The Stress of Hearing Loss

Lately, I’ve been having major writers block and decided to take time off from writing over memorial holiday weekend. Not only was May Mental Health Awareness Month but it got me thinking about the stress of being a deaf individual in today’s crazy world.

I get it. You must be like “How does this individual with hearing loss have stress?” “Can’t she just turn her hearing aids off?” “Why is stress involved?”

It’s extremely stressful. I was realizing just how much I needed a vacation again. How often I feel the need to have one. Whether it’s sand between my toes, the sound of waves, sightseeing the wonders of the world, get out of this rat race and really just go. Like “BYE FELICIA!”

There are situations involved where you’re under a ton of pressure. There’s embarrassment, sweat, tears, the oops, the uh ohs, the constant what if, and multiple anxious moments.

It really puts a toll on your body, both physically and mentally. It’s excruciating to really manage it, for your health and peace of mind.

Why this stress thing?

We’re limited. “Oh Amanda, can you call this patient for me?” (Crickets in background) Here’s another situation – Dentist with mask on “Ok mark it #5 MOD.” (When it really sounds muffled)…..And one more – When you’re trying to order food in an extremely loud restaurant and the waiter isn’t really moving his lip….shit it’s harder to have a nice night out with your husband too!

It’s the daily communication issues, the fear of missing something important, the embarrassment and blah. Blah blah. Not to mention the exhaustion your poor brain entails.

Like I explained in my last blog Easier to Identify as Deaf.

“Hearing aids are lifesaving technologies. They are there to help you hear better. If you’re a lip reader you may and will always still be a lip reader even with better hearing aids. Like I said it doesn’t cure.”

Since life is stressful that way, we still do our best even when no one understands. It’s called having empathy people.

Below is some of the things I do to cope. Now, everyone is different in their own ways.

1. Exercise

There’s a reason I continued my dance career all through college and NFL. Once retired, I found Crossfit. Now since we have a garage gym, I’m able to come home from work and de-stress by doing a workout or lifting.

2. Travel

It’s a wonder what it can do for me. Constantly bringing a smile to my face. I truly enjoy seeing the world, immerse myself within the diversity of cultures and learn what they have to offer. If only I could do this full time!

3. Mediate

Doing yoga or even reading a book you enjoy helps keep my mindset healthy. But honestly, I’m grateful for my three dogs. Best therapy ever.

4. Eat healthy

Nutrition plays a huge role on health. Being stressed can lead to overeating, weight gain, health issues. Not only it keeps you healthy but also nourishes your mind.

5. Plan ahead

Why would I plan ahead? The OCD in me like to stay on track and make sure everything is in order for situations to go as smooth as possible. Keep everything on a calendar. Get to work early. Get things done ahead of time.

One more thing I learned, it’s ok to ask for help. Keep in mind, You’re not doing anything wrong by asking for help. You are if you’re not asking for help.

I feared judgement. Past tense. Now I can say I’m a rockstar. PS: I still have my judgement days okay? I’m allowed to be human. A deaf one.

“Whatever living beings there may be — feeble or strong, long, stout, or of medium size, short, small, large, those seen or those unseen, those dwelling far or near, those who are born as well as those yet to be born — may all beings have happy minds.”

—The Buddha, Karaniya Metta Sutta

Easier To Identify as Deaf

I came across a repost on Instagram that says as followed:

“I feel like it’s easier to just identify as deaf because if I say hard of hearing, it gives me too much leeway.”

“People think I hear more than I actually can.” @deafinitelydope

This could not be more TRUE.

I honestly feel like this is my daily struggle. Whether I just met this person or have known this person longer. It really doesn’t matter.

The fact you tell them one thing, they assume the other way.

It’s definitely hard to identify who you are as a deaf or hard of hearing individual. Whether you should go by the audiogram, how hearing population think of you, how the deaf or hard of hearing think of you. I’ll explain this in a second. We live in a world where people have no clue and are uneducated on the hearing loss.

It’s also part of the reason I started my blog.

I’m constantly seeing adversity and judgements. People whispering stupid shit. We know this happens. I’m tired of it. Period.

Rant over. The audiogram tells you where you fall on the hearing loss spectrum. How much and what pitches you can hear based on the decibels and frequencies. It usually ranges from mild, moderate, severe or profound. For example, my recent audiogram showed I have profound hearing loss, I will never hear high pitches, the sounds I can hear without hearing aids are the kind where you’d have to be 5 feet from the train. My hearing loss basically nearly fell flat on the chart where I have severe to profound hearing loss. That means legally I’m bilaterally deaf.

The deaf and hard of hearing community has certain spectrums where we seem to think we fall on. For example, I use oral speech and wear hearing aids. To them, I’m hard of hearing. If I weren’t using oral speech and mainly used sign language to communicate and don’t wear hearing aids, I’m considered deaf. This actually came from someone I used to work with who was deaf and used sign. But then again, there’s certain ranges that makes them comfortable with who they are and who they rather identify themselves with. It’s a choice. Be you and be ok with it.

The hearing population is where this becomes a situation if they’ve never met a deaf or hard of hearing person. It can be good or bad. It can go both ways. I’ve always told them I was deaf. That’s who I’ve always known myself to be. There has been times where I’ve caught myself saying hard of hearing and they seem to think I’m not. Because I use oral speech and wear hearing aids. Thinking I can actually hear everything because my hearing aids are supposed to be magic and cure me.

Hearing aids are great and even the most expensive ones on the market, the most powerful ones out there are not perfect.

Pay attention here. Hearing aids are lifesaving technologies. They are there to help you hear better. If you’re a lip reader you may and will always still be a lip reader even with better hearing aids. Like I said it doesn’t cure.

(Cochlea implants are great too. But I have no experience in that department and am not ready for an irreversible surgery.)

I actually want to shut my hearing aids off at the end of the day because I’m exhausted from the overwhelming amount of listening I have to do. Think of it this way, a radio that’s gone static all day. Once I turn that off, I have silence and have peace with myself again.

My point is, people assume you hear everything or nothing at all. Be mindful of your actions.

Thoughts? Feel free to email me or leave a comment.

That Mom With a Deaf Daughter

That mom had no idea what she was in for. I was a pretty outgoing little baby with so much to offer until one day she realized I wasn’t talking when I should be. I wasn’t responding to that clap behind my back. Wait a minute? She’s fine. She’s just lazy…

Remember when I talked about perseverance in my past blogs? This woman is the definition of perseverance.

She became that mom with a deaf daughter.

She quickly became that teacher, speech therapist, my “hearing aid battery switcher”. She taught me in more ways than I ever could learn.

I learned to speak, I learned to hear, I learned to listen.

She showed me a passion for dance, a place I could escape and express.

She showed me places I never imagined seeing, turning me into a wanderlust.

She showed me independence, molding me to be the strong woman today.

She taught me that fear is not an option, to deal with the fear I didn’t know existed.

She taught me the strengths I didn’t know I had. To be able to fall fearlessly into life and truly learn what this world has to offer.

She taught me to smile in the face of adversity. And to believe in myself.

She taught me that love doesn’t come from hugs and kisses, it’s the random act of kindness you do for others.

She’s taught me what it means to give love and be loved, and for that I am forever grateful.

Thank you for always being selfless. The constant rides to dance lessons and rehearsals. Showing up to every single dance performances and games. Making my birthday cake every year. Being there when I need it.

Being there for my first words, my first steps, my first days of school, my first heartbreak.

All the way through life, no matter the highs and lowest lows, she’s always been my standing ovation and continue to be so.

Thank you for being you.

I can only hope to be half the woman, friend and future mother she is today.

All I am I owe to my mother

George Washington