The Trauma of Meniere’s Disease
“Maybe life isn’t about avoiding the bruises. Maybe it’s about collecting the scars to prove that we showed up for it.” – Hannah Brencher
“When we no longer are able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor E. Frankl
I’m going to be blunt.
Living with Meniere’s disease can be a traumatic experience, especially when you have suffered for a long time.
The hopeless despair and seemingly endless torture that so many of us have to endure is enough to leave a deep emotional scar on the toughest of us. And many doctors only compound the fear, leaving us worse for wear.
When faced with such adversity, it’s hard to believe that anyone can learn to live with Meniere’s disease. The odds are definitely not in our favor. Yet this is the reality of our situation and one that untold millions of people face on a daily basis.
The bottom line is that, at the end of the day, the resulting trauma needs to be addressed, and even the strongest of personal support networks may not be enough to help you.
Over the years, I have experienced the damage first-hand that unresolved trauma can cause. I’ve witnessed the chaos and devastation that can manifest years, even decades, after the trauma occurred. But I’ve also found good ways to address it, sooner rather than later.
When I was 18 years old, one of my best friends suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. As you can imagine, I didn’t take it very well. It happened only a few weeks before my high school graduation and I was completely devastated. My memories of prom, graduation, and my last summer before college, are all tainted with heartache.
At the funeral, I was a pallbearer, and to this day, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Hundreds of people came to the church. Everybody loved him. Even our teachers were there.
I kept it together through the ceremony, and when it was over, I helped carry his coffin to the hearse. But as the car drove away, my emotional house of cards imploded and I fell apart at the seams. He was taken from the world so young. The finality of it all felt like a kick to the stomach. It was hard to breathe.
For years, I would flashback to that moment. It was seared onto the back of my eyelids. And each time, I could feel the pain all over again.
Throughout the years, I had always struggled with anxiety, but everything changed after my friend died. My baseline level of anxiety went through the roof and I started having panic attacks. I became a much angrier person and was harder to deal with.
Years later, when I looked back at my experience, I realized that I had never properly grieved. If I’m being honest, I didn’t really do anything at all to process the death of my friend. The emotions were still bottled up inside of me, and I would lash out at innocent bystanders, leaving a path of destruction in my wake. But at the time I didn’t understand.
It wasn’t until much later, in therapy, that the connection between the trauma and my anxiety became clear.
Counseling, or “talk therapy,” can be a cathartic and overwhelmingly positive experience when at its best. But just as you need to find the right doctor to treat your Meniere’s disease, you’ll need to find the right therapist, and a therapeutic style that works for you.
For me personally, a type of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was what worked best. I suspect, however, that my success has had more to do with my actual therapist than the type of therapy.
When I was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, I had already been with my therapist for a while, working through my anxiety. His personality really seemed to mesh with mine, and he was always positive, encouraging, and hopeful.
He had helped me to see the connection between the trauma of losing my friend and the issues I was having with anxiety. Slowly but surely, we were able to work through it, and I was finally able to grieve. For the first time, I was able to face the emotions and begin to process them. Eventually, my anxiety did improve.
When I started to struggle with Meniere’s, I was grateful to have him in my life. Like most people, he had never heard of Meniere’s disease but he took the time to listen and learn about it. When I was diagnosed, he helped me to stay calm and in the moment while it seemed like my world was falling apart.
He also helped me process the psychological turmoil and crazy mishmash of emotions that I was experiencing at the time. And when I finally found an amazing doctor to treat my Meniere’s disease, the one who set me on the right path, I was able to actually hear what he had to say. My therapist had kept me grounded enough to listen, and to be open to new information.
I’ve been with the same therapist for over eight years now. If you can find a therapist you trust, it can be a powerfully rewarding experience and one that I can’t recommend enough.
The one problem with therapy is that it can be expensive. But if counseling doesn’t fit into your budget, you still have other options.
One option, albeit a slightly less professional one, is a wonderful service called 7 Cups. Essentially, 7 Cups is a free service that will connect you with someone who is willing to listen. It won’t necessarily be a therapist, but it will be a caring listener who wants to help. It’s not a perfect solution, but if you are having a tough time, and just want to talk to someone, it can be a great outlet.
Support groups are another a good option. In the US, The Vestibular Disorders Association has searchable directory of local support groups. There aren’t a huge number of groups, but if you search by location, there might be support group meetings close to where you live. If not, there are also vibrant support group communities online. Having a place to openly vent frustrations, celebrate successes, and communicate with others in your situation can be extremely helpful.
Online support group communities exist in several locations.
There are several forums and message boards on the internet solely devoted to Meniere’s disease:
- Meniere’s Talk Forum
- Daily Strength: Meniere’s Disease Forum
- Meniere’s disease Forum on Reddit (Subreddit)
But there are also great support groups on Facebook. Facebook allows you to create community groups around a central topic, and it’s a great platform for Meniere’s disease support groups. There are a good number of them, some with thousands of highly active and supportive members. Questions are generally answered very quickly and by a large number of people.
- Meniere’s Disease Support Group– This is the group I run on Facebook
- MENIERES SUPPORT GROUP
- Menieres: Stay Positive
- Living with Meniere’s Disease
- Spin Cycle: Meniere’s Disease Chat and Support Group
- Meniere’s Disease (Public Group)
- Meniere’s World Wide
- Vestibular Disorders Support Group
- I suffer from Vertigo/Meniere’s disease
- Meniere’s Disease Group – You are not alone
- Meniere’s Disease UK
- Meniere’s Disease Australia: Down Under Dizzies
- Menieres: Eat Well: Stay Healthy
- Meniere’s Vertigo Tinnitus TMJ
These groups can be a fantastic resource. Most people find it intensely liberating to connect with a huge community of people who share their experiences and understand what they are going through. But I have to warn you: if you find that spending time in these communities is bringing you down, it’s best to avoid them for a while. Because of the very nature of how the groups are set up, from time to time, they can have a “misery loves company” sort of feel to them. If any group is ever putting a damper on your mood in any way, simply try a different group, or explore other positive avenues.
In my experience, the mental and emotional impact of Meniere’s disease is something that far too many people overlook. And I get it. So many of us are constantly fighting for our health, every single day. But whether you realize it or not, the mental and emotional aspects of Meniere’s disease are probably affecting you in some way.
Having a strategy to deal with them can make all the difference. If you have never given therapy or counseling a chance, I encourage you to keep an open mind and give it a try!
You just might be surprised to find how much it helps.
The Vestibular Disorder Association’s page on Psychology
7 thoughts on “The Trauma of Meniere’s Disease”
Renee Van Uytven
I had a couple of serious traumas in my life , but honestly with the vestibular disease my whole emotional world changed and NOT for the good. It is now 2 years that I have been seeing a cognitive behavioral therapist and I think , I could not go on without her. As for a good doctor, I am still looking and I have no diagnosis.
I was sorry to read about your friend, that must have been very, very hard. Thanks for the article.
Hi Renee, first off, thanks for the kind words. It was really hard, but it’s been a long time now. Actually, believe it or not, its been 11 years to the day today, but I hadn’t remembered when I wrote the post. It hit me as I went to publish this article and blew my mind. What a coincidence! I’m glad to hear that you have at least found a good therapist. I’m sure that has helped quite a bit, and don’t give up hope on finding a good doctor!
I hear your every word. I personally don’t believe in counseling. It is almost impossible to find a good doctor,let alone a counselor. I had a session with Dr.Connelly at Rapid Resolution Therapy. It did not work for me. For others it was nothing short of a miracle. Thank you for mentioning 7 cups. Never heard about it.
Personally for me, listening to Abraham Hicks on YouTube has great therapeutic value. Facebook support groups are more about misery I want to avoid.
Good article. As a therapist/counselor with Meniere’s disease I can relate!! I have also had patients with Meniere’s disease as well. I appreciate and am glad you have found counseling helpful! Learning to cope with what can be changed and what cannot while going thru the stages of grief and loss has been a common thread. Best wishes to you and all who are walking this journey…
For me, I realize it during a very emotional time in my life when I was stricken with it for the second time in 3 years. I thought the first time I had it, it wasn’t that bad and was easily corrected by a physical therapist. This last time however was horrible…the stress was way beyond immeasurable…my husband left me with my don (with disabilities), and his son (who has ODD). He left in March to Las Vegas to start a new life! I was to follow in May… Meneires disease popped up again…my mom died, I was expected to sell our house alone and trying my best to raise 2 sons alone and looking for a job in Vegas as well…needless to say…I’m no longer married, the house was sold, but my son and I stayed in Iowa! Believe it or not…i haven’t had a “spin” in almost 9 months…i guess weird things happen that change your life dramatically. I’m sad, but my ex and I actually get along better now… starting to believe things happen for a reason…sorry for your loss and hoping for the best in you not to have quite so many issues…
Hi Maryjo, I’m so sorry you went through such a difficult time, but things sometimes do happen for a reason. When we go through difficult times and we persevere, we get stronger. We grow as individuals. I’m happy to hear you are getting a long better with your ex. I hope things continue to get better for you!