Every so often I meet people who seem to instinctively know how to make life easier for me - just by being their natural self.
I would like to introduce you to one such person (the explanation of how they manage it will follow in a bit).
Julian Harrison is an author as well as being a Metal Health Consultant. He has Mental Health issues himself which he is very open about (otherwise I wouldn't have even dared to ask him if I could quote him on my blog).
(He also happens to be one of very few people who look exactly the same whether or not I have my glasses on. My eyes find looking at him very restful because of this. Less work for my brain to do attempting to translate different images so they end up matching up and coming out with the same person.)
On Friday he and I got talking about things like disability and Mental Health and he came out with a really interesting comment or two.
The first one was something I find myself wondering every time I decide to sit down and type a blog post regarding my sight - "How can you give someone else your own experience?"
The short answer is you can't. We are all different and we all experience the same events in different ways according to our experiences, mood, etc.
Much as I wish I could do this - nobody has found a way of literally walking around inside someone else's mind and finding out every single detail about them without their consent. (I can name a couple of people who I would love to subject to this if I could - I think the trips could be very interesting indeed.)
I have learned different bits and peices about Mental Health from Julian and others but there is no way that I would say I know everything there is to know about that subject.
I am going to say something a bit contraversial now - but I make no apology for it.
There is not that much difference between an invisible Mental Health issue and a partially visible sight problem. (In this context I mean "partially visible" as in - it is apparent that someone has a sight problem - the invisible bit is the exact level of severity of it. They wear glasses but act "normal-sighted".)
Julian and I are both faced with difficulties when it comes to making people understand how my sight problem and his Mental Health issues affect us on a day to day basis.
In my case - I can appear perfectly "normal" one minute and suddenly appear to have great difficulty doing something the next. A perfect example is if I am in a cafe and I have paid for my food and drink, picked my tray up, turned round and commenced walking towards the nearest table - only to find that the place is cluttered with furniture, etc. What will not be apparent is that the change in "Visual Sensor" will go from eyes to feet in that instance. My eyes have lost their ability to focus on the floor immediately in front of me because my tray is blocking the view. So my feet will slow down considerably to compensate. When I find a table I will have another problem - caused by that self same tray. My "Space Recognition" software may pick this moment to pack up and revert to "Glasses off" Mode. This means that - where most people will probably just be able to place tray on table without a second thought - I will usually try to slide it on to the table. This will help me find out for definite that this is a solid surface which will not immediately disappear in a puff of air. The same will happen with a cup and saucer.
Julian's second interesting quote was "What is Happy?". If you have no memorable experience of something - how can you know what it is like and what you are aiming for if you want to achieve that status??? You may know what happy people look like and you may have spoken to them about what makes them happy. However, if you have never experienced the kind of happiness which is not immediately followed by a dive into doom and gloom - you are unlikely to know what true happiness is.
In my case - I have friends who can wander around day and night being able to see clearly without the aid of glasses or contact lenses. Those friends in turn have a friend who is not safe to be let loose in public without their glasses on - day or night. Funnily enough, I have never been half as curious about their world as they have been about mine sometimes. (I suppose that is what comes of having to survive in a 20/20 vision world whether you want to or not.)
I wish we could all be more open to other people's experiences without trying to impose our experiences on them. Yes - even I am guilty of that charge. Sometimes I know I expect the world to be bent more in my direction and I get extremely frustrated when it isn't.
I would like to end this blog post by rewording a lyric from "A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis Presley, slightly.
"A Little Less Judgement And A Little More Understanding If You Please".
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