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Stephaine, 37

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

Where are you from and currently living?

Salt Lake City, Utah.

Stephanie and her dog Bruni. Standing in a little river next to some green grass.
Stephanie and her dog Bruni

Tell me about yourself:

I have been a licensed mental health clinician for 10 years. I grew up fairly active outdoors including camping, hiking, and river rafting. I love traveling and visiting new cultures around the world as well as the occasional girl's trip to meet up with my friends across the states. I’m a strong advocate for mental health and criminal justice. Since losing my vision I have become an avid knitter and chef when not playing with my pooch, Bruni.

What's your EYE story?

Three years ago, I was hit in a crosswalk by an older driver who was confused about where he was and what the speed limit was. My injuries included severe TBI which severed my left optic nerve. The brain injury also exacerbated another eye condition that I was born with (retinitis pigmentosa). The result was complete blindness in my left eye and limited vision in my right eye. Including less than 10° of field vision, night blindness, color blindness, and extreme light sensitivity. 23 days in the hospital, six months of rehabilitation (vocational, occupational, physical), and another nine months of vision loss rehabilitation/training.

What has been the most challenging thing mentally?

Initially, the hardest part of my accident was having lost so much, including a career that I loved. As expected, with any job comes purpose and without having a purpose came depression. Not to mention my love of traveling and being outdoors has been incredibly tough when so many of these things are based on visual stimulation and awe. I also have a lot of anxiety anytime I leave the house now.

Stephaine's vision impairment journey. Smiling at the camera shoulder length brown hair.
Stephaine's vision impairment journey

What has been the most challenging thing physically?

At first, it was crossing streets again. Getting around anywhere comes with challenges including trying not to embarrass yourself when in public or in tight quarters like crowded restaurants or gift shops. When some of your mobility is lost it is easier to get fat and lazy and that has been an ongoing battle.

Where are you now?

I have participated in low vision training that taught me skills to improve my life including safety and independence. I am working again as a therapist but it’s not as satisfying as my previous career. I absolutely still have mental/emotional parts of my vision loss that I will always be dealing with like frustration, embarrassment, depression, and anxiety. I try to think positively and use my skills and resources to keep moving forward.

[Edited for clarity by @jacobfromutah]

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