A friend whose vision is in slow decline wondered why doing things for yourself is so important. “Why not accept help from people who can see well? Surely you would feel safer (or be quicker) with someone sighted along?”
There’s nothing wrong with getting help. Everyone needs help and almost everyone offers it. It gets problematic when you think that with failing vision you are no longer capable of doing household chores, visiting a friend, doing a job, or buying groceries. Perhaps most dangerous of all, you think that you don’t have anything to offer other people. Giving back plays such an important part in social relationships and in self-respect and confidence.
At the beginning of vision loss you are almost certain to need a lot of help. Your life has been upended. If the loss is sudden you are in a state of shock. If it is slow you might not realize how much you have lost and how much stress you live with now.
It’s common to go through a lot of fear before you can bear to recognize that what you need is not sighted help with each task, but retraining. When you are ready, you’ll get training in using your other senses – for cleaning and cooking, using computers, and getting around.
Step by baby step you take back your confidence and make an equal, maybe different, contribution to the life of your family, partner, or roommates. This is a slow process, because there is so much to learn and because vision loss does slow you down. But you can find a new certainty in your actions which you could not achieve if friends or family were helping you with ordinary activities.
After your belief in yourself has begun to strengthen again, you’ll find that sight, though a wonderful sense, is not central to happiness or competence or love. You will shift over from believing that sight is the centerpiece of your life, and will know instead that you are a complete and whole person with or without sight. This is not some airy-fairy notion, but a strong sense of “I” from which you think things through, accept, refuse, and remake your life.
Having someone else take charge of a task for you can be a sensible decision in three circumstances:-
- when the task cannot be done without good vision, or without training, equipment, or time that you do not have just now
- when you have tried and tried to do something, and the damn thing just won’t work
- when you have had enough effort and stress for one day
All of the conditions above have very little to do with vision loss itself. They relate equally to all kinds of other new situations, losses and life changes.
Part 2 of “Why Doing Things for Yourself Is Important” will deal with the negative results of letting other people do everyday tasks for you.
What have you discovered about doing things for yourself?
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