Wednesday, April 23, 2014
You are not alone
This post is directed to people who have recently been diagnosed with a visual disorder or have a loved one who has. I know it is a shocking diagnosis and you will certainly need some time to process it. You have every right to be angry, sad, scared, even pissed off. Believe me, these are normal reactions. What I want to convey here is that you are not in this alone. You might feel like you are. You probably do not know anyone else with the same diagnosis. But we are out there. One reason I love social media (and there are reasons I do not like it as well) is the way it can connect people who are in a similar situation.
"You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have." You will learn through this process that you are stronger than you ever thought. There will be times when you feel helpless, lost, unsure of the future. But you need to remember there is so much more to you than this. You will get lots of reactions from friends, co-workers, even strangers that often are the opposite of helpful. I have heard on many occasion "I could not live without my car." This statement always makes me cringe. I feel like saying "Actually you could. It would just take a lot of changes in your life."
You will have certain friends and family members who will try to understand and offer as much support as they can. Embrace their help and be honest with them about how you are feeling. I know how hard it is to lose so much of your independence. Asking for help is not easy and can make us feel inadequate. But think about how much you would want to help others if the roles were reversed. There should be no shame in needing assistance.
I also hope that you will seek out others in your area who are blind or visually impaired. Being able to confide in someone who has gone through the same thing is priceless. It might take some time before you feel comfortable doing this but please try . Check out your local chapter of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. You will probably at times want to stay in bed and cry. That's OK too... but I hope you will not let this feeling of helplessness overcome you. You have your life to live. And this life can still be full of happiness, love and beauty.
I think it is important to stay active. As a teenager, I ran track every winter and spring season of high school. I also played soccer and ran cross-country track. I did not realize it then but this gave me an outlet for my emotions. The anxiety, stress, anger I felt got channeled to my running and it propelled me to do very well. I could not play other sports I would have liked to play (such as lacrosse) so I made the most of what I COULD do.
That is key... Focus on what you CAN do. You will find creative ways to accomplish your goals.
As a friend once said to me... You do not need good vision to be able to see the beautiful things in life. What makes this statement even more meaningful is that it comes from someone who was diagnosed with Stargardt's last year. She has amazed me with the strength she has shown while going through this!