Lianne Herbert: The emptiness inside me

Posted on January 9, 2018

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Looking back over my relatively young life I’ve pinpointed the moment I knew I was different than everyone else and was made to feel so too. Thus making me have this ‘empty feeling’ inside. This ‘empty feeling’ remained with me for over 20 odd years.

I was diagnosed as being deaf when I was three. At that time the professionals in London were ecstatic when my parents said we were leaving London to live nearer Oxford for my Dad’s job.

The professionals said ‘That’s the best thing you could ever do’ as John Radcliffe hospital were quicker at providing the right equipment, speech therapy and services that I would need to cope in the hearing world.

I didn’t learn to speak until I was 5 and I remember my local D/deaf services always used me as a role model on how well a severe to profound deaf person could learn to speak so clearly.

A home video of me reciting ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ to my family was passed around the community to provide hope to other parents with D/deaf children.

The place that I was to live in for the next 12 years meant I was the only deaf black girl in all the mainstream/private schools I attended.

It was incredibly tiring and I grew to love my bed. During those 12 years that ‘empty feeling’ was always there.

I would be bullied for being different so I often sought refuge in books. Books and the piano. These two things meant I could escape that ‘empty feeling’ that fluctuated inside me.

I also always put on a brave face and carried on. This fake face of mine soon became the norm for me. As well as not expressing my thoughts and feelings. Whenever I did, no one ever took me seriously.

When I became a young adult and returned to London to study music at Middlesex University I saw a TV programme on the BBC called ‘The Silence’ starring Genevieve Barr in 2011. It was the first time I could relate to an actor playing a D/deaf role.

Genevieve Barr then soon put on a D/deaf and disabled actors workshop in London which I was only able to attend for a few days as a holiday had already been booked.

The first day of attending this actors workshop my ‘empty feeling’ started to lift! I’ve finally found other D/deaf people I could relate to! This feeling of euphoria wasn’t to last long though as I had to go back to coping in the hearing world. BUT lifelong friends have been made from this workshop!

It wasn’t until about 4 years ago that this ‘empty feeling’ inside was diagnosed as depression. I was then given medication to help remove this feeling. It also wasn’t until earlier this year I realised I had ‘Perfectly Hidden Depression’ PHD which you can read here.

Since then my attitude to life has changed. I now feel more confident to strive for my dreams which only three D/deaf friends and a D/deaf cousin know about. Plus my hearing teacher.

I won’t reveal my dreams to everyone as I’ve had enough criticism to last me a lifetime and beyond. Mainly from hearing people. All I know is that I must make my dreams happen as I don’t wish future D/deaf children to go through the experiences of isolation like I did.

It was at times soul destroying. I’ve had low self esteem and confidence because of my deafness and not having a role model to look to, apart from Beethoven(!) meant I suffered for many years.

I now feel stronger and I’m more comfortable on what my deaf identity is. I wish to help others realise theirs by living my dreams.

If you are deaf and feeling depressed, you can text Samaritans on 07725909090.

Lianne Herbert is a deaf professional writer who can be followed on Twitter here. Lianne is also on a Copywriting course to enhance her freelance prospects. She is currently involved with the West Yorkshire Playhouse on a Playwright course.

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