By Elin (My Blurred World)
This blog post comes from Elin of My Blurred World, who blogs about beauty and makeup products, as well as her life with a vision impairment. Elin’s fantastic blog aims to provide advice on living with a disability and to educate others about vision impairment, as well as sharing her love for all things makeup!
My name is Elin, I am 18 years old and I’m currently working as a Trainee Community development assistant for the RNIB (Royal National institute of the blind). I am also a beauty, disability and lifestyle blogger and love to share my love and passions on my blog by also attempting to educate others on the topic of visual impairment and disability.
I have a degenerative eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) which I was diagnosed with at the age of six. I was registered as being partially sighted when I was first diagnosed but have since been registered as blind/severely sight impaired as my vision has deteriorated over time. My vision is extremely blurry (especially without glasses) and it’s continuing to deteriorate. I like to describe my vision as being a camera that is constantly out of focus.
Growing up as a visually impaired person hasn’t been the easiest of things to deal with and there’s no denying that it can be an extremely daunting and unhappy situation/experience at times because of the fact that it’s not possible to see what everyone else sees. Some tasks and activities can prove to be difficult to perform because having a visual impairment might prevent someone from performing that task to the best of their abilities, but that doesn’t mean that everything is impossible.
I think two of the biggest struggles I’ve come across as a visually impaired person is lack of confidence and lack of independence. These are two things I’ve seemed to struggle with throughout my life and it might not be right to blame my lack of confidence on my visual impairment, but I do believe it’s played a part in it. I’ve always struggled socially and have never been able to connect or be myself with many people, as my visual impairment has seemed to be a barrier at times and not everyone is willing to understand it or accept it. Some see it as something that divides me from the rest of society because I can’t do the things that others my age do, such as learning to drive. Many people my age never treated me the way they treated others and that resulted in a feeling of isolation for me at times. However, there are people who looked past the fact that I am visually impaired and saw me as the person I am, and I’m grateful to have those people in my life.
I also mentioned independence, which I believe is one of the hardest things for some blind/VI people to gain but again, it’s not impossible. A big factor of gaining independence is using the long cane, which I wasn’t comfortable in doing until a couple of years ago. I used to depend on others to give me sighted guide (something I still do at times) but I am now much happier when using my cane, and have realised that it’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
I’ve had my fair share of mishaps and experiences due to living with a visual impairment. This means that I have learned quite a few lessons along the way so I thought I would take this opportunity to share some advice with you, as I’ve learned a thing or two over the last few years with gradually deteriorating vision.
Ask for help/support when you need it
This is something I’ve been guilty of not doing in the past. I always thought that I could cope on my own and I wanted to do things and achieve things independently, which of course is possible but sometimes it can be a struggle. It’s important that you ask for help/support when you need it, don’t push yourself too hard and don’t suffer in silence if you’re going through a hard time.
Don’t listen to other’s judgements/misconceptions
This is not always the easiest of things to do as so many people out there have perceived opinions and misconceptions when it comes to blind/VI people and disabled people in general. It’s easy to let these misconceptions and judgements define you and get to you, but I think it’s important to remember that you are still a person and opinions shouldn’t define who you are or the way you live your life.
Embrace your disability
Living with a disability isn’t always a negative experience, despite what people might think. It is possible to live a positive life, maybe not every day can be a positive or happy one, but that’s all a part of life. I believe that by embracing your disability and looking at what it brings to your life instead of what it takes away from it, is a good way to accept your disability and become happy with who you are.
There’s no denying that living as a blind/VI person in such a visual world can come with its fair share of hurdles and barriers, but there are so many ways in which we can still maintain a positive outlook on life. Unfortunately, not everything will be accessible and living with a visual impairment might prevent us from doing things from time to time, but there are alternatives out there and we as visually impaired people can lead a happy and positive life if we’re determined enough to make that happen.
I can’t speak for everyone and I know that not everyone is able to accept their disability/visual impairment or be happy with it, but I do believe that it’s made me stronger and it has driven me to look at life in a more positive way. Sure, it’s not easy and there are so many hurdles and difficulties but it’s something I have to accept. I’ve had both good and bad experiences due to my visual impairment (which I’ve talked about on my blog – My Blurred World) but it has given me the opportunity to do great things, such as setting up my blog, learning braille and meeting amazing people who I’m really grateful for, and lucky to have in my life.
It can be isolating and lonely at times, but I want you to know that if you are also blind/VI then you’re not alone. There is always someone out there who is willing to help, who will listen to you and help you through difficult times.
I know it’s hard but don’t let your disability/visual impairment define who you are. I always tell myself that yes, I have a visual impairment/disability but that disability isn’t who I am. I’m my own person and so are you.
I hope you enjoyed reading my post today and were able to learn a little something or take something away from it if you are also in a similar situation. I share more of my experiences of living with a visual impairment on my blog if you’re interested and you can also connect with me on social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.