May is Mental Health Awareness month so I wanted to share a little about my mental health as it relates to my hearing disability. As someone diagnosed with moderate-severe hearing loss at a young age, and more recently with sudden hearing loss, I know how closely intertwined my own mental health is with my hearing journey. Sharing this story is difficult, but I want to write it in honor of Mental Health month.
There are many different misconceptions and myths surrounding hearing loss/deafness. Many abled people, are quick to make assumptions regarding deafness, because it is considered an ‘invisible disability’. In the past, deafness as a disability has been considered a ‘taboo’ subject, and has only recently been spoken about more widely, thanks to social media, which has …
Hello, first of all, I would like to introduce myself, my name is Vilma Jackson. I am Deaf and a performance artist; I have worked as a performing artist for 12 years in many different roles including TV, Film and Theatre. I work with both hearing and deaf actors and directors.
Hello, my name is Annie. I am a young adult from Columbus, Ohio who has moderate to severe hearing loss. I was diagnosed when I was two years old, thanks to my mom. She was the first person to notice there was something wrong with my ears when I was just a baby. Because of her attention to detail and persistence she was able to get me the help I needed and has been with me every step of my hearing loss journey.
In July 2020, I was handed another diagnosis to process. Years of fending off intense intrusive thoughts on my own, the pressure from lockdown became a bit too much to bear. With the encouragement of my parents, I approached my GP and was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I was also prescribed sertraline.
Despite going to a mainstream secondary school with a deaf unit, nobody there once asked me or told me about the idea of a ‘deaf identity.’ It’s only now when I’m questioned on how I identify, I can pinpoint exactly how I feel and be proud of all the different parts that make up me.
A few weeks ago, I had what I would probably describe as an ‘activist burnout’. Asking hearing people to make their content more deaf friendly and accessible, only for them to ignore you and belittle your concerns is exhausting. At worst, it can make you question your efforts to increase deaf awareness, when certain individuals just don’t want to listen.
I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like the last 12 months have been extremely stressful. A year ago we were in the first month of a national lockdown and I was naively hopeful that things would ‘all be better by the summer.’ Ha, if only I knew!
Last month it was Sign Language Awareness Week, as organised by the British Deaf Association. During this particular week I shared tips and images of signs on my personal Facebook page, spreading awareness of my love for sign language and encouraging my contacts to give signing a go if they hadn’t already had the chance.