Meeting My Best Friend

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all well. Today’s post isn’t exactly disability related but it’s something I really wanted to blog about.

On Monday 29 August, I got up early, got ready and hopped on a train to go to Manchester for something very important. I was going to meet my best friend. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, then you will know that I have done a few collaborations with her and we are also doing our seeing through sight loss series together. This is of course Elin from the blog My Blurred World.

Aside from blogging, we are literally best friends. Blogging is the reason we know each other and when chatting on twitter back in June 2015, we clicked straight away. From then, we’ve got even closer. We can relate to each other because of our visual impairments and so many other things and life experiences too. I do believe that visual impairment and disability have made our friendship stronger as we completely get each other. We honestly wonder if we’re related sometimes as we’re so similar!

As cliché and cheesy as it might sound, I honestly don’t know what I would do without this girl.

 

We’ve been wanting to meet for a while but it’s not the simplest of tasks when you live so far apart, you can’t just pop around to their house whenever you need a chat. We wish we could though! Anyway, we finally sorted something and decided to meet in the middle which was Manchester. It was definitely worth all the hassle that we had previously had because we both had the most incredible day! My mum and dad (and my little dog) came with me and we met up with Elin and her Mum.

 

When we arrived in Manchester and met up we took a wander over to Piccadilly gardens and had lunch and a proper chat! It was so nice to actually talk in person face-to-face, rather than on the phone, via text or the internet. It gave us chance to get to know each other even better. After lunch we popped into a few shops to have a look around and then decided to get a drink so that we could do some more chatting which was so so lovely. As it got later we decided to go for a meal to Ask Italian which was very nice may I add. We had a little bit of time to spare so got some photos as this was something we both wanted to do. Personally I think photos are nice to keep as a memory, I know I can’t see them but it’s still something that I like to keep on my phone or have special ones printed so that I can update my photo frames in my bedroom. Doing this really finished the day off nicely. Before we had to catch our trains back home we both had the biggest hug and it made me rather emotional to be honest!

I had the most incredible day, it really made me think about how important friendship is. Friendship is amazing and is something that everyone should value. No one ever told me that I would miss her this much though!

I feel so lucky to call Elin my best friend, she understands me 100 % and possibly knows me even better than I know myself sometimes.

If you’d like to read Elin’s post on the day then you can read it here!

I know this post hasn’t been entirely disability related but I just thought that it was such a lovely thing to tell you all about and something different to all my other posts. If you have a friend that lives far away and think you can’t meet up because of a disability or some other reason than trust me, it’s possible!

I hope you all enjoyed this different post and I’ll be posting very soon!

Holly x

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Letter To My Younger Self

Hello and welcome back to Life of a Blind girl, I hope you’re all well.

Before we get into today’s blog post I’d just like to thank you for your feedback and your continued support. Thank you to those of you that take time out of your day to email me, tweet me etc to give me feedback on my blog, it means the world!

 

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting on things recently. On Sunday it was two years since I received my a-level results and found out that I had got into my first choice university. I remember that day so clearly, it was a whirl-wind of emotions. Thinking about that more in-depth I’ve realised how I’ve changed as a person and how my life has changed over the last few years. I am proud of the person that I’ve become and what I’ve achieved so far. I am a lot happier now, I’ve learnt to embrace my visual impairment and I am happy with the person that I am today.

I thought I’d write an ‘letter to my younger self’ post, in the hope that it might help younger people, possibly going through similar situations to myself. Growing up is difficult, even more so when you have a visual impairment or another disability.

This post is written as if I were 16 to my 20-year-old self now. I hope that makes sense, if you’re confused at all then please do get in touch.

Enjoy!

 

You need to prepare yourself, you’re going to be starting you’re a-levels and they aren’t going to be easy. The next two years are probably going to be the toughest two years of your life so far, you’re going to be stressed to the maximum. Sixth form isn’t going to be what you expected, in fact you’re going to hate it but you’ve just got to get through it because bigger and better things are going to come along. Trust me when I say this, stick at it, it’ll all be worth it and do not, ever, give up! There will be times when you really want to and quitting seems like the only option but you can do it and you are going to come out stronger on the other side.

You always say ‘I can’t do it’ but that’s because you think you can’t, but in reality you know you can and so do those closest to you. Believe those when they say that you can do it because chances are, they know best. There’s people in your life that know you better than you know yourself so don’t forget that.

Don’t let your lack of confidence hold you back, you need to believe in yourself. I know it’s easier said than done but you need to start to do so. If you start to become more confident then you will be a lot happier and you’ll notice how your life will change for the better. It will make you so much more independent.

You’ve wanted a music career since you were little and planned to study music at university right? Well that’s going to change but don’t let that take you off track because this change will be a lot better for you. You’ve always been passionate about helping others, well that’s exactly what you want to do in the future and your degree will help you reach that goal. University is going to be one of the best decisions that you ever made. You’re going to become much more confident and it’s going to give you so many opportunities so make sure you go and grab those opportunities with both hands.

Your plans for the future are going to change a few times over the next few years, but don’t let that throw you off balance because you’ll be a lot happier with your new career choice. You’re going to go from wanting to be a social worker, to a teacher and all sort of other careers but you will finally make a decision. You are going to want to help other visually impaired people like yourself because you know first hand what life is like living with a disability. Make sure you strive to do this!

Your visual impairment is going to open many doors for you; including work and voluntary opportunities. You’d have never thought that would you? Whenever you’re having a down day, then think to yourself, ‘would I have been in this position otherwise?’ Who knows. But there is some good in having a disability.

You’ve never really mixed with other visually impaired people that much but as you’re getting older, you’re going to make lifelong visually impaired friends. You’re going to wonder what you’d have ever done without these people in your life so hold onto them. You’re also going to make new sighted friends and make sure you hold onto these as well. Not all your friendships will be like the typical experiences you’ve had at school. Put that all behind you and focus on the future.

If something is not right or you’re not getting support then tell people, start to stand up for yourself more. This will improve your confidence and will get you a lot further in life.

You will cope, and you will get through all the rough patches. Times are going to be hard and very stressful but they won’t last forever, and you’ll find your happiness. All the stress will be worth it in the end.

You’re going to struggle but they are going to make you into a much more stronger and independent person. Between the ages of 18-21 you’re going to be the happiest than you’ve ever been, so keep going.

One huge tip: pick up that white cane! It’s not as scary as you first thought. Put the bad past experiences behind you because you’re going to need to be fully independent later on. Who cares what others think about your visual impairment anyway? Embrace your disability. Independence is key.

Everything happens for a reason and everyone has their ups and downs and dark times. You’re a strong person with so much to offer, so keep going, hold on to the people around you and most of all, do not be afraid to be yourself.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post and that the words of advice to my younger self helped some of you!

Once again thank you for your continued support!

Holly x

#HowISee

Hello everyone and welcome back to Life of a Blind Girl,

I hope you’re all well.

Today I wanted to talk to you about something that grabbed my attention as soon as I read it, I wanted to get involved.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has launched a video and a campaign under the hashtag #HowIsee to tackle people’s perceptions on sight loss. Many people have the idea that if someone is registered as severely sight impaired then they simply cannot see anything. You can watch the video here.

The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the different levels and the variations of vision that blind/severely sight impaired people can have. I think it’s a great way of raising awareness of visual impairment but most importantly, how blind and visually impaired people see the world for themselves.

Being blind/severely sight impaired does not mean that a person has no vision whatsoever and that everything is just black, it is far from this ideology. Being registered as severely sight impaired is simply just the terminology that is used.

I wanted to join in with this campaign and tell you how I see the world myself.

I have a condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). This is due to the fact that I was born at 24 weeks and therefore developed ROP. I also have retinal detachment because of this condition. There are 5 stages of ROP, I have stage 5 which is the most severe. So let me talk to you about both of my eyes because they’re completely different. I have no sight in my left eye, I have always called that my ‘bad eye’. Over the last few months I have also developed inflammation in that eye and I am currently on steroid drops for this. The cause is not yet fully known which is rather frustrating, as this is the first time that I have experienced problems because of my eye condition. Although that eye isn’t much use, it still really does matter and needs taking care of.

My right eye though, is a bit more useful; I have light perception in that eye. I probably use my light perception more than I think I do as it really does help me when I enter a room for example. I’m able to tell when it’s sunny which can be useful as well. I can also tell when things are near me, such as when I’m walking and I’m next to a wall or when someone is stood in front of me I can tell that they’re there. They do need to be very close though. As I have mentioned I have developed inflammation in my left eye, this has also affected my right eye as well. I’ve developed light sensitivity meaning that I’ve pretty much had to wear sunglasses a lot recently. The steroid drops are helping this a lot though which I am pleased about.

The way I would describe my vision is a load of light with no detail. I cannot see print so therefore I use braille and rely on a screen-reader and other assistive technology. I use my other senses a lot too as my sight is pretty much useless! For example, I go on taste, smell and hearing all the time.

I’ve been asked many questions about my vision such as ‘how do you know what you’re eating?’ or ‘how do you know who’s talking to you?’ I use my other senses for these.

There are many things that I am fortunate to have that do help me see the world in my own way. I may not be able to actually see it through my eyes but without assistive technology or my cane, I wouldn’t be able to read menus in restaurants, use a mobile phone or computer, read books, attend university, write essays, blog, travel independently and do normal things that sighted people do on a daily basis without hesitation. I believe assistive technology opens up the world in a completely different way for blind and visually impaired people. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to do the majority of tasks that I do on a daily basis. It gives us some sort of vision. The technology that I have is a substitute for my vision.

For years I have been very reluctant to use my white cane because I had negative experiences from other people which knocked my confidence rather a lot. I do enjoy using my cane a lot more now though. I am very grateful to my friends and family for guiding me around and for basically being my eyes! I can’t thank them enough; you all know who you are!

I can’t see a lot and I do wish I had more sight but I am very grateful for my light perception. People do tell me that I ‘don’t look blind’ or ‘cope so well’. Just because I cope well, it does not mean that I can see. I’ve learnt to deal with my visual impairment and found ways of completing everyday tasks to the same ability as a sighted person. Also, this idea that someone doesn’t look blind…what does a blind person look like anyway?

 

Don’t assume, ask and always be open minded. Personally, I think that you can never fully know about a visual impairment or disability until you truly experience it yourself or at least try to understand it.

 

I’ve really enjoyed writing this blog post! If you have any questions, please do get in touch.

If you are visually impaired yourself then don’t forget to join in with the hashtag #HowISee and help educate people on the varying degrees of sight loss!

Holly x

Seeing Through Sight Loss Introduction

I wanted to tell you all about a collaboration series that I will be started with my good friend My Blurred World. Just a quick note: please go and check out her blog because it’s amazing! We have collaborated on two posts before so thought it would be a great idea to start a series. We also asked you on social media and our last collaboration if you would like us to start a series and many of you said yes, thank you to those of you that responded. Thanks to blogging, me and this incredible girl know each other and we’ve become really good friends ever since we started talking back in 2015. That’s one of the reasons why we also thought starting a series would be a great idea.

 

Our series will be called ‘seeing through sight loss’ and we’ll post once a month. We will be discussing how we cope with sight loss, sharing useful tips and strategies and writing a range of posts on topics such as beauty, fashion, mobility, technology etc. We are both very passionate about raising awareness of visual impairment/disability and helping others coping with sight loss. We also thought it would give people the opportunity to gain an insight to how sight loss affects and shapes our lives as two visually impaired young women.

We wanted to write this introductory post informing you of our upcoming series and to ask you as our readers for any post suggestions that you may have. If you do have any ideas on topics that you’d like us to cover then you can comment below or contact us, ways to contact both of us are listed below.

For easy access, you can press the ‘seeing through sight loss’ link at the top of both of our blogs and it will take you straight to all the posts within this series.

I am so excited to start this series and we hope you enjoy it!

 

Ways to contact us:

You can contact me on Facebook, Twitter or by emailing me: lifeofablindgirl@gmail.com

Equally, you can contact My Blurred World on Facebook, Twitter or by emailing her: myblurredworld@gmail.com

We look forward to hearing your suggestions!

Holly x