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Managing Social Anxiety & Sight Loss

Managing Social Anxiety & Sight Loss

While appearing confident is important it’s more important to articulate what our needs are. Because I appear as if I’m in control people forget I can’t see and sometimes this hurts more than helps. I think part of my struggle here is the delicate balancing act of being confident yet knowing when to request assistance.

Bold Blind Beauty

These Four Walls

Recently I’ve talked with several of my blind & visually impaired friends about managing social anxiety and blindness. For many reasons, anxiety, as it relates to our sight loss, is a topic we don’t talk about frequently. On a personal level, one of my reasons is simply the fear of my fear. I feel like if I talk about it all the scary things in my mind they will come into existence. So how do I handle social anxiety and sight loss? The easy answer is I fake it.

Truth be told I’ve always lived with social anxiety and my blindness kicks it up several notches. A panic attack always lurks just beneath the surface whenever I’m in unfamiliar or heavily populated open spaces.

When you can only see blurry shapes, colors, and movement, it’s not ideal. Adding noise to this equation can overwhelm my senses compounding the anxiety. For example in a shopping mall environment, the expectation would be humans and service animals here and there. Without any central vision, I cannot see fine details so people’s faces are nonexistent. Whenever my grown children come by they have to identify themselves so I know who they are. So imagine being in unfamiliar territory with unknown people—no one stands out even people I know.

While being within the confines of my home makes me feel safer than anywhere else there are some challenges. When I’m home alone I know exactly where everything is, on the flipside when my son and grandson are here it can be chaotic. I rely on everything being in its place but when you share living space, there are bound to be problems.

The Moment Of Truth

Since retiring several years ago, my life mainly revolves around being at home on my computer. Blogging and social media have given me an outlet to connect with and live life vicariously through others. Even so, there is the inevitable grocery store run, doctor’s visit, or an occasional special outing that requires leaving home. Then there’s the dog.

As an animal lover and dog owner, it’s my responsibility to walk my Mollie. One would think that since I’m familiar with the area where I live this would be an easy thing to do right? Nah, it’s not that simple. See I live in a condominium complex without sidewalks which means I have to be constantly alert. In addition, I cannot use my cane when walking Mollie which makes me more vulnerable as drivers don’t know I can’t see. Many of my neighbors also don’t know I can’t see because I guard my privacy—so there’s that.

Today was a minor turning point for me as I admitted my fear and pushed through anyway. The first day at a new gym can be a little unsettling to anyone I suppose. For me, I was downright terrified but I’d put it off long enough and decided to be honest.

Because I’d called in advance the facility was expecting me but I opted not to disclose my disability until in person. With white cane in hand, I followed my son into the building. Once inside I met Tammy, the owner of the gym. I briefly explained my fears and she immediately put me at ease. She explained the gym’s offerings and told me she’d create a workout plan for me in large print. I was over the moon and may for the first time ever, take a couple of classes.

Lessons Learned

Today was a very good day. Was I still anxious? You bet I was! But being upfront with Tammy about my blindness and explaining what I can and cannot see helped her to help me. For far too long I let my fear control me and was afraid of being vulnerable, judged and appearing foolish.

I also think that while appearing confident is important it’s more important to articulate what our needs are. Because I appear as if I’m in control people forget I can’t see and sometimes this hurts more than helps. I think part of my struggle here is the delicate balancing act of being confident yet knowing when to request assistance.
Since empowerment is a key component of Bold Blind Beauty I sometimes feel torn about admitting my perceived flaws. Then there’s another part of me who understands that real empowerment and confidence comes from knowing when to seek help. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help.

My anxiety like my blindness is a part of me and will more than likely remain with me until my last breath. I do have a few additional tips that I’ll share at a later date. For now, though, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Do you ever talk about your fears?

Managing Social Anxiety & Sight Loss Image Descriptions:

The featured image, as well as the gallery of three photos, are of me on the treadmill. I’m wearing navy exercise capris, teal tank top, teal & navy sneakers and navy knotted head scarf.

16 thoughts on “Managing Social Anxiety & Sight Loss

  1. Steph, thanks for writing about anxiety and blindness. Just the other day I had an argument with a loved one when it felt like I was perceived as flailing and required help instead of being given time to figure it out and let me ask for help if necessary. The anxiety of appearing foolish is real. The anxiety of others reacting to us is out there, too.
    Looking forward to your other tips as well.

    1. Oh Susan, thank you so much for your comment. It’s not easy being blind is it? Sometimes loved ones, while they might mean well can make life a little more complicated than it needs to be.

  2. I sometimes discuss the mattter with my best friends, but not with others. But I agree that at times we should discuss the matter with others, so we can get help where ever it is required, stay blessed

    1. Thank you Saima. Just letting it out feels like a heavy burden has been lifted. I too can easily share this with my best friend but it’s considerably harder yet I think necessary to talk about in a public forum.

  3. Powerful article. Growing up as ill as I was, and still having health challenges, I’ve had to learn that balance of being independent – can do it all thank you, to expressing my concerns and limitations has been important. Glad you have so much support!

    1. Hi Katelon, how are you?

      1. I’m ok, hanging in there. I pulled away from blogs that weren’t really responding to my blog as my life was getting busier. I ran across your blog on my list the other day and signed up to get email notification. My life has been extremely challenging…still on the road, still no permanent home. But my spiritual work is going well and I’m staying as strong as I can.

      2. Hi Katelon, I’m sorry to hear that you’re still facing many challenges and haven’t put down roots. The ability to sustain while on the road is a quality I greatly admire and sort of reminds me of being a free spirit. Thank you for signing up for email notifications on my blog, however I’d totally understand if you wanted to unsubscribe. Distractions, managing now two site and social media have made it so that I had to figure out a way to do less, still not even close to where I want to be but one thing I do know and that is I cannot be on 24/7 and I don’t want to be. What I do want is to get back to simplicity by enjoying writing and visiting bloggers, like you who inspire, motivate, and engage. The engagement is what I miss most and it can only be achieved through doing less, not more, at least I think so. Have a nice weekend Katelon!🤗💖

      3. You, too. Thanks for the support. Interacting with others, building relationships is my focus,too.

      4. 💖

  4. It seems that any person who has a disability will feel those moments of fear when out of our own environment. You are alone in that you have the fortitude to admit it and the courage to share it. The new gym seems nice. I hope you will feel comfortable there and enjoy the people and the exercise. (Now I need to do the same!)

    1. Thanks George! The gym is very nice and even has a “women’s only” section that I think will increase my comfort level. My conversation with Tammy revealed that there were a couple of B&VI people who come to this location/ She also told me that the membership is very friendly. I know it will take time to get used to the new environment and I’m hopeful I can continue to push through.

  5. Thank you for sharing your fears Steph. I think talking about them, and asking for help empowers others to do the same.

    1. Hi Brigid, it’s so nice to hear from you! Thank you for commenting. I’m hoping others will find it empowering to share their anxieties.

  6. LOVED this post and could so relate to everything you shared. Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty. I especially like what you wrote about the importance of expressing needs over appearing confident. Such a balancing act!

    1. Hey Jenelle, how are you? Thank you very much for your comment and I’m thrilled to know that it resonates with you. Just the thought of writing it caused me anxiety. Pushing the publish button made me feel more anxious but I’m working on releasing some things in my life and just hope that it might be helpful to others. 🤗

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