By Guest Blogger Yvonne Garris, Life Coach, Fresh Outlook Coach
When I was first losing my sight, all I wanted to do was to get back to work, because that is who I thought I was. I spent a month on the sofa in pain, had five surgeries in four months and still my sight didn’t come back. All I did was lie on the sofa and “watch” TV. I found a couple of channels that didn’t have infomercials on at 3 or 4 a.m., which was important since I always stayed up late. You see, I stayed up as late as I possibly could so I didn’t have to go to bed—because if I went to bed, that meant I would eventually have to face another day of the same thing, and I really didn’t want to do that. But, I went to bed over and over again each night, hoping my eyes would get better and not worse; I didn’t want to be blind or worse yet, “disabled”! My journey started March 1, 2004, and by Labor Day of that year, I finally gave in and decided that I was not going back to work.
Once I started the process of accepting that I am legally blind, I became a client of the local blind association. I must confess that was one of the hardest things I have ever done—I cried that whole weekend. Then, I was matched with a social worker and a rehabilitation teacher who helped me start the process of relearning the basics. I was later sent to a rehab facility, where I learned how to use a computer. I joked and said, “I want to learn how to be blind.” All of this was fine and good, but I was someone with a new disability and what was I supposed to do? I still couldn’t go back to work. Trust me. I tried to figure it out. Some people can—just not me.
Why do people think it is amazing that I can still tie my shoes or cook for myself? I lost my sight, not my mind! Recently, I was talking with other people who also have a disability. Someone said something very true: people don’t seem to want people who have disabilities to have lives. It was not that long ago that people with disabilities were institutionalized, and it takes a long time to change people’s perceptions.
Many times when something like this happens, people think you are going to curl up in a ball and just fade away or that you are now less of a person. I am here to tell you that you are no less of a person now than you were before. My sight loss is due to illness and only six percent of people lose their sight permanently from this illness. Now nine years later, I say I am in the lucky six percent (yes, I said lucky.) I would not be typing this blog or starting my business if I still had my old life. I have always wanted to help people, but was never really sure how and now I know. So, yes I consider myself lucky because I am not only helping people that are going through similar experiences, but I am also trying to make the world a more accepting place, and I think that is pretty cool.
So please know one thing. Just because you may be going through a lot of changes right now—and you now have a disability—that does not make you less of a person. Who knows, you may even be able to reinvent your life like I did by starting my own life coaching business. And I can help show you how. Becoming “disabled” does not mean the end of your life; I look at it as the beginning!
Yvonne Garris lost most of her sight nine years ago due to an illness. After going to college and receiving a bachelor’s degree in social work, she is currently working on her life coaching certification. Yvonne Garris started her life coaching business, Fresh Outlook Coach, in January 2013 to help those who have recently acquired a disability find their new purpose.