We’ve nearly made it! Every year it always feels the same. I don’t know if it’s the come down from the holiday season or the dark mornings and colder weather but January always feels like it goes on forever. Many people start the new year by setting themselves New Year’s resolutions and goals, maybe your taking part in dry January or attempting to diet. I set myself the goal of going to the gym every weekday morning after walking my son to school. The plan is to get myself in the best shape possible for my family’s upcoming vacation in April. To lose those holiday pounds after indulging in a few too many drinks and the constant snacking. But like so many others out there my plans haven’t gone the way I intended and I’ve not walked through my gyms doors anywhere near as much as I should have. Like so many other times I let my vision loss get in the way. I’m sure there will be lots of people out there who relate to this. This is how it’s gone. Monday morning I wake up just after 6 am. It’s pitch black outside and I know that I won’t be able to get out until it gets a bit lighter out there. My wife and I slip into the routine of getting the kids up and fed before each of them leave for the day. Our eldest Harvey works as an apprentice electrician so he’s out the door first followed by Louie who’s 15 and still looks half asleep as he makes his way into the village to meet his friends on his way to school. By 8am it’s starting to get lighter and my wife Amy leaves for the short drive to school where she works as a teaching assistant. My son Austin and I are heading the same way as he attends the same school that Amy works at but prefers to walk in with me rather than go in the car with his mum. We both love the time together in the morning, we play games on the way going through the alphabet naming counties or our favourite footballers as a way of waking our brains up. We make up jokes and laugh all the way to the school playground until the bell rings and it’s time to go our separate ways. This is where my battles with my anxieties kick in. By the time the school bell rings not only is the playground full of children it’s also full of parents in a rush to drop their children off and get to work. This makes navigating my way out of the school playground using my mobility cane extra challenging. Lots of moving objects means my vision is even more blurry than normal. My retinas can’t cope with all the extra information that lots of moving objects ie people bring, so in an instant my little tunnel of vision becomes more distorted and filled with haze. I push myself to trust my cane skills and keep moving but with both children and parents alike not looking where they’re going or doing that thing where they see me but as their brain hasn’t engaged they still proceed to walk straight into me whilst looking at me with a confused look. Eventually I get out of the playground and start my morning walk to the gym. It’s really cold this time of the year in the U.K. the sidewalks are icy and the winter sun is low in the sky which causes extreme glare. The sun makes it really difficult to see even though I’ve got my best sunglasses on. I start the internal argument in my mind. Trying to talk myself out of going to the gym. One moment I’m reminded myself of the goals I’ve set and how good I feel when I’m training hard. It improves my energy levels and even my vision feels slightly better when I’m training and eating right, but the next I’m letting anxiety win. I start to feel unsafe being out and start to convince myself that I’d be better off heading home where I can draw the blinds shutting out the painful light.
Some days I make it through those gym doors and others I don’t. I’ve come to realise that these battles I have are part of the norm for people like myself living with disabilities. Our challenges at times limit every single aspect of our lives. Even more than most people realise. There are days when I can’t stand to be home because I feel trapped and isolated but the minute I go out I want to be back at home because it’s such a stress being out trying to get around with my low vision. Over the years I’ve learned not to be too hard on myself about these things. I’ve learned that although I may stumble often it doesn’t mean that I’m giving up. I allow myself the time to breathe and grieve for my vision loss but I know that eventually those feelings will pass and I’ll be ready to go again.
So as we start off another week where are you today? Are you in the zone ready to tackle whatever the day brings? Are you ready to smash those goals? Or is today one of those days where things just seem too much?
Whatever your feelings today knowing that no matter what your fears are that they are only temporary can be the thing you need to push you on. I hope this helps and that the beginning of the week gets off to the best possible start for you all.
Have you ever changed your plans on going out due to your sight
the place is just too busy or the weather’s far too bright
and even though you’ve got your cane or service dog to guide
you think that for today you’re better off to stay inside
Although it’s seldom talked about these feelings are the norm
but they will always pass just like any cloud or storm
Don’t worry there’s no hurry take the time to find your strength
These feelings are just natural but soon will be past tense
And when you need my words to help you take that first big step
just reread this poem
let it’s message be your prep
I believe in you despite whatever blindness does
For we are not alone
It’s never only you