When a person experiences a mild or profound hearing loss…suddenly or slowly, not only does it diminish the simple joy of hearing such as music or hearing a child’s laughter, it interferes with the day to day communication. Misunderstandings occur and then, a feeling of embarrassment, shame and low self-esteem come up that prevents one from accepting the loss and seeking help. Without receiving a healthy everyday dose of relating/connecting, a person can become depressed, withdrawn and isolated.
Depression can lead to several issues such as a prolonged feeling of sadness or bouts of crying; agitation and anger; a feeling of hopelessness, despair and loneliness or even to substance abuse. Depression can affect our relationship with our friends, spouses, and children, and can also interfere with our work. This may be a good time to start thinking of reaching out for some support and understanding. If you or someone you care about is having difficulty coping with hearing loss, connecting with counselors and community can have a great impact on quality and enjoyment of life. Reading books such as ‘Listen with the Heart-Relationships and Hearing Loss’ by Michael A Harvey can be helpful and clarify certain issues that haven’t been thought of.
There are many individuals with hearing losses among us who are successful in their lives and in their relationships. They have found strategies to deal with certain social issues that their hearing loss impacts in their everyday lives. Others dealt with the losses by going through a grieving process before they finally gain an acceptance of them. Many accept hearing losses as part of their own identity.
Others may not have begun to grieve over their losses or are in denial even if they have had the hearing losses for years. If you have a spouse or friend who refuses to admit they can’t hear, who talk a lot or not at all, turn their television or music loud or ask you to stop talking in a such a soft voice and seems angry and frustrated or annoyed with you, it’s time to sit down and ask how best to communicate and to seek help. If you find yourself getting annoyed, frustrated or tired of repeating yourself…that’s another good sign that assistance is needed.
The Hearing and Speech Center offers counseling and support groups for hearing loss. We also offer specialized support groups for people living with Tinnitus, and those who are considering or have Cochlear Implants.