Hearing loss is not just a physical issue. Not being able to hear your co-workers, friends and loved ones can take a real emotional toll. Most people experience a variety of feelings as they realize they need help, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. To help you on your journey, seek assistance from a hearing health specialist or audiologist and go on to live a full life with the use of hearing aids. Here are some emotions that many people experience:
Denial of hearing loss
Since many equate hearing loss with being old, it can frighten us if we think it is a first glance into our own mortality. It isn’t, but some people connect the dots this way when they don’t know the facts. Denial is a buffer to avoid the pain and fear of their misconceptions. As a loved one or caregiver of someone who has hearing difficulties, you have likely witnessed him or her denying his or her condition. They become blind to the signs, no matter how obvious they are to the rest of us. We help them build the façade, glossing over their hearing difficulties by becoming living hearing aids, translating the world in permanent shout mode.
"Many people pretend their hearing loss isn't happening."
Many people pretend it's not happening, tricking even themselves into thinking they don't have trouble hearing. That everyone else is mumbling – Kids these days! This can lead to delayed diagnosis of hearing loss, and even potentially can make the problem worse as they won't receive proper treatment until later. Their denial can be so complete that they sometimes get their feelings hurt when people shout at them since they can hear the volume but can’t understand the words.
Anger & Frustration
If you have hearing loss, you know how frustrating it can be to try to communicate when your hearing ability is diminished. You may get angry and even lash out because you cannot hear when someone is speaking to you. Rationally, we know the problem is not their fault but we are not prepared for reality. The intensity of the fear and loss is redirected from our vulnerability and expressed as lashing out in anger. The anger may be directed toward inanimate objects, strangers, though most commonly friends and family.
Bargaining with hearing loss
"Maybe it is not so bad. What do those doctors know anyway?"
"That test can't be right. I'll get a second (third... fourth...) opinion."
"I can just take a pill. I saw an ad on the Internet for an herbal supplement that cures hearing loss."
"I'll just get one of those cheap hearing thingies on late-night TV, they have them at the drug store now, that's all I need."
Making excuses and bargaining is our way of easing in to hearing loss reality, but it leads to wasted money, doing more harm than good, or much more importantly: wasted time and possibly the inability to regain certain sounds and frequencies of hearing.
Grief & Depression
When our hearing abilities are diminished, we rightly feel like we’ve lost something – not only some level of hearing but also the illusion that we are bulletproof. Even with a host of other health problems we still cling to a fairy tale invulnerability no matter how many facts are stacked up against it. When reality breaks through it shakes our world like a squirt can of whipping cream or, if you prefer, a rattle can of spray paint.
We mourn the loss of our invulnerable self as the pendulum swings from denial to acceptance. Since we’ve been in denial, we haven’t learned how much help there is and how much treatment can help. However, while hearing aids can help you to regain some of your hearing; they cannot fully restore it, leaving you to grieve for what you no longer have. Some people even stop partaking in social gatherings because they are so distraught about their hearing loss.
Acceptance of hearing loss and the near miraculous results of treatment
It may take weeks, months or even years, but eventually you will accept that you have some hearing loss. It may be common and natural but it is not good. The passing of time is not your friend with a progressive condition like hearing loss. In fact, a majority of people suffer with a known hearing loss for more than 5 years while their loss gets more and more profound.
Eventually you will hit bottom, you will have had enough, you will suffer that last straw and recognize that being unable to understand the people around you is a cost that is too much to bear. Helen Keller once said that vision connects us to things but hearing connects us to people.
So the very last feeling that comes along with hearing loss is acceptance. This feeling can really help you to embrace treatment and your new hearing aids. It may also help you to become more social, as you no longer have to ask everyone to repeat themselves, laugh at jokes that you couldn’t hear or pretend you know what they've said when you don't.
I worry that I may have hearing loss.
If you are concerned about hearing loss, for yourself or someone important to you, the audiologists and hearing health care professionals at AccuQuest can help. Contact your local AccuQuest Hearing Center to schedule a hearing test and consultation.
If you want to learn more about how your hearing works, hearing loss and hearing aids, how hearing aids work or why it is a good idea to see an audiologist or hearing health care professional, click here to view and download your own copy of AccuQuest's Journey to Better Hearing.