Jewel Shuping was born with perfectly healthy eyes, but she told Barcroft TV in a recent interview that growing up there was always something missing.
“By the time I was six I remember that thinking about being blind made me feel comfortable,” she said. She fantasized constantly about losing her vision, and spent hours staring directly at the sun after her mother warned her that it would damage her eyes.
At first, Shuping simply pretended to be blind, going about with sunglasses on, her eyes closed, and using a cane to navigate. She also became fluent in braille. But after a while, that just wasn’t enough.
“By the time I was 21 it was a non-stop alarm that was going off,” she says in the video. So, she did the only rational thing: She got a sympathetic psychologist to pour drain cleaner in her eyes.
“I laid down on the sofa, and he sat next to me, dropped two drops into each eye,” she says matter-of-factly. “In the moment, all I could think of was ‘I’m going blind, it’s going to be okay.’”
“When I woke up the following day, I was joyful, until I turned on my back, opened my eyes, and could see the TV screen,” she says. Then, thankfully, over the next six months her eyes gradually failed due to the damage, and Shuping was finally blind like she’d always dreamed. She says she has no regrets.
“I really feel this is the way I was supposed to be born, that I should have been blind from birth,” she told Barcroft.
Shuping initially told family members her blindness was due to an accident, but they later found out the truth, and both her mother and sister cut off contact.
Officially, Shuping’s desire to be blind is labeled body integrity identity disorder (BIID), an ailment where people with healthy bodies strongly desire a disability. Most of those with the disorder seek to amputate healthy limbs, though, while Shuping’s desire to mutilate her eyes is less common. Those who seek to become disabled in this way often are described, and identify as, “transabled.”
Shuping is willing to admit that her self-mutilation stems from a disorder, and she says she hopes others don’t follow her path.
“Don’t go blind the way I did. I know there is a need but perhaps someday there will be treatment for it.”