I’ve mentioned here before about my friends with BIID. Specifically, two friends with blindness-variant BIID. One being a German lady in her 40s and the other being an American lady in her 20s whose picture I have previously reblogged. And today I made a third.
But this one is different. She’s blind. And she’s happy. Because, almost 10 years ago, she made herself blind. Because she had BIID. And she’s the only such person known to the internet.
But it wasn’t from her neat introduction on the no-longer-existent transabled.org website that I found her yesterday morning; it was from a comment she made, under the name “Jewel”, on the blog of another person with blindness-variant BIID. And it was particularly these two quotes that jumped out at me:
It took me about six months to adjust to my new life as a blind person and learn all the techniques of blindness, and after 6 months, I was quite comfortable with myself.
I have BIID, a need to be blind, and I am now legally blind, with very little vision.
When I read the former, I was surprised at such statements being made by a blind person on the blog of someone with blindness-variant BIID, and especially the seemingly-positive wording of “new life as a blind person” and how little time she said it took her to adjust (in comparison with most naturally-blind people). But I didn’t jump to conclusions; it was only when I read the second quote that it was clear: she had made herself blind.
And I have also tried to make myself blind.
She was not like everyone else who blogs about their BIID, where they are still struggling with it; she had been through it all – through the very thing that I am presently struggling with.
And I needed to talk to her.
I didn’t really think twice about it. Immediately I headed over to my bookmarked archived copy of transabled.org at the Wayback Machine (a very useful site, by the way, for those of us trying to track down the last missing link to put a complete story together, or looking for an obsolete piece of software) and clicked on the “Archives” link on the left-hand sidebar. I didn’t have an email address or anything – just a name, probably an alias – but I guessed that she had probably written on the website that, in its heyday, had been written on by pretty much every person with BIID on the internet. Scrolling down anxiously, in the long list of “xxx’s Thoughts” links, I found it: “Jewel’s Thoughts”. So I clicked on it. Then I clicked on “Jewel’s Introduction”.
I read her introductory post. Now I was sure I had to contact her. I had to. She would be able to answer the questions that nobody else has been able to. Because she has been through it all. But with no email address for her, that was not going to be easy.
But it was certainly worth a try to at least type into Google “jewel blind biid”. Despite my expectations that I was going to find only jewellery designed for blind people, the top results were, understandably enough, the comment on the dead blog and an archived RSS feed from the no-longer-existent one, but it was the next result that caught my attention: [stylist] Introduction of a New Writer – NFBnet.org. Sure, I don’t have to be psychic to assure you that there’s going to be more than one blind person in the world called “Jewel”, so the fact that that name came up on a mailing list linked with the NFB (National Federation of the Blind – the main charity for the blind in America) means almost nothing, but when “BIID” also appears on the page then things start getting interesting. And it was a mailing list, which is ideal when trying to find someone’s email address – if they didn’t, as they usually do, obfuscate the email addresses for spam purposes. But they didn’t: “On 08/06/2010, Jewel S. <herekittykat2 at gmail.com> wrote:”.
I’m not going to try to describe how quickly I had the gmail web client open and ready to write her an email. Nor am I going to explain how impatiently I waited for her response – almost bordering on anger at her for not responding, and then worry that she had regretted making herself blind and committed suicide – from what she later told me was in fact her old email address. And I was quite relieved that, when I finally called her on Skype this morning, she was not only alive but as happy as ever! And I was also relieved that what turned out to be her old email address was still linked with her Skype account, as otherwise I would have had no way of finding her (I found her by email address, when I eventually remembered that it is actually possible to find someone on Skype with only their email address…).
We had a long chat. And it was a good chat. Finally I could speak to someone who, unlike my other friends with BIID who are struggling along with me trying to figure this thing out, had been through it all and could now talk to me like… like a kind of a mother in a way. She could talk to me with the experience that she has had, as someone who has had BIID, has struggled with it, and is now happily living her life as a blind person. And I’m happy for her that she’s still as ecstatic as she was when she first made herself blind. And I thank her for talking so freely about it. And for listening to me, and helping me to get through what she is in a completely justified position of authority to instruct me on.
I have for a long time wanted to talk also to a blind person. I don’t know why, but I just have. But now I have a friend who is both blind and who has BIID – and she’s one of a kind too. And just knowing her helps. And we will definitely talk again soon. Because she can encourage me like nobody else. And I need that.
I am fully integrated into life as a blind person, and love my blindness.
I am blind, and feel that I have been “re-born” and celebrate my re-birthday as the day I became blind.