One of the blogs I look forward to reading is Brighter Nights. I can always count on Jay for his unique perspective on vision loss and the words to convey the deep emotions we share. Little did I realize how his latest post, The Mental Impact of Vision Loss, would impact me.
Many of you know that I am never reluctant to discuss my experiences with macular degeneration and the vision issues that go with it. I believe the more educated people are, the better the understanding. However as time goes by I realize how difficult it is for people to ‘see’ the way I do. It’s not lack of trying, it’s just not possible to keep this in mind all day, every day. That’s why those of us with vision loss, hang out together.
Most of my discussions with people are as a speaker or on a one-to-one basis. Recently though, I had to make a decision asking for a special accommodation at a large venue – seating is amphitheater style and you enter at the top tier. Since my depth perception is ‘kaput’ I was really concerned about the fear and disorientation that accompanies this issue. So I called and asked for special seating. Nice lady, no problem.
And so for the past two weeks, I’ve been out-of-sorts. Hard to put my finger on what was happening and then I just happened to re-read Jay’s post and bingo! there it was. I was having a Mental Impact Problem. But what emotion was I feeling – it wasn’t anger or fear or denial (although I’ve had all these emotions over the years.)
After a lot of reflection I realized that I feel vulnerable for the very first time. I will be out there for all to see as a ‘special’ person. How will others react? Will I be judged for sitting in special seating? Quite possibly, since I don’t use a cane and have no other outward sign of vision loss except for my wobbly gait and if you happen to notice my ‘glare’ glasses I wear indoors.
Is this silly on my part? Maybe, but it’s a real emotion and I’m working my way through it. I think I will handle it the same way as the one-on-one discussions. Upfront, educate, educate, educate.
I know what Jay means when he talks about being valued. In a *seeing* world, is my value diminished? That would make me sad.
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Thanks Jay – for permission to use your article and for the support you give us all.