As we grow older we all feel the aging process, and nothing is more fearful than that of losing our health and independence. When we become dependent we lose part of ourselves, handing over control of our lives to someone else. So what bothers people most about hearing loss? Why do so many people deny they have a loss and refuse to seek solutions?
I believe it is this fear of losing our independence. When we can no longer participate in social occasions (and after all the human imperative is to socialise) without feeling stupid (because we say the wrong things) we fear that if we acknowledge our loss our peers will judge us as being somehow deficient. In denial we believe we are staying in control.
We use all kinds of bluffing mechanisms – laughing too loud just because everyone else is, smiling when spoken too (I hope it’s the right smile), answering in the hope we’ve got it right, asking to be excused, or not participating at all.
Even if we acknowledge our loss and request help to participate, there is still a certain independence which is lost. Someone else is making decisions about what we should or should not know about.
In denial we believe we are staying in control but denial leads to many emotional problems. Instead of enjoying our lives, we live in constant fear of being found out, being thought stupid or at best simply missing things. Social situations, and indeed most of life’s situations, cause us stress and eventually we withdraw – to alleviate some of this stress.
Depression is a final stage of hearing loss grief. We become depressed because we feel so alone, so isolated and so out of control. Because so many people hide their loss, so few people talk about hearing loss solutions and how they can help. The result is we feel alone without a way out of our dilemma.
The good news is that once a person with hearing loss acknowledges it and seeks help most often the depression will be alleviated if not disappear altogether. In seeking help we take control once more and this improves our self esteem. Many people find they can once more be part of a group and enjoy social outings.
Accepting our loss we can minimise the emotional toll on ourselves and put us one more back in control regaining some of the independence we feel we had lost.