pandora_parrot: (Default)
It may only be a mild-to-moderate hearing problem, and it may only affect me a portion of the time, but it affects me enough to upset me and warrant further reaction from time to time.

It's such a strange experience, this CAPD. I find myself in the odd position of sometimes having normal to above average ability to hear people, and other times unable to understand even the simplest of conversations.

Even more strange is the experience of going into situations and environments that trigger my CAPD, and having familiar feelings of isolation, loneliness, etc, but now knowing the reason for it. It's like... I've had this feelings all along and never realized that they had anything to do with not hearing well.

Then there's the strange fact that I now realize I have no idea how typical hearing people hear. How different is it from me? I noticed that I've made some assumptions about the way people hear, such as the need to look at and pay attention to someone or something to fully understand what is being said. Like a movie or listening to a person in a noisy environment. Yet I intuitively understand that someone can look away while listening in quiet environments, where I can hear well.

Then there's the fact that this is all about *comprehension* not actually hearing. I actually hear every single sound and word everyone is saying more or less just fine. It's just that when things aren't working well, I can't pick out speech and other important noises from all of the other noises I'm hearing. It's a big messy jumble. As a result, it's hard to even grasp when I'm understanding people and when I'm not. Add to that the fact that I comprehend better on one side than the other. If someone is on my right side, I'll be able to figure out what they're saying better than if they're on my left. But both *sound* the same to me. It's all about my ability to comprehend it.

It's like this. When my hearing doesn't work, I might hear someone say "Maibry inguh mubela". But I turn my head, improve the environment, ask the person to repeat themselves, whatever... and I get "Maybe bring an umbrella." Same sounds. Same noises. But my ability to put the sounds together into comprehensible words changes.

And that is so WEEEEIRD. The only way I can tell that something is going wrong is when I'm starting to lag on what people are saying, miss what they're saying, etc. Unfortunately, it all actually *sounds* the same to me.

The past two Sundays, I've gone to breakfast at a Hobee's restaurant in Campbell. The acoustics on the place are absolutely terrible. The place is very echoey and loud, which makes my ability to hear fall apart. When it was just me and my girlfriend there, I was able to communicate with her with some difficulty, but when it came to talking to the waitress, she kept popping up on my bad side, and I couldn't understand what she was saying. It actually made me break down into tears. I've been doing experiments with my hearing to see when and where it breaks apart, but that particular situation was one where I was just trying to enjoy my breakfast, and my inability to hear the waitress was intruding and frustrating me.

The more recent Sunday was a similar situation where I was just out to get breakfast with my friends, this time our group was 5 people large. And again, I was having trouble following the conversations. I was kind of surprised to see how powerfully it affected me again. Familiar senses of being isolated and abandoned were coming up. I felt like my friends didn't care about me and didn't have any interest in communicating with me, and were leaving me behind in the conversation. It was shocking how powerfully these feelings were hitting me, and it makes me wonder how often they've hit me in the past without me understanding *why.* This time, though, my friends openly welcomed me to ask them to help me communicate, and I did. It was difficult for me to trust them to try to communicate well with me, but I did manage to feel a little bit more part of the conversation when invited to ask them to repeat themselves more and stuff like that.

Still, in both these situations, I felt that familiar feeling of being "peopled out" afterwards. I believe I understand now why I could never figure out why sometimes people tired me out, and why they sometimes energized me. When I can hear people, my extroverted tendencies mean that I gain energy from out interactions. But when I am struggling to hear them, it becomes emotionally and mentally exhausting, and I just want to hide in my room and cry or whatever.

I'm definitely struggling to be more assertive about asking to get my needs met. Yesterday I dropped my car off at the auto shop, and when the clerk was talking to me about what needs to be done with my car, he kept turning away and talking to his computer. Since this was a bad acoustics room, I was having trouble understanding him. My girlfriend started signing at me, telling me to ask him to look at me when he spoke, but I said I was shy and started dancing around to try to get more in front of him. My girlfriend kept insisting, until finally, she gave up and asked him herself to help me out.
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Pandora Parrot

May 2017

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