Resilient Despite Life's Hardship
In the first installment of this two-part article series, I wrote about how relentless life can be sometimes. I’ve lost two very important people in my life and my children’s lives this past year and it’s been enough to knock me down for good... but it hasn’t. If you haven't read this article yet, you can find it here.
Resilience, vision loss, and other hardship
In this article, I’m here to tell you that despite all of these really difficult experiences, I am happier, healthier, and more at peace than ever. And, I’d like to share with anyone wishing for peace how I have been able to keep standing, find serenity, and keep moving toward hope and happiness.
Gratitude and intentional happiness
You see, I still have many happy and amazing things going on in my life. As stated in the first article, I have SO MUCH to be thankful for and to look forward to... I just have to be extremely careful about how I handle the hard things so they don't continue to steal my joy as they have so often in the past.
Mental health and vision loss
My failing eyes are often the epicenter for my difficult emotions as I learn to navigate the mental health aspect of this disease. Every disease has a mental health component, macular degeneration is no different.
A new blind spot
This year, the scotoma in my right eye has become noticeably larger and I’ve formed a new, small scotoma in my left eye. Though these are just my own personal hardships of MD, we all experience similar hardships and emotions with vision loss. For me, these scotomas are scary and make all of life’s moments seem more difficult. Even deeper breaths.
The value of emotional health during difficult times
Needless to say, with so much heavy 'baggage' weighing me down, I needed something to keep me grounded at a time where it felt hard to even stand on my own two feet and breathe. I needed to add some tools to my toolbox of life in order to be able to rebuild and fix what was broken. In my humble opinion, if there’s any one aspect of life that can really tear a person down, it's poor emotional health.
At the end of the day, I have two young children counting on me to show them grit, grace, self-love, and confidence. I can’t just be that mom that tells her sons that they are powerful enough to do anything they put their minds to... if I’m not willing to put the hard work in that’s required to change my own life. The kind words of a friend, my faith, and my support groups gifted me a few important reminders this morning during my time on the struggle bus.
Leaning into faith
This particular sermon that I listened to by Sarah Jakes Roberts is about trying to survive and doing what you have to do when life is digging in on you. She said:
“For some reason, life doesn’t care what you’ve lost. For some reason, life doesn’t look at you and say [you’ve already lost so much]. No, life keeps taking and taking and taking. Life keeps digging and digging and digging. And it starts bringing all types of things up to the surface when life keeps digging. Life digs so much that every now and then we wish that we could take a break, but it just keeps on digging.”
As I struggle to know how to help my children through this devastation, I found strength as Sarah Jakes Roberts continued:
“All of a sudden, [I had] an audience to watch me try and survive. It’s one thing to just try to survive. But, it’s an entirely different thing when you’re trying to survive with an audience of people looking up to you...trying to figure out how you’re going to bounce back from THIS. Is there any way possible, with the kids watching that I’m ever going to be able to explain to them how we’re going to survive after this?"
What I CAN do for my children's visual and mental health
You see, I may not be able to prevent the disease of macular degeneration from passing through my family genetically... I may not even be able to prevent the disease of addiction from trying to creep into my children’s lives... but what I CAN do is help provide strength and knowledge in handling difficult things.
Changing perspectives to support mental and physical well-being
Something I shared with one of my support groups this week was a quote about breaking generational dysfunction (including our mental health and the way we handle life's toughest moments). It says:
“Family dysfunction rolls down from generation to generation, like a fire in the woods, taking down everything in its path until one person in one generation has the courage to turn and face the flames. That person brings peace to their ancestors and spares the children that follow.” - Terry Real
I CAN turn and face the flames. I CAN promote vulnerability and emotional health. I CAN show my children that hard things in life are there to help make us stronger. I CAN advocate for the support of communities like ours here at MacularDegeneration.net.
This is how we will bounce back from THIS.
Resilient in the face of hardship
You guys, I’m just not the type of person to roll over and give up. I don’t have it in me to accept anything else in life other than peace and joy. That isn’t to say my life is without struggle. It may even be part of the reason for some of my struggles. It’s just to say that my perspective about struggle is a lot different than it was a few years ago. I may take a little bit of time to grieve, but then I use my pain to fuel me forward. If I can come out on the other side of my hardships stronger and at peace, you can too.
Kick and scream if you must... then do what you CAN,
Does macular degeneration affect your mental health?