Accepting a disability is a difficult thing to do, I can’t deny that, I don’t think anyone can. But the fact that something is difficult doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.
I think that accepting a disability is a way of moving forward and looking to the future. Accepting it shows that you have courage and strength to look past it and realise that although you live with a disability it’s not always a barrier and it is possible to live a happy and positive life despite the hurdles you’ll stumble upon.
In today’s post I’m hoping to reflect on how I’ve learned to accept my disability and hopefully you can learn a little something from it. I’m also hoping it can help some of you who are also living with a disability and that you can relate to it in some way.
Being diagnosed at a young age
I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (a degenerative eye condition) at the age of six which you’ll know if you’re a regular reader of my blog. I was registered as being partially sighted when I was first diagnosed but was later registered blind/severely sight impaired at the age of twelve. I think the fact that I was diagnosed at such a young age helped in a way as I’ve grown up with my condition and I’ve had to face the hurdles and barriers that come along with it and learned what the best way to cope with them is. Although I didn’t understand why I couldn’t see like other people my age at the beginning, I soon came to grips with understanding what my condition was and what it meant for me. I can’t deny that it’s been hard growing up with sight loss and being treated differently because of it at times but it was definitely beneficial to be diagnosed at a young age.
Allowing myself to be sad
Losing sight is a grieving process, I sometimes feel sad because I’m losing something that some people consider to be vital in their lives. When I feel sad, I tell myself it’s ok to feel that way and I feel like it’s important to let myself cry and to relieve all the emotions that build up inside of me. I don’t get as many sad moments because of my sight loss as I used to anymore because I’ve found the best ways to deal with it and I try not to let the negatives overrule the positives. But if I want to be sad and feel like i have to then I won’t prevent myself from feeling that way.
Finding other people in a similar situation
This was definitely a turning point for me when it came to accepting my vision impairment. Before I started blogging I wasn’t aware of many people who had a vision impairment so I didn’t talk about it with anyone as I didn’t know who was out there. I have come across so many blind/VI people since starting my blog and I find that talking to them about what I’m going through helps so much as it helps me realise that I’m not alone.
Talking about it
I’ve never been the best at talking about how I’m feeling, explaining to people what’s going on in my head but I’d like to think I’ve improved on that recently, especially with my close family and friends. I feel like talking can help no matter what it is you’re dealing with, I know that might sound cliché but it is true. It’s important not to let the anger and upset build up inside of you, it might help to talk even if it’s just the slightest amount. I can’t deny that I’m still guilty of not talking about my feelings and thoughts from time to time but when I do, I feel a sense of relief as I realise I don’t have to face the battle alone.
Being accepted by others
There’s no hiding the fact that living with a disability means that quite a few judgments and assumptions are made by those who aren’t disabled. Hearing about the perceptions and misconceptions can be hard at times. It’s not nice to be made to feel different because of a disability you’re living with. I’ve come across a fair few people in my life who have treated me differently because of my vision impairment, they might talk to me in a different way to how they speak to others or maybe not acknowledge me in any way which I’m sure you can imagine is quite hurtful at times. Despite there being many people in this world who hold these misconceptions and preconceived ideas about those of us who live with a disability, there are others who are very accepting of it and who treat us as they would anyone else. Meeting those people and having them in my life helps me realise that there are people out there who are willing to look past my vision impairment and accept me for who I am as a person rather than letting my disability to be the first thing they see. The fact that those people are willing to accept me despite the fact that I’m VI helps me to accept it myself.
Writing about it
From a young age I’ve always found comfort in writing my feelings down on a page. I’d say that writing has always been an escape for me, a way of getting my feelings out there without the need to tell anyone else. As I said before, talking does help but for someone like me who finds it hard to talk sometimes I always turn to writing and find that it helps so much. Being able to write about my experiences and feelings on my blog also helps because it gives me the opportunity to receive feedback from others in the same or similar situation and again makes me realise that I’m not alone.
Finding the positives
I’d like to think that I’ve always been quite a positive person, I always try my best to look at the positive side of every situation. There is of course a number of negatives when it comes to living with a disability but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any positives. I could write a long list of the positive things that come alongside being vision impaired, it’s not all bad and I think it’s important to remember that. Yes, I have and still do come across a number of hurdles and barriers due to my disability but I try my best to deal with them in the most positive way I can. It’s hard at times but I believe that I have become a stronger person because of my vision impairment.
Accepting that my disability doesn’t define me
There have been times where I’ve thought that my disability is the only thing that people see, that they’ll judge me for my disability and not give me the opportunity to show the person behind it. But I soon realised that it’s not what defines me and if people choose to judge me for it I can’t change that. I think it’s important to remember that there are people out there who are willing to accept me for who I am despite the fact that I’m living with a vision impairment. My disability isn’t the first thing that everyone sees, some are willing to get to know me for who I am and that’s what helps me realise that although I live with a disability and it’s a big part of my life, it’s not who i am. I have my own personality, my own hobbies and interests, my own passions and dreams and the fact that I’m VI doesn’t prevent me from expressing these things.
Although this post has focused on the fact that I’ve now leaarned to accept my vision impairment, it did take quite a bit of time for that to happen. I know that it’s harder for some people to accept their disability and if you’re one of those people then remember that there’s no shame or weakness in that. Everyone deals with things in different ways and it takes a different amount of time for everyone to come to grips with the things that happen in their lives.
Do you live with a disability? If so, how have you learned to accept it or are you still coming to grips with it? Let me know in the comments as I would love to hear from you.