Kate Morell - Travelling from light to dark
“I’m now closer to fifty and still not quite blind, so yay me, I’m winning! But I didn’t always feel this way. Forty year old me hit rock bottom, spectacularly, but when counselling didn’t seem to be helping me out of that dark place, I realised the only person who was going to save me was me.”
Meet the courageous Kate Morell, a writer and mother-of-two, living with two invisible disabilities.
As a young hearing impaired girl, Kate had a dream, when she could, to be a voice and inspiration for kids just like her. She didn’t then know she would be vision impaired and going blind. Diagnosed with Usher syndrome when fifteen years old, the most common genetic cause of combined deafness and blindness with more than 400,000 affected worldwide, Kate was told to expect to be blind by forty. There currently is no cure.
Never before a writer, Kate daringly created a blog and in a raw and brutally honest first post, shared details of the moment she thought would be her last, when she had declared she would rather be dead than blind. Kate wrote as if her life depended on it, and it did, and through the healing power of owning her story, not only did Kate save herself, she discovered her true passion and life purpose.
While searching for where she could belong, not quite fitting in the hearing impaired community as she was not just hearing impaired, and not quite fitting in the vision impaired community as she was not just vision impaired, Kate discovered the Usher syndrome community, and began writing for their international blog too.
“Kate Morell is a hero to a disenfranchised community of several hundred thousand desperate and frightened people. Kate’s honest and deeply personal writing for the Usher syndrome blog, her willingness to lay open her soul and give voice to her fears, has given countless people the courage to face their condition and hope for the future. It is hard to overstate the positive impact she has had.”
Mark Dunning, Founder/Chairman Usher Syndrome Coalition.
In 2014, based on writing from her blog, Kate won a Write-ability Fellowship (for writers with disability from Writers Victoria) and it was her mentor who suggested she should write a memoir.
“This is a compelling text with a raw, uncomplicated, clear voice. You convey the complexity of living with diagnosis, of living with transformative physical change and of the passing as able-bodied.”
Antoinette Holm, mentor.
As well as working on her memoir manuscript, Kate created two awareness campaigns, the first being ‘Ushering Kate’, when she came out to the world with her two disabilities, and her passion project of three years, ‘Sunsets for Kate’.
“Although there is nothing I can do about Usher syndrome, I can take back from it something it would take from me. A lifetime of sunsets. And I can take the fight it has instilled in me to raise awareness and use my impending blindness to open the eyes of others, one sunset at a time. A friend once said my little project has grown wings. It has! It’s soaring, like a bird, flying across the globe, introducing me to places I have never known, and friends I have never met. It has taught me that if you own your story, if you reach out for help, you might just be surprised who will reach back out to help and share their story with you.”
Over 10,000 sunsets have been shared with Kate, and she says you can never have too many sunsets! On days that she feels a little blue, she simply scrolls through #SunsetsForKate and cannot help being overwhelmed with gratitude.
“It has been quite a trip for me since being diagnosed with Usher syndrome at fifteen. As I lose my sight, traveling from light to dark, I am finding this journey is harder than I ever thought it would be. Yes, I took the long path, with many breakdowns, rest stops and detours, and at times completely in the wrong direction. Then I found myself on the right path, which led me to where I stand now. I think I can finally say to my younger self, the dream to be a voice and inspiration for kids just like me, I am ready. I am finally ready to chase her dream. That is my true passion and my life purpose.”