OBVI: Adjusting to Vision Loss - Phase Four: Succumbing and Depression
Also known as the "I can't" phase. Some individuals describe this as "giving in" because of their real or perceived loss of personal freedom or independence. The areas of loss vary, but typically include a loss of income, travel (in particular is the ability to drive), recreational activities, social interactions, etc.
Depression can also be described as "the D's." This includes despair, discouragement, disinterest, distress, despondency, and disenchantment. Intense despair, despondency, and hopelessness may lead to suicidal thoughts, although most suicidal thoughts and death wishes soon disappear. Depression may be a common fact of life; however, serious and prolonged depression is not.
With support from staff, family, and friends the depressive states of a person in this phase will become less intense and less frequent. The individual at risk, however, is one without a support system, who is left to deal with bouts of severe depression alone.
The Role of Professionals
Much of the same approach initiated during the Mourning phase will need to continue. The individual remains in urgent need of emotional support and understanding. Expressions of resentment, frustrations, and hostility will be common. Family members who are providing much of the needed support and understanding will often not be able to comprehend just why they have become the targets of this hostility and resentment, so it is also essential to share insight and offer support to them.
Negativism and depression have a way of perpetuating themselves. OBVI staff will work with the blind or visually impaired person to redirect thought patterns onto the good and positive and redirect mental energies toward setting realistic goals, developing social contacts, and other appropriate activities.