Why Me?

I recently read an article about a woman who was suffering from some sort of chronic problem. On the scale of horrific issues with “10” being a fatal disease and “1” being ugly (but functional) feet, this woman’s problem ranked around a 3, in my opinion.

“I ask myself, why me?” she says in the article. “It’s hard to accept that I’ll be struggling with this for the rest of my life.” 

I dunno, maybe it was the emotionally manipulative picture of the woman looking off to some faraway point, holding flowers in her hand, that set me off.

“Oh c’mon, REALLY?” I shouted at the article. “You are going to obsess over THAT?  How about a trade? I’ll gladly take what you’ve got and you can have my profound hearing loss and rumbling tinnitus. And to sweeten the pot, I’ll throw in my functional (but ugly) feet!”

For a few long moments, I was deeply irritated. At least she had medication that kept the issue more or less under control. I felt insulted that someone considered such a problem to be on par with the daily challenges of my hearing loss. How could her issue compare to my life of communication struggles? How could she even guess at the inner cacophony I listen to 24/7?

And then I calmed down. Who was I to assume anything about her, that she didn’t have more than one item on the ‘horrific issues’ list? I’d never lived through her problem and had no right to judge whether it was more or less challenging than severe tinnitus. Why did it even matter? Disability is not a contest.

We all feel the burn of self-pity, the big why me, on occasion. It’s normal to dip into the dark side and wail that no one else has ever, ever experienced heartbreak like ours. In the history of mankind, no headache has ever pounded as hard at the walls of the skull. No itch has driven anyone else quite as nuts as our itch.  And how on earth can the buses go on running, when we are suffering so terribly?

Some believe it’s the will of God, or maybe karma. All I know is that an extended self-pity binge doesn’t help me hear better; it just makes me miserable and less pleasant to be around.

What’s the answer to why me? Maybe it boils down to just two words: that’s life. Our bodies, those organic towers of power, are prone to breakdowns and vulnerable to germs, mutant genes, and junk food. And who said that life was supposed to be fair?  Fair would be that, regardless of our issues, we would all have equal access to solutions and supports, rather than discrimination and stigma.

Why me?  Who knows?

The woman’s problem is not trivial and it’s shared by many. I hope that at least one person reading the article was able to draw strength from it—the same gift that I get from connecting with other people who have hearing loss and tinnitus.


About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.


  1. I have had a hearing loss since I was 6 years old. I am now 57 with a profound hearing loss. Yes, it would be nice to feel sorry for myself, especially since I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. At that point I did ask myself “why me” and then I thought about it and asked my “why NOT me”. Why should it be someone else, instead of me? I don’t have the answers. All I can do is live each day as best I can. I have other medical issues that just aren’t worth getting into…it is what it is. I can’t change it. I just have to live with it.

  2. I agree with the ‘why me’? I have learned through life, now age 61, that there is ALWAYS someone suffering more than me. Well, in fact,I don’t consider I’ve ever suffered in spite of the hardships I have experienced. I’m thankful to be blessed with such a positive outlook on life. Hearing aids at the age of 30 was a fun thing for conversation and interactive listening. The cochlear implant is even a greater adventure. Even after heart bypass at young age of 42, and a healthy person I must admit, I had no need to join the broken hearts group to ask ‘why me’. I was alive, survived a bump in the road, and moved on. Besides, I have feet like you do, so why would I want to look DOWN?

  3. Gael, I love everything that you write. It amazes me that you are able to see into and tap (not that I always hear the tap!) on the inner window of my HOH soul. I can always identify. Keep writing!

  4. I know exactly what you mean, it’s not until they walk a mile in our shoes, literally, that they realize their problems are rather trivial. I react the same way and even though I do my best to keep an open mind and be sympathetic to their issues, from time to time I’ll find myself biting my tongue. You’re smart enough to have more will power than I do. And oodles of patience.

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