Saturday, 15 April 2017

Deafie Depression - A Year On

You may have read my post 'Deafie Depression' from last year which I must have wrote round about January 2016. This post is an update on my life and how far I've come since then.

I would love to say a lot of positive things, but unfortunately, that is not the case today.
It was last year when I was properly medically diagnosed by the doctor, although I knew for years that something was not right (my misery through high school etc.). I decided that anti depressants was a way forward to give me some sort of support.

I must have been on them for half a year until I felt I was strong enough and happy enough to carry on without them. Obviously you can't just 'beat' Depression as it is a mental illness that is always there lurking in the background for some people. Coping strategies are key to dealing with and getting on with your life-at least for me it is.

Only recently them horrible depressing feelings have "come back from their holiday and are  settling back at home" as I would say. I havent felt 'right' for a few weeks now and I ignored it (stupidly) and ignored professional advice to consider trying the anti depressants again because (stupidly) I thought I was strong enough to deal with it myself. Denial. I thought my coping strategies were enough.

Weeks down the line Ive unfortunately realised I've left it too late. Only now my Depression has "met a new friend called anxiety". One which I have never experienced more than the normal rate. For example; getting nervous about delivering a speech. I've always been an anxious person due to my confidence and my hearing, not knowing what is happening around me. But coupled with Depression , it's the worst duo in the world!

This anxious and depressed Deafie most definitely is not the real me. It's a long way away from the funny, silly, crazy and fun girl that I am. I've unfortunately left it too late and may have lost someone special to me. Rather than speaking up to this person about how I've been feeling and getting the help I needed weeks ago, possibly months ago. I kept it to myself in denial because I wanted a 'normal life'.  This weekend has been a tough one for me, it feels like I'm battling my demons and trying hard to remain positive and calm myself down from the anxiety which tightens my chest and feels like I'm breathing through a straw (that one is a new one for me!)

The circumstances aren't great right now, but I'm making the changes that I need to make and already have decided and started my medication two days ago, I've learnt my lesson massively to not bottle things up and let anxiety get one over me. My anxiety makes me look like I don't trust people. My mind goes into overdrive, I never used to be like this before? I used to overthink, but the normal amount.

I just hope that finally admitting to my problem and getting myself sorted is enough. I just hope that it isn't too late. I really don't want to lose out on someone who means the world to me. I haven't been a great person the past few months, I know now why. We both know this is not me and I'm not the person I was two years ago. But I'm determined more than ever to be that person again if it is not too late.

For the sake of all my loved ones, especially this person. I'm still here. I promise. I'm just trying to break out through the shell.

Goldy x

Thursday, 22 December 2016

A Deaf Friendly Christmas!

Christmas... that time of year! Families gather together, celebrations, laughter, be merry...
Cosy nights in front of the fire, yummy food and being around the people you love. It's a sociable time of time of year for most people... 

On the other hand, some of us dread Christmas! I'm not saying I hate Christmas... I love it! But it can be a tiring and hard day for me being deaf. 

My Christmases are spent  around my family: parents, brother, grandparents (mums side), three cousins, auntie and uncle. Theres a lot of us in a room and it can get very loud and noisy at points! It can cause feelings of isolation and make me feel very down... yep! On a joyful and merry day I can feel absolutely rubbish. 
Unfortunately, that's a common feeling for most individuals who experience a severe-profound deafness like myself. Most people seem to assume that hearing aids 'fix' everything like a pair of glasses can 'fix' someone's sight (depending on the condition they suffer and severity).

So i decided to write some 'deafie tips' for you to consider this Christmas if you are spending it with a deafie like myself: 

1. LIPREADING: This is an important one, which is why it is going first. Most deaf people rely on lipreading. So consider how you can include us without isolating us even  more by making us  'stick out like a sore thumb'. A round table is pretty ideal for dinner time as it enables us  to see everyones faces with ease. But dont worry if you dont have a round table- you dont need to go out and buy one haha! Perhaps try seating us  in the centre of the table if it is rectangular. Please remember to face us and not turn away! This will make it easier to see everyones faces, in comparison to sitting at the end or in the corner, which will make it harder to see everyones faces. Also, keep the lights on so we can lip read. Yes, candles and low lighting creates a nice warm mood. But it frustrates us more if we cant lip read!

2. SIGN: If the deaf relative is familiar with sign language, it wouldnt hurt to learn a few simple signs to help include them! Or even use finger spelling! If not then make your own signs that are easy fo undetstand, for example, food, drink, tea (make a 't' sign) and coffee (make a 'c' sign). Simple thoughts like this can make a huge difference!

3. INCLUDE US: This could be something simple like giving us something to do, for example, putting the yorkshire puddings on the table. Or filling us in on the conversations. For example, if it is something rude (excuse me for this!) like your Nan fell asleep and farted and everyone laughed. It wouldnt do any harm to fill us in why everyone is laughing as its likely we didnt hear Nan farting! We would love to feel included in the moment! Another example, if the doorbell goes we might not hear it, it would be nice to le us know why the atmosphere has changed and why everyone is getting up from their chairs and stopped talking.

4. SUBTITLES: Ok, we know most people find them really annoying, but for one day you should put them opinions aside just to include your deaf friend/relative. We all love a bit of Christmas TV. It would be a shame to miss out due to lack of subtitles. Imagine how boring it must be to sit there for hours and not have a clue what is being said. And PLEASE for the love of god dont just turn up the volume full blast! This doesnt help! 

These are only a few of which came to mind. Although, there is SO much more one can do. Please, if you do get the chance, check out these useful websites as you can change someone's Christmas: 


Deaf Unity

Hearing Dogs UK


Saturday, 17 December 2016

The New Job

Hi guys! Long time eh! 

As many of you know, I left my weekend job at a retail clothing chain and finally got a better job at a Tesco chain store working as a 'Personal Customer Assistant'. 

My previous weekend job was getting so bad that my hours were cut down to 8 hours a week (two 4 hour shifts). That was my contracted base hours, but I wasn't earning much money (as you can imagine!). The hours were cut so much, that I could not work any over time as there were simply no hours for me. My work colleague/friend had left to work at Tesco (in the same department) and was telling me how much better the hours/wages were! 

Obviously being myself, I was anxious about changing jobs and applying for another job, due to many factors, mainly my deafness. Over the weeks we exchanged messages via Facebook regarding the job and I continued to ask lots of questions about it. The job itself requires one to basically shop for customers who order their shopping online, known as a 'Dot Com' shopper. Each person goes round the shop (where the scanner tells them to) to the exact location of the product. They simply scan it and then scan the correct tray and either bag it or not (depending on what the scanner says). 

I thought that sounded perfect for me! Something simple for me to get on with by myself! I applied for the job and was successful and got called in for an interview! (My boyfriend answered the call for me by the way! Haha!) However, I didn't actually write about my hearing loss in the application as I felt there was no need to place that label on myself. I waited until the interview. I had a one to one interview with this man which was difficult as I wasn't used to his voice so kept having to ask him to repeat himself (I told him about my hearing straight away and he said it was fine). I left the interview feeling really distraught as I was so sure that I had no chance and messed it up due to the bad flow of the conversation and not hearing. 

To my surprise, I received a text later that day from the guy and I got the job! Fast forward to the induction day. I went in that weekend for a 9am-5pm induction which required us to watch a DVD ALL DAY! I had previously requested subtitles which was an issue as they kept cutting off the screen (that's another story) but it got fixed about 2 hours into the DVD... terrible I know! Especially when we had to answer questions on the DVD on a piece of paper! Haha! 

Fast forward to 3 months since starting, I've realised it's not as easy as I imagined! I get ALOT of customers approaching me on the shop floor and asking me where products are. The issue is not actually finding the products (as I've installed an app on my phone which solves that), but instead, hearing the customers in this busy loud store! 

It's completely different to the small town store I worked in, having colleagues nearby on hand to assist me if I couldn't hear. Sometimes I have to try and find someone else to take over if I can, sometimes there's no one nearby so I have no choice but to say "I'm sorry I'm not 100% sure". Most of the time people are really understanding, others... are not. 

It's especially stressful when we are personally monitored for our 'pick rates' which is the number of items we pick per hour. If the pick rate is below 130... you're buggered and people are usually sent round with a sheet of paper to come and find you and point out your pick rate and basically tell you to "quicken up". It's a problem when you get stopped a lot like me and unsure what customers are saying! The expected pick rate is probably around 160? Quite high I know! 

During the shop, we have a coloured bar at the bottom of our scanners on the screen. If the bar is blue, you are picking at an excellent pace, if the bar is green you're picking at a good pace, heading towards orange, then red which (as you can imagine, is a bad, slow pace!). The idea is to remain in the blue/green which changes colour depending on your speed! 

I had no idea there was more to the job. Not as easy as I thought! Although, I kind of like the thrill of the job, seeing how quick I can go! It's harder when it's busier later on in the shift! I start work at 6am by the way! I'm usually in the red when there's loads of people about, but it's not my fault I guess! 

Overall, It's a lot different to my old job. I kind of miss my old job and the 'family' feeling that comes with the team I worked with as I was so close to all of them and made friends during the 3 years I worked with the lovely ladies, but I had to grab the opportunity to work more days at Tesco. My base hours are 6-9:45am, 4 days a week. Although you are expected to work until the trolleys are finished which could be 12pm or 2pm, depending how busy you are! You can simply turn up extra days if you need the money which is amazing! 

Not looking forward to the Christmas week though! Not only do I have three 5am starts, but also one 4am start! It's going to be very very busy in store with lots of customers doing last minute shopping as well as online orders!! Imagine how loud it will be and customers coming over asking "where is the __" and "where is the __" ... Crazy! 

Hope you're all ok! I'll try not to leave it so long next time!!

Love you guys xxx

Monday, 18 July 2016

Insecurities suck...

Ok, first things first. Please don't tell me I'm pretty, please don't tell me I'm brilliant... I'm most definitely not seeking for these kind of comments. 
I'm writing this in desperation... For advice. 

My insecurities started in school... Probably Sixth Form time when I was 18/19 years old. A lot of crap happened during then... A completely different story. Since then my insecurities have got worse. Since getting in my first long term relationship, I would have thought the unhealthy insecurities would go away... Nope, they're worse than ever! 

The constant, will he won't he leave me and "oh look at that girl, she'd make him happier than me" and "if I wasn't deaf I would be a better person than I am" ... The list is incredibly exhaustive, trust me. As you can see, my thoughts are unhealthy which is why I'm asking for advice preferably from people deaf themselves or also with a disability. Only because the reason I'm insecure is because of my deafness. I come across as untrustworthy, when in fact I know that it's my insecurities causing this. 

It's ruining my life and I feel it's going to stop me from settling down. My hearing will deteriorate eventually and right now I'm on a waiting list for an appointment to find out more about a cochlear implant... No decisions have been made, after all, it takes about 3 years of tests and research before anything happens! 

I just don't feel good enough. It doesn't matter if my loved ones say I am. It's the insecurities and the voices in my head telling me I'm not good enough like "he can do better than you" and "come on surely you can't blame him if he wanted her" and "you're hardly a catch Louise" and "who's going to want to be a deaf carer all their lives looking after you".

I can't help frustrating people. I don't intend to. For example, I frustrated a loved one in London a lot the other day. It's busy with a lot going on. I'm not familiar and I got visually distracted by my surroundings trying to stay aware as well as follow my loved one who was walking ahead. All the noise droned out and the noise was just 'noise' that I couldn't distinguish. It was confusing and made me feel a bit queasy at time... Or maybe that was the heat? 

I know people get frustrated when you don't hear and think you aren't listening, even loved ones, but I don't think they understand how exhausted I get so quickly and the effects of this... Slower processing time, slower reacting, not picking up on speech etc. It's pretty similar to a normal person feeling very tired.... At the end of a long day. This can happen to me in the morning! It's ridiculous! I also get extremely anxious and ask loads of questions when I don't know what's going on. It stresses me out loads! 

I feel so guilty for my loved ones having to be a carer for me when they should be living their lives instead of being 'stuck' with me.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Deaf Girl in Tenerife

So I thought I would write a short blog about my Tenerife adventures with my hearing boyfriend... 

Before going on holiday I had contacted Thomas Cook regarding inflight entertainment and the provision of subtitles... I was let down and incredibly disappointmented to be told that the provision of subtitles was not possible. This made the flight for me particularly boring at points. I did have the lovely company of my boyfriend, but watching the tv screens for me was frustrating as I wasn't able to enjoy the programmes like everyone else! That is a complaint that I will take further at some point.

Apart from that, the flight went smoothly. My tinnitus was particularly bad during and after the flight, stress was involved, but I always find that my tinnitus is worse after landing, probably something to do with the pressure when being up in the air and when your ears go weird...  I absolutely hate that part! 

I've always been impressed with the visual instructions provided on the flights about the emergency procedures. I watched the flight attendant's demonstration, but being able to hear what was said would have been helpful. Unfortunately that isn't possible for me-obviously! So I just read the laminated handout during the demonstration.

The holiday was overall fab. We did plenty of activities! We went to Europe's best water park, Siam Park, a zoo called 'Loro Parque' and we also tried out some water sports! (Fly fish, parascending and jet skiing!). 

All activities were scary as I had to just 'go for it' not really knowing what was going on half the time as I had to leave my hearing aids on the beach. We told the men who took us out into the ocean about my hearing and to my surprise they were absolutely lovely and brilliant about it. Most of the time when I go on holiday the people over there are not understanding at all. Two years ago in Ibiza I went to go jet skiing with my friend and they told me I wasn't aloud to go on my own jet ski as I was deaf. I was so upset, so had to sit on the back of my friend's jet ski. I did get to have a go at it in the end as my parents put a word in and convinced the guy that I'm capable of driving one! I won't even go there... 

These guys in Tenerife were very understanding and even tried to include me. One thing that made me laugh... The guy cranked up the music really loud on the speed boat which meant I could feel the vibrations of the boat... I don't think he fully realised how deaf I was. He was hoping it would allow me to hear, bless him! I wasn't actually too worried about hearing... I was more worried about bloomin' sharks! Don't ask....

 I haven't got any parascending pictures yet as my boyfriend has them on a memory card. I'll make sure I post a few in a different blog another day!

The hotel was amazing too! It looks a bit like a jungle! 

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Confessions of a Deaf Undergraduate

Hey guys!

I send you my deepest apologies, I haven't blogged for weeks now due to personal circumstances... But here I am once again!

As promised I would write this blog post about my experiences as a deaf student. I have completed my degree with a 2:1!! (65%). I'm so pleased. I set myself a goal and I reached my goal! If I can do it, anyone can! But only with adequate support provision which is what I am here to talk to you about. 

So ... as many of you know I was studying Childhood Studies which was a three year course! I feel immensely proud of myself, considering the fact that I am severely-profoundly deaf. There have been many occasions when I thought I wasnt going to complete the degree and nearly gave up because of my many struggles.

For those of you deafies who are reading this and considering taking the University path and feel a bit anxious and doubtful about the whole idea, fear not! - I will talk about my experiences in this very blog post! Hopefully it may assist you in some way to make a final decision or perhaps just help you gather some more information as part of your decision process?

As many of you know, I begun my 1st year commuting twice a week to the city of Norwich. I didn't fancy staying away from home because the idea scared me! Although, this does not mean that you deafies shouldn't! This was just my own personal worries. University does sound and feel daunting for many of us, but for those who suffer a disability, I can assure you, there are many ways around these barriers if you seek the correct support.
For me, I was surprised at the amount of support I was offered as well as entitled to. This was only because I did not receive any educational support previously. 

I must stress the importance of researching what you are entitled to as a deaf student, otherwise speak to a professional in this area of expertise or your teacher of the deaf (if you have one). I was lucky to have my teacher of the deaf, Sheila, who has fought my corner throughout my higher education life.

I am not able to provide you information regarding the procedures that you have to go through to get the support, although I am aware that one must apply for a Disability Student Allowance. I'm sure this can be found on the Gov website. I must stress that it is important that you read this through carefully. For those of you who want to know, the support I was offered was note taking support, one to one off course support, transcriptions for videos as well as an extra room for exams and 25% extra time for examinations.

It is important that you understand, this depends on what type of hearing loss and severity levels you suffer. The more significant the loss you have, the more support you are entitled to. Some of you may feel embarrassed for applying for this kind of support. I admit I was to begin with and for the people who asked me, I simply explained the severity of my loss to people and cracked a joke saying I'd fail the course if I didn't get my note taking support (that is actually true). Having a sense of humour is important to break the ice with other students and show what a fun person you can be. Deafness does not label you, don't let it! 

My attitude slowly improved towards seeking support. I realised my entitlements and understood that it was my right to be able to study like other students. Speaking up about your struggles and offering suggestions is important to ensure you get the adequate support. For those people who had bad attitudes towards the fact that I had support... screw them! If they even tried to ask me a question about the lesson content, I simply wouldn't assist them if they behaved badly towards me. Those who treated me well, I was more than happy to help them if they dropped me a text message asking a question or two.

I thought this blog post would be particularly helpful and I hope it is, as I learnt along the past 3 years about what kind of support I was entitled to. It wasn't until half way through the second year when I was made aware that I would be entitled to a transcriber. Basically my teachers would have to email this support person the link to the videos and this would be forwarded on to a transcriber who would transcribe the video for me and then simply email this to me and my note taker. I highly recommend that you bring this up to the support staff if you are seeking support for University.

My Uni experience wasn't exactly how I hoped it would be on the social side. After many tears, I got over it. It didn't matter if I had a positive attitude and laughed at myself and had a good sense of humour... People were still (excuse my language) bitches! Nobody said anything to my face, all of their negative attitudes were picked up by myself non verbally. I'm not going to waste my time writing about some stupid girls who wouldn't hang with me because it was 'awkward' and I was very 'deaf' otherwise this post would be boring and a waste of time. 
But now I realise that I wasted my tears over them. I walked away with a massive achievement... A 2:1 in Childhood Studies which will hopefully bring me one step closer to working with deaf children... My dream job! Not only that, but I walked away with a friend for life. My lovely note taker. She wasn't just a note taker but she was more of a friend than anyone else and really if I'm honest, she made my Uni experience bearable! I got through the lessons knowing I had a friend to support me and someone to work in pairs with when everyone turned around and moved away to avoid me. I'm meeting up with her in a week or so for a catch up and a natter which I'm looking forward to! 

It goes to show, some things aren't so bad after all! My graduation is in October, so I'll make sure I post up plenty of pictures for you all! 

Thank you everyone for your kind words and support throughout my Uni journey! I just want you all to know that your words of support have made a huge difference and gave me a push to the finish line and made me believe in myself. Thank you my lovelies!

Here's my Dissertation below... I got 69% for it! 1% off a 1st class grade!

Louise xxxx 

Saturday, 2 April 2016

My meeting at Cineworld

Hi guys! 

Just thought I would give you an update about my meeting with the manager of my local Cineworld...
I will be in constant contact with the manager regarding films I wish to see in future and suitable times, so I have more chance to see the films I want to see.

With regards to the general deaf population, I have advised that my comments raised will be passed on to the customer services and the headquarters to ensure everyone can benefit. Although, each chain has different policies. I would highly recommend you guys to work alongside the managers of your local cinemas to meet your needs!

I made a formal complaint regarding a message I received from customer services stating "the majority of customers do not require subtitles". I found that extremely offensive and highlighted this as a form of discrimination. 

Very happy with the outcome, not all what I wanted to hear, but I made some suggestions about freeing up one or two screening rooms to play subtitle films which they will look into further. Of course I also highlighted to them the positive financial impact of increased deaf custom if they advertised their cinema as 'deaf friendly'. 

Overall, I am very happy with their cooperation and response!