Biohack The System: Legally Blind
My name is Victor Mifsud. I’m an artist, a traveler, a dreamer, and i’m legally blind.
I knew when I learned about Sickboy that they were fighting the good fight by laughing in the face of adversity, and I was honoured to be a part of it.
It’s not easy for me to go back in order to share my journey, but it’s the antidote to what lead me to work on healing myself, which is a journey that I know will last forever.
At the age of 9 I was diagnosed with a condition call retinitis pigmentosa (rp) which results in difficulty seeing at night and a loss of peripheral vision. This didn’t mean much to me at the time, mostly because I was able to live a relatively “normal” life. My teenage years were unaffected, but at age 21 during a routine eye exam the doctor decided to give me a visual fields test. After the testing, he approached me and asked if I drove, because he was going to contact the Ministry of Transportation and have my driver’s license revoked. At that moment my heart sank. He sat me down and proceeded to tell me that if I was thinking about having kids in the future that I should consider adopting so I don’t pass this condition to my children. He told me I should start learning braille and trade in my car for a free bus pass from the Canadian National Institute of the Blind (CNIB).
I did not take this information very well, in fact completely I freaked out. After he was finished laying out the ill fate that stood before me, I had a full-blown nervous breakdown right there and then in his office. He let me leave and drive home. Thinking back, I'm not sure why he let me drive home in the middle a nervous breakdown - but what stands out most is that day beginning an entirely new course of my life.
That day I felt that my independence had been stripped from me. As I came to terms with the reality of my diagnosis I went into a major depression. For the next decade or more, I had tremendous anxiety and struggled to find my place in the world. I tried a cascade of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills. They might have softened the edges, but they only truly made things worse. I call this time period the lost years.
I enrolled in Ryerson University in 2004, but had anxiety around school because of undiagnosed issues around learning that had caused me to silently struggle in the past. It wasn’t until I had an anxiety attack at school from fear of writing an essay for an English class that I took a deeper look and thought: “this isn’t normal... wft is wrong with me?” It took courage but I sought help. I looked up the Access Centre and confided that I thought I may have attention deficit disorder (ADD) and learning disabilities. It turns out I did.
After another failed relationship, it was during a deep depression that some “divine intervention” started to take place. It wasn’t an angel that appeared before me, but books and youtube videos that started to shift my perspective. The first book that inspired me was The Brain That Changes Itself by Dr. Norman Doidge. His book taught me that the brain can change if given the right environment and stimulus. I was complete awestruck by the story of Barbara Arrowsmith who changed her own brain through a series of neuroplastic brain exercises that she created. She went on to start a world renowned school, The Arrowsmith School, to help people with learning difficulties. In 2011, I attended the school for 2 years to correct my own learning difficulties.
Around the same time I came across the work of Dr. Gabor Mate and his book: Scattered Minds, about the origins of ADD, which he relates to early childhood trauma. Reading this book was a big eye opener. It made realize that so much was going on unconsciously and controlled by implicit actions. So how does one teach the unconscious to learn?
“Until you make the unconscious conscious it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Carl Jung
Stumbling across the CBC's The Nature of Things documentary called the Jungle Prescription, where he uses Amazonian psychedelic medicine, the now more commonly known Ayahuasca, as a way to help treat addictions and mental illness. I was immediately drawn to his work. At age 35, I had a chance to work with the medicine in the jungles of Mexico facilitated by Dr. Gabor Mate.
After working with the medicine and integration, things started to shift. These ceremonies were life changing. They allowed me to see shadow parts of myself that I was ignoring. These aspects of myself that used to bother me started to became a non-issue and I began to feel free. Family and friends around me had noticed the shift too.
"Ayahuasca is not a drug in the Western sense, something you take to get rid of something. Properly used, it opens up parts of yourself that you usually don't have access to. The parts of the brain that hold emotional memories come together with those parts that modulate insight and awareness, so you see past experiences in a new way." Dr. Gabor Maté
My vision loss allowed me to focus and see the blocks in my life. I am simultaneously continuing to search for new ways optimizing/biohacking my inner world and outer worlds to maximize my potential as a loving human being.
“To be blind is not miserable; not to be able to bare blindness, that is miserable.” John Milton
Last year I came up with idea to tell my story with the power of documentary. The resulting film highlights the journey of growth and spiritual development that has allowed me to see my vision loss in a whole new way. Creating the film was another way to practice the power of vulnerability and letting go.
This is the trailer for my documentary film called My Neuroplastic Adventure https://vimeo.com/211302837
It’s currently being submitted to global film festivals, and I’ll be promoting screenings and news around it through my facebook @myneuroplasticadventure www.myneuroplasticadventure.com account my instagram blindbiohacker
I’d love to grow my community with listeners of Sickboy and welcome messages or responses, collaborations or stories of other personal journeys. Reach out to me on IG or at email@example.com.
Thank you Brian Jeremie and Taylor for the opportunity to be a part of what you're creating.
As one of my mentors, Dr. Jack Kruse put it, “The pressure of adversity is a powerful sustainer of accountability. Our burdens are where our purpose lies. When you are on the precipice of failure, you recoil from slacking. Fears hold you back. A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it. The Beautiful thing about adversity is they introduce us to our strengths.”
“Every test in our life makes us bitter or better, every problem comes to make us or break us. The choice is ours whether we become victim or victor.” ~unknown