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I'm Not Rude: I'm Deaf

I’m not exactly a lips reader, but along with some guessing game, it helped me catch bits of conversation.

By Mika OkaPublished about a month ago 4 min read
Top Story - April 2024
I'm Not Rude: I'm Deaf
Photo by Sharon Waldron on Unsplash

Every part of my being trembles when faced with bureaucratic tasks. It’s intensely triggering for me.

The very thought of tackling the paperwork and navigating complex procedures is enough to make my heart race and my palms sweat.

Bureaucratic stuff can be so frustrating without a clear set of instruction. Each officer would give some different information or left out something, making me go back and forth before I could get it done.

Giving me countless headache and panic attacks.

So instead of facing these challenges head-on, I’d end up in a cycle of delay and avoidance. I push them aside, hoping they will magically resolve themselves or disappear into thin air.

Of course that would only exacerbate the problem.

Unfinished business looms over me like a dark cloud, its weight heavy on my shoulders.

It eats away at my inner peace. There’s constant reminder of my shortcomings and responsibilities left unattended.

Photo by author

I’m worrying about making mistakes or getting lost in the often messed up procedures. But the uneasiness of the delay, knowing that I have unfinished business, weigh on me just as heavily. Either way, it would trigger the anxiety and panic attacks.

Renewing my handicapped person card became a long journey that lasted over many years, all due to the anxiety that gripped me. My disability is not physical, but rather that I am partially deaf.

Having an invisible handicap or illness often leads to misunderstandings and misconceptions.

The government had upgraded the card many years ago, but my fear of the bureaucratic process held me back from renewing it for as long as possible. It was my own personal issue, not the fault of the government.

I needed my card for my medical treatments at the hospitals. The staff there had reminded me numerous times to renew it, but I continued to procrastinate.

One day, a particularly strict staff member who scolded me, making it clear that I needed to renew the card, or else my handicap privileges would be denied. This meant that I would have to bear the financial burden of my medical treatments.

Overwhelmed, I couldn’t hold back my emotions and started crying right there in the doctor’s office.

It was a flood of concerns and anxiety that surged to the surface, seemingly nonsensical to any neurotypical person. But for me, it was a moment that was completely out of my control — it just happened.

In the aftermath of the breakdown, I had to go through various government departments to obtain the necessary paperwork and undergo another hearing test.

Here, the fault lay with the government, as the previous information had been wiped out during a system update.

The doctor also questioned why I wasn’t using a hearing aid and offered the option of using one, as I had previously received subsidies for them.

I had stopped using the hearing aid because the amplified sounds worsened my anxiety. In a way, I preferred hearing less.

I could no longer rely on reading people’s lips as everyone’s wearing mask in the COVID era, I’m not exactly a lips reader, but it helped me catch bits of conversation.

Usually, I would combine what I heard, what I lipread (not sure what’s the word for this) and the context of the conversation, playing a constant guessing game to comprehend others’ speech.

Please try to understand that I’m not being rude; I’m deaf. Communication is a constant struggle, and being partially deaf adds another layer of complication to my daily life.

Now, I am considering giving the hearing aid another try, although the thought of going through the process of applying for one deters me.

I will also need to update the information on my card to include my bipolar disorder and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). I’m still contemplating doing it.

By Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash

I often face challenges in variety of situations, and this happened in a recent encounter at a police roadblock on my way home.

As I waited in line, I mentally prepared myself with the usual responses, anticipating the question the police officer would ask: “Where are you going?” My rehearsed answer was ready:

“I’m going home,” followed by the location. But when it was finally our turn, the officer threw me off guard with a different question: “Where are you coming from?”

Caught off balance, I couldn’t react quickly enough and found myself repeating my prepared lines. The officer grew visibly frustrated, and in that moment, I was feeling terrified that I could come across as nervous or suspicious.

Did I unknowingly fit some stereotypical criminal profile?

Will they drag me to the police statement for looking suspicious?

I was accompanied by my partner, and he offered the officer an appropriate response and reassurance.

If only I had my documentation explaining my neurodivergent condition, it would have provided a clearer understanding of my reactions and alleviated any misconceptions that I was a criminal.

Each day I repeat to myself the mantra of “eating that frog,” inspired by Brian Tracy’s book, to tackle the most difficult and challenging things first, rather than procrastinating or avoiding them.

But this particular frog we’re talking about is nothing like the delicacy of frog legs I enjoy, stir-fried with dried chili. No, this frog tastes different altogether.

It’s a bitter taste of anxiety, an unsettling flavor of fear. It’s triggering me.

I know that if I don’t summon the courage to take that first bite, the frog will continue to bite and gnaw at me.

I muster the strength to face those difficult tasks head-on, hoping to find relief and peace once the frog is dead.

Even neurotypical individuals encounter their fair share of frustrations and obstacles when dealing with complicated bureaucratic systems. But for people like us, the impact is magnified many times over. The complexities of paperwork, procedures, and the fear of misunderstanding can be overwhelming.

©Emika Oka

Thank you for reading 🖤

Previously published on From the Corner of My Mind

Your support holds immense significance for a disabled neurodivergent. If you’d like to show your support, you can consider buying me a coffee here. Your kindness is greatly appreciated.



About the Creator

Mika Oka

Sharing her unique perspective on the world as a hearing-impaired autistic person with bipolar disorder despite the challenges.


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Comments (10)

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  • Anna 23 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!

  • The Dani Writer25 days ago

    Such a vulnerable yet vitally important experience to share! Biggest of kudos to you for delving deep and allowing the world a view in even though I'm sure it couldn't have been easy. Too much is off-kilter, off-balance, and off-putting with the way society runs, making things ultra-complicated for those of us without a disability, that equates to a mega-worse experience for those with one. Thank you for being you. Keep stirring the pot and don't give in one inch until the people in positions to make positive change, get it right. Congratulations on your well-deserved top story!

  • D.K. Shepard27 days ago

    What a vulnerable and enlightening piece! Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Cheryl E Preston28 days ago

    God bless you this is a lot to deal with. Great story and thanks for sharing.

  • Andrea Corwin 28 days ago

    This is horrible for you! I am so sorry. I know there are people and places to assist so perhaps your partner could take you. Hearing aids I believe are better now than in the past; like any medical device, they need to be checked by the provider and tweaked for the individual. Good luck and I hope you find the solutions that will help you! People care. Maybe take a card with you to show that you have trouble hearing?

  • Babs Iverson28 days ago

    There are constant hurdles. However, life has become more complex and complicated than it needs to be. As a profound hearing impaired individual, your story is relatable. Congratulations on Top Story!°💕❤️❤️

  • D. D. Lee28 days ago

    I hope nothing but the best for you moving forward in life with your mental health. Congrats on Top Story and thank you for sharing with us!

  • Ameer Bibiabout a month ago

    Excellent story 🎉🎉

  • Carol Townendabout a month ago

    I have every bit of sympathy in the world for you Mika. My husband is also partially deaf, though he uses digital hearing aids. He hates wearing them because they make a loud buzzing noise when he goes near certain things. They sometimes do that when they are near me, too. The iron in my blood sets them off. He gets fed up with wearing them, and changing the batteries is no fun in the U.K. on the NHS because he has to wait a while for them to arrive. People often think he is rude when he doesn't hear them properly because of his disability, too. They rarely comment about his physical disabilities because they can see those. It is awful how some people are treated because they have disabilities that can't be seen, but remember you are allowed to stand up for yourself, and nobody has the right to make you feel bad about your condition.

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