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Behind The Smile

February 17, 2020

“It’s not always the tears that measure the pain. Sometimes it’s the smile we fake”.

Most people will have heard by now of the tragic death of Caroline Flack ♥️ the woman who seemed to have the perfect life and the brightest smile. We seem to assume that if someone appears happy on the surface and especially on social media, then all must be ok.

It’s so very easy to hide behind a smile, a smile is easy to fake. When people ask, “how are you”, the simplest reply is “ok thank you”. How many of us have done this, when inside we are really holding back the tears? Through my time of having severe anxiety and panic attacks in the past, I have felt that desperation and wondering of how I can go on when I was having several distressing panic attacks daily and then again when I was diagnosed with Stargardts. Without support, which thankfully I had, I can honestly see how things could get too much for someone to bear and how the darkness can take over your thoughts.

Be Kind Text Quote
Be Kind Text Quote

I don’t know what’s happened to society of late, but when someone in the public eye appears vulnerable or makes a mistake like the rest of us do every day, the British media and trolls seem to attack that Person relentlessly. People forget they are a real human being, who has feelings, hopes and dreams, and when someone is feeling vulnerable, those vicious words day in and day out can destroy any ounce of self-worth they ever had.

The sad fact is most of these trolls are brave because they sit behind a keyboard and I guarantee the majority would not say anything to that person they are hounding in real life. I am not a celebrity, but some of the things I have had said to me on social media about my vision loss, is awful, but luckily I am in a good place and I just let it go, but I think these people need to be held accountable for their actions.

The British media also need to take a long, hard look at the way they report and the whole innocent until proven guilty needs to be put into practice and details need to be kept private until someone is charged for their mistake.

My point of this post is just to remind people that kindness really is everything. If you have nothing nice to say, just say nothing at all. Spreading hate and sadness is such a waste of time and can have catastrophic consequences. If you are trolling people because you are unhappy in your own life, please seek help because this behaviour is destructive, and it costs lives. A reminder to everyone else is when you ask a friend how they are and they reply, “Ok thank you”, ask them again and see how they are truly feeling, you may be surprised at their answer ♥️.

For anyone who may need some support x

*Samaritans charity – https://www.samaritans.org

Mind – https://www.mind.org.uk

Anxiety U.K. – https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk

SANE – http://www.sane.org.uk


Two Years

September 29, 2019
Me wearing makeup and with tear shape jewels under my eye.

Ironically to end eye health week, it is my 2-year anniversary of my official Stargardts diagnosis. 2 years ago, to the day I walked out of Moorfields Eye Hospital and my whole life had changed forever. Being told you are losing your eyesight at 32 is just something that unless you have been through it, you cannot comprehend. Some people may not understand me when I say this, but I felt in a way that I had been given a terminal diagnosis that day. Some people will read this and feel I am over reacting and I have no right to say this, but I’m afraid unless you have been told you are going blind, you will never understand how those words make you feel inside and the impact they have on your mental wellbeing. The fact that there is no cure for my condition, and I have to watch my eyesight fade in front of me, leaves one feeling completely helpless and in despair. 

Number Two Image
Number Two Image

Have things got easier for me in those two years? As much as I would like to say yes, the answer is no. I am learning to adapt to my changes and new blind spots, but because this disease is progressive and mine is currently progressing, time is not really the healer. As time goes on, my vision loss just gets worse. I don’t feel the despair I felt when I was first diagnosed and the feeling of sheer terror has thankfully passed, but I do still often feel scared. I often worry that I won’t be able to cope as my vision gets worse, but I know in my heart that I will have to. Lots of other people do with this and I have no other choice. 

A Year Changes You A Lot Image
A Year Changes You A Lot Image

After my diagnosis, so many people stopped asking me how I was. I notice that people who are physically ill are asked how they are, or people ask of them to see how they are and if they are getting better, but it’s a rarity for me to ever be asked ‘how are you?’ ‘Are you ok?’ I feel this may be because people are scared of the answer when it’s something that can’t be fixed, or they truly don’t realise the impact this has on someone. I have found the best people to talk to really are people going through the same thing, this has helped me no end. I am lucky that I have a lot of support from others I have met through Stargardts and am lucky to have the support of a few close family members and friends. 

In the two years that have passed, I am proud of the way I have handled this. They aren’t words I ever thought I would say coming from someone who usually puts their self-down and picks out all the negatives, but I am proud. I look back and the way this disease made me feel, I could have fallen into a pit of despair and some days I still feel like that when it has frustrated me so much, but I won’t let it beat me, my life is worth more than Stargardts. Stargardts can make life harder for me but it can’t take my life away from me and that’s what I need to remember. I am still me, I’m still Katie, Stargardts won’t change that ♥️.

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