What would you think if you saw a girl slowly walking down a dimly lit flight of stairs, assisted by a friend, as she was leaving a crowded bar – at 1 AM?
What would you think if you saw a girl being helped around a busy pool and lounge chairs after hanging out poolside all afternoon with friends?
What would you think if you saw a girl being escorted down the steps of a restaurant? Then stops at the curb so she can slide her foot over the edge and continue to walk, still hanging onto someone’s arm?
What would you think? C’mon…Would you be secretly judging her? She looks like your average girl. Cute outfit & shoes, hair curled, lip gloss and lashes on…. She looks like she’s having a good time. Hmmmm. Well, she must be drunk. She probably had one too many chocolate martinis, and now her friends have to help her!
Guess what? THAT girl is not drunk. THAT girl has an invisible disability. THAT girl is me!
The situations I described above are real experiences – my experiences living with sight loss from LHON – Lebers Hereditary Optic Neuropathy.
Sure, I may have a nice glass of wine… but, I don’t get drunk. I’m not saying I have never gotten drunk…because I have. Maybe once or twice, or something like that. A long time ago. In a land far far away. Maybe a few times. What. Ever! Anyway, now, since my sight loss, I just don’t. I mean, let’s think about that. Legally blind + too much alcohol = A HOT MESS!! OMG! That’s way too out of control for me. No thanks! Plus, we know that too much alcohol and/or binge drinking is not the best idea for people who are LHON carriers or already affected. (Note: I’m not telling anyone they can or can’t drink. Drinking alcohol Is a personal choice.)
Why do I need assistance from friends, or a white cane, with stairs, steps, or curbs, when I can walk down a sidewalk quite easily and unassisted? It’s because I have lost my depth perception. All surfaces are blurry and flat. I can’t see the edges of stairs or steps. Unless it is painted on the edges. Have you ever paid any attention to those painted lines? I never used to. Now…. I think they are fantastic! If I’m not using my white cane, I can’t tell the height of the curb, or if there is a crack or a hole in the parking lot. Put me in front of an escalator… you’ve gotta be kidding me…Holy Sh*t! I think you get the idea!
So, if you see someone being escorted down the stairs, steps, or around a busy poolside…. Don’t be so quick to judge. It could be a different situation than what you have conjured up in your mind. She, or he, might be blind, and blindness is just one of many invisible disabilities. xx