Humor and Vision Loss

We all have different ways of coping with and accepting the challenging aspects of our lives, and coping with the changes that come with receiving a new diagnosis, like vision loss.

For me, when I first recognized that I was legally blind, I was very angry. I wanted to avoid talking about it, thinking about it, or even acknowledging that my vision was worse than my peers. At the time, I was a senior in high school, and didn’t want to be anything more than just ME. I hated the idea of using my white cane, or being involved with youth groups for other students with visual impairments.  I coped with this change through silent, seething anger.

My “sighted” friends in high school — the ones who didn’t have any sort of experience with vision loss–adjusted to the news of my being legally blind by utilizing humor. I distinctly remember one moment, when my best friend and I were pushing through the crowds of Rockford High School.  She called out, “Watch out! Blind chick coming through!”  She laughed about this, and encouraged me to utilize my cane to clear a path for us to get to our classes…every day. She thought it was a “perk’, and compared it to the societal acceptance that are made for women with children, or who are pregnant. We were seventeen at the time, and had a lot of preconceived notions!

My friend wasn’t making fun of me, and she wasn’t intending to be mean.  She was merely trying to find humor in something that was an obvious part of my daily life, and an irrevocable part of who I am. I hated it. I didn’t laugh, and I told her that I wasn’t okay with “The Blind Jokes”.

Fast forward ten years later. Today I’m very comfortable with who I am. I’ve accepted my vision loss, and I am strong enough to not only make jokes about my vision loss, but I often welcome them from close friends and family.  I have one friend, in particular, who adores making as many comments about my vision loss as he can.  I make it a routine part of my interactions with him to ask him if he has thought of anything particularly witty, lately.

I encourage people in their witticisms about my blindness, and often friends try and “one up” each other in their comments.  Humor, I have found, is a way that I can connect with other people about my vision loss. When I am comfortable with the relationships, I can show those people that I am also comfortable with joking about blindness, because I am no longer defensive about the impairment itself. Laughter brings people together in a beautiful, sometimes breathless way.

It took me a long time to get to this point of comfort, and I recognize that utilizing humor to cope with vision loss might not be something that everyone adapts. Some people may be offended by these types of jokes, and might hate to hear them, or be the object of them. I understand that.  I  would never tell these people to “Lighten up” and “Find the humor in life’s difficulties!”,  because I know that we are all on different journey of acceptance and identity when it comes to vision loss for ourselves or our loved ones.

My curiosity for this post….

 What do you think about humor as it pertains to your visual impairment, or as it relates to those you love?

Are you comfortable with the sometimes, self-deprecating jokes about vision loss… or do you feel that this is an area of taboo that is unkind and harmful?

If you don’t find humor in the challenge of vision loss, do you think you ever could? If not, how do you cope?

I eagerly look forward to all discussion about this topic!