When simple things become difficult
I am visually impaired and legally blind, and I have been so for over two years. Amongst the many challenges that I’ve had to face, one of my most stressful continues to be catching the bus. It’s a really simple thing, but one that I always took for granted before.
A great deal of stress was caused the other day when I was trying to catch a bus to book club. Yes, you read right, I still go to book club! I usually listen to the audio version, or where there’s no other option, I ask Siri to read it to me.
It was a rainy day. The buses were running chaotically, visibility was poor. To catch the right bus, I needed to go to a big bus stop, which had multiple buses arriving and leaving. My bus app was not helping, as the buses were running all over the place.
In these situations, I have to flag down every single that comes by and ask the driver what bus number they are. This means that when three buses arrive at once, it’s very easy to miss the bus you need. I can’t see the numbers, so I have no choice but to ask.
On this particular day it took me 20 minutes to get onto my bus, and by that point I was anxious, angry and exhausted with stress. While bus drivers are generally friendly and helpful, they don’t always understand why I am asking, or respond in the clear manner that I need.
There’s a lot of pressure on me to be friendly and pleasant in these situations, but to be honest, you don’t always feel like it. Just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you always want to ask for help! I’d much rather be driving myself in my nice warm car, but unfortunately that isn’t an option any more.
Eventually, I found my bus. I got on feeling tired, stressed and angry. I’ve learnt that I carry these feelings for very long time afterwards, and trying to ignore it just allows it to build up over the day, taking my mood down and making me cranky.
I now know that I need to deal with these feelings quickly and immediately at the time, in order to not let them linger. In this situation, I settle myself, then I take a moment to take a deep breath and regain control of thoughts and feelings. I breathe out the frustration and stress, and I breathe in calmly.
Then I take a moment to think about how I’m feeling. For me, I’m most often either angry at myself for being disabled, or angry at the world for using bus numbers that I can’t read. I’ll try to process these thoughts, and deal with them. Focusing on what I can do, having gratitude for the things that are done to help blind people, and trying to reframe my experience so that I can leave the negative emotions on the bus. I then put on my book or my music and let it all float away, knowing that I’ve done my best
This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.
To book your first call visit: https://my.efriend.org.au/preregistration/