Top 10 Ways to Cope with Vision Loss
With Retinitis Pigmentosa (or RP, for short), a progressive eye disease that continually diminishes your field of vision, there isn’t a single adjustment, one is continually adjusting to new loss. At times, it’s slow and stealthy. Other times, it seems like every day you feel your vision is worsening. It takes a toll on your psyche.
About five years ago I went through an awful period. I felt like I was losing vision as often I now lose things around my apartment. Trust me, that’s a lot! I went through the wringer, emotionally. How did I cope?
Here are the top 10 ways I got through it.
I offer them now as advice.
1. Tap into faith, meditation, whatever works to release tension.
2. Keep a journal and date it. Name your fears. Write down your frustrations. It will give you insights later.
3. Stop blaming yourself for something beyond your control.
Don’t say, ‘How could I be so clumsy?’ Our words define us so avoid negative talk. Safeguard your house as much as you can and seek training from a low vision professional in your community. But know that mishaps will happen so be sure you have a good soft ice gel pack to bring down swelling for everyday accidents.
4. Talk out your fears and frustration with one or more friends. I had some that made me laugh at myself and others that encouraged me with kind words.
5. Cry. Scream. Wail. Then get over it.
6. Offer kindness to yourself. Whether it’s ice cream, lunch out with a friend, or a nap, give yourself a treat when you have a bad vision day.
7. Focus on what you CAN see and do and not what you CAN’T.
For instance, I love running but couldn’t do it safely in my neighborhood. So I found a springy track at the high school. As an added bonus, the many lanes provided extra space to run cockeyed and still stay safe!
8. Shift your outlook. RP = Remain Positive. Find a mentor who copes well with vision loss and emulate his or her philosophy.
9. Imagine yourself as a sitcom star. Laugh at what a hilarious character you’d make!
10. Decide on a plan of action.
Fear of losing one’s independence and livelihood is HUGE when you’re losing a lot of vision. Create a professional game plan. Use, friends, rehabilitation counselors and anyone else who might offer good input. Assess your talents and natural interests, then find a way to channel these in a profession. For example, I couldn’t teach in the classroom anymore because of my vision and hearing issues. But I knew a lot about how to educate and was enthusiastic. So I adapted my skills to the public realm and became an inspirational speaker.
Not knowing how to channel emotions during periods of abrupt loss and change debilitates a person. Vision loss is out of one’s control but the one thing, I realized is that I do have control over how to RESPOND and that empowered me.