About 6 years ago I became very sick out of the blue and subsequently lost my eyesight along with a good deal of my hearing. Although I had the support of my parents, brother and a very loyal group of friends I found myself in the grips of depression (a condition I still take medication for to this day).
I struggled with the age old question “why me?” And wondered how I could deal with my newly acquired disabilities on top of the ones I already had. It seemed impossible.
As time went on I was lucky enough to regain a tiny bit of my sight. I went from being able to see absolutely nothing (a very daunting experience); to being able to see silhouettes and eventually progressing to the legal blindness I have today. For those who are wondering, for me that means I can see you if you are close but I can’t tell you what colour your eyes are and if you have a pimple you are worried about, don’t be. I can’t see it anyway.
This was a very dark (no pun intended) time for me. I was angry, frustrated and very scared. The thing that worried me most was not the actual blindness though. It was the prospect of becoming the “useless disabled person” that I had convinced myself society had pegged me as being.
I have countless stories of encounters with people who had decided on face value that I was “not all there” and spoken down to me or written me off altogether. And that was before the blindness and deafness. What would it be like now? I had spent my whole school life attempting to show that I wasn’t stupid (not sure if this was successful but I did win the maths medal in year 11) and, after 6 years in the workforce where I had to work hard to prove myself I had just landed a position in the Marketing Department. A role I had trained for and one I had my eye on since the first day of working at this company. Was it all for nothing? What was the point of going on then?
This may sound a tad melodramatic not to mention a bit self-indulgent but that is what depression does…
Very few people knew that I was suffering. I laughed and joked about the situation thinking I was protecting others when really I was trying to protect myself. As the song says, “don’t cry out loud. Keep it inside; learn how to hide your feelings”. Sorry, I have been listening to my Boy from Oz CD again.
It wasn’t until I started to face up to how I was feeling and began to talk about it that I was able to see that my life was not over and I could still make a meaningful contribution. I do still tend to keep my inner feelings (particularly the negative ones) to myself for fear of showing vulnerability. But I am getting better at it.
I remember at one point laying in my hospital bed and thinking to myself “If I get through this I will never be scared of anything ever again.” Of course 6 years ago frail and depressed as I was, I would never have guessed that I would be about to do a skydive.
That’s right dear reader it is finally going ahead. In less than 24 hours I will be travelling to the sleepy town of York WA and leaping from a plane at 14,000 feet.
So the question on everyone’s lips is, am I scared? Of course not… I’m terrified! But I am doing it anyway. I suspect my mantra “calm blue ocean” will be getting a workout though.
In a happy co-incidence the next post on my blog will be my 50th (happy birthday to me). What a great way to celebrate.
For the record there are still a couple of things I am scared of. Namely spiders and emus. But does anyone like these things?