Isolation and Depression in RP

Isolation and Depression in RP

We’ve covered, to some extent, the fear of going blind, but fear doesn’t come to us on its own, it usually brings along its twin brothers isolation and depression.  It doesn’t matter which one turns up first, each will most likely arrive at some point during your journey to blindness.  As with all things we find a challenge, if we examine t carefully and break it down into its parts, it’s easier to deal with and not nearly as scary as it first appeared.

Isolation:

Fear of going outside often leads to isolation.  We hide away in our safe space, scared of the big bad world and all its dangers.  We find that we can no longer do the job that we’ve spent years at, and again lock ourselves away feeling shameful and despondent.  Friends and family can no longer relate to us and we just can’t seem to communicate our needs effectively.  The fun has seeped out of our beloved hobbies which have become a more of a challenge rather than a pleasure.  Just going out with friends for a meal or a drink has such obstacles that we feel overwhelmed and avoid the occasion, and then wonder why we don’t see the old gang anymore.  We pull away and yet feel abandoned.  We go out less, if at all, and see fewer and fewer people.  We feel alone because we are alone.

Depression:

This is when the depression sets in.  Alone, feeling helpless and hopeless starts the downward spiral.  The more down we get, the more we isolate ourselves, the deeper the depression.  STOP!!  Hard as it is we have to put a stop to the spiral.  Try to get some distance from what is happening at the moment, take a breath and look at the situation again.  It will be like pulling yourself out of quicksand, the good news is that it can be done.  If you are feeling completely overwhelmed, seek help immediately.  Do not hesitate to go to your family doctor and explain the situation.  You may need to seek counselling.  If things are bad, find a professional that is qualified to help you through this.

Digging Yourself Out:

“The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step”     –Lao Tzu

So, take a step.  Think of one thing you can do to get you out of the house.  Just a walk down the street can give you the confidence to start getting out with friends.  One of my favorite sayings is as follows:

“Feel the fear and do it anyway!”    Which is the title of a book by Susan Jeffers

You must move through the fear to get to the confidence.  You must discover new ways of doing old things.  The Blind Bucket List is all about this concept.  Many days I am scared and think that I can’t do this, but I keep telling myself that I must.  I must prove that it is possible, and I must see these things before I lose all my sight.  I promised myself someday, but someday is now because there is no other choice.  My sight is failing and therefore I must take advantage of what I have.  I wish I had someone to experience this with me, but I don’t, so I have to go it alone.  The fear of not doing it is far greater than the fear of doing it and therefore, the adventure wins.  Find that motivation in yourself.  There must be something that can drive you to achieve your goals and dreams.  You just have to find it.

Reach out to family and friends.  Often the ones closest to us don’t know how to speak to us anymore.  They are fearful of saying the wrong things, it’s up to us to let them know what works for us.  Can you joke about being blind, or is it just too sensitive a subject still?  You, as the blind person, have to set the boundaries and be open enough to discuss it with those who are close to you.

Online support is also available.  Facebook groups are filled with people who understand what you are going through.  There are always lots of people to answer your questions or share experiences with.  There are also lots of blind people doing vlogs on YouTube explaining how they handle their vision loss and how to do day to day tasks.  Get involved in the virtual world, we would love to hear from you.

The bottom line – don’t give in to the triple threat of fear, isolation and depression.  Be proactive and think about what you can do.  Reach out to others, professionals and the people who care about you, and talk to them.  Let them know how you feel and what you need from them, you’ll be surprised how much support you really have.


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