How counselling can help you Beat Macular Disease

Posted: Tuesday 09 April 2019

It can be difficult to come to terms with macular disease. Finding out you may lose your sight and adapting to changes can be extremely difficult to deal with. After diagnosis many people struggle to cope with their emotions and often feel shocked, upset or isolated.

Sometimes it helps to speak to a professional counsellor, who is trained to listen, and will help you talk through your feelings and find ways of dealing with them.

But many people have preconceptions about counselling and how it can help. Our telephone counselling team has addressed some of these preconceptions and answered some of your frequently asked questions.

Why is counselling offered to people with sight loss?

Within the world of sight loss, the emotional impact is often overlooked and under estimated. Often people know very little about macular disease or the support we can offer. They may feel desperate and not know which way to turn, they may feel overwhelmed with fear about their future.

We know that a high proportion of people who come through the Society have been through a period of feeling quite low, particularly after initial diagnosis or where there has been further deterioration in their vision.  There may well be an increase in anxiety and possibly a loss of confidence with may impact on every part of that person’s lifestyle. We want to work people and offer our counselling services before these feelings and behaviours become entrenched.

I don’t think there’s anything a counsellor can do for me, they can’t give me my sight back.

No, we can’t give you back your vision but we may be able to help you devise strategies and new ways of coping and thinking about your situation, which may lead you to have a more fulfilled life, inspire you or give you a new sense of hope.

Losing your vision is a form of loss, many compare it to a bereavement. You can’t bring that person back but life is not over, despite what’s happened, life will go on. Yet it will be different

I don’t think there’s anything anyone can do for me over the phone.

Some people find it easier to talk on the telephone rather than face to face. Others may like the convenience of not having to travel to an appointment. For some who are not mobile this may be the only way of being able to access a Counselling Service.

Our waiting lists are a lot shorter than any face to face counselling. We respond very quickly – usually within 7 days to any request for counselling, we offer you the help when you need it and when you are ready.

I have friends and family I can speak to, I don’t need to talk to a counsellor.

Sometimes people will say this, but it can be helpful to talk to someone not connected with your life because they don’t have any preconceptions about you. The fact that you’re talking to someone who has a no link to you or your family can be so helpful.

You can also discuss with your counsellor something that you wouldn’t speak to your family about. We often hear clients saying that they don’t want to be a burden on their family, or that their family has enough to deal with. Saying how you really feel may bring great relief as it might be something that person has been holding on to for a very long time but has been fearful of sharing.

There are people in a far worse situation than me.

There will always be someone out there who we would consider to be in a worst situation than we are. Our counselling service is for YOU, only you know how you are feeling. What might seem fairly manageable to one person could cause panic in another.

I know someone who should have counselling, but they don’t think they need it.

You are welcome to make a referral for a family member or friend, we would always need consent from the person you are referring before we could proceed with the referral. Engaging in counselling is a choice and for the process to work the client must want to take part.

What can I do to help myself?

  • Keep yourself as healthy as possible, be mindful of having some form of exercise.
  • Surround yourself with people who are a positive influence in your life and remind yourself it’s acceptable to have the odd day when you don’t feel your normal self. Be prepared to pick up the phone and reach out to those you know will support you, don’t wait for them to call you.
  • If you notice you are having more days of feeling low that you are of feeling ok, then it might be time to seek additional support via the Macular Society and or your GP.
  • Make yourself familiar with local support services and support groups. Linking with local services is a positive thing to do and it can be helpful to know what practical is support is available to you. You can call the Macular Society Advice and Information Service to find out where your local group is on 0300 3030 111.
  • Try and think about why you are having or had a good day. This can be useful. Build on that and try and think about what you did to contribute to that. Sometimes there is no explanation, but it might be that something happened or something you did that helped.
  • If you find yourself getting very anxious thinking about the ‘what if’s’ try to keep bringing yourself back to the present day and reminding yourself of all the things you do know about the here and now. Talking books may be able to provide you with reading material around managing anxiety or practising forms of relaxation.

For more information or to get in touch with our Counselling Service, contact the Advice and Information Service on 0300 3030 111 or email