I’m normally a happy, optimistic person, but since I've begun moderating for the MacularDegeneration.net Facebook page, I’ve found myself spending more time thinking about my own journey with macular degeneration, past, present and future. Reading some of the stories that people post online, both positive and negative, seems to have an effect on how I feel about my own. Usually, I find myself realizing how fortunate I am that my vision is still quite good, but then, occasionally, negative thoughts start to creep in.
Thinking of vision loss progression
Before I started this, I rarely thought about the progress of my wet left eye or my dry right eye. Being an eternal optimist, it was only in the days before an injection when it came to front of mind. Checking my Amsler grid and taking the vitamins had become routine, done without thinking or worrying about the reason.
Hearing sad stories of vision loss
On our Facebook page, some say they have been having injections regularly for years and still have some bleeding, or someone talks about the scotoma getting larger and darker in their dry eye, it hits me right in the stomach. I don’t know if this is because I feel guilty in that I still have fairly good vision, or because this is possibly my future, whether near or distant. Or perhaps it’s just that I can feel their pain, and understand their feelings of occasional depression.
Focusing on the positive parts of my life
I believe happiness is a choice, so to counteract these negative feelings, I start focusing on more pleasant things. A walk in the sunshine with my amazing walking group, or taking pictures of some of the beautiful flowering trees, the showy pink rhododendron by the front door, or even just watching the ducks by the bog. A great way to improve my mood is to invite my grandson over for a visit and dinner. These are just a few of the ways I bring the sunshine back into my life.
Tips to stay positive with vision loss
If you, too, catch yourself feeling a little down, some ideas might be to start a gratitude journal, or plan an outing with a friend, perhaps become a volunteer. Depending on your own skillset, work with people either with more or fewer needs than yourself. Or perhaps you could help with school lunches. Being with children is a great mood enhancer. How could you remain gloomy surrounded by happy children? Becoming a volunteer dog walker for the SPCA gets you out in the sunshine which brightens any mood.
I know these suggestions are only for the occasional bout of the blues, and that any lasting or deep depression would require medical intervention or some form of professional therapy.
A positive outlook
So don’t let your diagnosis bring you down, or reduced vision lower your quality of life. Some things may need to change, but with a positive outlook it can still be a wonderful time of life
How do you maintain a positive outlook? What techniques do you use when you find yourself losing that positivity? Do you have some suggestions for those of us whose lives have been impacted by vision loss or even just by the thought of future vision loss? Please let us know in the comments how you maintain your happiness.
Do you still drive?