So You’re Losing Your Hearing… [CC]

Hello lovely people, For those of you who are new here: hi, I’m
Jessica. I started to lose my hearing at 15 and began wearing hearing aids at 18. I think
my hearing loss is now classed as moderate-to-severe: basically, without my hearing aids I live
in a very pleasant underwater bubble with cotton wool in my ears and with my hearing
aids in I won’t get hit by a truck but I also can’t tell what you’re saying. Mainly
I rely on lipreading people I talk about going through the process of
losing my hearing a lot and I’m often asked for advice on how to cope with it, I’m going
to talk you through 6 key tips in this video but first: – How do you know if you have hearing loss
or not? Well, if someone has sent you this video…
I think they’re trying to tell you something. Maybe it’s time to get your hearing checked? Other hints: Do you turn the volume on the television up
to a degree that everyone else in the room yells at you for? Do you stare blankly at your phone when someone calls because supposedly it’s on but you’re
not entirely sure if a voice is coming out of it yet? Do you find it impossible to follow conversations when you’re in public? Do you make people repeat things over and over again until they get really snarky with
you? Do people in your life complain that you annoyingly
don’t listen to them? Do you say ‘what’ over and over and over
and over and over again? Well, if so, you probably have hearing loss! …or an Auditory Processing Disorder or similar
medical problem. – or you really are just that self important
that you believe you’ve got better things to do than listen to unimportant people and
their meaningless conversations. In which case: Take a breath and reassess. I like to keep things fun and bubbly on my
channel but it’s important we don’t shy away from negative feelings as well and golly,
you just clicked on a video about losing your hearing so you’re probably experiencing
some of these too! Losing your hearing can be isolating, exhausting, scary, annoying
and sometimes just make you feel really, really angry! This is especially true when your hearing
is going in your teens or adulthood. Most support systems for deafness are there to
help children- who have likely been born deaf, don’t have a memory of being able to hear
and have young, plasticy brains that are able to learn sign language quite quickly- or elderly
people, for whom hearing loss is culturally expected and accepted. If you’re in your late teens, as I was,
it’s difficult to get help when adults find it easy to read you as just being lazy and
not paying attention. I can’t imagine how hard it must be when YOU’RE the adult in
charge of phoning the electricity company or chatting with other parents at the PTA
or starting out in your professional life without the listening skills you’d assumed
you’d have. [internal panic] – But don’t panic! We’re going to go through
this together. Tip number 6: Connect with people who are in a similar situation to you. I am quite sure there will be many in the comments beneath this video who are
also losing or have lost their hearing. Have a look at other people’s stories, reply
to their comments, start a conversation. Build your network of friends online. – P.S. I’m setting up a Discord board where
we can all chat, there will be a ‘so I’m losing my hearing…’ thread. Isolation is a really significant problem
since hearing loss detaches people from interactions with others. Maybe you live in a family of
mumblers and you can’t even understand your own parents anymore. The world is built around human interaction
and community and whilst it might feel like deafness can take all of that away… the
internet is a pretty leveling playing field when it comes to communication. If you prefer
meeting people in person then your doctor or audiologist may be able to recommend a
support group in your area. Don’t freak out if they’re all two generations
older than you. Age is just a number. You can have friends with different but complimenting
interests. – Just don’t try to explain the ecosystem
of the Kardashians. Clara tried that with me our entire plane ride to Edinburgh and
I’ve honestly never been so confused. Also: talking to a therapist about your feelings
of loss is a good thing. Change is scary. Tip number 5: You’re going to feel very vulnerable. Plan ahead- know the exits and the buses. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel
unsafe you take that Uber, screw the cost. You’ll find you rely on your eyesight a
lot, especially for safety, and the minute you can’t see you’ll likely freak out.
I can’t stand being in a club or a pub and a light shining into my eyes. For the millisecond
of blindness after the light hits I am completely and utterly vulnerable and it shakes my core. Try not to get into situations where you’ll
need to rely on your hearing. That sounds obvious but it can be as simple as just not
walking alone in the dark – which maybe you shouldn’t do anyway…?
I don’t know what your area is like but… stay safe, friends! Many deaf people often feel extremely vulnerable
in situations where sounds are relied on to provide essential information: This can vary
from roadside traffic, public announcements in airports or train stations to the genuinely
dangerous stuff like fire alarms. Plan. ahead. Make sure you have the best app on your phone
to track the trains- something that updates to the minute. You likely won’t be able
to hear any changes that come on over the tannoy. Freaking tannoy. – Clara says I need to inform non-British
people that a ‘tannoy’ is a loudspeaker. If you’re getting coffee in the train station,
make sure you’re sitting in view of the board. Likewise in the airport. Seems obvious but… It doesn’t matter the degree of your hearing
loss: if you cannot hear the announcement clearly then you might as well not be able
to hear it at all so you might as well start acting like a deaf person and rely on just
the visuals. So face others when they’re speaking, their
expressions and body language will put what they’re saying in context. Make sure you
can see a person’s face and lips when they talk. And in terms of things being kind of scary
now you can’t hear so well: yes, for a lot of deaf people, night-time can be terrifying:
you can’t hear footsteps or fire alarms or windows opening or… – okay, now I’m scaring myself. If you’re watching this as a parent who
thinks their child is losing their hearing: difficulty sleeping can actually be a sign
as children will struggle to sleep when they can’t hear their parents downstairs- they
may worry that everyone has gone out and left them alone in the house. Bear in mind, nightlights are perfectly acceptable,
no matter your age. Tip number 4: Pace yourself. Deafness can also be exhausting. People with hearing loss are unable to look down at their phones or newspaper and hear
what somebody is saying like hearing people take for granted. They have to concentrate
on lip patterns to hold conversations, they have to focus on a person’s facial expressions
and grasp onto the little sound they can hear and then try to make sense of it all. This, plus living in constant fear of missing
a crucial sound like a fire alarm, can be mentally and physically draining. Think about it this way: someone with all
of their senses can rely, when crossing the road, on their ears to be listening for background
danger that their eyes cannot see as they look left and right: the sound of a lorry
approaching around the corner, the group of kids standing behind you who are joking and
jostling each other, the ambulance with a blaring siren that’s a few streets away… Now imagine trying to gather all of that information using just sight…? Tiring. Deep breaths. Pace yourself. Tied into that: it’s important to know your
limits. If you’re sick or tired, how well you understand others may be worse than usual. Tip number 3: Consider technology: look for a device that works for you. A professional audiologist, an ear, nose,
and throat (ENT) doctor, or a hearing aid specialist can help you find products. Your
local council may even fund things like flashing doorbells and fire alarms if you can get to
the right department (their contact details can usually be found through the aforementioned
doctors but a good google search might help). Hearing aids might feel like a big step but
you can start small with just the inner ear ones if your hearing loss isn’t particularly great. To break the technology down: Hearing aids make sound louder for you and
can also be programmed to cut out certain wavelengths. Depending on your hearin loss.
They come in many shapes, colors, and sizes. Some fit behind your ear, others directly
into the ear canal. FM systems are wireless assistive hearing
devices that enhance the use of hearing aids but can also be used by people who don’t
wear hearing aids. The come in two parts: a little microphone that can be clipped onto
the clothes of a teacher or lecturer or… whomever you’re particularly trying to listen
to at that point (possibly even just your date in a restaurant). The second part is
on the person with hearing loss, either working with a hearing aid or something similar to
headphones. The sound beams wirelessly through to you from the microphone. It’s like a one-to-one system. They enable sound to be picked up closer to
the speaker rather than a microphone that is on the deaf person so the sound can be
much clearer and without background noise. That’s why it works really well in a lecture
or school style situation. And finally (but in no way exhaustive) a list
of other things that can be helpful: Alerting devices: you can get a little pager
that connects to a doorbell, phone and alarm- and even a baby monitor!- with a blinking
light and a vibration whenever one of those things makes a noise. There are also personal amplifiers, infrared
headsets and telephones that will display a conversation on a screen. – That seems like a lot of information, doesn’t
it? Technology to help hearing loss does take
a lot of getting used to but they honestly… do help. You’re scared once you start to
use them, it feels like they might get in the way of a free flowing conversation but
actually once you get over that hurdle they honestly do improve your interactions with
other people. Plus… studies show that people who don’t
get help with their hearing loss are more likely to suffer with depression and anxiety. Apparently there is also a link between untreated
hearing loss and dementia but- – I am offering you this information as an
‘oh isn’t that interesting’ not a ‘wow, something new to freak out about’ so take
some deep breaths. If you think there is even the slightest chance
that hearing aids could boost your confidence then go for it. Side note: I’m often asked ‘but what if
my parents aren’t willing to help me get medical treatment?’ To which I say… “honey.
That’s a form of child abuse.” Now, I’m sure they are reasonable people
who don’t want to be accused of such so maybe show them this video and then have a
chat. Hi. Tip number 2: Learn to lipread. I know, sounds very difficult.
I did make a video about this, you’ll find it in my deafness playlist which will be in
a card above. A lot of people suggest throwing yourself
in at the deep end when it comes to learning lipreading- watch YouTube videos on mute without
captions, only socialise with people who don’t vocalise- but, honestly, you’re already
losing your hearing… your daily life is now ‘being thrown in at the deep end’.
If you find you’ve started to rely on captions to understand videos- – like this one. [Mouth pattern: Hello] Then turn them off, get close to the screen
and try to pay attention to my lips. Leave the sound on if that’s helping you and only
turn it off once you’ve gained confidence in lipreading. If there is a video or a film
that you love watching then watch it over and over again, paying close attention to
the lip patterning and since you’re already familiar with the dialogue you’re more like
to pick things up. It’s also really helpful to repeat information
back. Lots of things sound alike- especially when your hearing isn’t great- but they
actually feel very different to say. Knowing how your own mouth moves will help you recognise
similar movements in others. Repeating what someone has said also helps
make sure you’ve actually got it right! The other person will correct you if you’re
mis repeating. You should also encourage people to write
things down! Tip number 1: Be clear with the people around you about how they can best help your transition to not being able to fully hear what is going on around you. Just saying “I’m hard of hearing” is
a good start but it doesn’t tell the person how they can then make themselves understood
so do follow it up. This is the hardest advice to enact but: be
bold. If you can’t understand what someone is saying then explain that. If you are, like me, one of those people who
has got into the habit of nodding and smiling until someone has left and only then realising
that you have absolutely no idea what the person has said then… you’re going to
have to be pushy with the people around you. I’ve been with my wife for 5 years and I’m
still training her to jump in whenever she thinks I’m just pretending to understand. Because I have no idea I’m doing it until
much later! Key tips: Tell your friends and family to say your name
or get your attention before talking to you. They’re going to get frustrated if they’ve
said a whole paragraph whilst walking up to you and only once they’re two inches away
do you look up. – Can’t lie, that’s kind of their own
fault but a lot of disability is about managing other people’s emotions. They don’t teach
you that in the Disability 101 textbooks but it’s true. Also there are no disability textbooks. Much like babies, bodies don’t come with
a manual. If a person makes sure they have your attention
before they start to talk then they won’t have to repeat themselves and you can all
be much happier! Be clear with what you need people to do.
They should look at you when they’re speaking, take their hands away from their mouths, swallow
their food and not look at their phone. If they don’t do those things and you thus
don’t understand them and they get annoyed about it then just rise above, my darling,
rise above. You tried. They’re the ones making things
difficult. Turn off background noise when you want to
have a conversation- no TV or blaring radio. Ask for restaurant tables in quiet spots and
expand your daytime socialising. Cafes can be just as great as pubs- with the added bonus
that some serve alcohol and you can actually understand the conversation that is going
on! This is a given if you’re underage but if
you’re an adult then consider including others in your audiology appointments. Claudia
always says she didn’t realise how deaf I actually am until she sat in a hearing test
with me for the first time and, sitting in the soundbooth, was baffled at my not noticing
the loud noises blaring at us. Audiologists are some of the best kinds of doctors that
I’ve come across. They’re really caring and can help your family understand what is
going on. So what’s the long and short of it? Well, first up: don’t panic. It’s all
going to be okay. Consider that there may even be plus sides: I once fended off a mugger with: “sorry,
I’m deaf, what did you say?” To which he gave me the special ‘oh you poor love’
face and let me go. Also it’s quite nice while you’re crafting
to just be in your own little world. It’s very peaceful sometimes. But remember to take your hearing aids out
when it’s windy. Top tip. Final point: The majority of advice says that you shouldn’t
say ‘what?’ when you can’t hear but instead should say ‘pardon?’ or ‘excuse
me?’ Now look, I am all for social etiquette, traditions
and good manners but… really… ‘pardon’ and ‘excuse me’ skirt dangerously close
to ‘I’m sorry’ and honestly, really, I’m not. And I shouldn’t have to be. I
don’t want to apologise for my poor hearing because it’s not my fault, it’s not intentional,
I wasn’t too distracted by my phone to pay attention to you, I’m just deaf. Look, I promise it’s going to be okay, alright?
All change is terrifying to start with and yes, I get that this isn’t like moving schools
or joining a new office. But perhaps think of it more like becoming a parent for the
first time: your life will never go back to the way that it was. It’s the end of an
era. But it’s the start of one too. You’re still you: with the same personality, the
same likes, the same loves. Maybe your future looks different now but that doesn’t mean
it’s worse or that it’s going to be horrible- even if you are more tired now! You’re joining
a community of people who have been through what you’re going through right now and
there are many support systems in place. Even if you don’t have help from your parents
or guardians or your school isn’t willing to give you the support you need… well that’s
only temporary. Other people will come in and out of your life, things will ebb and
flow but the one constant is you. And the important thing is that you’re happy with
yourself and feeling like you can manage life. Work on your own emotions first, help someone
else put on their oxygen mask second. You’ll be alright, my darling, you really,
really will. I’ll see you in my next video. [kiss]

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