The following item is edited and used by permission from a letter posted by David Marshall recently in our Eyes Apart Strabismus Support group. David wrote:
I often wonder if my strabismus is much like a shadow on the wall. There are days when it looms so large over me all I want to do is hide from the world. As it creeps toward me, it whispers those dreaded words, “You’re different!”. When I allow this shadow to cripple me with fear, it convinces me that I am somehow less of a person because of my condition. At the very least, I grab the sunglasses and pray no one asks why I’m wearing them indoors.
But how should I deal with strangers and their rude stares and comments? What about the job I feel I didn’t get because I have strabismus? And there’s that elusive love interest that surely wouldn’t be interested in someone less than perfect! Do you ever hold your breath around children because you’re petrified they’re going to ask “the question”?
First of all, realize that none of us are perfect and I’m not talking about those of us with strabismus. It’s a struggle for most people, strabismus sufferers or not, to be comfortable in their skin all of the time. It’s not just a strabismus thing – it’s a people thing. Everybody sticks their foot in their mouth from time to time. And occasionally it isn’t us who have the handicap, but rather the offender.
Secondly, don’t allow strabismus to define you. How do you know if it’s defining you? When we let it make us bitter, then we’re on course for allowing it to define us. That said, we’re going to have times when we’re depressed, embarrassed, or whatever. These are normal, but don’t allow strabismus to make you so bitter it is all you are.
Don’t forget that it’s good to share. We have a community here on Yahoo! Groups that allows us to encourage one another. Take part in it. Have a rough day? Speak up! Those little day-to-day things hurt sometimes. Sometimes the little things add up. You may get some sage advice, or maybe just a compassionate, understanding response, but never underestimate the power of community.
Also, give yourself permission to have a bad day once in awhile. No one can stay positive all the time. Sometimes the burden gets too heavy to bear. You don’t have to be a hero. It’s okay to admit that something hurt you. It’s okay to be frustrated by your condition sometimes. Understand, I’m not advocating going into deep depression and kicking the dog. Just don’t beat yourself up because you look in the mirror one day and momentarily hate what you see.
I won’t pretend to know everyone’s situation. Nor do I write this as a “rah-rah” speech. There are days (weeks?) I’m a hypocrite to every word of this. But yesterday I ventured into a social situation and put away the sunglasses. Was it tough? Yes, very much so! But afterwards I came away feeling like I took a step toward the shadow on the wall and saw it shrink – even if only a little!
–edited version of an item posted by David Marshall in our Eyes Apart Strabismus Support group at Yahoo. Used by permission from David Marshall.
Photo credit: Adam Nykiel