Jewel has Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID), a condition in which able-bodied people believe they are meant to be disabled.
Her need to lose her sight was so strong that in 2006 she decided to blind herself – by having a sympathetic psychologist pour DRAIN CLEANER into her eyes.
According to Jewel, her fascination with blindness began early in childhood.
“When I was young my mother would find me walking in the halls at night, when I was three or four years old. By the time I was six I remember that thinking about being blind made me feel comfortable.”
As a child she would spend hours staring at the sun, watching sunspots and solar storms, after her mother told her it would damage her eyes.In her teens she started wearing thick black sunglasses, getting her first white cane aged 18 and becoming fully fluent in braille by the age of 20.
“I was ‘blind-simming’, which is pretending to be blind, but the idea kept coming up in my head and by the time I was 21 it was a non-stop alarm that was going off.”
Determined to make her dream a reality, Jewel found a psychologist willing to help her become blind – an act which she compares to a deaf person wanting to get a cochlear implant.
The psychologist put in numbing eyedrops – acquired by Jewel during a special visit to Canada – and then a couple of drops of drain cleaner in each eye.
“It hurt, let me tell you. My eyes were screaming and I had some drain cleaner going down my cheek burning my skin.
“But all I could think was ‘I am going blind, it is going to be okay.”
Despite the hospital’s attempts to save her vision – against her wishes – they were permanently damaged, although it took around half a year for the damage to take affect.
Jewel, 30, from North Carolina, said:
“When I woke up the following day I was joyful, until I turned on to my back and opened my eyes – I was so enraged when I saw the TV screen.”
But over around six months the sight in both her eyes slowly went away. Her left eye suffered a ‘corneal meltdown’ – collapsing in on itself and requiring the eye to be removed – while her right eye had glaucoma and cataracts, as well as a webbing of scars.
Jewel originally told her family it had been an accident, but they eventually found out the truth – causing both her mother and sister to cut contact.
However, she has been supported by her former fiancé Mike, 50, who is registered legally blind – although in his case due to naturally occurring early-onset macular degeneration.
The only thing I would want to see again is my dad’s face, although sadly that’s not possible as he’s no longer with us.
“I really feel this is the way I was supposed to be born, that I should have been blind from birth.
“When there’s nobody around you who feels the same way, you start to think that you’re crazy. But I don’t think I’m crazy, I just have a disorder.”