Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What will you choose?

"My diagnosis still hadn't sunk in...I didn't want to tell my family that I learned I'd be blind within a matter of years. I don't think I am ready to accept it myself."

Like most individuals that are newly blind or those that have a vision impairment, showing some signs of shock and denial to their vision loss is common. According to the American Foundation for the Blind, "ten million people in the United States are blind or visually impaired." The major eye conditions are Cataracts, Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma, and Diabetic Retinopathy.

There are many stages that a person may go through, when they find out that their life is going to change because of a visual diagnosis. Usually, shock and denial come first. Patients may become overwhelmed on hearing the news for the first time that they are losing their sight or may become blind. It can take their breath away. They may say "I can see just fine and I'm not going blind." They may even leave the appointment and not tell anyone. Self-pity and anger may come next. "Why me? What have I done to deserve this? Am I a bad person?" A patient may als0 become very isolated during this phase and stop doing activities that they once loved to participate in. This type of negative thinking can lead to the depression stage. They may have a feeling of despair and worthlessness as well as helplessness. At this point it is important for them to talk to someone so they don't give up or feel completely alone. Sometimes seeking professional help or searching out a support group is a helpful option. If at this point they are ready to move a step out of their despair and find a glimmer of hope then they are ready for the reassessment stage. Here is where they can evaluate their situation and try to move forward. Maybe by talking and sharing their experience with others they are able to examine their life and find meaning and realize they are not alone. Others too have felt the same way and have been able to move on and live happy successful lives. Some changes needed to take place and a new vision had to be seen but it's possible. With this kind of open mind and hopeful attitude they may be ready for the coping stage where they will go out and find information on ways to help them live with a visual impairment. They may reach out to their Doctor, support group, or family which leads to the final stage of acceptance. This is where the real healing can begin. Here the patients hopefully will gain some hope, self-confidence, and self-worth and begin to have and understanding with his/her vision loss and move towards a happy and productive way of life.

Having a positive attitude will impact people that are blind or visually impaired. Disability must be perceived as a challenge rather then a weakness. The key to ridding yourself of a bad attitude of helplessness is to clear your mind of all negative inner conversations and replace them with more hopeful messages. It is important to have a positive inner dialogue. While it is true that feeling of anger, resentment and helplessness are normal, it is best to move forward so that your physical debilitation does not override your mental and emotional faculties as well.

Do you see the glass half empty or half full? Those that go through life with a negative attitude will find it more difficult to find happiness. On the other hand, those that have a positive attitude will be able to find some happiness, much more successfully, in living every day. Losing vision or becoming blind is a hard thing to go through but with the right outlook you can go through this challenge. We all have a choice on how we deal with things that happen to us. Are we going to choose self-pity and not live life to our fullest potential or are we going to choose to live no matter what happens and focus on all the possibilities out there. Sometimes overcoming a traumatic experience and moving forward gives us a sense of accomplishment and triumph. Learning a new way of life can stimulate the brain and opens up a whole new and exciting way of life and shows us there is never a dull moment. I would rather learn a new way to live than be stuck in a hole of self-pity and pain. Remember, it's a choice.

What will you choose?