Intimidated by the creeping shadow of strabismus? Here’s help!

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:

looming shadowI 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

6 thoughts on “Intimidated by the creeping shadow of strabismus? Here’s help!”

  1. Wow! This is really eye opening (no pun intended), I have lived with strabismus for 43 years, and just yesterday, found this website. It is very comforting to hear others speak of the rough times. I rarly go out without my sun glasses. Rain or shine. Strabismus does seem to be affecting me more as I get older. There is not a day that goes by, when I don’t think about it. I have decided to talk to a doctor about surgery. I still have half my life to go. I would rather spend it without strabismus.

  2. i know it can be hard at times but you have got to 43 and there is no gaurentee surgery will work,i feel you must learn love yourself before anything else in life because what makes you think your life will radically change even if it suceeds ,at the back of your mind you will always dread it returning and you are still the same person look for insperation in people like tanni grey thompson or david blunkett and dont let it affect you , i bet if talked to friends and family you would find it bothers you more than it bothers them everyone has there own cross to carry. so good luck and stand tall

  3. Curtis, I had the surgery for Strabismus, I wish I didn’t, I wish I was like I was before… Think long and hard about surgery, good luck.

  4. I had surgery when I was 6. They stuffed it up. Now my eye turns way out instead of way in… 🙁

    I’m too scared to go get another surgery in case they lose the muscle and I am stuck like this forever.

  5. Curits, make sure you get two opinions and make sure the surgeon is capable. My first two surgeries (ages 4 and 7) did not really accomplish much because the surgeon did not have precise enough measurements to do a good job. The third surgery (age 15)was better done and did more to improve my appearance.

    Do not have any illusions, though. The surgery will not render you completely strabismus-free, and it is not a permanent fix. If properly done, however, you may see good improvement in your appearance and feel much better about your condition for decades. My eye still turns, but it is certainly better than it was pre-surgery, and I am happy with what I have.

    Also, although I’ll never have fusion (and will never catch a fly ball!), I believe the level of eye strain I feel is less than when my eye was more severely turned.

    Good luck.

  6. does anyone have wear glasses but find the eye turn is much greater when the lenses are closer to your eye? This has always been something I’ve struggled with.

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