Making the Critical Connection Between Heart and Head
When I was first diagnosed with macular degeneration (AMD) 10 years ago, it was all in my head. I had the eye exam, heard the results, came to some logical conclusions, and went on with my life.
It wasn't a big surprise since my mother was legally blind due to dry AMD. I had also always had vision challenges, starting in the first grade with corrective glasses and as an adult, chronic uveitis.
Then came the AMD diagnosis when I reached my 60s. During this time, I was processing everything in my head. Temporarily, that worked for me; with a strong emphasis on temporarily.
Choosing to be bitter or better
It wasn't until 5 years after my AMD diagnosis that I began to see noticeable differences in my vision and finally got out of my head and started the harder emotional journey to my heart. Seeing AMD from a physical and medical standpoint was important, but ignoring the emotional aspects began to rob me of my joy.
The question I asked myself was, “Do I want to become bitter or better?” Typically an upbeat, optimistic person, I decided to get busy getting better. With AMD, it would be easy to become bitter, especially after intimately knowing a loved one with AMD who became deeply depressed and isolated.
Making the physical and emotional connection
I could go the same route as my mother or I could do the hard but necessary inner work to find joy again, despite my AMD diagnosis. This would involve making that critical connection between my head and my heart.
It's not enough to know the physical components. There is also a definite emotional link that needs to be addressed if we are to ever find joy again. So, I began the crucial journey into my heart. It was time to look more deeply.
How counseling and spirituality helped me find joy again
The emotional journey was two-fold for me. It involved personal counseling to address my sadness about future vulnerability and making a spiritual connection where inner vision is the end goal. We are all spiritual beings in a human body. In this world, the two cannot be separated. To ultimately have peace of mind, both the physical and spiritual must be considered, regardless of health challenges.
Personal counseling was very helpful in identifying my greatest fears. When I realized I was afraid of becoming like my mother - legally blind, isolated, and depressed - and being vulnerable after being fiercely independent my entire life, I was able to acknowledge and accept that I was not my mother and that it was alright to ask for help.
It was as if why I was feeling sad finally made sense and I could start to heal mentally. However, there was more to it. As I matured and became more mindful, spirituality and daily meditation practice became my salvation from challenges, including AMD.
Meditation and journaling
For me, the connection between my head and my heart was far better understood and greatly strengthened by writing about my feelings and finding peace through meditation. It inspired me to facilitate a table of 6 women who came together to meditate and practice mindfulness.
This close group has given me purpose and strength. We share our deep thoughts and insights in support of one another. It is very healing and calming. There can be a full, purposeful life after an AMD diagnosis!
Online community support
Another way I nurture myself is frequently coming to this website - maculardegeneration.net - for information, encouragement and support. Belonging to this community has given me much comfort, knowledge and emotional support. I now have access to many helpful tools, unknown to me before.
Learning unique lessons from macular degeneration
In summary, it is not wise to neglect either the heart or the head. This incurable, chronic condition does not only affect my physical vision. It most definitely affects me emotionally, as well. For me, that realization came later. Maybe it would have been too much to deal with all at once.
One thing I know for sure is that I know myself better as a result of going deeper into my emotions involving AMD. In some ways, it has been a blessing in disguise. Not always - I still have challenging days - but I have learned things I would never have learned had it not been for my AMD journey.
I am grateful for this awareness and for the opportunity to share my experiences with others. May we all find peace and continue to support one another by sharing our experiences and strengthening the critical connection between heart and head. Please feel free to comment below about your personal experience.
Do you feel that you've maintained independence with macular degeneration?