When you lose your sight, it can make you feel incredibly lonely. The feeling of isolation, the snatch of your independence and the knock of your confidence with everyday life is a massive impact. The overwhelming feeling of grief is awful. You yearn for what you have lost, unknown whether it will return or not.
At least that’s how we felt.
I’m Laura. My first noticeable decline was February 2016 – the cause of which is still unknown. As time went on, I eventually lost my career as a lab tech, my driver’s license and, ultimately, my independence.
I’m Alex. I began to lose my eyesight two years ago to optic neuropathy – the cause of which is unknown. My career was as a makeup artist and brow expert – and I loved it. But, just like Laura and many others, I was unable to continue in my job and had to give up my career.
Fast-forward two long, emotionally exhausting years. To a few months ago in fact – when we met.
This was at a forum that was being held by the RNIB and other sight loss charities based around working. There was a lot of inspirational stories to listen to and at one point, Alex burst into tears. Laura tapped Alex on the shoulder and introduced herself and…
Since then we have been thick as thieves. Having a friend going through a similar situation was what we both needed.
Together we understood the loss we had both had. We built up each other’s confidence and became close friends. Meeting up regularly was the best remedy – we would chat about the daily challenges we faced and rant about the world being inconsiderate, but we bounced off each other generally had a blast.
When chatting about our experiences – life, makeup, family, weddings, etc. – we found we had so much in common and could talk quite openly and candidly.
Through these meet-ups, we both realized that we hadn’t found much support for people coping with sight loss around our age (mid-20s). A lot of events or groups seemed to be geared towards an older generation.
Meeting each other was almost like a sign. Equally we were both in a bad place mentally, emotionally and pretty lost.
From our coffees and chats we realized that we could actually try to make a difference, not just for ourselves but to try and get a younger generation talking about sight loss.
We researched a lot – and in June 2018, our podcast, Suddenly Sightless, was born.
We found our niche, a passion and a way to bring people together in an informal setting.
Planning what we would talk about in our first episode was too easy – every episode since has flowed, it was almost as though we had both been storing up things we wanted to share, experiences that have taught us lessons, coping mechanisms, strategies, mental health issues… it all just rolls, along with banter and giggles.
We recorded the first episode on Laura’s phone and began setting up relevant social media sites. We didn’t care if only one person listened – at least that would be one person we had reached out to.
We are easygoing, fun-loving, bubbly, glitter-obsessed girly-girls. Our blind story will continue.
Many people have contacted us for makeup tips or to chat and we love that we are there for people, bringing younger individuals with similar issues together, to have fun, raise awareness and ultimately learn to love life again after sight loss.
Listen to episodes of the Suddenly Sightless podcast via Soundcloud at soundcloud.com/suddenly-sightless. You can also follow Suddenly Sightless on Twitter (@SuddenlySightl1), Facebook (@SuddenlySightl1) and Instagram (@SuddenlySightless).
To contact Laura and Alex directly, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.