Daniel Vance - Disabilities

A regular column reader, “Roseanne” (not her real name), has been a fighter. Weighing only 21 ounces at birth, she then became overexposed to oxygen in an incubator for three months and developed retrolental fibroplasia. It’s a condition that causes blindness. Today, in her 50s, she has 20/400 vision in her left eye and sees “just a pin prick” of light in her right.

While going to school early on, “I couldn’t see or read as rapidly as most people,” she said in a telephone interview. “I got teased a lot by kids, probably because I had to wear really thick glasses. I pretty much dealt with that every school year. It was tough.”

Her situation became even more problematic at age 13, when glaucoma in her right eye caused her to lose almost all her vision in it. Then she began experiencing long periods of depression.

“I felt like I wasn’t like everyone else,” she said. “I wasn’t normal. I would walk out in the woods and be alone a lot. I felt bad about myself and I had suicidal thoughts. To take my anger out, I would tear apart leaves and grass.” She kept her depressive and suicidal thoughts hidden from everyone.

But she fought through. She graduated from high school and college, and in 1980 began teaching special education students. Over time, she married and had three daughters.
When she was 44 in 1999, a doctor diagnosed her with major depression. Her periods of depression usually last up to four months. Over the years, she has attempted suicide three times and has gone through electric shock therapy sessions.

She said, “With my vision impairment, I do what I can with what I have. It has taken a long time to learn, but when I can’t do something, I now ask for help. For example, when unable to see where I’m going, I will take someone’s arm to help them guide me.”

Her faith in God has helped her most, she said.

Even though life has been one obstacle after another, she fights on. “I consider my life a success,” she said. “I’ve come through several suicide attempts and have finally learned to take my medication and listen to the doctor. Of course, I rely a lot on my faith. I know I will get through more (depressive) episodes.”