A Twin’s Courageous Journey: Born Deaf, Cleft Palate, and Mental Health

Special Needs

When I was younger I had a very hard life growing up, but through all the challenges in my life I stuck it out. Now that I am 29 years old I can appreciate what I have in life. I have a twin sister, who was born with the ability to hear, unlike me. I have an older brother, two older half-sisters, and also two younger brothers. We are all by different moms and dads. I was born and raised LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). We all have different challenges and struggles in our lives, but I know now that I am not alone. When I was born, I got really sick and was put in a PICU unit for a month. I was born with a cleft palate.

I remember growing up as a child I had a lot of struggles in my life. Before turning three my family always thought I was stubborn and moody, but when I was
three they found out I was deaf. When I got my first hearing aids I was very excited and busy with the sounds such as talking and regular daily sounds. During that same time frame my mom and dad went through a divorce. As I got older things got really hard on me. I was raised in Weiser, Idaho, and because of being Deaf cleft Pallatborn with a bad lung and having asthma I had to stay inside in preschool and elementary school because of the weather being so cold outside. When the weather allowed me I would go outside and play with my friends and family. Honestly I felt like my life in Weiser had the best memories and I had the greatest friends, but I had struggles with my personality.

When I turned nine years old my family and I moved to Boise, Idaho. That is where my mom met my step-father. I can remember I was unsure about him; I guess it was because I was very protective of my mom. I can remember it exactly, and still have that image when my step-dad and I sat on the grass in the back yard. I would sit there with him face to face just looking at him, reading him. As the months passed on, I loved him and took him in my life to be my step-father.

As I was living in Boise, things got a little bit harder. I got held back in third grade because of not having an interpreter the previous year. After that I went to a new elementary school. I was of course excited because there were kids similar to me who communicated in sign. My first year was awesome and I met a lot of kids until the middle of the year, I was bullied badly. I did not accept myself and remember thinking I had to be adopted because I looked different. I was also bullied at church. Not by all, but a few made fun of me because of the way I looked. I remember getting depressed more and more. I hid a lot about myself. I had met kids at my school, which is clear on the other side of town. I knew a few of my friends at school were LDS, but I did not tell them I was LDS. I just hid who I was and was not accepting of myself. I was bullied by a boy for three straight years because I had a cleft palate, a flat nose, etc. During those times I had many surgeries for my cleft palate. I felt a little better when they were fixed but was not really satisfied with the scars on my face. As I went into middle school, I remembered praying in my room saying, “Dear God, please let me have a good year this year. Please keep that boy away from me.”

When I entered into junior high, this same boy who has bullied me walked up to me. My heart sunk and instantly I had anger inside. I was thinking to myself, “REALLY?” When he came up to me he apologized for bullying me. When I heard this I was shocked and walked away. For all of these years I could smack myself in the head for not accepting that boy’s apology, but I do have to move on with my life.

When I was 14, I completely left the church. I was not very happy with the church for many reasons, especially the youth. I remembered having so many grudges against the youth and how I had hated them. When I turned 16, I met an interpreter who was interpreting for me for my art class. Every single day, I kept hearing a voice in my head, “Ask her if she LDS.” So at a random thought I finally had the guts to ask her a few months later. I was like “Hey are you LDS?” She replied “Yes I am”. I had a huge smile on my face saying “So am I!” I am pretty sure she didn’t believe me at first especially being a horrible student at the time. So she asked me where I went to church. I looked down saying, “I don’t go and refuse to go back.” She asked, “You know that there is deaf group in a ward (church group) right?” I looked at her and said “Really?!” and was excited. She wanted to invite me when I was ready. One Sunday I was ready and went to church very shy and really uneasy. A couple of years went by and it was kind of hard on me because I was more close to the adults than the Young Women. Some of the youth were not nice. I was still suffering with some trust issues, and could not trust them.

When I turned 18, during my sophomore year of high school, I went to seminary class to try it out. The look on few of my friend’s faces was priceless. They asked if I had been baptized recently and I told them no I have been LDS all my life. They were shocked and excited.

When I turned 20 years old, I graduated from high school. I was looking forward to the future and being done with surgeries. I guess I should not have gotten THAT excited. A month after I graduated, at 10 am, I went for a bike ride to the library and remember telling my step dad where I was going. He was on chemo for his cancer he had. As I left, the twins in my neighborhood begged to go with me to the library. I believe they were ten at the time. For some odd reason I told them no. Normally I would have them come. As I was riding my bike, I was getting closer to the post office, the sun was shining brightly. I saw the SUV pulling away from the curb to leave, and I was thinking he will go so I stopped where I was. He was waiting for me to go as I was doing the same with him, but with the sun being so bright and shining in my eyes we pulled away at the same time and I got hit by him while riding my bike. I do not remember falling to the ground, but I guess I had blacked out for a few seconds until I woke up noticing I was on the ground. I remember thinking “I can get up I am fine”. I felt nothing. I pushed my back with my elbows holding against the ground and looked straight to that car with my leg dangling in front of me. I screamed at the top of my lungs noticing I had a compound fracture in my leg. I was very scared seeing all the blood. I started screaming for help and even screaming at the driver to get out and help me. I was told that I was in shock and was devastated by what was happening to me. A woman who was on her way to work stopped with her fancy car, literally picked me up and put me in her car with blood going everywhere on her seat. I was disoriented and I could see bright rays around the woman. I asked her “Are you my angel?” When I was put into an ambulance, I asked the ambulance worker to please let that guy know I forgive him. When I got to the hospital I had to go through surgery. When I woke up I told them I saw angels and God and felt a lot of love surrounding me. I was released from the hospital three days later. The doctor told me I would possibly be limping for the rest of my life. I was so stubborn and hardheaded; I forced myself to go on walks to get myself better.

Real Imprints

My plans had fallen through, I was supposed to go to college, and instead I just got jobs. As years passed I struggled with depression. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. When I was diagnosed with this disorder I felt completely alone and that no one understood what I was going through. I went into counseling to get help. I struggled with finding a job. Eventually, I was admitted into a hospital. I stayed there for three days. I was humiliated and felt alone. When I was focusing on myself, I was looking around at the people around me which made me finally open up my eyes. I thought to myself, “Wow I am not alone.” I have seen many other people struggle badly. I felt bad for them and wanted to reach out to them. I would cry while lying in bed at the hospital, I wouldn’t show others I was crying. I kept thinking to myself I need to get help and be there for other people. This is not all about me. This is about others too.

When I got out of the hospital, I kept attempting to get the help I needed. I feel that I am a lot better than the past. I am starting to accept myself for who I am regardless of what scars I have on my face and my personality, I am myself. I have always wanted to die and give up because I felt alone. I am starting to realize the purpose of my life here. Here I am September 15, 2014. I feel that I am a better person, but I am not perfect either. I hope I can reach out to others who have struggled with things similar to me.

Story written by: Danielle

This story was seen first on Real Imprints.