My inner child

My inner child

preview-3272471401.jpg

When I am feeling extremely anxious and tense, I know my inner child wants to be heard. If I schould describe my inner child, it looks like on the picture above.

This picture was taken shortly before my time in Kindergarten ended, I was six years old. I remember this pinafore dress very vividly, it was made from denim and had embroidered flowers on it. The photographer wanted me to laugh in the camera, but I just couldn’t do it. I had gotten my hearing aid shortly before, my world was upside down.

My grandmother said: “The hearing aid must be hidden!” And so it was always hidden behind my hair. Dear inner child, forty years later you will have a fancy, small in-ear hearing aid and a short hair cut. And you will not care if other people notice your hearing aid or not. You even will speak openly about your hearing loss when meeting someone new, to avoid misunderstandings. You will not be ashamed any more.

I had just recovered from a traumatic hospital stay, resulting in a adenoidectomy. The following tests, which confirmed my hearing loss, and the process of adjusting my hearing aid left me frightened and full of unsecurity. Dear inner child, it is not your fault you cried from fear so often. The grown-ups didn’t handle things very child-oriented. Later, when you are an adult yourself, you will be able to stand up for yourself, this will make everything easier to bear.

Lots of new and strange things had to be processed. I don’t like the hearing aid, everything is so loud. Why does my mother make me put it on every morning? Why do I have to go to this man once a week, who makes me hum like a bee and speak and repeat random words? Dear inner child, you will get used to the hearing aid and understand how it can help you. You will be grateful that your mother fumbled this strange thing into you ear every morning. In hindsight, you will be thankful for the hours spent in logotherapy – it will be your choice if let other people in on your hearing loss, your spelling won’t give you away.

Meanwhile, the grown-ups tried to keep their worries and conversations concerning my future hidden from me. Of course this didn’t work, I felt that something was going on… and that it was about me. Dear inner child, your parents and grandmother are at a loss right now – they don’t now how to help you, because they don’t know anything about hearing loss in children. They will do their best, but they will also make mistakes. You will have to find you own way.

I was very aware of the fact, that I was different. I didn’t want to be different, I just wanted to belong to the other children. Dear inner child, you will have to come to terms with the fact you are not like most people. Some doors will stay closed because of this, others will open. The pain will never go away completely, and some people will hurt you. And there will be other people, who will help you.

I was very anxious at this time, and I regressed. I wanted to sleep with my parents at night again. My mother had to be where I could see her. I was extremely shy around other people and refused to greet people I saw for the first time. Dear inner child, sadly I don’t exist yet. Nobody will stand up for you like I will. But this is in the future. But I am here now, and you can come to me everytime and tell me what is wrong. I am your future self, I wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for you. And I want to tell you this:

  • it is okay to feel bad or anxious. Every human goes through this, you are not alone.
  • even grown-ups are at a loss sometimes. You can believe me, I am grown up.
  • YOU DID VERY WELL! You worked so hard, and this made my life so much easier.

And when you feel tense, overwhelmed and don’t know what to do – you can vent to me, I know you like noone else does. As all adults do, I may not always have a solution at hand, but we two are am experienced team and go through this.

Yours

Advertisements
Waiting room musings, Part 2

Waiting room musings, Part 2

Many people were waiting at the admittance desk of the psychiatric institutional outpatients’ department. From behind, I heard a very loud female voice say: “CAN I REACH YOU VIA WHATSAPP, OR DO YOU PREFER A SIMPLE TEXT MESSAGE?” I felt this was not directed at me and thought: “Why does she have to talk so loud?!” Because if I, with my poor hearing, think somebody speaks loud, it has to be so.

Later, we all were sitting in the waiting room. Next to the lady with the loud voice sat a young woman, maybe in her mid-twenties. I noticed that said lady did not only speak to the young woman, she also was using sign language. A closer look revealed that the young woman did not wear any hearing aids or cochlea implants. So I came to the conclusion she must be completely deaf. But she did not answer the lady in sign language, she spoke to her. She had a pleasant voice, not to loud. Sometimes a few words came out slurred, but I could understand her very well. Because she didn’t use sign language,  and because of her good pronounciation, I came to the conclusion that she must have learned to speak when she was a child and lost her hearing later in life. The lady kept on talking to her in her loud voice, and I rolled my eyes: When your conversation partner is deaf, the volume of your voice doesn’t matter. An exact pronounciation is important, because it makes reading lips easier.

I really was impressed how good the young woman could speak, even without hearing anything. I wanted to tell her that, but how? I don’t know sign language, and I don’t know if I speak clearly enough that someone can read my lips. For the first time, I felt the barrier a normal hearing person has to overcome when it comes to communicating with hairing impaired or deaf people. So I decided to treat her like I would like to be treated, and tipped her carefully on the shoulder. She was so focussed on the lady next to her, I had no possibility to make eye contact.

Next problem: Do I speak directly to her, or to her companion, that translates for her? Once again, I acted like I was concerned. When sombody wants to communicate with me, he/she should speak directly to me, possible problems be damned. So I tried to speak “normally”, not to quickly and not to slowly: “Hello! I just wanted to tell you that your pronounciation is very good. I am wearing a hearing aid, and I am deaf on the other ear, so I know a little bit how difficult it is.”

Her eyes lit up, and I was so glad that I had gathered all my courage. All three of us talked for a while, the loud speaking lady was a volunteer who helped deaf people with doctor’s appointments and visits to the authorities. My guess had been correct, the young lady had heard well until puberty, than abruptly became deaf (I did not ask about the circumstances).

After I spoke to my doctor, I saw the young lady sitting in the waiting room – with a very short list of therapists that work with sign language in her hand. You have to wait for months before you can start talk therapy with a normal therapist, I don’t want to know how long you have to wait to speak with a therapist who is specialised in sign language.

This meeting, and the fact that I met many hearing impaired patients during my inpatient stays on the psychiatric ward, makes me wonder if poor hearing and deafness can contribute to mental illness. Living with a disability is always tiring, and hearing impaired and deaf persons are cut off from many social gatherings. And many normal hearing people just don’t know how to communicate with hearing impaired or deaf people.

I was “on the other side” for a short time, and it really opened my eyes. If even I, who has more than fourty years experience of living with poor hearing, feels unsure when it comes to communicating with a deaf person, how difficult must it be for a person without this knowledge. But it also shows: Communication is possible, when both sides are willing to give it a try.

See also
Waiting room musings, Part 1

signature-634593351.png

0 and 40 Part 1: Hearing the alarm clock without hearing

0 and 40 Part 1: Hearing the alarm clock without hearing

This is the first part of a series dealing with my hearing impairment. “0 and 40” refers to my residual hearing, 0% on the left, 40% on the right ear.

I have been called “stupid” (not true) and “deaf” (not completely, thanks) by people with normal hearing. I think, many facts about living with impaired hearing are not as well-known as they should be. Poor hearing often is associated with old age, that’s not the whole truth either. 

It’s important to keep in mind that there is not ONE, but MANY ways to deal with deafness. Everybody has to find his/her own. 

In my case, the hearing of high frequencies is drastically impaired. That affects comprehension of speech and noticing high sounds as ringing telephones, doorbells or alarm clocks.

When I was a child, my parents tried every kind of alarm clock. Everybody would be wide awake, except me. So for the next years I was dependent on somebody waking me in the morning. Then we found out accidentally, that music (music contains more deep frequencies than the beeping sound of a normal alarm clock) from a radio alarm clock would wake me. I was so thrilled, because that meant a piece more of independence!

That worked well until a few years ago my hearing worsened (that can happen in your mid forties). I do not respond well to light alarm clocks, so I had to look for something that works with shocks. And it had to be portable, in case I don’t sleep in my bed. 

Our first try was a dual radio alarm clock with an alarm shock bracelet. Both alarms could be set to beeping, beeping and activating the bracelet, or just activating the bracelet. The bracelet had three settings. It worked well for me, and my husband still uses this alarm clock in beeping mode. But there was one problem: The bracelet had no charging indicator, so I couldn’t be sure if there was enough power left to wake me in the morning. That led to unnecessary charging and/or worrying if the bracelet would go of in the morning. 

For me, a cheap smartwatch works best. It’s silent vibration-based alarm clock is strong enough to wake me, and it has a charging indicator. This is not for everyone, i.e. when light impulses work better or no smartphone is around. But I was pleasantly surprised how many alternatives to the classic alarm clock can be found.