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Ask Dr. Dombeck
Psychotherapy and Mental Health Questions

Hearing Impaired Musician

I am a musician, born that way, now in my late 50's. Somewhere back in the early 90's, I suffered a late onset inherited hearing loss. Over about a year's span, I went from normal to severe loss hearing. performing and recording became harder, and work became scarcer, and I fell on hard times. I bought a set of hearing aids, but they were useless- bad sound and they hurt what hearing I had. Counselors told me that I should give up music and learn ASL, that I would never be able to be a musician again. I got into a cycle of drugs and lost my wife. Meanwhile, a much better type of hearing aid came out,and i was able to play again. And now, with the new aids, I had more opportunities for a day job, so I went into computers. I rebuilt my music skills and started finding work as a musician while also learning computer graphics on my own. But after five years of trying, with a failed company and a lot of dead end leads, I am at bottom. It seemed that everything I did fell apart, as much as I tried. My hearing loss worsened, to add to it. My jazz skills are better than ever, but work is difficult to find and competition from younger players is fierce. And my efforts to find work in computer graphics is about the same. I have always been a self starter, willing to help others at my own expense, disciplined, a bit of a loner, but I have no confidence any more- I guess losing my hearing was the first hard kick, then the loss of two marriages. And I am out of money and prospects. Efforts to seek local help have produced laughable results: one therapist had not one clue about the stresses that late onset HOH people have to deal with- she thought that hearing aids restored normal hearing. She advised I should give up music, but to me, that's like quitting breathing. A state hearing loss counselor was totally geared towards the deaf, and was a bit disdainful of me, since I had some hearing left. And when the last "counselor" wanted to pray, that was the end of that attempt. And the local self help for hearing group was more concerned with fund raising that help. I know I am depressed, probably inches now from dangerous depression, and have been for years. I have tried to shake it but with my situation, it won't go away long enough for me to get traction. I hate socializing, for I miss conversation, and I am just tired of "What" being the major part of my vocabulary. I just don't even bother to ask when I don't hear something. When I perform, I keep social contact to a minimum and just focus on playing. I need new, more powerful aids, but I can't afford health insurance, much less expensive hearing aids. Like they say, if I had a break, maybe it wouldn't be as bad, but now, I just sit alone without wearing my aids, for I don't think I could endure another failed relationship or enterprise, and group encounters are stressful. I feel like I am just waiting for the boat to go under. My only solace is my music and I am pretty good at what I do. So, after all of this verbiage, how can I get out of this spiral before it is too late?



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