A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

Just Trying to Breathe

In coping strategies, Employment, Hearing Loss on November 13, 2014 at 11:44 am

By: Sara Lundquist
drowning pictureThis past month I have felt like this a lot.  I have felt like I am drowning.  Yes I try to be the optimist, the glass is half full type of girl.  I just can’t keep that up all the time.  I can’t keep the smile on my face that everything is fine and everything is great.  I am the glue that tries to keep it all together in my family but lately I am having a hard time doing this.

I finally confided in my husband and told him that I am really having a hard time keeping it all together lately.  I feel like I am drowning and I am sick of keeping the smile on my face when I miss half a conversation and have no idea what someone said to me when they walk up to me at school or church.  I am sick of working so hard to understand all that is being said.  I am just sick and tired of life being hard.

Everyone has troubles in their lives and I try not to ever be a person that says well my troubles are worse than your troubles.  I hate when someone says, “At least it is not cancer.”  Yes I am glad of that also but guess what hearing loss, a son on the autism spectrum, anxiety, and so on isn’t that great either.  Everyone has trials in their lives, let them grieve and work through their trials.  Don’t discount it that a problem isn’t big enough, in their life it is a mountain.

My husbands employer has this new health insurance hoops you have to jump through.  We have to do an online health assessment and then talk to a health advisor.  I am fine with this until they talked to me about the stress and anxiety aspect.  1st off they knew of the hearing loss since that was one of the questions I had to answer.  They asked why I have stress.  I told them I walk into a building and I always feel off guard at first if I will understand people talking to me and understand what is being said there.  Their answer was deep breathing and I just need to believe and tell myself that everything is good and I can hear it all.  REALLY- I was hoping for some relaxation techniques.  I informed them I can’t make the hearing loss go away so in reality I am not going to hear it all.  They came back with I can tell myself I hear fine and that will take care of the stress.  Wow I didn’t know how to respond.  If this is what the insurance companies are going to tell us we can will all our troubles and our worlds troubles away.

I work at the school as a substitute teacher.  It seems to be getting harder and harder in some ways.  I like certain classrooms a lot, I like the high school.  I know I can hear decent in them and I know I won’t run into problems.  But the hallways, lunchroom, and the elementary school I just want to run away.  I feel like the air is being squeezed out of me.  I hate it and there is no way I can hear anything.  The elementary school is like a horror movie for me.  Little voices and always a sea of background noise I just cringe going in there.  This past week I was to work at the elementary school Monday and Tuesday.  I felt sick all weekend even thinking about these two days.  I don’t know what my negative feelings did but we ended up getting an early November snowstorm, we received over a foot of snow.  SNOW DAY on Monday and two hours late on Tuesday.  My prayers were answered!!! I hate that I dread going to work or certain places.  I hate that I have this sense of failure of events coming up.

I just need to get over these feelings.  I will, I am not worried about it.  I will learn some new coping techniques.  I am trying to learn speech reading which I really believe will be a huge asset to me.  I need to reach out to the friends that I know will be there when there is a bad day and understand.  I need to speak up, I need to say what I need instead of saying sorry like I was a problem.

It is going to be a long winter I am afraid.  This will be my winter to learn new things.  Maybe just maybe when spring comes again I will have some new skills and instead of this drowning feeling I am having I will be having a sense of renewal, just like my tulips coming up to see the sun.

  1. I don’t think you/we ever get ‘over’ these feelings. I think instead we work through them. They are there for a reason and I spent two whole years wallowing in my fears/depression. It’s not easy, especially when we have to keep adjusting, so it’s okay to feel the way you do. Always talk about and share it because it lets others know they aren’t alone. If you stuff it, deny it and avoid looking at it then there’s nothing to work with so I say use it, feel it deeply. It will heal slowly and you will come out through the other side with more knowledge, empathy and most likely be stronger for it. Hugs to you.

  2. Thank you for saying it like it is to live and function in the hearing world. It is exhausting and if I didn’t take time for myself EVERY day without my hearing devices, I would still be always tottering on the brink of emotional catastrophe.
    I’m a nurse, have a grown child and was married to a hearing man. I continue to live in this world, but I no longer care if someone talks to me in public and I miss it. In fact, if I’m shopping alone, driving or at home. I turn off my hearing intentionally. This has saved me from the insanity of being ON all day.
    When a stranger talks to me, I no longer say Im sorry nor do I try to understand if it is mundane info. I just say “Im deaf” and ignore them. I save all that polite crap for work, family and other necessary interactions.
    This has reduced my anxiety and depression considerably. I finally committed to these strategies in my mid 40s. I sure wish I had done it sooner to save myself from many mini meltdowns.
    I hope you find the support you need, find new strategies that work FOR YOU AND NOT EVERYONE ELSE.
    Good luck and keep on going forward.

    • Thank you for this. I really appreciate what you wrote and took it to heart. There are times at the supermarket or the laundry mat where I don’t want to be on full trying to read, lip reading and the whole works at all times. I have the right to just say I am deaf. I don’t need to waste the energy like you said. That can be saved for my friends and family and work and that is enough. Thank you for your words

  3. Wow, I am SO with you! The last two years I taught HS were in some ways the worst two years of my life! And that includes having had breast cancer, the year both my mom and dad died, and the year I had pancreatitis!

    Trying SO hard and it not being enough! I would sometimes have a student repeat what they said, and I would look at my coteacher and she would say it slower and louder. About a year after I retired, I felt the stress and strain, and worst of all, the fear that I couldn’t handle the classroom, resulting in no contract renewal, begin the slow process of a bit her, and a bit there, slowly cracking and I started to feel better, felt happier, and I gleefully deleted years of lesson plans.

    As I was home more, I ended up with my family frustrated with me and I with them! Naively I thought the cure would be hearing aids. That just opened a whole new set of frustrations!

    Fortunately I can entertain myself. I like to travel, and as finances allow, I go camping, cruising, or simply enjoy being in my home.

    The bad part of that is that I am becoming more and more isolated. I have a hearing dog now and that helps me to not feel so alone, and it is my hope that between the two of us, we might not get mowed down by a distracted driver! A month ago a friend’s mom was killed instantly as an elderly and frail man just ran right over her. She could hear fine. Electric cars introduce a whole new set of fears. Regular people who hear fine, don’t hear those !

    I don’t know if my glass is half full, or half empty. I do know I am burned out extra crispy. I can tell you that that is a result of my cancer treatments. I am deaf, not dead! Adryomicin is what caused the damage to my ears. I will play and do as I please as long as I can.
    Laugh everyday. It helps to crack the shell open. One day you might get up and not feel it pulling you into darkness.

    Good luck finding the way through the colossal fears

    • Thank you for understanding how hard a high school setting can be. I am a sub so always a different classroom and different kids. I am tired by the time the last bell rings.

  4. No one can be all things at all times… for a time, I was that “glue” you refer to for my family, and I finally burnt out. It’s okay to be an optimist and to be good at being the person in the family that is good at orchestrating it all, but it pays to ask for help and to not try to do it all yourself, and the sooner you implement this, the better. It’s the one thing I would change if I could… asking for help more, and taking the time to figure out how to get comfortable with my hearing loss sooner.

  5. You are not alone. Life is hard. And as a breast cancer survivor, you know what? Being deaf and struggling to hear is harder than all that I went through with the cancer – surgery, chemo, radiation treatments, more surgery…. Thankfully, the treatments actually worked and I’m cancer free now. That chapter of my life is closed and I am able to move on from it. The thing is, there is no treatment to make hearing loss better. It will never go away. I will never be able to move on from this. Again, thankfully, my cochlear implant helps me a lot. But, I still struggle to hear in many (most) situations, and still consider myself deaf. I don’t know your situation and if a CI is a possibility for you, but it has helped me and brought me back from that place where I was just not able to cope, to at least being able to get through most days without being an anxious ball of stress and on the verge of tears all the time.

    Oh, and you should tell your insurance company to shove it and that they need to get real!

    • Thanks Leona for the words. Yes life is hard you hit a bump and it seems like it just keeps pushing us forward.
      I did call my insurance company and talked to someone. They said they have never encountered what to say to someone that is deaf or hard of hearing. Well here is the chance to do a training and educate.
      Thanks again.

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