An image of Dani sitting on stairs with her head down features text: Feeling like a burden: Gaining independence & asking for help
Albinism,  Blindness & Visual Impairment,  Everyday Life,  Mental Health

Feeling Like a Burden: Gaining Independence & Asking for Help

I absolutely love talking about the deeper topics here, because I don’t feel like we discuss them enough. Feeling down, grieving your vision, feeling caught in-between, and feeling like a burden are all completely normal things to feel when you’re staring into the face of vision loss and/or blindness. Losing a sense is a scary thing, and you are certainly allowed to feel every single painful moment of that.

I’m here to tell you that validation goes a long way, whereas being dismissed is so painful. When you’re made to feel like your feelings are invalid and unreasonable, those feelings can get even more complicated.

If you’ve ever felt like a burden, I’m here to say that you are not alone.

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If you’d prefer to consume this topic in an audio video format, check out my video on feeling like a burden.

Despite Our Hard Work…

As a blind or visually impaired person, we rely on so many different tools to get through the day. We have to be patient, persistent, and slow to frustration. Everyday tasks required creativity for us when they would often be very simple for those without a visual impairment. Despite the extra work, most of us want nothing more than to have our own independence, so we work hard, harder than most.

Despite that extra effort, sometimes our tools and our creativity are not enough. Screen readers and programs don’t always work together, digital magnifier batteries die, our usable vision fails us, and we’re left feeling a bit stranded.

At this point, we must often ask for help.

Two hands are reaching out for one another across two columns of metal pillars

Asking for Help

Asking for help is much more easily said than done as most of us have learned over the years. We fight so hard for our independence and we work hard to hold onto it as long as we can, but sometimes our circumstances fail us. Asking for help often feels like the opposite of independence.

However true that statement feels, learning to ask for help is actually a part of independence. Being an independent person means knowing yourself, your needs, and your boundaries. Once you reach those boundaries, asking for help becomes a part of that process.

I have personally struggled with this contradiction so often. I still do at times, but I’ve made some good progress. Once your mindset around asking for helps shifts, it becomes easier to ask day by day.

What happens when you ask for help and are met with a negative response? Even if a negative response is something like, “I can’t help you right now,” or, “I can’t take you to that place today,” it still can feel like a punch in the gut. This is when planning ahead and being overly prepared can help.

Planning Ahead & Being Prepared

Because our vision itself can sometimes be unpredictable, we have to be prepared for many different situations and outcomes. We rely on public and private transportation services and other people, and all of these options can be unreliable at times. Even asking for help doesn’t always work out for the best. What do we do when our plans don’t work out? That may be a bigger question for another post, but here is what I try to do in the meantime.

I plan ahead for the week and sometimes longer than that. I keep a running grocery list and a task list of things I may need help with. My task list contains things like errands, taking photos for the blog or youtube, and browsing a store that may be out of the way. Keeping these lists current means that I am always prepared in the event that someone is running out to do their own errands and can take me with them at the drop of a hat.

Having that list ready allows me to be prepared for whatever comes up. I also know what I’ll need to plan for when it comes to time and help required.

A woman sits at a table with her back to us. Her hands are raised in heated discussion with others around the table.

When Family & Friends Still Don’t Get It

Sometimes those we spend the most time with can overlook our needs and discount our requests for help. It can be easy to do when they often see us taking care of our tasks independently around the house or otherwise. Those we are closest to are often the hardest to ask for help. Explaining ourselves and our needs to them feels so tedious, because we often feel like they should already know.

I know I’m not the only person who struggles with these feelings. It feels so weird, especially as I’m learning to explain my own needs and small things that would make my life easier. I’ve been visually impaired my whole life, but it feels a bit like I’m just now discovering all these new things about myself, and that feels awkward to explain to my family who is very used to the way I have always done things.

So, here I am rediscovering myself and my needs and the reasoning behind all those needs. I’ve been trying to jump into that newness head first, but it has been a challenge. It can feel like I need too much at times, while also feeling like these new ways to do things will open up my world to new possibilities. Being visually impaired is full of contradictions at times, and that can be a challenge to explain to someone who lives outside that experience.

We’re all in this together at this point, and I’m thankful for all those who have been walking this path with me. You know who you are, and you mean the world to me.

A Note About Depression

Because these feelings can go hand in hand with depression and anxiety symptoms, you may find this previous post helpful: “When Depression Returns Like a Wave: Recognizing the Signs and Making a Plan.”

I want you guys to know that it is okay to struggle at times. It’s okay to feel down, and it’s okay to feel lost. It’s not okay to bottle all that up and keep it to yourself though, so reach out to someone whether that’s a family member, friend, counselor, or whoever else you trust.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your own thoughts on the topic with me on whichever platform you feel comfortable doing so.

Stay curious.

I have Albinism and am legally blind. I have a Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I'm currently pursuing my passion of writing through this blog and for the Albinism InSight magazine.

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