There are some 'pros' of living with hearing loss, and you might just envy me a little...
I'll let you in on a secret... having a hearing loss isn't completely dire. Sure, it's tough and can leave me feeling frustrated, isolated, drained and helpless, but there are some positives that come with my disability. And to be honest, they're pretty awesome!
Curious? Here's a round-up of the 'pros' (if that's even the right word!?) of having a hearing loss, and why you may wish you too could turn off your hearing sometimes...
Blissful silence is just one click away
Do you ever wish you could escape all noise and racket of everyday life for just a moment?
For me, peace and quiet is just one click away - all I need to do is turn off my hearing aids, or take them out, and everything is muted. It's quite surreal, especially when I'm walking down a busy street in central London, but it's so peaceful and calming.
Better still, my deafness means I rarely get woken at night by loud sounds like night-time thunderstorms or traffic, and I feel very smug when people moan about their partner's snoring. I always joke I could sleep through a hurricane and be none the wiser!
You see, while I can still naturally hear some sounds at a low level, they're not loud enough to be distracting or disturb my sleep. So for the most part I can easily retreat to a bubble of silence when I want to - at just the click of a button.
Making the most of discounts
Being registered disabled means I get to enjoy some brilliant discounts and perks. Forget 90 minute queues for the rides at Thorpe Park - myself and three friends can glide to the front of the queue and nab front row seats, with only a 15 minute wait, tops.
There's also the Cinema CEA card (which means I can buy two tickets for the price of one to see any film), half price gym membership (all facilities and classes included) and discounted train fares with my Disabled Railcard.
Little perks like these are silver linings in my cloud of deafness, even if I do get odd looks whenever I flash my disabled card.
A unique perspective of the world
Recently I've noticed there's something quite spiritual about embracing my deafness. What I lack in hearing I make up for in other senses - such as touch, sight, smell and my sense of awareness in general - which adds a unique perspective to the world.
It's hard to explain but by taking away sound, my surroundings are more vivid and I'm very aware of little things like people's actions and expressions (even the raise of an eyebrow), certain smells, and even the colours and movements of trees.
This came to my attention when I visited the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii in Italy last year. It's a picturesque yet poignant site that naturally invokes a lot of emotion, but this became more intense when I took out my hearing aids. The silence was overwhelming and eerie - so much so that it completely changed how I felt walking through the ruins.
This experience was enlightening because I realised just how lucky I am to feel this connection with my surroundings and to be able appreciate the little things that make up the world - not just sounds.
A natural state of mindfulness
Spending a lot of time in silence means I have lots of headspace to listen to my thoughts and tune into how I'm feeling. With my hearing aids off or out, I can reconnect with my inner self, de-stress and shake off pent-up exhaustion and frustration - in much the same way listening to music or practising yoga or meditation does for others.
Sometimes I love nothing better than spending a quiet morning in the gym, an evening in my bedroom reading a book, or a whole day on my own wandering around London. Because it means I don't have to concentrate on trying to hear. I can just be me. I can focus and ponder, and give myself time to recuperate ready for the next day in the life of having a hearing loss. It's like free therapy, and it's awesome!
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