British Tinnitus Association Lifeline


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British Tinnitus Association

Larry Lamb presents an appeal on behalf of the British Tinnitus Association, which provides vital support for millions of tinnitus sufferers in the UK.


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Peace and quiet.

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Something that everyone needs in their life from time to time.

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But can you imagine never being able to experience silence again?

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PIERCING WHISTLE

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Never having quiet in your head, but instead,

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being tormented by constant noise?

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MECHANICAL WHIRRING

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It's an experience that I know all about, because I have tinnitus.

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Now, most people think it's just caused by too much noisy music,

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but I got it as a result of malaria.

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And tinnitus left me feeling extremely stressed,

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because you can't escape it.

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And I was told it would be with me for ever.

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RADIO STATIC

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And the soundtrack that tinnitus gave policy advisor Bev Reategui

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wasn't exactly easy listening.

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If you don't tune the radio in properly,

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then you get all of this static. It feels like that.

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It's a very bizarre thing to be happening.

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People expect if you get really stressed,

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or have a difficult time with your job, or your family, then,

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"Oh, you'll have a heart attack, or you'll have a stroke."

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They don't say, "Well, actually, you might end up with tinnitus."

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Which is exactly what happened to me.

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The stress of Bev's demanding job triggered constant tinnitus.

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I just was terrified.

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I thought, am I going mad?

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Is my brain starting to make up all these noises?

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They were getting louder, and louder, and louder.

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And you can't turn it off.

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And I was just so scared.

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With no end in sight, Bev was signed off on long-term sick leave,

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and her mood declined.

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You can slide easily into depression.

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And I'm sure that I was quite depressed.

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Tinnitus is surprisingly commonplace.

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One in 10 people will experience it at some point in their lives.

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There is no medical cure for tinnitus,

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so many of those affected are told to just learn to live with it.

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This is where the British Tinnitus Association comes in,

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because they don't think that's good enough.

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Over the years, they have helped hundreds of thousands of people

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learn how to manage their condition.

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Years spent working on noisy building sites

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gave Richard tinnitus that came and went.

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But when tragedy struck his family,

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Richard's tinnitus suddenly became a much more serious problem.

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I noticed my tinnitus seemed to be constant

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instead of being intermittent,

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which really worried me.

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No longer able to bear loud noise,

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Richard had to give up the job he loved.

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He went to his GP, hoping for a cure.

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Basically he said to me,

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"You've got to learn to live with it", which was hard to hear.

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PIERCING WHISTLE

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The thought of things not getting better

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was something that dragged me down.

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I felt like I was trapped in a cage.

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And the more I thought it, the worse it became.

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RADIO STATIC

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To feel these emotions was completely alien to me,

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and to feel this low.

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I was desperate, very desperate at that time.

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And I went for a walk down to the bay.

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And it went through my mind, for a short while, about taking my life.

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It's all too easy to feel isolated by tinnitus,

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but the British Tinnitus Association

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is dedicated to supporting people with the condition.

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Their work is crucial

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when you think almost half a million people have tinnitus

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severe enough to have a major impact on the lives.

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The BTA work tirelessly to provide support,

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advice and management techniques for those affected,

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but they're also at the forefront for commissioning research

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into new ways of treating tinnitus.

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Like the pioneering approach being

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taken at University College Hospital in London.

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Clinical psychologist Dr McKenna is teaching patients a technique

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that has been known about for thousands of years in the East,

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mindfulness meditation.

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And it seems to have a radical effect when applied to tinnitus.

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Mindfulness invites people to pay attention to all that going on,

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including their tinnitus.

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And contrary to what some people might think,

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that can lead to a much less stressful experience,

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and one that doesn't involve you going on, and on, and on

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trying to distract yourself.

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It's a skilled intervention

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that has to be carried out over time by professionals.

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And groups like this will soon be taking part

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in a major clinical trial, supported by the BTA, which could enable

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the treatment to become much more widely available.

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If we want this approach to tinnitus management to go forward,

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and many of our patients hope that it will,

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then we need hard, scientific data.

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That is what this trial is about.

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It seems so simple, but when you have tinnitus, it is a real struggle

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to train yourself to step outside of the condition.

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Learning to meditate is a bit more complicated than taking a pill,

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but it's by supporting new approaches to the problem

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that the BTA is helping to transform the lives

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of those living with tinnitus.

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Richard was one of the first to take part

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in Dr McKenna's mindfulness training,

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and the effects have been startling.

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We did the meditation for about 20 minutes, and I was aware that,

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for 20 minutes of that meditation,

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I had not been aware of my tinnitus.

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So, it had a very massive impact, more or less straight away on me.

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If you can come to acceptance, you've found a way through,

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and you can learn to live with it then for the rest of your life.

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And supporting new treatments is not all the BTA does,

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it also enables people to help each other.

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We had help from the BTA to set up

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and run our own self-help group in Cardiff, and it's been

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running for a couple of months, and going from strength to strength.

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I accept what has happened to me now, I don't fight it, I accept it.

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Here she comes!

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By demonstrating the effectiveness of mindfulness

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through Dr McKenna's trial,

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others may get to experience a transformation like Richard's.

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I didn't realise how powerful my mind was

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until I discovered mindfulness can actually change the way you think.

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I know without its help, I don't know if I would be here today.

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Tinnitus is more common than you think.

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If you don't have tinnitus yourself,

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you're likely to know someone who does.

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Yet research into the condition

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is chronically underfunded by government.

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The BTA is a major supporter of research, and with your help

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it can fund more projects, transforming the lives of millions.

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Please go to the website:

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..and you can donate.

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If you haven't got internet access, please call:

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and if you can't get through the first time,

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please, please keep trying.

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You can also donate ?10 by texting:

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Texts cost ?10, plus your standard network message charge,

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and the whole ?10 goes to the BTA.

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Full terms and conditions can be found at bbc.co.uk/lifeline.

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Telephone calls are free from most landlines.

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Some networks and mobile operators will charge for these calls.

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If you would like to post a donation,

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please make your cheque payable to the British Tinnitus Association,

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and send it to FREEPOST BBC Lifeline Appeal,

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writing BTA on the back of the envelope.

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And if you want the charity to claim Gift Aid on your donation,

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please include an e-mail or postal address,

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so they can send you a Gift Aid form.

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Thank you.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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Actor Larry Lamb presents an appeal on behalf of the British Tinnitus Association, a charity which provides vital support for the millions of tinnitus sufferers in the UK, and which funds ground-breaking research to help find ways of treating the condition. The BTA is a charity close to Larry's heart as he was left with tinnitus after contracting malarial fever.

The film features Richard, who acquired tinnitus through years of working around noisy machinery. Initially he coped, but the stress of a family tragedy caused the sounds in his head to become constant and unbearable, and his life fell apart. Fortunately he was able to overcome tinnitus by learning a technique called mindfulness meditation, which the charity is helping to pioneer and which it hopes will transform many other lives.

To donate please call 0800 011 011, go online at www.bbc.co.uk/lifeline or send donations to British Tinnitus Association, Freepost, BBC Lifeline Appeal.