When I was growing up, I never knew outright that there was a difference in my vision. When you are kids, everyone just gets on and mucks around and has fun. It’s only when you start school that different things (like different requirements) are made, and that’s when you start to think about it. It’s definitely more as you grow up that it becomes a bigger part of your life, so I guess that can be negative in a sense. You have to start thinking about disability and how it might restrict you in the future because those restrictions are probably going to increase as you get older. But also, as you get older, you realise that it’s part of you and your identity. You get to explore it and take ownership in a way. That’s when you work out how you’re going to interpret a disability. There are definitely positives and negatives to it.
My disability is that I’ve lost the right side of my vision in both eyes. I’ve had this since I was six months old after I had neurosurgery for epilepsy. Essentially, I can’t remember anything else so unless someone told me that I see differently I wouldn’t know. Which I guess is good, I definitely feel like it doesn’t hold me back as much. I think everyone’s just trying to get through life as best they can. I guess it’s the same if you’ve got something holding you back, you just keep trying to get as far as you can. The main thing is that because you can’t see a physical disability with me, should I disclose or outrightly tell someone that you’ve got a disability? You can’t just chuck it into everyday conversation. But you’re always wondering whether you should tell someone, whether that’s being at college or school, or with friends. Early on, I would completely integrate into all parts of the school and it was great! I was swimming and playing football but then there were times when a teacher would ask “can you come outside and have a little chat”, it would happen once a month or once a term or one of the support team would come round and then I’d chat about how I’m doing. You know that you’ve got a difference and know that you can be singled out, but as you get older it does get easier to deal with differences. If something goes a bit sh*t then you’re like, oh well, it’s not too bad in the grand scheme of things. It gives you a different perspective.
Everyone says I’m really optimistic, which I think I am, but I think you have to be. You don’t get anywhere by worrying about what could be in the future. If you have certain barriers that make it difficult then fair enough, but nobody knows what the future holds, so go with it. I think having a disability definitely makes you more resilient.