How a nervous breakdown helped to turn my life around

Post date: 
Monday, 2 October 2017
Jill Barkley

Many people with sight loss experience issues around mental health and wellbeing. RNIB Connect Radio presenter Jill Barkley talks about how she was affected by a mental breakdown

 
“When I was 19 years old, I developed diabetic retinopathy. In the very beginning, I thrived on the fact that everybody around me kept telling me I was coping so well. 
 

“I’d never met anybody who was blind, or had any experience of blindness, so I didn’t know how to deal with it. But the fact I kept getting told I was great and I was coping made me terrified of letting them down.

“I ended up brushing my feelings aside and I just got on with things. However, it was a number of years later when something completely unrelated happened that left me in a very vulnerable state. I then had a complete nervous breakdown. Honestly, it just happened – something snapped and I just didn’t know how to cope anymore.
 
“Oddly, I think it was the best thing that could have happened. It took me a while to get back on my feet, but through speaking to other people who had also suffered breakdowns, their experiences taught me that I was no different to anybody else.
 
“By reaching out to others who had had breakdowns for various reasons, I ended up speaking to lots of different kinds of people. For example, I spoke to a fireman who had a breakdown because he had witnessed lots of fatalities.
 
“It helped me to deal with my sight loss and start to build my life back up again. I just wanted to get on with what I wanted to achieve and try to do my best by sharing my knowledge and experience with others.
 
“If I can help somebody even a little bit with some information that makes a difference to their life, then my journey hasn’t been
in vain.”
 
“If I look back at the various different negative things that have happened during my life, whether it be bullying or when I lost my sight, I could feel down in the dumps. But I always think to myself, only a fool falls over what’s behind them.
 
“I try to have the attitude that if I want to go on with my life, I just need to grab everything by the horns. No matter what happens, nobody’s going to drag me along or do things for me.
 

More you might like

  • Fighting fit - How I use my sight loss to train harder
  • Ten top tips - Tips for staying healthy and active with sight loss
 
“If I look back at the various different negative things that have happened during my life, whether it be bullying or when I lost my sight, I could feel down in the dumps. But I always think to myself, only a fool falls over what’s behind them.
 
“I try to have the attitude that if I want to go on with my life, I just need to grab everything by the horns. No matter what happens, nobody’s going to drag me along or do things for me.

Sign up to receive Connect eNews every two weeks by becoming a member of our growing community of people affected by sight loss

Elsewhere in the community