Support Systems

Cultivate-Support-System

As the Beach Boys put it, “I Get Around!!”. It’s all about gettin around. If you’re blind, simply put, you need to be the easiest date at the prom. It’s all about logistics. Getting groceries, getting to the doctor, getting the kids, etc. It’s about getting things done.

Your support system is everything. Without it you will not be effective.For me there are many things and dynamics that make up my support system. I need good friends who will speak their minds. I need a lot of input sometimes and to stay grounded and focused, occasionally I need to be TOLD that I’m off course.Good public transit. I love rides but if I can’t get around on my own I go NUTS. Even if I live somewhere with everything is a stone’s throw away and I never use it I’m happy. If I live somewhere with nothing and no way to get there I go CRAZY… Not a good thing.I need a coffee shop. Why? I don’t know. A walk to a coffee shop to me is like a day in the woods. Well… not THAT good, but as good as a bad day at the spa for sure.

A book store. Its frustrating as “H-E-double toothpicks” (to quote Radar O’reilly!) that I can’t read on my own anymore and need special equipment, but I love books. The feel… the taste… the smell. Love them. Ok, I don’t actually taste my books. Well I do but more on that some other time.

Other people are a major part of your support infrastructure. A MAJOR part. You need them in your world to make your world work. I see the world through other peoples’ eyes and the experiences they share with me. It makes my job work, my personal life work, my recreation work. In emergencies, when I need rides. When the chips are down and I need to go to the doc or get that surprise, to pick up your kid from school, etc. I will ask for directions, ask for help, and ask for rides. I love people. Very interesting creatures and a major part of making your life interesting.

I have moved often and support systems are not created overnight. When I left Calgary, people who knew about my requirements because of my disability told me I was stupid. In retrospect sure, it was risky, but I needed to leave the nest. It took two years for me to find my feet in Toronto and get enough of a support system together to feel good. Moving to Seattle and the United States from Canada has been harder. There are cultural differences and language differences. Different values, morals, beliefs, priorities, etc. It has been very very hard.

Building a support system in Seattle has taken over four years. I am just now feeling very comfortable here. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. The move to Seattle has been awesome all on its own. I found myself here and am more comfortable with who I am than at any other time in my life. Sometimes I think I needed to leave my country, family, friends and even my culture so I could find ME.

Kyle Bergum

About the Author:

Kyle has ocular albinism and has been legally blind since birth. Kyle leads a very active live and is besides his professional career involved in many projects for persons who are different.

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