Is It Possible to Live a Good Life with Vision Loss?

“Don’t worry. Be happy.” Everybody sing or whistle along!

Don’t you just hate the Pollyannas of the world? They can drive you crazy! And, yes, I know that includes me.

Wondering what life is like blind

The problem is, I tried being depressed and it did not “fit” me well. On a rainy Fourth of July three years ago, I sat on my couch and wondered what my life would be like as a “blind” person. I imagined being stuck at home, alone, despondent. After about two hours of that, I said to hell with this, got up and did something. Being depressed was depressing!

Afraid of going blind

So, basically, I rejected what I “knew” as the stereotype, older, “blind” person and decided to take a better hold of my own destiny. As I started looking around - and let’s face it, few of us actually looked at or talked to blind people until we were afraid we were going to be one of their numbers - I discovered there are many, many blind and visually impaired who lead good lives. Who would have “thunk” it?

Giving blindness a bad name

As a matter of fact, when I wrote a piece on the fear and sadness of losing sight, I was chastised by a congenitally blind person for, essentially, giving blindness a bad name! I tried to explain to him that I was not trying to “run down” blindness but I was talking about the fear and sadness over the loss. Jeez. Everybody is so sensitive!

Finding positivity

Anyway, to get back to my original premise, it is possible to live a good life with vision loss. Depression is not mandatory and you, too, can be a Pollyanna. Okay, maybe not a Pollyanna. We tend to be annoying. How about just establishing a more positive mood?

Dancing because it makes me happy

What do you love? What makes you happy? On the cruise, I took every opportunity to dance. I was standing in line at guest services dancing to the music filtering in from the shopping area. Some guy suggested I needed a dance floor. Nope. No dance floor required. You see that crazy woman dancing down the aisles at Home Depot? Yep. Me.

Why do I dance? It makes me happy. What is great about it is it works both ways. I dance when I am happy and to dance makes me happy. What do you have that does it for you?

DBT and accumulating positives

In DBT, “my” school of therapy, it is called accumulating positives. Having happy experiences reduces your vulnerability to depression. It is almost like a vaccine. I talked about this before but it bears repeating. Having positive things in our lives helps to keep it positive.

The Mona Lisa smile

There is another trick that works both ways as well. Do you know the Mona Lisa smile? Keeping that tiny, little half-smile on your face actually brightens your mood! It has been discovered there is a feedback loop between your emotions and your face. You smile when you are happy. Having a tiny, little half-smile on your face makes you happy. Weird but true.

We may not be able to prevent our vision loss, but there are some things that can help us stave off the blue moods. Do things you love, have positive experiences and practice your Mona Lisa smile. Go ahead and try being a Pollyanna. If nothing else, sometimes it’s fun to drive people crazy!

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