The past few weeks have been very quiet for me as far as BIID goes. Yes it’s still been there, but I haven’t thought about pretending for a long time and I can’t say that I’ve felt as if I need to pretend. I’m not sure why this is, and I still suspect that it might be a mental blockage spilt over from the incident at college which continues to haunt me to this day (I have flashbacks almost every day to that moment when I was told not to use my cane at college – I didn’t quite capture in that post exactly how much it hurt me), but nevertheless it’s been that way for a good few weeks now and I kind of hoped that maybe I was “recovering” from BIID, or whatever this blindness thing of mine is.
But no, I was wrong. It only takes one small thing to set it off again. Testing the screenreader on my new computer didn’t do it. Disposing of Braille labels that had worn flat didn’t do it. Neither did packing my cane away in the garage on Friday last week (considering that I wasn’t using it anymore) do it. Yes, it really seemed like I was cured. In some ways I was loathed to lose this “other part” of me – this blind, but not physically blind, part – but nevertheless it would be better in the long run if BIID went away. But as I say, it didn’t. For some reason it started coming back to me again last night. Although I think that happens every Saturday night, probably because Saturdays were always the days when my mother and I went out with me pretending to be blind. But that’s not what I’m talking about now.
What I’m talking about now is what’s always been the worse trigger of BIID for me: seeing a blind person. And that’s when it bit me. I glanced down one of the adjoining isles in the supermarket and that’s when I felt that weird feeling that I haven’t felt for so long – that feeling where everything seems to stop, and for a few seconds you don’t know what you’re looking at and then you realise it and you want to become it but you know you can’t so instead you feel the urge to run off away from it as far as possible because you can’t cope with seeing it any longer. It’s that feeling that I get when I see a blind person. I’ve had it every time I see a blind person. I remember the other time in the supermarket, many many months ago, when a blind person walked past next to me and I froze. And the time when I got off the bus and a few seconds later I passed a blind person in the street, and for the first few seconds I stared at him wondering why he was bashing this stick thing against the ground as he walked before I realised that it was a blind person with a white cane (albeit with a rather heavy hand). I remember the first time, too, when I turned mute for the rest of the drive home.
And so it was today, when I saw the blind man in the supermarket. He wasn’t even completely blind – just visually impaired, judging from the way that he was using his white cane – but it still had the same effect. And I saw him and I stared for a few seconds, unable to process what I was seeing, until I realised that it was a white cane that he was holding and that he was blind. Then I ran, scared. Not scared that he would walk into me. Scared because the BIID was not gone. It had bitten me again.