There are times when it takes every muscle in my body to throw off the covers and crawl out of bed. The reason is not because I don’t want to get up or that I am not feeling well. The real reason for this action is because I am simply depressed. I cannot give you a straight forward answer about what triggers my depression. It could be as simple as McDonald’s screwed up my order for the millionth time. I’m a woman who suffers with menopause. Or that my life didn’t exactly turn out the way I thought it would. The truth of the matter is that my depression is mostly caused by the fact that I am blind! Can being blind cause depression?
If I had to describe myself, I would probably tell you that I am a fun-loving, optimistic, verbose extravert. However, what most people don’t know about me is the fact that I suffer with depression. Is it because of my blindness? Well, I believe that a part of it is. Let me tell you why.
The loss of vision at a young age or later on in life can be very traumatic. It can evoke the same emotions as if you were experiencing the loss of a loved one. It is important, though it may seem ridiculous at first, to endure the different stages of grief.
The first reaction to the news that you are losing your vision is anger. This emotion didn’t manifest in me until I was around 16 when all my friends were learning to drive and getting their licenses. It’s NOT FAIR! It would take a while but I would eventually work through my anger.
Denial, it’s not just a river in Egypt. Anyone who is blind or visually impaired has gone down this road at least once. There is absolutely nothing wrong with me. I’m not losing my vision. I couldn’t see what the sign said because I didn’t have my glasses with me. I bumped into that door because I’m just so tired. These are just a few excuses used when in denial.
Depression can be the main culprit when dealing with vision loss. It is the one stage that I believe never fully goes away. Why should I continue my education if I can’t see? My friends and family only want me to tag along because they feel sorry for me. No one will hire me because I am blind. Things will be better if I just stay in bed today and deal with everything tomorrow.
These statements are ones we can all identify with at one time or another. When dealing with depression especially due to vision loss, it is easier to retreat and hide like a hermit then to face our fears and insecurities head on.
In a study conducted by Lighthouse International, researchers found that the majority of people, especially those 55 and older, diagnosed with a vision loss suffered with some type of depression. However, with a great deal of perseverance and help from others, suffering with depression does not have to consume you. It is possible to lead a productive and independent life.
It is important when dealing with depression, that you find various coping strategies that can help you overcome your moment of sadness or despair. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone.
A few strategies might be finding a support group to join. You can contact your local Low Vision Center about counseling or learning a new skill. Take a yoga or kickboxing class. Talk to family and friends. Reach out to whatever life line may work.
There comes a time when one must accept the fact that they are blind or visually impaired. When does this epiphany occur? Well, to be honest, that is completely up to you. I continue to suffer with bouts of depression from time to time but let me close with this quote from the movie Shaw Shank Redemption. “Hope is a good thing and you either get busy living or you get busy dying. I prefer to get busy living!”
What are some of your coping strategies for dealing with blindness and depression? I really do want to know so leave me a comment below.