For years I pretended that I could see everything. I did not want to look ‘different’. My main aim in life was to appear NORMAL. It is only in mid-life that I realise that ‘normal’ is over rated. The pretending, memorising, and anticipating circumstances became too stressful for my aging brain …… my memory card was full before I even stepped out of the house in the morning. With the help of my wise and patient husband, I realised that I needed help to be ‘blind’ (even though it is only my central vision that has gone). Trying to act sighted was just too stressful.
With counselling through the Helen Keller Low Vision Services, I began to see myself as I was. I even bought a white cane, but it sat in my cupboard for a long time. I really had to take a good look at my life and see how futile my fight for normality was. Eventually I swallowed my pride and began to be kind to myself and educate people around me as to what I needed.
The first time I used my cane I was so surprised. I was waiting to cross the street and a fellow pedestrian asked if I needed help. I replied that it would be useful if I could follow them across the road. In a shop the assistant asked me if she could help in any way and I took her up on her offer. We chatted away as she helped me pick out a size medium top. When I came to the till, the checkout lady read the amount to me without me having to ask.
This was the beginning of real independence for me. Having a white symbol cane allows others to know that I am visually impaired and gives me the freedom to ask anyone for help without them staring at me as if I am brain dead. It has given me the freedom to go out when and where I want to instead of always relying on my family.
My life is a lot less stressful and more adventurous since I embraced my disability, or rather, ‘different- ability’.