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Resilience & Hearing Loss

 Let’s talk about how to use resilience to navigate hearing loss setbacks. For the month of May, we take a look at how to use several resilience strategies: flexibility, humor, social support, dealing with challenges and disappointments and so much more. We explore this topic with Gloria Pelletier (MSW, LCSW, LISAC) throwing light on the mental health aspects of resilience.

May also happens to be National Speech Language Hearing Month (ASHA). “… the focus and effort that goes into making May a month of educating the public about the importance of human communication and what we can all do to prevent and address communication disorders.” Hearing loss is a communication disorder. Let’s learn how to be resilient with our communication exchanges. We invite our hearing partners to join us this May to improve awareness of Hard of Hearing communication needs. Acceptance of new communication tools and strategies needs to come from both sides. Together we can improve the flow of communication. 

Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.” Elizabeth Edwards

Get back on that horse!

Gloria: I am old enough that I can remember when “resilience” was  “get back on that horse and ride again.” My father said that right after I took a nasty fall from a bucking horse.  I was not happy nor did I have a good attitude about that horse but I got back up on that horse anyway. I sat in that saddle with every ounce of “fake pride” I had. Then, I pretended I belonged there.  Never again did I get bucked off that horse.

Black background. Two arching green stipes going from middle bottom to middle left. Black hearing loss live logo of 3 leaves in the lower stripe with @hearinglosslive above it.
Dark green text: is a quote by Maya Angelou: I can be changed by what happens to me but I refuse to be reduced by it.
Light green text: There are enough strategies, accommodations, technology and friends to keep us going full steam ahead.

Georgia O’Keeffe, an artist, once said, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” I first saw this quote in a book called “Why Do Winners Win?”  by Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby published in 1989.  It was given to me by my therapist at the time when I was accepted into graduate school because I was terrified to move thousands of miles away from home. I had just gone through a nasty divorce and I wanted more from my life than a divorcee mentality.  I wanted to assist people to have more in their lives than whatever trauma was happening at the moment. You do not have to be “fearless, have great self-confidence or a great attitude (Selby, 1989) to be resilient.  What you need is to have “chutzpah.”  Chutzpah is a Yiddish word. One definition: “the amount of courage, mettle or ardor that an individual has.” (Wikipedia)

Back in the Saddle Again

After falling off a horse, I was not happy or confident.  In fact, I was angry at my father, the horse and myself for falling and failing.  When I put my boot into the stirrup and threw my leg over the saddle and plopped my butt down, I was confident. I was back “in the saddle” without incident. Let’s not forget the old adage “try, try again and keep trying.”  And, “the little train that said, “I-think- I- can.” ( A folk tale that has appeared in many different children’s books.)

When the universe knocks on our door, we need to open the door.  We must listen for opportunities and accept the opportunity that may be disguised as a challenge.  Resilience helps us to do that. It opens the door to new experiences to help guide us through to the next stage in our life.

Black background with 2 arching green stripes from bottom left to middle right. A black hearing loss live logo in the lower right. @hearinglosslive under the logo
Quote by Mary Anne Radmacher: Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."
Light green font: Hearing loss requires workarounds. If it didn't work on way, try it another way.

Julia: Every month we research our next topic. Every month I gain a new perspective about my lifetime of being a hearing partner with Hard of Hearing family and friends.  What does resilience look like for me as the hearing partner? Resilience is my healing spot. When the grieving is done, I find a better way to communicate with my HoH. Why? Because at the end of the day, I want a two way conversation in the best way possible. That means I want you to hear what I have to say too. Healing came for me when I learned more about hearing loss for myself. It was bouncing back from challenges with new ways to communicate. An example, helping my HoH research what types of aids- TV ears, Pocketalker, caption landline, new hearing aids- would do and how it would improve communication.

Resilience is knowing my spouse has a hearing loss and we must be in the same room facing each other to have true conversation. One day not long ago, I realized when we choose to use bad communication strategies, anger and blame was not a part of the solution. We messed up. We need to go to the same room to have our conversation. 

I am a lucky hearing partner because I surrounded myself with HoH’s who educate, sharing new coping strategies and their experiences with me. My relationship with my grandmother stayed strong, healthy and intact because I had a great group of folks around me to help me find better ways to communicate. As a CART/live captioner, working with this community contributed to my resiliency and my ability  to stay on top of communication. This works with everyone, not just people with hearing loss.

On Having A Learning Mindset

Chelle: I’m finding that what I learn through our topics at Hearing Loss LIVE!, can be applied to the rest of my life and vice versa. Resilience is vice versa. My family had the “it was a learning experience” mindset instead of it being a problem. When I ran across a situation, they asked what I could do differently next time. This allowed me to evaluate and research situations to make it different next time. By the time I was a teenager, I was pretty good at this! I learned my way around waking up my parents when I came in past my curfew. 

It took several years to apply this kind of flexibility to hearing loss because I was limited with tools and strategies. There were no books on loss at the libraries back then and there was no internet yet. I had hearing aids and no strategies. My curiosity kept me moving forward. Surely there had to be a better way through hearing loss! Thank goodness for the internet. In the late 90’s I met the SayWhatClub who had an online community via email. I gained strategies and knowledge of technology, with no real personal experience technology because I lived in a small town. 

Stay Curious

Later, I received a personal FM without instruction so I didn’t know how to use it. I still had limited strategies. Curiosity kept me going as there had to be a better way to manage it all. After moving to a big city, I added public assistive listening, instruction on personal FM systems and discovered the magic of CART/live captioning to my personal experience. More strategies came from my HoH social circle and finally I had several ‘tools’ to choose from. These days I am flexible and even creative when it comes to gaining access to communication. 

Another quip from childhood; when leaving in the morning for high school, my dad would yell after me, “Learn things!” Duh, of course I was going to learn things. I was going to school, right? The learning never quits, I realized after finishing school. I have a continuous desire for the pursuit of knowledge and improvement of hearing loss. I learn things all the time and my curiosity keeps me moving forward. While teaching classes and attending workshops I learn things. If you attend our events, or see me at another, you’ll notice I’m taking notes all the time. There’s always room for improvement.  

Black background with 2 arching green stripes on the left from bottom to top.
Black hearing loss live logo in the lower left part of the green stripe. @hearinglosslive in the second green stripe
Green text: Resilience with hearing loss. Bulleted list underneath:
learning new communication strategies.
Using a variety of accommodations.
Being proactive for communication needs.
Connecting with the hearing loss community.
Practicing selfcare.
Light green text: Go easy on yourself. We all make mistakes. It's trial and error until you find what works best for you.

What do you think? Can you start applying resilience to your life? Learning resilience strategies lends us strength and determination to get through typical hearing loss challenges. Get in the know, learn things. Stay curious. Laugh. Humor is a huge part of resilience and we’ll talk more about that during our monthly workshop.

Learn more with Hearing Loss LIVE!
  • Get to know us! Join our Let’s Talk Tuesday workshop May 7th, online and LIVE! via Zoom at 6:00 PM Mountain time (adjust for your time zone). Gloria leads us in a discussion on resilience and hearing loss. We have a live stenographer providing captions. Subscribe to our newsletter for instant access to our monthly workshop.
  • Our Lipreading Concepts class offers several communication strategies. We encourage hearing partners to join their HoH with a “buy one get one free” registration deal. A recent hearing student who attended said; “Since I’ve attended your class, communication frustrations with my hard of hearing husband have been greatly reduced. I’m so glad I came.” Note: Her husband did not attend the class. She came because she was looking for ways to improve communication from her end. We have a 3 hour crash course for Lipreading Concepts on June 1st. Register with the class link above. 
  • Build confidence with hearing loss by joining the Audible Talkers Toastmasters group. This is an online twice a month meeting. Prior to meetings, they send out transcripts of the speeches, they use ASR captions during the meetings and have a few other accommodations. Build your confidence and resilience through participation with Audible Talkers.

2 replies on “Resilience & Hearing Loss”

Your sister never learned that technique of not waking us past curfew, she got caught everytime.

That’s true, she never learned my trick and I’m sure I didn’t share it with her either. lol

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