Thursday, 11 May 2017

Mental health and sight loss - Amy

AmyAs this week is Mental Health Awareness Week I thought I would share with you the effect sight loss can have on your mental health.

Some people may think sight loss is just losing your sight but there is so much more to it than that. More than you would imagine.

Coming to terms with sight loss can be a very long process. Everybody deals with it differently, just like every other thing there is to deal with. For me and many other people it took years. So many different thoughts and emotions go whizzing around in your head. None of them good.


Fear of what is happening to you and what will happen to you in the future. Fear of what people think of you, fear of being a burden and annoying people. Fear of making lots of mistakes.


You feel like the only one in the world that is in your situation. You don’t want to be around people because things aren’t the same any more now you need help.

The less you are around people the less you want to be around people and you can become isolated. If all of your family and friends can see quite well, you can feel like the weird one. Not because of anything they have done or said, just because of your sight loss, it makes you different.


The loneliness leads to anxiety. Getting out of the house, even with somebody, can become a massive challenge.

You sometimes sit and worry about when you are going out. You sit and think about everything that could go wrong and how horrible it is going to be. And it will be horrible, because outside there are people, cars, lampposts, road works, every kind of trip hazard you can think of.

Just walking up to the local shops, your heart can be pounding and you just want to cry and run back home.

I used to take slow, deep breaths and try to concentrate on breathing instead of all the anxiety going on in my head.


You feel angry at the world for doing this to you, anger because nobody can make it stop. Anger at people for helping too much, anger at people for not helping enough.

Anger at yourself because you feel like you can’t do anything right. Anger at obstacles for getting in your way.

Anger because people keep trying to help you when you don’t want it, even though you need it. It takes a long time for family and friends to adjust to when you need help and when you don’t.

Out of control 

For me it felt like my whole world had exploded and all the pieces were flying off in all different directions and spiraling out of control.

As hard as I tried I just couldn’t get all the pieces back and fit them back together properly.

I lost control of my life and I lost control of myself.


You can feel really depressed because your life has changed, probably forever. You can feel useless, worthless and like everything is pointless. It feels like there is no future. The only future is one with sight problems and you don’t want that.


Some days you feel just a few of these feelings, other days you feel all of them. Some days, you just don’t know what to feel, there are so many to choose from, so you just feel numb.

Eventually you come to...


I believe that the acceptance stage is when you finally feel ready to move on and rebuild your life. It won't be the same, but in some ways it might be better. Yes really! Acceptance itself takes time.

Six years after my sight got worse I have only just started being around other visually impaired and blind people. I didn’t want to have friends with similar problems to me, or be part of any special groups. Finally I am ready to do that and it has helped me.

It does feel really good not to have to say “sorry about that, I can’t see very well” all of the time. At Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind (SRSB) everybody knows. I feel now that I have been going there, I have finally finished my acceptance.

Six years on and I am getting out a lot more, I am closer to my friends than I've ever been and am loving working on this blog for SRSB. I have even started trampolining! I never thought it was possible to do half of the things I have achieved. Every single day I feel so grateful and lucky for how things have changed and for being so extremely happy.

If there is anybody reading this who is struggling to come to terms with sight loss, please don’t do it alone. There are many, many people out there who want to help. Believe in yourself, things will get better even if you don’t believe it.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Trampolining - Amy

When I was at school I absolutely hated PE. It involved sports, shorts, mud and usually being accidentally hit by some kind of ball or bat.

The only two things I was any good at were volleyball and trampolining. I actually looked forward to PE when we were doing trampolining. I wasn’t the best in my group but I was definitely not the worst for a change. I enjoyed it so much I went to the trampolining club after school.

When I left school I left trampolining behind as well. I always wanted to do more, but life got in the way. Then when my sight got worse, I thought now it really will never happen. I really struggle with many much smaller things, staying on the right side of a trampoline seemed impossible.

Life has taught me a lot of lessons, about how life can be bigger and better, but it won't just happen. You need to make it happen.

A few weeks ago I started thinking about trampolining again. My first thought was, blind people on trampolines, that just sounds dangerous! But then I remembered that blind people can run, ski, climb mountains and do all kinds of adventurous things. Trying to stay on a trampoline sounded easy compared to all of those things.

I decided to send an email to Sheffield International Venues and see if there was any kind of extra support or help I could get with trampolining. Sheffield has world class sporting places, so if I can’t get the support I need here then it wouldn’t be very good. They emailed me back and offered me a free one to one lesson with a coach, to have a practice and see how it goes.

The days leading up to my lesson I was so nervous. I thought it will either go really well, or really badly. Somebody told me I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. All I could think about was all the different injuries I could gain if it went wrong!

The day came and I climbed onto the trampoline. Standing up was easier than I thought, it was staying stood up that was the hardest part. The trampoline is so bouncy and wobbly when you are not used to it, I remembered it would be

The trampoline was next to a wall, one end was next to another trampoline and joined together with crash mats. This felt better than at school, because there were only two sides to fall off, not four. The two coaches stood on the trampoline at the other two sides, so I couldn’t fall off. All around the trampolines there were mats on the floor, again, not like at school. I felt very safe.

I started jumping and I was wobbling and falling a lot. But that’s how trampolining goes at first. I was quite surprised that it didn’t hurt when I fell. I sometimes get muscle pains around my joints, so I was nervous about this as well. The more I practiced the better I got.

When I was more steady on the trampoline, the coaches got off and stood on the floor. They were stood by the trampoline though to keep me safe. I was talking to the coaches and one of them is the daughter of my PE teacher at school!

As I wasn’t in any pain from falling I decided to try out a few moves. I even managed to do a bit of a routine. The coaches seemed impressed, so did I!

When I came off the trampoline I felt alive, bursting with energy and so happy that I hadn’t broken anything. Until I put my shoe back on and realised I’d broken my toe nail!!! It hurt but I was relieved that’s all it was.

It’s taken me thirteen years to go trampolining again and now I plan to keep going back every week. Please don’t be scared about trying new things because of your sight. If you ask then you might get more support than you realise. Don’t think too much and talk yourself out of it like I always used to. Follow your dreams, don’t think, just do it!