Literally. To see through my eyes.
At the age of 13 I feel like I experienced my real first height of anxiety that at the time, felt unbearable.
I was home alone when I suddenly saw this kaleidoscope like blind spot growing bigger and bigger in my vision until it covered half of my sight. I had no idea what was happening and I couldn’t call my parents because I couldn’t see the phone to dial, so I ran outside to my neighbours in tears. By the time by mum came home, the blind spot has disappeared but had been replaced by the most agonising head pain and vomiting I had ever experienced. A quick doctors visit confirmed I had suffered my first ever migraine.
Relief had set in that there was a name for the moment of panic I experienced, but in the months to come, I would be soon be faced with a whole new symptom.
I remember sitting there in the lounge room one night looking at our beige curtains, and seeing a few shooting-star like specks moving in my visual field. I could really only notice them against a light plain background. I told my mum who dismissed it as another migraine, only this time, it did not disappear.
As time went on, a few of these specks then soon covered my whole visual field. The best way to describe it, is like TV static when you switch to a channel with no reception. Moving speckles everywhere, that I could see with both my eyes open and my eyes closed. In the dark or when my eyes were closed, they sparkled so bright there felt like I had no escape.
Mum took me to the doctors who then referred me to an ophthalmologist. He checked my vision and the backs of my eyes and he could see nothing out of the ordinary. I was referred for an MRI and Cat Scan to make sure it wasn’t coming from my brain, of which also showed inconclusive.
On the final appointment with the ophthalmologist, he eventually just sent me home with nothing further he felt like he could do. He had never heard of anything like what I was trying to describe, and could not see anything wrong. I asked him if he thinks I could go blind, of which he replied – I don’t know.
I remember crying all day and night for weeks on end, thinking I was going blind and there was nothing anyone could tell me about what was going on. Having no access to internet, I remember just pulling out my dads encyclopaedias trying everything in my might to find an answer myself.
Months went by very slowly and tried so hard to just get on with my life. Everyday though, my mind would keep thinking I was going blind and there was nothing anyone could do. I remember my grades in year 9 slipped dramatically, and without knowing it really was then, I know I suffered depression.
Come the age of 15 I would then sit for hours on the computer searching on the internet for something that could tell me what was happening. It had definitely gotten worse over the years but seemed to just plateau at a point where I don’t think anymore could even have room to appear! My quality of life went dramatically down hill and felt exhausted from thinking about it so much. I was so determined to find some sort of answer.
One evening, I remember sitting on the internet like I would do most nights, when I stumbled across a term called ‘visual snow’. Clinking on the link, I then found myself on a page called ‘Those with Visual Snow’ – and my heart stopped. I had found what I had, alongside a group of people who also had the same thing. As I kept reading, I read that this is a weird visual phenomenon that some people after having migraines, have got in their vision but doctors have been unable to describe why! Although medically there didn’t seem to be an answer (or a cure) I was relieved to read that no one to date had ever gone blind. The happiness and relief inside me surged like no other feeling I had ever experienced. After years of thinking I was going losing my vision, and feeling so lonely trying to describe something unheard of – I finally had a release.
I ran out to my mum and dad in tears. They lost their daughter for years so lost in this, they were just as relieved to simply see relief in me.
Still to this day I have visual snow. I never really talk about it with people because its way too unusual to try describe. If I was give someone my vision for a day they would go crazy with what they see. I guess now, I am just so used to it I forget what’s its like without it.
I wish I could write that from that moment my life improved dramatically, but in the blogs to come my struggling journey continues.
These years however, I believe definitely triggered an emotion in me that I will never forget feeling. I was so young, scared and alone. I also believe that during this time, my addictive habit in approaching “Dr Google” for answers, begun. I would research for hours and hours on end for an answer, and after a lot of persistence I finally found one. To this day, I definitely over-google. For every symptom, ailment or issue that arises, I look to seek the same satisfying feeling I got that day when I finally found an answer that made it all better.
In saying this, as we all know about ‘Dr Google’, you seem to come across more worst case scenarios than what you do relieving answers. This then opens page after page after page of more issues, before forgetting what you were even googling in the first place!
On ya’ anxiety!