks. It seems to be a nighttime thing and sometimes I could hear ongoing fireworks from my flat for multiple hours in a row - this is not an exaggeration. I actually want to know how much money people have invested in fireworks because it must be a hell of a lot. People were complaining in community groups because it's disturbing their anxiety, pets, children, etc. This was occurring while my city recently had a record number of shootings (which my city is unfortunately very familiar with, so breaking one of our records is severe) and other major things happening, which is why the police understandably weren't and aren't coming to stop fireworks. The National Guard was brought in this time, so you can picture how low priority fireworks were. Authorities wouldn't have even been able to respond to calls about someone breaking into a home, stealing from a pharmacy, etc. Residents had to deal with those issues on their own.

    All this said, I certainly understand how unnerving fireworks can be and what it's like to feel like you literally have no control over the noise. We've had zero control and countless people in my city have been pissed off. However, while it's complete BS and totally unfair and wrong, we've had to try to cope with it. In addition to listening to the sound advice in @Dfw's post above, I highly recommend trying to calm your sympathetic nervous system down when something like this happens. If you can talk this out with your neighbors (ideal, but not always possible) or call for help, do so because yes, this is a violation. But if you're stuck in a situation like me where that's not possible for whatever reason, you need to focus on what's in your control. And think about it like this - if hearing loss were going to happen from the safety of your own home, hundreds of thousands of people in my city would probably be deaf by now. We're definitely not.
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  7. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Thank you for your reply Northwood. I love that quote. This just got so extreme with the fireworks being the straw that broken the camel's back. I just couldn't seem to reign in the panic. I have, thank goodness, been able to move. Now I've got some lingering fear about whatever damage might have been done to my hearing, and I feel like I'm noticing some tinnitus now. But at least the bombs aren't going off outside anymore.
  8. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Thanks Baseball65. It wasn't just the disturbance of the noise, which was bad enough, but it triggered this preexisting extreme anxiety/fear around my ears/hearing/tinnitus. So each firework last sent me into a terrible hypochondriacal tailspin, and they just kept going off again and again at all hours of the day. But I've been able to move so now I'm just dealing with the lingering anxiety and all my other usual TMS stuff ie pain etc.
  9. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Thanks Sita. Believe me, I looked into this and made complaints. I am in California. But I was in a neighborhood where the chances of the authorities doing anything about this sort of thing were absolutely nil.
  10. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Yes I was in the same position you describe, Dorado. It seems like the fireworks set off in just the last few weeks must have been thousands of dollars worth. I don't understand it. They were going off so close to my house and bedroom that each one would trigger an enormous amount of health anxiety related to my hearing. Happily, I'm out of there now.
  11. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Thanks Dfw. Unfortunately I've done so much research over the years about hearing loss, tinnitus, etc that I've got a whole catalogue of fearful facts stored up which my brain loves to remind me of. I've been worried about tinnitus for the last few months, beginning before the fireworks even started, and not for the first time either. Honestly, I'm not even sure if I have tinnitus, or if I'm just paying such anxious attention that sometimes I "tune in" to a sound, a frequency, and hum that may have been there all along. Of course, the whole fireworks thing quadrupled my anxiety around this, and it was a nightmare wearing hearing protection and therefore being that much more aware that whatever sounds I'm still hearing must be coming from, well, my ears. Somehow, that didn't end up turning into too much of a negative feedback loop - maybe because I knew I didn't have the option of taking the hearing protection off, I also knew that I didn't have the option to obsess over whatever I was still hearing. Anyways, now I'm out of that situation, and am no longer spending my days with ear plugs in. I do still have lingering fears about tinnitus - which again I feel like I might be hearing - and lingering fears about what damage might have been done.
  12. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    @eskimoeskimo, one of my friends just shared this article on social media: https://slate.com/business/2020/06/fireworks-complaints-are-way-up-in-boston-nyc-cities.html (Yes, You’re Hearing Way More Fireworks Than Usual)

    For someone like me who lives in one of the largest U.S. cities with several million people, it's almost impossible to even nail down where these fireworks are coming from. And bless the heart of anyone who thinks the police here have time for it and/or that the perpetrators are friendly and limited to one unit. In general, you try to mind your own business here. That's city life for you.

    But here's the deal: other than my time at a four-year university that was surrounded by corn fields, I've never lived in a small town. I was born in one of the top two densely populated counties in the U.S. and my city resides within that zip code. You could see the skyline from the roof of my childhood home. Do you know how many ambulances and police cars rush past me each day? I work for a company that's 0.2 miles from one of the most famous skyscrapers and you'd better believe it gets LOUD. Heck, four years of my life were spent in an apartment that was attached to a gay nightclub on one of the biggest streets where the pride parade and a number of annual street festivals took place. The noise never stopped! I also listened to music through headphones, earbuds, etc. from the time I was 10, which was 20 years ago. And I still don't have tinnitus. Actually, my hearing was tested for fun earlier this year and it's actually pretty good, although it did convince me to stop playing my music so loudly all the time. But I'm not going to leave my city over it. My parents predicted that, right? They weren’t wrong. If you want to talk about someone who should have hearing damage because of their environment and life choices, it should be me!

    I think this goes back to OCD and reassurance seeking. If it weren't tinnitus, do you think it'd be something else you were hyper focused on?
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  13. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Yes, it’s always something. At the moment I’m way more focused on the neck pain I’ve had for years rather than any perceived tinnitus.

    Dorado, did you ever have any success with “somatic tracking”? Alan Gordon says that this is the best method for counteracting the fear which fuels the perpetuation of symptoms. But for me it always makes me feel like s*** because, no matter how consistently I practice observing the pain objectively, without fear, out of interest rather than anxiety etc, the pain doesn’t change or shift at all. I know it’s not supposed to be about making the pain *do* anything, but I inevitably feel dejected and, after a half hour of looking at the pain, that much more hyper focused on it. I feel like all it does is further entrench my hyper vigilance.
  14. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    @eskimoeskimo, I tried that, but what I found to be more helpful was an exercise my cognitive behavioral therapist taught me. He'd have me breathe through a straw for a few minutes, stare into bright lights and then try to read a book, etc. to prompt symptoms of anxiety (e.g., shortness of breath, changes in vision, and more). It was my job to recognize that the symptoms were not harmful and continue about my day. Have you tried something similar?
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  15. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Yes I’ve had a lot of CBT treatment which involved intentional exposure to and intensification of these sorts of stimuli. But I’ve never had any experience of “habituation” despite much practice. I don’t know why not, and neither have the myriad doctors. Maybe this is the reason why I have not, and seems cannot, ever make any progress with TMS. I’m beyond the end of my rope. I just don’t see any way out.
  16. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    There’s always hope. ❤️ I used to feel that way, too. From the time I was in elementary school and writing in my dairy about wishing for life to just stop because it all felt too painful. OCD drove me insane back then, but I’m so grateful for my life and even my negative experiences because they’ve helped me better connect and emphasize with people, even from a professional perspective at work as I start to become more of a leader. I truly believe that your life can get better. What makes you feel happy and relaxed, even if only for a short moment?
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  17. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Vanishingly rare, but occasionally for a fleeting moment maybe a laugh, a conversation, a hot shower, or a piece of music.

    Dorado I’ve been working from a TMS perspective for almost a third of my life now. I feel like I’d have to be insane to still have any hope.

    I don’t know how much longer I can bear it
  18. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    I don't have near the experience and insights that others forum members do, but one way I'm considering getting out of the pain loop is to find a pleasurably engrossing activity that I can return to again and again--and just go into it. Might be reading a good novel or disappearing into a really pleasurable hobby or project. Have you done this -- created something your can return to and look forward to, as a way to shift focus from the pain? Have you seen Dr. Hanscom's "Back in Control" blog? He has some ideas about play that I've found helpful to think about. He posts on this site.

    Also, I read Byron Katie's Loving What Is and am learning to use her method of inquiry to cut through the noise of distressing thinking and be present and accepting of the moment. It takes some time to learn, but coupled with meditation I find it's helping to reduce the mental stress that amplifies the pain.

    I hear your struggle. I empathize. Want to share that, too. I hope any of these comments help, even a little bit!
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  19. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Yes they do, thank you Northwood. I’ll think about what I can do around this.
  20. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    I'll add, sometimes, too, when things feel really hopeless we need someone to SEE us. Be there with us in our humanity. I'm 61 and just dealt with the death of my father. We had a painful relationship right up to the end, and I sat with his dead body for a long time. And I carry this ongoing physical pain that I just can't get away from sometimes. Bums me now and then, and sometimes I feel deep despair, as if a too-easy road opens up between where I am and checking out. I've learned that being seen helps even if it doesn't exactly fix the pain, it is something that can bless me into the next moment. And the next moment other feelings come, even humor. Everything--the moment--keeps changing. Relationships help. Tonight, I SEE you. Want you to know that.
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