I remember walking into first grade and being the only kid in my class wearing glasses. Back then eye glasses were not considered a fashion accessory and as a result I became the easy target for bullies.
Six years ago, after multiple eye surgeries including strabismus for lazy eye, vision correction, cataract surgery, and a retina reattachment, I was diagnosed with visual dyslexia. This form of dyslexia affects visual processing and makes it so that the brain doesn’t get the complete picture of what the eyes see. Just imagine yourself having difficulty finding words on a page or combining the start of a sentence on one line with another one further down on the page.
While I do love a challenge, visual dyslexia is a hard nut to crack. I couldn’t read, write or edit without colossal mistakes and felt like a failure. Prior to my diagnosis, I was convinced I had a stroke or was experiencing early signs of alzheimers since I was only in my fifties. I was also trying desperately to keep my job as the editor of a corporate newsletter.
After several exhausting meetings with my boss about the quality (or lack) of my work, I had to admit I was no longer capable of handling my current job. Rather than risk being fired, I decided to quit with whatever little dignity I had left. Since my self-esteem was mostly predicated on my job performance, I became depressed, started to withdraw from friends and family, and began psychotherapy.
Up until this point, I was living my best life. I had successfully made the transition from entrepreneur to working for the “man” in a job I loved. I had a group of close friends, enjoyed a variety of hobbies, and started making plans for retirement.
Like the old adage says, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” or as I say, allows you to dig deep and ask for help. As an independent woman since age 15, asking for help was not something that came naturally. In fact, I made it my mission in life NOT to need help from anyone.
There is another saying, “help is not a weakness, it’s a strength.” So I decided to stop wallowing in self pity and ask for help. Now, I am happy to say I no longer judge my self-worth based on my performance or compare myself with others. The latter is definitely a buzz kill. While my “visual dyslexia” is challenging. It does not define who I am and what I can accomplish. It just might take me longer to write my blog, read a book, or pay bills.