All Is Calm is a digital lifestyle space founded and edited by Pamela McIntosh – a magazine editor with 15+ years experience editing New Zealand women’s lifestyle titles (currently the editor of BUMP&baby and Tots To Teens magazines), wife to Tim, and CEO of her littlest loves – Georgia (6) and Lennox (1).
After experiencing sudden and permanent hearing loss accompanied by severe Tinnitus in 2016, Pamela wanted to create a space dedicated to her new passion and life practice – finding calm in order to cope. Here’s her story.
“Over much of my deadline-driven career in magazines, I’d often hear people mention that I always seem so calm, no matter what is thrown at me.
I was most certainly feeling the pressure, worry, anxiety, stress … but perhaps I was better than I thought at keeping it hidden inside. I’d often think of the ‘duck analogy’ and how this must be how others perceive me to be.
I did strive to at least seem like I had it all together at work, mostly because I have never liked the thought of projecting stress or negative energy onto those around me. It doesn’t exactly breed productivity, does it? Everyone’s got hard things to navigate.
In saying that, my husband and my parents have seen me lose it good, plenty of times. Ugly and unkind times. It’s often those who you love the most who see you at your most raw, isn’t it?
Perhaps learning to project calm when I could was training for what I was about to experience, and a good base for how to exist happily after the biggest health challenge of my life.
May 9th, 2016. A day I’d rather forget.
A normal morning at first. Tim and I were getting our daughter ready for daycare as we both got sorted for work. I was to conduct an interview from home for a story I was writing, but during that recorded phone call I noticed my left ear wasn’t able to hear the man I was talking to. Initially I thought it was a temporary issue, a blocked ear. Simple explanation. Not to worry.
By lunchtime, I couldn’t hear anything in that ear and a siren sound had made its permanent home within my head. I was confused and scared. My balance was out. I didn’t know which direction sound was coming from.
Aside from giving me some prednisone and ordering an emergency MRI scan, there was nothing my GP could do. I didn’t drive for a month. Didn’t work for a month. Cried a lot. Socialising was completely out of the question. And sleep was a distant memory.
I saw a ton of medical and holistic healthcare professionals in the days and weeks after. My ailment/s were deemed to be caused by a viral infection which killed a nerve between my brain and my left ear. After months of trying everything imaginable to bring said nerve back to life (not possible, by the way) it became obvious that this would be my new ‘normal’.
Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss means I’m profoundly deaf in my left ear, with severe Tinnitus – a noise coming from my brain. Being hard of hearing was initially a shock but now, nearly four years on, is a total walk in the park compared to dealing with Tinnitus.
Tinnitus is fairly common for people who get it from degenerative disorders or being exposed to loud noises. If you’re lucky, it can come and go and appear at low volume. For me, because the sound is a direct result of nerve damage, the smoke-alarm-level sound is debilitating, distracting and at times unbearable. It’s louder than any sound I have tried to mask it with over the years. And it will be with me for the rest of my days.
Click here for the best audio example I can find of what I hear – even over extremely loud music.
I have mental and physical health coping mechanisms to reduce the anxiety I get from my invisible illness, and stay in a calm state of mind as much as I can. Yes, I take prescribed medication and it certainly helps. The moment I let my head get the better of me and release stress hormones or trigger negative thoughts, my Tinnitus rages and my head buzzes with what feels like electric currents. Horrific.
Finding calm and staying calm is crucial for me, my health and my family. Like with all situations we’d rather not be in, the key to moving forward is all in our thoughts and how we choose to react.
- I could sink or I could swim. I choose to swim.
- I could let sadness and hopelessness get the better of me. But I believe that nothing is a problem unless you let it be.
- I could feel angry that my body doesn’t work the way it should. I choose to work on acceptance of my body and the deal I’ve been dealt.
- I could feel isolated because I had never heard of this happening to anyone. But I choose to be involved in groups on social media of people dealing with this in a positive way. And I feel privileged that I can lean on my extremely supportive husband and family when I need to.
All Is Calm is my way of creating something positive out of a negative situation. I’m so glad that she’s up and running (and I’m proud as punch that I’ve built this site on my own). I want to inspire myself and others to take small steps to obtaining a calmer mind, body and home. So here goes… “