How I See Things

How I See Things
Cartoon-like drawing in shades of dark to medium purple. Eyes with beautiful eyelashes, looking through a pair of glasses.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Peripheral Vision Exercise - Outside Observations

Recently, someone in a homeschooling group I belong to, asked about vision issues she has with her child. Specifically, her child needs work to use their peripheral vision more. So I thought I would do a mini series of things I have done to help me use my peripheral vision more. 

By the way, over the course of learning about vision therapy, I learned that when I tunnel, it wears out my eyes more i.e.: makes them feel more tired more rapidly. I keep forgetting this, so this needs to be a reminder to me to focus on peripheral vision more today!

The first time I remember working on my peripheral vision, it was a beautiful day outside! I commented this to my vision therapist who was setting me up for my next task. She stopped whatever she was about to do, and we went outside to do the therapy. It's been a year or more, and I can't remember if she patched my eye, but I feel like she did. 

The way she patches my eye is she makes an eye patch for my glasses out of Scotch tape. She covers it in several directions to form one oval-shaped sticker that can be peeled off one side of my glasses and put onto the other side easily. 

Well, I feel like she patched my right eye, and we walked down the sidewalk. There were "parking" signs depicting the businesses to my left, and parked cars or empty parking spaces to my right. There were trees scattered to my left and far to my right. 

So, we walked down the sidewalk and she wanted me to tell her when I could see things to my left - when did I stop seeing them to my left? It got me to pay attention to what was next to me even if I was looking straight ahead. I enjoyed that exercise very much and wanted to do it more another day. We did other peripheral work on other days. I will talk about them in further blog posts. 

We did, by the way, come the other way down the sidewalk (walking back towards the vision therapy office), and I did the identical activity back, from my right eye. 

My vision therapist, by the way, has told me that looking outside and walking outside (like with my dog) is great for my vision - it gets me to widen my vision instead of my normal narrow, tunneling vision habits.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Creating Pathways in our Brain

Probably everyone knows about the left brain vs right brain thing. Left brain controls what - science? Math? And right brain controls creativity. 

When we are babies, we learn many things that build pathways in our brains. Like crawling. It gets our body to figure out how to move the left side of our body at the same time we move the right side of our body. 

Not all children go through all the steps to integrate our brain and bodies and build those complex brain patterns. There are things we can do to help our brain build these important pathways. Here are some of the beginner things my vision therapist did with me to build these pathways: 

Carpet angels (like snow angels, but inside on the carpet)

Crawl (make sure to use opposite arms and feet)

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Put blocks in a circle or whatever in front of them. (Just put them in front.) then take a block from right side with left hand and place at the beginning of what will be a line. 

Next, take block from left side using right hand and place next to block to start the line. Continue grabbing across body and putting the blocks in a line. 

——-

There is a thing called “Moro reflex” that babies supposedly learn. It’s like a startle mechanism and then they calm down fairly quickly. Babies do this when they are sleeping too. 

Go to YouTube and look up Moro reflex and “Moro Splat.” Some will show you infants doing it. And others will show you how to do it as a learning exercise. 

The way I do it is simplified because I have so much trauma in my almost 50 year life. So this the beginner way of how I do it:

Lie on back 
Raise arms and legs at same time in this manner:

Knees bent and up off the floor (on a yoga mat), raising my pelvis as I am able to.

Arms straight up above me, raising my head and neck up off the floor. 

Then breathe out and let go slowly - to let my body down. 

I have to do it slowly so I don’t hurt my head. 

My vision therapist can do this very fast and make a big SPLAT noise. But I am not there yet. 

All of these exercises will help build brain connections between the left and right side of the brain.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Dissociation Progress

I don’t think I ever specifically talked about things my Vision Therapist, A, did to help me. And I want to share that. 

When I first started vision therapy, I was overwhelmed by life. I had just initiated separation from my long term partner and was trying to figure out next steps in my life. I had no idea how to move on to the next step and I was still living in the turmoil I was desperate to get out of. 

Too often, I showed up at vision therapy thoroughly exhausted, rattled by the traffic to get there, dehydrated because that’s a constant struggle for me, severely depressed, overwhelmed, and crying. 

A has been wonderfully kind the whole time. She is a gem and a jewel. She is also a mom. She mothered me and cared for me. She believes her job is to make a safe environment for the ones getting therapy; people can only heal when they feel safe. She also knows her job is helping our brain create new pathways. In my case, my brain never figured out how to see in 3D with just my eyeballs and no gimmicks. That’s a MAJOR brain pathway I have never developed. 

I dissociated regularly at that time in my life. Dissociating, for me, means leaving my body and hovering over it. I see what it’s going through. I see if it’s “safe” or not, and I go somewhere else while sort of keeping an eye on my physical body - what it is doing, where it is, if people are around and if they are safe or not, if they need something from me. 

I go somewhere else and experience a completely different life. There are happy, safe, good people where I go to when I am dissociating. I am at a different location like a beach or a forest. Somewhere safe and “big nature.” That’s a phrase I have never articulated before. “Big nature.” As in: lots of nature around me - beach, dirt, land, rocks, trees, forest, cave, lake.... nature as far as the eye can see and body can feel and smell. 

Well, A’s job is to help me heal. One of my multiple diagnoses was for dissociation. (Depersonalization and derealization are also valid things that happen to people. You can learn about all 3 of these on Wikipedia. They have an excellent page describing all of this.) so A worked hard on helping me stay in the present and not dissociate. 

I know she often listened to me as I talked through the crying. Over time, we got comfortable with each other and she would hug me. 

I think every time I was upset, she would first get me a heavy weighted blanket and drape it over my shoulders. Then she would put lightweight ankle weights on me. These grounded me and kept me present and in my emotions. Helping me deal with the current traumas. 



About a year into therapy, one time she was having me do an exercise of batting at a ball on a string that was swinging like a pendulum from its anchor in the ceiling. At one point, she asked me “how are you doing?” And I said, “I think I am dissociating.” I was doing the activity but I wasn’t present. I wasn’t actually there. 

She immediately responded that she needed to make it harder — forcing me to pay attention. I asked her, “can you make this harder?” I felt surprised and possibly bewildered. She chuckled nicely and said, “can I make it harder.” It was funny. And then she made the activity harder. 😂

I think that was a breakthrough for my dissociation. I learned that in order to stay present, I need things to pay attention to. I started paying attention when I was cooking. There are smells and colors and things associated with that! It was a pleasure to “tune in” to things like cooking. I turned on music more and tried to sing alone. (I seriously struggle to memorize anything and it takes me a long time to work out what lyrics are and to memorize them, even when it’s a song I love that I want to learn the lyrics to.)

It’s been a while since I dissociated. Tuning into my current life has had its ups and downs. Some things are wonderful about the life I am heading towards, and some things have been so stuck and immobile. I am dealing with it the best I can - through continued long-term exhaustion and overwhelming fatigue. 

As I have learned more about my own dissociation, I have found so many others struggle with it too, and maybe my blog posts on this topic will help other people. 

Flickering Eyesight

So, I have known for a long time that my eyes don’t work together. It has taken me almost 50 years to be able to describe what I see to peop...