I survived – Haylee’s story
My name is Haylee, I am 24 years old. I am an Early Childhood Educator, loving partner and mother to two amazing young boys aged 2 and 5 months.
I have just completed a diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care, with plans to head straight to university.
If you looked at me from afar, you wouldn’t know I was deaf. But yes, I am. I have a severe hearing loss in both ears, I rely heavily on hearing aids to get me through. My hearing loss wasn’t formally diagnosed until I was 18 months old, aided with hearing aids and had access to a hearing support teacher not long after.
Before then it is a mystery. No one really knows if I was born deaf, or if it happened during my first years of life.
When I was around 8 years old, I started noticing I was different. I saw that my class mates were always pointing at my hearing aids, mouthing their words at me when they would speak. The bullying started not long after, I was called a freak. My friends started to join in. They didn’t accept me. I started to feel ashamed, like a burden, different and believing what they were saying about me. I started to rebel. I had so much anger. I cut my first class at 10 years old, soon I was running from school, hiding from my teacher’s aids and support teachers. I didn’t want help, I didn’t want to be different. I “lost” many hearing aid’s, some fm systems. I hated the world, I blamed my parents, I hated myself. I was a deaf nobody, only seen as deaf. A freak.
Once I got to high school, I was excited. A fresh start. New friends. No more bullying… So I thought. It got worse. I was cutting class every day, I would pretend I was sick so I could stay home. I would pretend to get on the bus, and wait behind a tree until mum had left for work and run back home. I pushed everyone who had helped me away. I got braces, then reading glasses. Yep, I was a bigger “freak”. Things would get better, then go back downhill again. I even tried to give up. That was a slap in the face. A wake up call. I left school, left the bullies. Went to tafe. Life got better. I finally started to accept myself. Finally got to breathe.
Once I joined the work force, I would have customers and parents yell what they were saying to me because they thought I couldn’t have a normal low key conversation and had to lip read. They thought that because I had hearing aids, that I could not hear or talk.
This is how the world makes us out to be. We are not incapable of holding down a conversation whether we are oral or sign.
Fast forward to now, as a kid I would never have seen myself living this life. Two children, qualified childcare worker. Don’t get me wrong, I am not perfect. I have my down days where I think “what if” and struggle with every day life and judgements, I struggle being deaf, but I am proud. I am not ashamed. I accept who I am. Being deaf is not what I
am. And I will stand up for anyone with a hearing loss, and stand up for more. We need more awareness, more support and more access.
My name is Haylee, I am deaf but being deaf is not what I am. It is a part of who I am.