Hello everyone and thank you very much for reading past the first sentence. I think congratulations are in order!
I have never done anything like this before so bear with me. Perhaps I should introduce myself. My name is Rebecca and I’m 20 (ish) and I am currently at university in Derby studying Creative Writing. I’m registered blind and my eye conditions include Rod and Cone Dystrophy and Nystagmus. Im severely short sighted, I can see roughly 3 meters where as a normal person can see 60m. I also have no centeral feild of vision which means I look out the corners of my eyes and I have no depth perception which means I can’t tell how steep/flat/high/low my surroundings are. All of this means daily life is very stressful and tiring. So I just thought it would be nice for anyone to read about my day to day life, laugh at my rants and rambles and overall, I want to try and remove the stigma around the invisible disability that is being visually impaired, especially as a young person. Let’s get on with my first ever blog guys!
Firstly let me explain why I’m writing this blog, it is inspired by two recent events in my life.
The first being I have recently completed my Guide Dog training with my first ever GD Yashka.
Yashka is a two year old Golden Retriver. Since sucessfully finishing training, she has transformed my life in so many ways that I never knew were possible. I am out and about every single day, meeting friends and showing her off to the world. Yashka has come along at exactly the right time in my life.
Another reason for starting this blog is because of the #HowISee campaign by the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) This campaign sheds light on how 93% of visually impaired and registered blind people do actually have some useful sight. Even if someone has a Guide Dog or uses a long or symbol cane, it is very likely they do have some sight that they are able to use.
I myself have been using #HowISee on social media, mainly Twitter and I’ve been in contact with many people who have sight problems. Growing up, I only knew one girl who is visually impaired so I just used to get on with day to day life without knowing any different. I wouldn’t tell anyone I needed help or if I was struggling as I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. Of course I had support in place all the way through secondary school, to sixth form and now at university. However, since speaking to people who are visually impaired, I feel like I can finally relate to someone who knows what it is like to have sight problems. I feel supported by a wide range of people who have a disability and who don’t. Now I feel like I SHOULD spread my story, especially to reach out to young people who are visually impaired.
Since starting university, I’ve had a lot of bad things thrown at me. I’ve been told my eyesight is getting worse, I’ve had a cancer scare, I ended a two year long distance relationship and I’ve battled with severe anxiety and depression which almost cost me my life. Needless to say, it’s been a tough 12 months.
However, I have a close knit circle of friends around me who have basically saved my life on countless occasions. I don’t know what I would do without them. Sure, it’s hard trying to explain the limitations of my eyesight and explaining what Yashka can and can’t do ect, but they have done so much for me that I will forever be greatful.
At the moment, life is good. Of course, I’m permanently tired and trying to adjust to having a Guide Dog is a lengthy process, but I am taking each day as it comes. I’ve got back into contact with an old friend who is also VI and I’ve been trying to help her get the support she deserves. I’ve given her a crash course in how to use a symbol cane, obviously I’m not a professional and I don’t claim to be, but the cane has helped her so much that I feel proud I have helped.
There has been horrible days where tears have been shed and the anxiety and depression have taken hold, but there are also good days where I have had an excellent walk with Yashka or something has gone right. I don’t feel like I have to struggle alone anymore, feeling like no one understands what I’m going through. 9/10 there is someone out there who can relate, offer you advice and support and remind you that things will get better.
I’m not afraid to use my long cane in public anymore, just like I try and get out as much as possible with Yashka. There was a time I was so isolated and house bound that I didn’t leave the house in 8 days because of crippling anxiety. I used to hate my cane because it drew attention to the fact I had a disability, I was different. I used to get very anxious and self conscious, I hated people staring at me or whispering behind my back because they thought I couldn’t hear them.
Now, I don’t care if people stare, point, gawp or wishper if I’m out with Yashka or using my cane. I know deep down they are only staring because it’s unsusual to see a young person with a visual impairement. But is it that unusual? Vision problems can affect ANYONE despite age, gender, race, culture, ethnicity ect. I didn’t make myself registered blind, I’ve lived with this disability since birth. Is it fun? No. Is it stressful? Yes it can be. Do I get on with it? Yes because what else can I do? Absolutely nothing
The fact of the matter is this: I will never regain my sight, I am going to lose the remaining sight I have and one day I’ll be completely blind. Scary. But I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself, there’s nothing I can do about it. So why can’t I go to uni, get my degree and go on to try and change the world, even if its a tiny bit.
I started this blog to help people like myself, be it offering advice, making someone smile or just to let someone know that even though they may be suffering with sight loss, they aren’t alone. There are plenty of people and organisations who can offer help and support.
And to those who aren’t visually impaired, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading. If you do know someone who is VI, I hope I can help you understand what it is like to live with sight problems. Because it isn’t easy, it’s pretty damn hard!
I can’t thank you enough for reading until the bitter end. It’s been very thersputic for me to write this and remind myself I’m doing a good job, even when it’s been a horrid day.
In my next blog, I’ll be writing more about the campgain by RNIB #HowISee and more about my beautiful pooch Yashka.
Untill the next time guys!
Twitter @beccayeomans_sh )