Hope and Coping Strategies for Vision Loss
Hello! How are you doing? My HU MacularDegeneration.net email came earlier in the week. I was reading some of the back pages that were published. One I read was by my friend Linda and she was talking about the webpage and Facebook group.
Not to quote exactly but basically, she said we are in the hope business. I stopped to reflect on how true that is.
I like to think we spread hope wherever we go. Not to be too terribly arrogant about this - moi? Don’t be ridiculous! But I try to be a living example of hope.
Not letting vision loss take my life away
People tell me if they were losing their sight they would crawl in a hole and die. They remark about my life being over and how terrible it must be. I just look them in (what I can see of) their eyes and tell them it simply is not that way at all for me. It does not have to be that way for others either.
Struggling with vision loss
Early on in my vision loss, I was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (with apologies to Alexander). I decided to throw myself a pity party. It lasted pretty much all afternoon and in the end, I had made a decision. Feeling sorry for myself was really boring. If I were not depressed, if I kept that behavior up, I was going to be.
This is where being a psychologist comes in handy. I actually KNEW what I needed to do! In general psychology, it is referred to as behavioral activation. If you are feeling miserable, get moving and do something. In Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) it is a mix of opposite to emotion and distracting with activities. If you are feeling miserable, do something that will make you happy. If you are scared, do what frightens you. If all you can think about is your vision loss, do something that will distract you. In short, DO SOMETHING!
Working as a distraction
What should you do? That depends upon your interests and your physical and mental abilities. Forgive me for being weird, but I like my job. Work is a great distraction for me. I go in at 8:30 and get out “a little bit later” at 4:15. My days just fly and there simply is no time to contemplate the deterioration of my vision.
Finding hobbies and distractions
What else do I do? Yoga and cardio dance, namely Zumba and hip hop. I refer to my exercise classes as my anti-Alzheimer’s plan. If you want to fight cognitive decline, the literature suggests repetitive, patterned movements and learning something new. That sounds like sun salutations and dance routines to me.
Maybe it sounds like something else to you. Great! Of course, what you do doesn’t have to be what I do. All you have to do to fight all those nasty things like dementia and depression and generate hope is...DO SOMETHING.
Show people vision loss is not the end
And something else if you want to be an example of hope? Let people see you doing it! Let them be aware of your (shudder!) disability. The visually impaired are almost an invisible population. How many VIPs do you see on the street or in the grocery store? I would bet not many. No wonder people think it is a bleak existence! No wonder people think vision loss is a one-way ticket to instant misery! They never see the visually impaired doing things. Want to be a living example of hope? Get out there and DO SOMETHING.
Have you introduced yourself to the community yet?