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Peace and quiet.
Something that everyone needs in their life from time to time.
But can you imagine never being able to experience silence again?
Never having quiet in your head, but instead,
being tormented by constant noise?
It's an experience that I know all about, because I have tinnitus.
Now, most people think it's just caused by too much noisy music,
but I got it as a result of malaria.
And tinnitus left me feeling extremely stressed,
because you can't escape it.
And I was told it would be with me for ever.
And the soundtrack that tinnitus gave policy advisor Bev Reategui
wasn't exactly easy listening.
If you don't tune the radio in properly,
then you get all of this static. It feels like that.
It's a very bizarre thing to be happening.
People expect if you get really stressed,
or have a difficult time with your job, or your family, then,
"Oh, you'll have a heart attack, or you'll have a stroke."
They don't say, "Well, actually, you might end up with tinnitus."
Which is exactly what happened to me.
The stress of Bev's demanding job triggered constant tinnitus.
I just was terrified.
I thought, am I going mad?
Is my brain starting to make up all these noises?
They were getting louder, and louder, and louder.
And you can't turn it off.
And I was just so scared.
With no end in sight, Bev was signed off on long-term sick leave,
and her mood declined.
You can slide easily into depression.
And I'm sure that I was quite depressed.
Tinnitus is surprisingly commonplace.
One in 10 people will experience it at some point in their lives.
There is no medical cure for tinnitus,
so many of those affected are told to just learn to live with it.
This is where the British Tinnitus Association comes in,
because they don't think that's good enough.
Over the years, they have helped hundreds of thousands of people
learn how to manage their condition.
Years spent working on noisy building sites
gave Richard tinnitus that came and went.
But when tragedy struck his family,
Richard's tinnitus suddenly became a much more serious problem.
I noticed my tinnitus seemed to be constant
instead of being intermittent,
which really worried me.
No longer able to bear loud noise,
Richard had to give up the job he loved.
He went to his GP, hoping for a cure.
Basically he said to me,
"You've got to learn to live with it", which was hard to hear.
The thought of things not getting better
was something that dragged me down.
I felt like I was trapped in a cage.
And the more I thought it, the worse it became.
To feel these emotions was completely alien to me,
and to feel this low.
I was desperate, very desperate at that time.
And I went for a walk down to the bay.
And it went through my mind, for a short while, about taking my life.
It's all too easy to feel isolated by tinnitus,
but the British Tinnitus Association
is dedicated to supporting people with the condition.
Their work is crucial
when you think almost half a million people have tinnitus
severe enough to have a major impact on the lives.
The BTA work tirelessly to provide support,
advice and management techniques for those affected,
but they're also at the forefront for commissioning research
into new ways of treating tinnitus.
Like the pioneering approach being
taken at University College Hospital in London.
Clinical psychologist Dr McKenna is teaching patients a technique
that has been known about for thousands of years in the East,
And it seems to have a radical effect when applied to tinnitus.
Mindfulness invites people to pay attention to all that going on,
including their tinnitus.
And contrary to what some people might think,
that can lead to a much less stressful experience,
and one that doesn't involve you going on, and on, and on
trying to distract yourself.
It's a skilled intervention
that has to be carried out over time by professionals.
And groups like this will soon be taking part
in a major clinical trial, supported by the BTA, which could enable
the treatment to become much more widely available.
If we want this approach to tinnitus management to go forward,
and many of our patients hope that it will,
then we need hard, scientific data.
That is what this trial is about.
It seems so simple, but when you have tinnitus, it is a real struggle
to train yourself to step outside of the condition.
Learning to meditate is a bit more complicated than taking a pill,
but it's by supporting new approaches to the problem
that the BTA is helping to transform the lives
of those living with tinnitus.
Richard was one of the first to take part
in Dr McKenna's mindfulness training,
and the effects have been startling.
We did the meditation for about 20 minutes, and I was aware that,
for 20 minutes of that meditation,
I had not been aware of my tinnitus.
So, it had a very massive impact, more or less straight away on me.
If you can come to acceptance, you've found a way through,
and you can learn to live with it then for the rest of your life.
And supporting new treatments is not all the BTA does,
it also enables people to help each other.
We had help from the BTA to set up
and run our own self-help group in Cardiff, and it's been
running for a couple of months, and going from strength to strength.
I accept what has happened to me now, I don't fight it, I accept it.
Here she comes!
By demonstrating the effectiveness of mindfulness
through Dr McKenna's trial,
others may get to experience a transformation like Richard's.
I didn't realise how powerful my mind was
until I discovered mindfulness can actually change the way you think.
I know without its help, I don't know if I would be here today.
Tinnitus is more common than you think.
If you don't have tinnitus yourself,
you're likely to know someone who does.
Yet research into the condition
is chronically underfunded by government.
The BTA is a major supporter of research, and with your help
it can fund more projects, transforming the lives of millions.
Please go to the website:
..and you can donate.
If you haven't got internet access, please call:
and if you can't get through the first time,
please, please keep trying.
You can also donate ?10 by texting:
Texts cost ?10, plus your standard network message charge,
and the whole ?10 goes to the BTA.
Full terms and conditions can be found at bbc.co.uk/lifeline.
Telephone calls are free from most landlines.
Some networks and mobile operators will charge for these calls.
If you would like to post a donation,
please make your cheque payable to the British Tinnitus Association,
and send it to FREEPOST BBC Lifeline Appeal,
writing BTA on the back of the envelope.
And if you want the charity to claim Gift Aid on your donation,
please include an e-mail or postal address,
so they can send you a Gift Aid form.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd