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10 years

It's almost 10 years since I was diagnosed with RP, and I can’t believe how much my life has changed since the day I sat in the optician's and heard those words telling me I needed to stop driving straight away, and they were referring me to a retinal specialist. A couple of weeks later, I walked out of an appointment having just been declared severely sight impaired (legally blind).

Amy and I sat outside the doctor's office in the car, crying. Both of us were scared at the unknown future we were facing. What followed that day were some of the toughest challenges we've ever faced. I lost my job; we had to apply for social housing as we could no longer afford the private rented house we lived in. We did everything we could to try and get the help we needed, but at every step, we were let down by the system. We felt we were in limbo as there was nothing we could do but wait, as we were at the mercy of a system that wasn’t fit for purpose. It took 8 months to get the support we needed in place. During that time, we were failed by organisations that were meant to help people like us. We relied on food banks to feed our children, and all the while, my mental health slipped into depression due to the guilt I was feeling about the financial burden my wife and children faced due to my ever-declining vision.

But when I was at my lowest, spending days at a time isolated in my bedroom with the curtains drawn, consumed with anxiety and depression, I found the ability to express my hopes and fears through rhyming words. The poetry began to spill out of me, like someone was sat on my shoulder whispering the words gently into my ear. I knew instantly that this was somehow going to change our lives, but looking back now, all these years later, I could never have imagined how much.

Almost 1600 poems later.

A trilogy of poetry books, which became number one releases in Australia and the USA.

The start of a children’s series of books aimed at breaking down social barriers children with disabilities and additional needs experience.

Campaigns and events in collaboration with some of the biggest organisations in the world.

But the thing that I'm most proud of is being known as The Blind Poet. A voice through poetry that thousands of people around the world have turned to for inspiration and support, not just with the effects of sight loss but with disability and mental health. My wife and my children have witnessed first-hand the changes in me to get to where I am today. They've borne the brunt of my frustrations and the pain of my grief. They've sacrificed time with me as a husband and dad to allow me to follow this path as The Blind Poet.

Ultimately, it's all been worth it. As a family, we've grown stronger together through these challenges. It's given us a perspective on life that we wouldn't have gained without the presence of this condition that robs me of my sight. But for all the things it's taken, we've found twice as much to be thankful for, and that's a blessing to us all.

We take our biggest challenges in life and turn them into our greatest achievements.

Bring on whatever life has in store next.

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