As part of the British Tinnitus Association’s (BTA) Share Your Sound campaign which launches this week, the charity is encouraging people to share their tinnitus stories and seek support when they’re struggling. Here, Stephen Holt, original front man of the famous 90s Manchester band the Inspiral Carpets, explains his personal connection to tinnitus and why it is so important for people to talk about the condition to ensure no one suffers alone.
When I re-joined Inspiral Carpets in 2011 I was made aware my fellow band mate, Craig, had been suffering with tinnitus for many years. This had been caused by years of drumming, DJ’ing in clubs and also listening to music as an avid gig and club goer since the age of 14.
However, I now know I never truly appreciated or understood the effect tinnitus had on his life until after his tragic death in 2016.
When we were on the road, touring, driving the length and breadth of the country on what we lovingly called the ‘fun bus’, we would all gather in the lounge for some post gig drinks, watch a film and listen to music to relax. One by one we would drift off to our bunks for some well-deserved sleep before starting over again the next day.
Craig was always the last to go to bed, often this was as we were getting up for the next day, and would rest just for a few hours. I never understood how he managed this day in, day out without realising it wasn’t solely down to choice. Sleep did not generally come easy to Craig due to his tinnitus.
Unfortunately in 2016, at the age of only 44, Craig took his own life after struggling to cope with his tinnitus and the associated insomnia and anxiety he suffered. This was devastating for us and all his family and friends.
It was only after Craig’s death that I began to find out more and more of how tinnitus seriously affected his life and the daily struggle he had trying to manage the symptoms.
I decided to do more to raise awareness to other musicians about the damage over exposure to loud music could cause and ultimately the effect this can have on your mental health. The easiest way of doing this of course is by wearing ear plugs when playing or listening to music. As a way to help I started the ‘PlugIn2017’ page on Twitter.
Through PlugIn I have discovered much more about the amount of support that’s already available that I wasn’t previously aware of, particularly from the British Tinnitus Association (BTA) who I am looking forward to working more closely with over the coming months.
As part of this I am supporting the BTA’s Share Your Sound campaign which hopes to encourage people to open up about tinnitus and push out the message that support is available for those who need it. I don’t want anyone to deal with this terrible condition alone so it is vital sufferers feel they can talk about it to their friends and family, get in touch with the BTA and most importantly see their GP so they can be signposted to the right places.
Helping GPs to become more knowledgeable about the condition is also an important part of the campaign so we hope people will download the BTA Share Your Sound pack and take it to their GP so they have the most up-to-date advice on how to treat tinnitus patients. Our lives changed forever when Craig died and I want to make sure I do all I can to help others who have tinnitus get the help they need.
To find out more about Share Your Sound and to download a GP tinnitus support pack to share with your GP, please visit www.tinnitus.org.uk/sys
For tinnitus support, please visit the British Tinnitus Association’s website: www.tinnitus.org.uk