As I've said before, so often when someone loses their sight, it is that person who gets all the attention. After all, they are the ones losing their sight, right? But, what about all the people in that person's life that are now affected by this? Aren't their lives turning upside down as well? There are so many feelings that sighted supporters go through but rarely discuss with others because they don't want to “look bad” or be perceived as selfish. However, it is so important that sighted supporters have the chance to deal with those feelings just like the new VIP needs to as well. Today, we'll look at five such feelings, the context in which they might feel them and what to do when it comes up.
News & Updates
The Colorado Center for the Blind recently held what they called an Olympic Day in recognition of the United States Association of Blind Athlete’s National Fitness Challenge. The 50 plus participants got to swing a bat in beep ball, learn judo, try power lifting and give a try in a game of GoalBall. It was a great way for visually impaired people to get out of the house and try out new things they may not have thought possible. It is also a way to promote healthy living as a visually impaired person can be twice as likely to be obese. It gives attention to the ParaOlympics and helps the country see what blind athletes are really all about.
Goalball is a sport designed for visually impaired people. It pits two teams of three people on a court where the ball has bells inside of it and the court is tactile. For one man, this sport gave him a new lease on life. He said that visual impairment was “very isolating.” But, once he learned of and tried goal ball, everything changed. He said he gets a thrill from the pace of the game and has lost weight as well. Saying that it might sound cheesy, but his transformation is all down to Goalball.
This one is for you sighted folks out there who are new to the world of blindness. A great article form the Perkins School for the Blind talks about some great ways to offer help and give support when encountering a blind person. One such suggestion is to identify yourself when approaching a blind person, even if you have met before. The VIP may not know your voice just yet and it helps avoid that awkward time where the blind person is tryingo figure out where you are. Great advice!
HINT: All these stories were shared on my Facebook page. So, if you are on that big, blue platform, make sure to hop over and like my page! And, feel free to share any stories you see that you think would be interesting!
Unspoken Feelings of the Sighted Supporter
As I have said before, the sighted supporters don't get much attention. My wife and I did an episode a while back where we talked about a few things that sighted supporters face. But, I thought it would be good to dive into them a little deeper and talk about why it is important for you to share these things with those around you.
One emotion that everyone feels from time to time is anger. We can get angry at everything from a restaurant getting or order wrong to the emits injustice in the world. But, we all feel it. Even a sighed supporter. They are angry that their life has changed. They are angry that they now have to do things that didn't before. They are angry that they cannot seem to help their loved one “feel better.” But, so often, they hold it in because they don't want the VIP to feel like they are angry at them. Or, they don't want others to think that either. But, it is important to remember that you as a SS are not angry at the person but at the situation. You are angry at a disease or sickness. Your anger is ok and needs to be discussed.
Right along with anger comes frustration. This can come in a variety of situations. It might be when they are trying to explain a very visual thing to their VIP. It can also come when they are having to do something that the VIP might be able to do with some training. Regardless of the situation, it is helpful to vent these feelings of frustration. And, it might be that you are frustrated with your VIP, but that might be saved for another post! 🙂
Usually anger and frustration can lead a person to resent the situation they are in. They will wish that things were different. They will wish that their loved one wasn't blind. And, they may even resent their loved one. But, when all those feelings are left bottled up, it can lead to a break down in relationships. The sighted supporter must be able to share that they are feeling resentful so they can find support to overcome it.
Being overwhelmed is something that can hit you at any point in life. It might be when you are driving for the fifteenth time that day, kids yelling, VIP asking what something says and you just shut down. But, sighted supporters down't want to admit this because they don't want to be viewed as someone who can't handle this. They also don't want to suggest that they need a break because, after all, they still have their sight. That is so ridiculous. We all need a break. Make sure to get it for yourself!
This one is all the other feelings plus more combined. When it comes down to it, the sighted supporter doesn't say much because they feel such guilt. Guilt because they feel a certain way. Guilt that they hate the way things are going. Guilt that they just want to run away. Guilt over so many things. Guilt is a normal human emotion. However, guilt is brought on when a sighted supporter has had no outlet or someone to tell them they need not feel guilty. See what I mean about be open and sharing?
Communication is Crucial
Everyone needs to share what they are feeling regardless of what it is. Whether you are the VIP or the sighted supporter this is true for you. But, if you are the sighed supporter, make sure you are taking time for yourself and getting the help you need. Don't let all the attention fall to your VIP.
And remember, give yourself permission to feel whatever way you are feeling. Your life is changing as well and it is ok to recognize that and deal with it appropriately.
Real Life Retweet
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. -Helen Keller