Why it is OK To Fall Apart When New to Vision Loss

Woman falling backwards into a lake
Harry Williamson/Spring Studio

The fear of going blind runs a close second to being diagnosed with a terminal illness.

If you are beginning to lose some of your sight, and you are afraid of falling apart emotionally during the process, I’d like to reassure you.

It is natural for anyone to slide into panic especially if it is official and you have symptoms of an incurable eye condition. Your world feels like it has been turned upside down, and probably so has your rational way of thinking.

It’s frightening to face the truth of blindness because we live in a highly visual world.

From using technology to reading body language, from appreciating the arts to raising a family, and every visual pleasure in between: what can you do now as your vision fades?

Please take heart: your life is not ending. You are in the uncomfortable phase of facing a major life-challenge and you will survive!

 3 Key Insights

The first insight I can share with you is to see your future as a detour rather than a dead end.

The second is understanding that letting go is not what you think it is.

And the third is accepting falling apart as the catalyst for change.

 Let’s go a bit further to explore these key insights and help calm your emotional reaction to the thought of coping with a life with low vision.

 1: Life Detours are Not Dead Ends

Part of the problem is being human. People are creatures of habit. We are taught to fit into timetables, family and work regimes and other behavior patterns that help bring stability and security to our lives.

The moment our ‘normal’ patterns collapse into uncertainty due to unforeseen health situations, work and relationship circumstances or other confronting new events, what happens? The signpost warns ‘Change Ahead’.

Most of us don’t particularly like to embrace change – at first.

We’d prefer to live with the devil we know than take a vacation with the one we don’t.

“Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time: what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.” (Sydney J. Harris).

If we can see the unexpected changes in our lives as necessary detours to somewhere else we hadn’t planned to go, and that they don’t all lead to ‘dead ends’ but actually bring us into uncharted territory, then we can begin to work with key insight #2: Letting go is not what you think it is.

2: Letting Go is More About Gaining than Losing

To let go of an aspect of our lives, especially in the context of losing our eyesight, might appear to mean giving up being  the ‘normal’ person that you are right now. Your eyesight is failing you and this is terribly difficult to accept without falling apart under the weight of uncertainty.

Not many of us like failure of any kind but there is an empowering principal at work here. My guide dog showed me this lesson when I noticed what happened when offering him a new bone. Seriously? Yes.

There he was, furiously chomping on an old, dry and rotten bone and refused to stop to see what I had in my hand: a new and juicy bone. Until he dropped the old bone, there was no hope of enjoying a meaty alternative.

Without wanting to make vision loss as trivial as that, my point is that we really can choose to let go of the old to make way for the new. It is a process, and time and healing are required, but at some point, looking to healthy alternatives will bring a renewed sense of self.

3: Accepting Change as the Catalyst for New Directions

The signpost now reads “You are Here” – and hopefully by now, I’ve been able to reassure you that in spite of feeling vulnerable, lost and uncertain with the newness of living with a progressive eye condition, falling apart emotionally at first is absolutely OK in order to accept the detour ahead.

Empower your future by looking at your alternatives: the American Foundation for the Blind, for example, offers a plethora  of solutions to a number of key issues which living with vision loss can create.

They also have an extensive directory listing support groups that meet up in various places through the United States and Canada.

As you discover a new meaning to ‘letting go’ in order to keep going, and that feeling vulnerable happens to each one of us on this journey, you never know, you might just end up doing amazing things in other areas of your life you haven’t even imagined yet.

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