A bit of a different topic on the blog tonight – away from all the travel and theme park talk! I didn’t think I would have the confidence to write about this subject on my blog. Honestly, I don’t want to hide something is a part of my identity. After a few hospital visits this year, I’ve come to learn more about where my hearing loss has come from and how to deal with it. So I want to debunk 3 misconceptions about my hearing loss.
A short history into my hearing loss…
I’ve always been diagnosed with High-Frequency Hearing Loss since birth. From this, I would say my childhood was somewhat difficult. I misunderstood the world around me & had a wide variety of friendship fall-outs. I was bullied for the way I talked and coming across as dumb in a variety of subjects at school. It’s amazing how one psychologist told my parents I wouldn’t make it past Year 2 at mainstream school. Well, here I am. At 27 (almost 28) years old with a career in Marketing. I’ve achieved a 2:1 degree, 3 A-Levels and 10 GCSE’s!
After several hospital appointments and an MRI scan, I’ve been diagnosed with a genetic disorder, bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. The nerves in my inner ear are damaged therefore the signals to my brain can’t function properly to help me hear at a normal range. Simply put, my inner ear anatomy has developed differently to everyone else. In turn, this has affected hearing in both ears. It is more high frequencies that I struggle with. So mainly softer sounds, whispers, female voices & conversations in an environment with a lot of background noise. However, I can continue to live my life as normal.
Even though various audiologists told me hearing aids won’t help me, it’s quite the opposite! So, in fact, I’ll be getting a pair in due course. My disability, whilst hidden, has provided me with a lot of challenges. Especially when it comes to people perceiving me. In particular, there are 3 misconceptions about me and my hearing loss that I want to debunk. I don’t want the world to treat me any differently. I’d like them to have more of an understanding of the struggles that I contend with on a daily basis. Believe me, my hearing can be great one day and then terrible the next.
Misconception #1: I’m ignorant
Whilst I’m sure there are people who probably don’t assume this about me but in the past I have found people can have a full-blown chat with me and I won’t even realise they are talking to me – this is particularly prevalent when I’m at work completing a project. I am not ignoring you or coming across as being rude, generally if there’s a lot of background noise and your voice is on the quiet side, I will struggle to hear you. The only way I’d be able to focus is via lip reading. Yes, you might need to grab my attention more. Trust me, it’s better than assuming I’m ignoring you. I will apologise if I don’t hear you at first glance – just be patient and I will catch up.
Misconception #2: Distance myself from others
This sort of fits in with my social anxiety. Sometimes I find it difficult to get involved in conversations. Particularly when I can’t hear everybody in the convo with lots of background noise etc. I don’t want to be that person who has to ask people to repeat themselves. Whether that is because I’m too shy to ask or I’m feeling overwhelmed by a social situation. I don’t want people to assume I don’t want to be involved with their group conversations. I just find it difficult coping with social situations as a whole. Add in my added hearing loss, it makes it more of a challenge. A little bit of patience goes a long way to helping me out.
Misconception #3: I’m deafer than I actually am
This one is probably the most prevalent in my life. Understandably with any kind of hearing loss, nobody knows how much I can hear, apart from myself. Shouting at the top of your voice is not necessary. Speak as normal unless I ask you to speak up slightly if I cannot hear what you are saying. My hearing loss, in particular, is fairly mild therefore I can still hear at a good range but require a bit of assistance with softer sounds and background noise. One more thing, please don’t get put off if I’m lip reading. It’s something I do rely on at times to understand a conversation. There’s nothing in your teeth or on your lips, I promise!
Hopefully, this has given you a little more insight into my own personal hearing loss. Maybe you have a friend or family member with hearing loss, or suffers from the same genetic disorder I have, feel free to ask me any questions – I won’t bite! Just remember that we’re all human. We should all be treated equally.
That’s all for now!