By Layla | Subscribe: | Record your story @ or our iPhone app for a chance to get animated. Comment, like, share this story.
When Layla was fourteen she was diagnosed with a rare eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa which caused her to become visually impaired, and then slowly she lost vision and went blind. Acceptance was not an easy thing for her, and staying strong throughout it was like learning to walk all over again.
Losing her vision at fourteen was so terrifying – the kind of scary true stories that other people had, but she never imagined that she would have such a scary storytime story to share. At her age, she was already going through a lot at school, studying for tests and placement exams, and dealing with all the other stresses that come with being a teenager about to enter high school.
Although it started slowly, things sped up until the darkness literally closed in around her – first her peripheral vision narrowed, and then it shut down altogether leaving her with only light and shadow perception. This first true scary moment of total visual impairment – of going blind – sent her into a spiral of anxiety and depression. She had zero acceptance for what happened and she felt so weak, so not strong, and she just closed in. She then went completely blind.
Her classmates and schoolmates didn’t know how to react to or deal with her, they had never been around someone who was visually impaired and they didn’t accept her, weren’t nice to her. This just added to her mental health issues and made it even harder to stay strong and she ended up needing to go to therapy once a week to learn acceptance and make a plan for her life.
Layla’s moms wanted to move her to a school with other blind kids but that would have meant moving to a different country and she didn’t want to leave. As terrible as her school was, she still had close best friends there that she didn’t want to be without.The whole idea of moving away and trying to meet new people was a scary thought no matter what, and add that to being suddenly visually impaired – no way.
She won the argument and was able to stay at her school, but she was treated so differently – it was awful. Of course, she needed to be treated a bit differently because she was blind, but people acted like she was totally incompetent at everything and couldn’t do anything on her own. She was the first visually impaired kid in her school, really the first kid with a disability.
But she was staying strong and learning acceptance and to manage her blindness. She learned to read and write braille, but the teachers didn’t know how to handle that, and still wouldn’t let her do much by herself. It was a disability, but she as not letting it disable her!
The school kept making things harder instead of easier, telling her she couldn’t do her drama class or music class anymore – which made no sense since she was able to act and play music just as she always had.
For every exam and test she had, instead of letting her use her skills with braille and new technologies to assist visually impaired students, they made her sit in a separate room and speak the answers to a teacher who would write them down. This was really hard for her because it would make her feel so anxious and nervous that she would forget the answers, or jumble them up when she spoke.
Then, she got an amazing and adorable guide dog, and somehow this broke the ice and people began paying more attention to her. Now she’s eighteen and people have realized that she is still just as capable and strong as she was before, and while she can’t do some things that rely on sight, she’s still capable of doing everything else, she’s still human after all.
Layla’s family, friends, and girlfriend don’t judge her because she’s blind, they love her for who she is.
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