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Guest Post: Matt De Gruchy

Acceptance – is the only way forward

I love meeting people who are on the front lines of advocacy and it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to one of my newest fellow advocates, Matt De Gruchy. Steph

Closeup photo of Matt | Photo Credit: Ben Plunkett | Plunkett Media ben@plunkettmedia.com.au
Photo Credit: Ben Plunkett | Plunkett Media
ben@plunkettmedia.com.au

As someone who has lived with vision loss for the past 10 years, I have learnt over a very long time to accept my situation.

I still remember as a young boy having all my senses, being able to read clearly, sitting in the car – looking out the window at everything around. At school noticing my friends from the other side of the oval, being able to play sport, sitting at the back of the class, reading the black board, watching the tiny TV in our lounge room. The list really goes on!

It was my Mother that first noticed that I was different from my peers, she was constantly told she was an over protective parent. I had been tested for it all! Eventually it became clear it wasn’t going to be as easy as a simple pair of glasses to fix it. I still remember being at an optometrist, him being so frustrated that I couldn’t read the eye chart, that he left the room calling me “a retard”. At the age of 9, I was finally diagnosed with Stargardts Disease. After a year of appointment after appointment.. And then it was like a switch turning off, my vision started deteriorating rapidly! As a child it was quite a scary process.. Just wanting it to stabilise!! At school I just wanted to be treated as ‘normal’, I didn’t want anyone to know what was happening.. I wanted no special treatment, I just wanted to be no different to the rest of my friends.

Closeup photo of Matt and quote: Accepting - doesn't mean giving up hope. It means moving forward, and chasing it!
Photo Credit: Ben Plunkett | Plunkett Media ben@plunkettmedia.com.au

I refused to accept my vision throughout High School, suffering badly from anxiety.. My thoughts were filled with negativity and constantly doubting my abilities! One of the hardest things was when everyone started learning to drive. And there I was, making excuses to those who asked why I don’t drive. I felt embarrassed, so I would hide the fact that I was losing my sight. No one ever knew I was visually impaired besides a few close friends, and my family.

The past few years, I have learnt to accept my sight, and move forward. And it has been the most positive thing I have ever done! I am happy, healthy and motivated to take on any challenge.. And I can now say I am proud, no longer embarrassed, to be a legally blind man! And I think I deserve to be.. This is only a snippet of my story, but the message that I’m trying to say is this..

Accepting – doesn’t mean giving up hope. It means moving forward, and chasing it! And for anyone out there struggling with a disability, I urge you to think positively! It will change your life for the better.

Matt’s social media contact info:

Have a great weekend everyone!!