‘The question is not how to get cured, but how to live.’
― Joseph Conrad
As we all know, there’s currently no cure for VS. So I wanted to share 9 tips on how to cope with VS and live life to the fullest. You can apply the advice to pretty much any illness.
#1 Understanding and accepting the condition
‘Many times, the thought of fear itself is greater than what it is we fear.’
― Idowu Koyenikan
When you develop a condition, you naturally start imagining the worst-case scenario. I bet that at some point you thought that Visual Snow Syndrome was going to make you blind? But this just won’t happen! So, it’s important that you learn about the condition (by reading this website… shameless self-promotion, I know). You’ll then know what to expect and help you come to terms with it. Accepting the condition will then allow you to be honest with yourself about how it is affecting you and help tackle it head on. Just be careful not to become obsessed with knowing everything about VS; that can cause you to fixate on it, when the goal is lessening its impact on your life
#2 Create a support network
‘A problem shared is a problem halved’
– Over-used cliché whose origin is unknown
You may lock up your feelings about the condition and never talk to anyone about it. This could be for various reasons: you don’t want to draw attention to yourself or worry loved ones. Maybe you’re embarrassed because it sounds like a crazy condition, or you think ignoring it is the best solution? But it’s far better to get how you feel off your chest. You’ll be surprised how most (though maybe not all) friends or relatives are all ears and will do their best to support you. Talking it through, just like with any other issue you have, can really help.
‘A hobby a day keeps the doldrums away’
– Phyllis McGinley
As I said above, fixating on VS is one of the worsts things that can happen. For example, you may develop an unhealthy obsession of checking your symptoms every 5 minutes to identify any improvements or deterioration. Arguably the best way to avoid this is to keep yourself busy, so that you don’t even have the time to fixate on VS. To this end hobbies are a good shout; they provide a good and relaxing focus away from VS.
‘The part can never be well unless the whole is well.’
And if one of those hobbies involves physical activity that’s even better! I’m not preaching that exercise is the ultimate cure, but – do even have to say it? – exercise does wonders for your physiology. So keep your whole body well, and even if it doesn’t help your symptoms directly, being fitter can only help things generally.
#5 Related conditions
*Insert inspirational an quote here*
– I couldn’t find one myself
When VS decides to come around, he doesn’t roll solo, he likes to bring the boys around too – enter conditions such as anxiety and depression. It’s important that you’re aware of how you are feeling, and whether VS is seriously negatively impacting your mood or causing anxiety. These need addressing in their own right, and if you start to experience these symptoms please go see a doctor.
‘Living well is the best revenge’
– George Herbert
It all sounds a bit grim, doesn’t it? Of course, VS is hardly a cause for joy. However, it is well within your power to partially turn it into a positive driving force. The quote above is used in the context of getting revenge on a person, but I say it can be applied to VS. What better way is there to scream ‘fuck you’ to VS if you achieve all your goals despite it? Let the determination to conquer VS motivate you to power through to success in life; doing so builds character and demonstrates resilience.
#7 Things could always be worse
‘When things are bad, we take comfort in the thought that they could always get worse. And when they are, we find hope in the thought that things are so bad they have to get better’
– Malcom Forbes
Life can be shit sometimes, but someone else will always be experiencing something worse. Always bearing this in mind. For example, VS distorts our vision, but at least we have our grainy vision when others cannot see at all. This is not to demean what you’re going through, but simply to give you some perspective.
#8 Small changes
‘The human capacity for burden is like bamboo – far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.’
― Jodi Picoult
Try to make small adjustments where possible to make life easier. For example, wearing sunglasses if you have light sensitivity. Okay that was so obvious it’s patronising, but my point is that if you know that certain circumstances aggravate your symptoms, try to alter or avoid those circumstances. Of course, this is not always possible, but often a change involving little effort can go a long way.
#9 Give it time
‘Time heals all wounds, unless you pick at them.’
– Shaun Alexander
Over time you will get used to having VS. Exactly how long this will take depends on each person and the nature of their symptoms, and how much they obsess and ‘pick at it’. But you will get there in the end. So it’s important to persevere, tomorrow will be a better day.