The 10 stages of coming to terms with hearing loss
Whether you have had a hearing loss since a young age or you have just recently developed a hearing loss in one or both ears, there inevitably are stages of emotions that you will feel before you finally come to terms with your new life. It’s not always a rosy path towards learning to adapt and to accept the changes that it will bring but it will make you a much stronger person.
I remember feeling incredibly sad when I lost my hearing to SSHL in 2014, sadness for what I used to be able to do and sadness for what I felt I would never be able to achieve. You go through a stage of mourning for your old life and wishing that things could be as simple
After you start to get past the mourning, your thoughts may inevitable turn to why? Why did this happen, why did it happen to me, what could I have done to prevent it? You may feel confused as to what brought on the hearing loss and unable to find the answers you want.
A feeling of frustration comes with the confusion. You may feel frustrated because you may never get answers as to why you lost your hearing (in the cases of SSHL), frustration because you cannot do anything to prevent further attacks (Meniere’s) and frustration for all the things you cannot do because of your reduced hearing.
As you begin to get used to your hearing loss, you can find yourself becoming more dependent on key members of your family. For me, this was my mother and my husband. I depended on them being there to help me if I couldn’t understand what people were saying, if I was going somewhere new I relied on them to help me navigate the way. It’s a natural step but one that can be incredibly demeaning for a previously independent person.
I felt incredibly guilty for a period of time, guilty because I was missing out on my family and friends lives because of my own feelings of inadequacy, guilty because I was relying on certain family members to help me with my day to day life and guilty because I couldn’t do my job as well as I wanted to.
Without being able to hear what is going on around you, you can end up feeling helpless in certain situations, especially when you are by yourself. Things like crossing the road or communication with complete strangers are all things that make you feel scared and alone. I felt incredibly helpless at work, so much of my role I was unable to fulfil because I couldn’t hear on the telephone etc.
I think everyone goes through this with any medical situation. You try to kid yourself that everything is normal, that you can do everything you used to do and that this is a temporary blip. Unfortunately for many, this isn’t the case.
Like denial, you become more determined to do things for yourself and to get your old life back. Out of rebelliousness you try to struggle your way through things by yourself.
Once you begin to realise that you cannot do all the things you want to, you become desperate. Desperate to find a cure, desperate to find information, anything. For me, this came when I was given the oral steroids after my SSHL diagnosis and was told they MIGHT help. I was desperate for them to work and adopted a Positive Mental Attitude, telling myself daily that the steroids WERE working, that they WOULD work etc. I also prayed to God to help me every day and researched about the condition until my brain hurt.
Eventually you will begin to accept your condition, your new life and you will find ways to adapt that suit you. It doesn’t need to change who you are as a person, you just need to bend around it so that it doesn’t consume your everyday life. Things will get better!
Don’t forget that there are all kinds of organisations out there to help you and plenty of people in similar circumstances as you who are willing to help you find your way through hearing loss.