This is a different post to the ones I usually create, but it is still one predominantly about mental health, it is just taking a different route to get there.
So a few years ago – I say a few years because with the Covid years on top, I have no idea what time even means anymore – I had a headache. This isn’t anything abnormal. I occasionally have aura migraines, these are the migraines that make you see rainbow colours and other eye abnormalities. I was heading to the pub with my then boyfriend and thought I could just shake it off. I did. I felt much better eventually and I just forgot about it. That was until I woke up the following morning. I awoke to find that the eyesight in my left eye was gone. Just gone. Just blackness. I thought it was just a particularly bad aura migraine and that I would be ok after a good rest. I wasn’t ok. I ended up in hospital to see if we could find out what was wrong with my eye and after many tests it was thought that I had inflammation of the nerves behind my eye and that it would eventually return to normal – Spoiler – It didn’t.
So for all of these years since then I have only been able to see light and shade in my left eye. My right eye is fighting the good fight but after these years it is showing some wear and tear.
So here’s the mental health element – eventually – There is a certain type of grief that fills you when you lose something physical that you have always relied upon. Of all the types of grief that I have experienced during my life, this one is the hardest to explain, especially to other people. The tricky thing about losing my sight is that nobody can see it. Even my friends and family sometimes forget. I don’t really mention it much unless I need to.
I think what people fail to realise is that with my already tenuous mental health it can become almost impossible to be in certain places. I already struggled with crowded places, but when you have basically no vision, or peripheral vision in one eye, a crowded place also becomes a confusing, even frightening place. Low hanging shelves or displays in shops and supermarkets become hidden dangers. Crossing the road has to be done very carefully as do other household tasks. I have to concentrate very hard to do things that once were simple like pouring hot water into a teacup for instance; I find distances very difficult to estimate so if I’m not concentrating hard enough I spill it. These things are very tricky to explain to people who aren’t experiencing it first hand, and that lack of understanding can breed a feeling of loneliness.
I’m thankful that I have very supportive family and friends who continue to help me adjust to new ways of coping, but that doesn’t mean I always deal with things incredibly well at times. I think that this post is just to show solidarity with others who are dealing with physical disabilities alongside difficult to navigate mental health problems, and also to raise the profile of hidden disabilities, both mental and physical.
Hope you guys are well.
Love to all