Welcome to the Dark Side

“I’m like Daredevil, only prettier.”

Anneliese and Greta work down a neighborhood street without sidewalk.
Anneliese works Greta along a neighborhood street without sidewalk.

I like introducing myself this way because it instantly breaks the awkward ice that forms over conversations when people suddenly realize I’m blind. You’d be surprised how long it takes some people sometimes. Even with a harnessed German shepherd, dark sunglasses, and sometimes my white cane, I have to convince people I’m not just training the dog. I really am blind.

Blind and visually impaired adults make up more than 10% of the United States population. It’s not unthinkable that you’ve never met someone who can’t see. But as the rate of disability diagnosis outstrips the rate of newly pioneered vision-restoring medical procedures, as we continue to find more and more uses for service dogs, I think it very important we stretch our common knowledge to encompass the experience and perspectives of these demographics.

So, I invite you, through this blog, to come take a look on the dark side. See what it’s like to live and work, struggle and play, love and learn with a service dog. Look through my eyes as best you can, and I’ll show your life without sight, but with lots of vision. In this blog I will:

  • Discuss service dog user rights and restrictions
  • Describe daily life experiences with a four-footed companion
  • Share my adventures as a blind American woman tackling the 21st century
  • Drift into mental health topics, because I’m a therapist and can’t help myself
  • Challenge perceptions and perspectives on the concept of “disability.”
  • Obsessively update you on the fantasy novels I’m writing

First, disclaimers.

1.        Yes, I’m a therapist. No, I do not offer consultations. This site IS NOT HIPAA compliant, so please do not send me personal medical or mental health information. Also, if you’re in crisis, please contact 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency room.

2.        This is the 2nd time I’ve attempted to re-launch this blog. There will be annotations and crazy verb tense disagreements. Grammar Nazis, I offer you a chance to practice the fine art of letting go.

Now a little history

I was born about 75% blind, from a rare genetic disorder. I’ve steadily lost about 20% of the vision I started with, and gained a n ever-sharpening perspective on who I am, and who I want to be. I hope the optimism comes through in my writing. I began this blog as a sort of newsletter for family and friends interested in my journey to get a service dog, but today it’s become part of how I enter the world as a disabled woman in America.

I’ve got lots of ideas for new content, interesting questions, and some amazing opportunities to learn that I want to share with you. I’ll be posting new content every Wednesday. On Flashback Fridays you can expect annotated and updated re-posts of the original content from the old blog, From Four Eyes to Four Legs. I don’t know if I can keep up this twice-weekly pace, but I like a challenge now that I no longer fear imperfection.

This re-launch announcement will count as this week’s new content. You can expect a re-posting of my very first blog post this Friday. Annotations will be in bold so you can distinguish the voice of 19-year-old Anneliese from that of 30-year-old Anneliese.

My current service dog, a lovely little German Shepherd named Greta, is having some mental health issues. Our working relationship is a little rocky, and I’ve been discouraged about this for a while. When the idea hit to re-launch this blog and turn it into a full website I went back to look at the original blog to see if there was salvageable content. I found that revisiting my unstained eagerness from that very first post forward extremely uplifting, and empowering. I could physically feel that joy and anticipation The writing wasn’t as terrible as I’d feared, too. This, I feel, is akin to re-reading old journal entries, a method of reliving powerfully positive and inspirational experiences that have a measurable impact on our mental health. It’s one of the many reasons that journaling is the #1 therapist-recommended intervention.

So, take my hand and let the blind guide you through the past and into the hazy future. If you can’t see what’s ahead, than it can hold whatever you imagine. Welcome to the dark side.

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