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My Coping Strategy for Vision Loss

As I often do, I have been wandering around from topic to topic, "Tangents ‘r’ us." Now I guess it is time to get back to my story. My Zumba and yoga buddy and now Sunday ride home has a birthday February 13. It was the day before her birthday, February 12, 2016. I met with my retinologist and got the news about my second eye. The next day was her birthday and a Saturday. We were supposed to celebrate in Zumba. Tutus, tiaras, “magic” wands, the whole nine yards.

Dialectic behavioral therapy

If you read my bio, you know my school of therapy is Dialectic Behavior Therapy. In DBT we teach there are four possible reactions to any problem.

Solve the problem

The first thing that might be done is to solve the problem. I would have loved a solution to my vision problems. Unfortunately, dry AMD is a condition with no cure. The “toys” I now use to help my vision and better cope were in my future. Nix the solution option.

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Staying miserable

Generally mentioned as number 4, the next option I want to tell you about is staying miserable. It never fails to amaze me how popular this option actually is. People ask me how I can still be happy and functional. “If I were in your position, I would be miserable. I would want to lie down and just die!” Uh...nope. The thought of being miserable the rest of my life is just not that appealing. Onto the next option!

Change the way you feel

The next option in DBT is to change the way you feel. I am not talking about getting happy ABOUT vision loss. This is not doing handsprings - “Yippee! I’m legally blind!.” It is finding something that will change your feelings for the better IN SPITE OF your problems. We will come back to this one.

Tolerate your situation

The last option is to find ways to tolerate your situation. How can you distract yourself from your problems? How can you find meaning in what is happening to you? There is a whole list of these that we may - or may not - review later. I have used a fair number of them as I have tried to navigate this predicament of ours.

Not letting macular degeneration stop me

So back to changing my emotions and feeling better IN SPITE OF my situation. That was the option I chose. I put on my gym clothes and went to Zumba. I put on a tulle tutu and a tiara and I danced. The way I saw it, my other choice was to sit home and be miserable. That would have gotten me no place fast!

Ebbs and flows

Have I been constantly happy since then? Not by a long shot. Keeping even emotionally when you are losing your sight is not an easy task. Things get better but every once in a while, it gets to the best of us. Just the same, that little trick, called opposite to emotion in DBT, turned my trajectory around that first day.

That is pretty much it for now. Hope some of my thoughts and experiences can help!

Where to next? I will think of something. Being at a loss for words has never been a problem! But, hey, if there's something specific you want to hear about? I do requests!

Editor's Note: As of August 2023, 2 drugs known as complement inhibitors — Syfovre® and Izervay™ — have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the advanced stage of dry age-related macular degeneration, or geographic atrophy (GA).

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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