The power of small things

My name is Hannah and I’m now twenty one. I’ve had hearing aids since I was two and a half years old. My experiences with hearing aids has been a rollercoaster journey to say the least. I’m grateful for the fact that I can hear with the support of hearing aids, but I am definitely still learning how to deal with the frustration and anxiety-provoking situations that arise. Growing up all I wanted was to be ‘normal’. I’ve now realised that there is no such thing as normal and we are all different in some way and that is what makes a person truly themselves.

Hannah, aged 21, smiling at the camera
Hannah’s hearing aids are close to invisible and people assume she can always hear them.

Hearing aids are becoming increasingly ‘invisible’ and in my experience this comes with it’s own pros and cons. As much as younger me (and sometimes still me now) likes the fact that they are difficult to see, it requires a great deal more self-advocacy when communicating with others. With the common misconception that hearing loss occurs in the elderly, strangers naturally assume I can hear them. I have gotten somewhat better at telling people when I can’t hear them or that I’ve got hearing aids or I can’t hear behind me etc. But self-advocacy for me is difficult, I don’t want to draw attention to myself and I most definitely don’t want to draw attention to a part of me that I’m still coming to terms with.

However, the major point of frustration comes from when people are rude about it and make me feel like it’s my fault for not hearing them. Whilst I can now tell myself it’s their problem and not mine, it is incredibly disheartening to open up about my hearing loss and have someone essentially tell me they don’t care. So the next time someone doesn’t appear to hear you, be patient, assure you have their attention and try to communicate again. It can be the little things you do to change your way of communicating that has the greatest impact on someone with hearing aids. And any efforts to try will always be noticed and appreciated.