Coping with chronic labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis is extremely physically and mentally draining. It can be very overwhelming when your body is unwell 24/7 and you don’t have the tools to fix it. Being unable to attain a correct diagnosis from health care professionals furthers the feelings of hopelessness and despair. If you have been sick with labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis for a long period, you can start to feel like you will be dizzy for the rest of your life. You can think ‘is this actually happening to me?’
In addition to the physical sensations of labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis, the psychological part of labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis can sometimes be even harder to live with, and is often overlooked by health care professionals. The majority of labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis sufferers usually report feeling anxious or having panic attacks alongside their labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis symptoms. There have been a number of studies highlighting how damage to the vestibular system can directly affect the amygdala gland in the brain (i.e. our fight or flight response to danger). What this means for labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis sufferers is that you are in a constant state of ‘high alert’. Feeling anxious or having a panic attack can become a daily occurrence. You may even begin to think ‘is the labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis all in my head?’ The answer is NO! These symptoms are not all in your head. This is a very real illness which needs correct treatment.
Not knowing when you will recover from labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis can leave you feeling very helpless. Your life as you know it is gone. Nothing is spontaneous anymore, you can miss out on social occasions and can begin to feel very lonely. It can be easy to isolate yourself as you are afraid of fainting or feeling dizzy. However this can lead to you experiencing depression. Both the physical and psychological aspects of labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis must be treated to make a recovery and get your life back. Here are some tools to help you cope:
- Begin Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy for labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis immediately. The nature of this illness means that it will not go away on its own.
- Do not isolate yourself. If you cannot leave the house there are online forums to reach out to other sufferers.
- Seek out a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and set goals to overcome the anxiety and panic attacks.
- If your eyes are too sore to watch T.V or look at a laptop/ smart phone screen for long periods, listen to audio books or stand up comedy.
- Do something small every day to help yourself feel better such as lighting a candle, listening to a relaxation C.D or giving yourself a foot massage.
- If the symptoms of depression and anxiety are taking over your life, talk to your GP. Taking an antidepressant temporarily to get you through this time in your life might be a good option.