Becoming Buddhist

Attempting to Live a More Mindful Life

On the Advice of a Friend, Woman Writes Letter to Her Paranoid Self in a Time of Crisis


Dear BB,

Don’t be a fucking idiot. Many people lose some hearing with an ear infection and get it back just fine. You’ll be one of them. The Buddha would remind you that everything is always changing, that this—this horrible tinnitus and hearing loss—is what’s happening now. It does not mean it will be happening in a month. I know it’s been scary and all, that the other night you sat shivering and crying and saying “please make it end, please make it end” for hours all alone in bed with your ears roaring, absolutely roaring, after you read some scary stuff on the Internet, but put things in perspective: there are women being raped and murdered across the world. ISIS is terrorizing us. Ted Cruz just announced he’s running for POTUS. Your fucking ear problems are small fish. Seriously. Everyone—all the doctors—have said you will most likely regain full hearing when the infection clears up. Let’s assume that “most likely” actually means “definitely” or “100% positive” and just stop with the horrible anxiety that somehow you’ll live with tinnitus and compromised hearing for the rest of your life, okay? Don’t be an idiot. You know in two weeks you’ll look back and think, well, I knew deep down I would be okay. What was I freaking out about?

I should say—I know this illness has been absolutely the worst for you. It’s rare to get what you think will be a relatively mild cold and have it turn into a ten-day flu, complete with 102-degree fever, chills, aches, exhaustion, a racking cough, and congestion so bad that it turns into an intensely painful double ear infection after a week. I know it is doubly shitty that this all happened during your spring break, when you had big plans for that book proposal and that book revision and maybe even just a few hours puttering in the back yard without a care in the world, and instead, you spent the entire thing in bed. Yes, that sucks.

Still life with used tissues.

Still life with used tissues.

I know you’ve tried the following over the last two weeks:

Osha root tincture

Licorice root tincture

“Wellness Formula”



NyQuil (never again)


Nasal decongestant


Antibiotic ear drops

Garlic-mullein ear drops

“Xiao Chai Hu”

Lycopodium 30c (homeopathic for tinnitus)

Vitamin C

Zinc throat spray


…and none of it has worked, but still, don’t lose heart. Don’t assume that you’re going to be deaf for the rest of your life. That’s crazy!

Oh, and, I know you’ve also tried:


Hot steam

Salt water as a gargle, in the neti pot, and in the humidifier

Raw garlic


Bone broth

Acidophilus chewies

Acidophilus fancy drinks


…and you still mostly feel like crap, but seriously. Enough is enough. Take a deep breath, a hot shower, another shot of zinc, and a slow walk. Clear thy head, girl.

Remember Pema Chodron when she reminds us to think of adversity as no big deal. Remember the adage: this too shall pass.

No really, this too shall pass.



Author: becomingbuddhist

I am a writer, teacher, and mother living in Northern California. Recently I decided to try an experiment in living more mindfully. This blog is my testimonial.

6 thoughts on “On the Advice of a Friend, Woman Writes Letter to Her Paranoid Self in a Time of Crisis

  1. This is a really good letter. It helped me. I might try to do it too. But more importantly, I hope you feel better. Big love and thank you.

  2. The story I remember was about a powerful king who was angry with his three counselors. This king told his counselors that he needed to know one true thing, and that if they could not tell him one true thing then they were worthless to him and he would have them executed. The first to come before him told him that the one true thing was that the king’s mighty works would never be forgotten. But the King knew that mighty rulers had come before and had been forgotten, and that he, too, in turn would pass beyond memory, and he sent this counselor to his death. The next to come before the king told him that, as king, he was descended from the gods and as such his place in heaven was assured. But the King knew that no mortal can know what lies on the other side of death’s veil, and so he sent this second counselor to find out. The third and final counselor was then very afraid, for he knew that flattery and religious dogma would not avail him for this test, and so he stood a long time before his king racking his brain for the one true thing. Finally, he spoke. “And this, too, shall pass,” he said. The King could not find anything but truth in that simple phrase, and so he spared the counselor’s life.

  3. This is good advice but I really hope that you can just forget the whole ordeal soon. It sounds so painful. And, I’m right there with you. Illness triggers a terrifying vulnerability in me these days. The Mr has been sick for a week and it has kept me up at night with thoughts of life insurance. Feel better soon. XO

    • Thanks slowmamma. I too am hoping for forgetting. The pain isn’t bad at all anymore, but it’s like waking up every day thinking, will this be the day my ears clear? Then realizing I still can’t hear and I’m still in the midst of it.

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