Shocking, Confronting, Revealing and Liberating - an amazing interview with Mariane Barakat in telling her story!

Shocking, Confronting, Revealing and Liberating – an amazing interview with Mariane Barakat in telling her story!

“From Blindness to Vision” is one of my most comforting, thought-provoking and equally liberating interviews I have ever done with this amazing Lebanese-Christian woman by the name of Mariane Barakat.  With thanks to a great Martial Arts / Mindset man by the name of Mark Finch for introducing me to her – I have been so lucky to not only to help her in her business – but be the first to help tell her amazing story of loss and her recovery from extreme conditions.

Mariane is in her mid-30’s now and is almost blind.  She has 3% vision in her left eye and is 100% blind in her right eye and right now she is working hard as a Mindset / Personal Coach for not only people who have suffered her physical injuries – but anyone wanting to get ahead in life.

There are several elements to her that are amazing.  Firstly, she is one of the most happiest people I know and her story is very powerful.  Like any of us, she was a normal person just living her life.  Married, thinking about children and in an instant at the age of 23 she lost her vision.  Months later, her husband left her.

I have been through some heavy stuff in my life, but it compares little to Mariane’s life.  How does one get through that? I don’t mean just survive, but come out the end as an amazing positive person?

Make sure you watch the video below with her audio interview and the transcript is available as well if you are more of a reader.

Thank you Mariane for being lucky to tell her story and God Bless from Edward Zia!

The transcript for the interview is right here:

Edward: Hello, everyone. This is Edward Zia here. I’m very, very lucky to be with an amazing entrepreneur and business woman by the name of Mariane Barakat. Mariane Barakat is visually impaired and has three percent of her vision in her left eye. Is that right, Mariane?

Mariane: That’s right, Ed.

Edward: Absolutely. Say hello to the audience, Mariane.

Mariane: Hello, everybody.

Edward: Okay. Look. I’ve done quite a few interviews in my time but as a marketing manager and also a business commentator. To me, this interview has an extra level of prowess because I’ve been very, very lucky to meet Mariane Barakat and work with her.

Mariane Barakat is a woman who … Again, I don’t want to tell this story. I want her to tell her own story but she lost her vision in very tragic circumstances. She’s actually one of the happiest people I know.

Is that a fair comment? You’re a very happy person?

Mariane: I think that’s very fair.

Edward: Yes. Where Mariane is at is Mariane is helping people with their mindset motivation. Also, visually impaired people.

Enough about me, Mariane. Tell the audience a little bit about you. Tell us the story. How did you become this amazing person today despite what happened.

Mariane: Okay. Try to keep it short.

Edward: Take your time, Mariane. Shoot.

Mariane: I lost my vision just over 10 years ago. Happened all of a sudden. I was at work, had taken some medication basically that didn’t go well. I began to hemorrhage and my retinas detached and developed diabetic retinopathy because I am a diabetic.

Edward: What does that mean? Were you born a diabetic or whatever?

Mariane: No. I’ve been a diabetic. I’ve been diagnosed at four so I have juvenile diabetes.

Edward: Yes. You took medication. What happened? What exactly happened? You’re at work and …

Mariane: Yes. I was at work. I was actually a pre-school teacher which I absolutely loved. It was morning tea and I remember holding the tray with cups full of water. I was walking outside to give all of the little kiddies their water. All of a sudden, it was a burst of blood and within an instant, it all just happened from then.

Edward: What happens? You’re just living your life. You were a preschool teacher?

Mariane: I was a preschool teacher, yes, which look, I’ve mentioned I absolutely loved. I was in my element. I had just recently gotten married. I had just gotten back from my honeymoon actually a month before that. Just moved into a new house. Everything was going really well. All of a sudden, just bang.

Edward: Going back, what happened? You were taking this medication. Was it something to do with your diabetes? What actually caused this reaction?

Mariane: It was the medication that was prescribed to me by specialists, was actually not suitable for diabetics which I didn’t know coming from a specialist, I thought he knew what he was giving me but obviously, it had a reaction to the diabetes. It caused my eyes to hemorrhage.

Edward: Did you instantly go blind?

Mariane: Within a split second.

Edward: My god!

Mariane: Yes. Within a split second.

Edward: What happened? Was it painful? What actually did you feel at that moment if you don’t mind me asking.

Mariane: No, of course not. I didn’t feel anything. It was more of seeing the blood on the inside. You know, when you watch those horror movies and you’ve got blood trickling down the walls. That’s pretty much all I could see on the inside of my eye. Straight away, I knew something was not quite right?

Edward: How old were you then?

Mariane: I was 23 at the time.

Edward: In that instant, your life just changed.

Mariane: Within an instant, yes, turned 360.

Edward: It’s funny. Obviously, we’ve spoken before this interview. I get the impression that as of that day, your life became a before and after. That was the D-Day of your life. Is that a fair way of looking at it, you think?

Mariane: Yes, definitely. There was a before and then an after. It does take losing a part of whether it’s your eyes or your hearing or whatever it is, you do lose a part of yourself. Your everyday routines, everything that was certain before just … Everything just becomes so uncertain.

There are things you used to do before, whether it was going to the bathroom to wash your hands, getting something out of the cupboard, walking down to a friend’s place. Everything just becomes so uncertain. Everything just changes.

Edward: Wow! Wow! I was going to say, what happened afterwards? What happened the day that this happened? Take us and the audience through the process. What did you go through?

Mariane: Being the person that I am, this would have happened at about, I’d say about 10:30 in the morning. I didn’t mention it to anyone. I just kept going. I kept working. I was actually asked to stay back at the end of the afternoon. I looked at my boss, which is the first time I’d ever said no. He was shocked. He said, “What do you mean, ‘no?’ You’ve never said, ‘no,’ before.” I said, “Look. I can’t see.” He just looked at me and said, “What are you doing here, you know? Go, go. Do what you need to do.”

I left, drove home, mind you, to my mom’s place at the time. She was only around the corner. I said, “Call the optometrist. Something’s not right. Something’s wrong. I can’t see.”

I went down there. He just had a look and he said, “You got to go down to the hospital.” He gave me the name of a specific specialist that, he said to me, “This is who you need to see.” Off we went. The whole time, here I am thinking, you know, “They can fix this, they can fix this. It’ll be okay. It’ll get fixed.”

We spent pretty much the whole night waiting to see this doctor. He had left. Pretty much no one else would touch me, no one else would go near me. It was that severe, which I didn’t know at the time. None of the other specialists would even have a look. They sent me home.

Edward: He was going to leave. They sent you home?

Mariane: They sent me home. They said not to lay down, not to sleep, even while I’m sleeping. You have to sleep sitting up and to come back and ironically come back and see this same doctor. They mentioned this same doctor that was mentioned to me which is Doctor Andrew Chang, which is absolutely amazing.

Yes. Came home, went back on Monday. It all just went from there. Really, really intense laser for a while. He had said to me, “This is going to take a little while.” He said, “It’s not going to … It’s … You’re going to be in for a rough ride.”

Here I am thinking it was a couple of months. Ten years later here we are. In and out of surgery. I’ve had over 60 of them to this day.

Edward: As in, you’ve been, what, anesthetized, under the knife 60 times?

Mariane: Yes.

Edward: Wow!

Mariane: Let me tell you, it doesn’t get any easier because the anesthetic doesn’t work as well as it used to. You start to feel when pain and all that kind of thing. It’s not pleasant.

Edward: Wow! Wow! You’re 23. You started going through this process and as you fought, how much vision do you have now because you seem to be moving around and you can see me. Tell me exactly what you can see now. It’s 10 years later, is it?

Mariane: It’s 10 years later, yes.

Edward: Sorry to tell the audience your age.

Mariane: Yes, I know. Thirty-three and feeling like I’m 20 years old.

Edward: No. For the audience, Mariane does not look a day over 24.

Mariane: Thanks! (Laughing)

Edward: I suppose the question is, what do you see now? What do you actually see when …

Mariane: My right eye’s completely blind so I have no vision in there. My left eye, I only have three percent. It is only tunnel vision so it’s just what’s in front of me. It’s like you’ve smothered my eye with Vaseline and I’m looking through Vaseline so it’s a very murky, very unclear.

Edward: Yes. What can you see of me, as I’m sitting in front of you?

Mariane: At the moment, Ed?

Edward: Yes.

Mariane: I can see the skin of your hand flapping around.

Edward: No worries. You can see my hand all right?

Mariane: I can see your hand.

Edward: Absolutely.

Mariane: Because of the lighting. Everything else is just white.

Edward: Absolutely. No offensive gestures. I’m giving you the thumbs up. Nothing … (Laughing)

Mariane: I’ll take your word for it.

Edward: I’m not giving you the finger. Something wonderful. Thumbs up, double thumbs up.

Obviously, it’s an amazing story. You said you were married at the time.

Mariane: I was, yes. I just come back from my honeymoon a month prior to that.

Edward: Yes. What happened there?

Mariane: I guess it must have been hard coming back from the honeymoon starting a whole new life. Then, all of a sudden, all this is going on. Three years later, the marriage just ended. He just turned around and said, “I don’t love you anymore.” That was the end of that.

Edward: Wow! Wow! How long were you with him for?

Mariane: We were actually best friends since the age of 10.

Edward: Wow.

Mariane: Yes. We knew each other inside out. I’ve never held any grudges. I’ll pretty much respected him for staying around for the three years. He helped me get through a lot. Yes, at the end of the day, that’s how things panned out.

Edward: Wow! Wow! That’s amazing. Even me interviewing. I’ll be struck. That is a shocking thing to hear. I’ve got a sob story. Your story is real trauma. You consented real things compared to most of us. My life doesn’t even barely compare to yours. I wouldn’t even try.

How did you even get through it? Take us through it. The day your husband said, “Hi, Mariane. I don’t love you anymore.” What went through your mind? What happened to you in that moment?

Mariane: I have to say, I don’t know which day was worse, the day that I lost my eyesight or the day where he left. It actually took me a couple of years to get over that. I needed my time to myself. I spent a lot of time listening to my music, reading. Within those last two years, everyone just tell me, “You got to get out there. You got to get out.” I just wasn’t ready. Within myself, I knew I wasn’t ready, I needed time.

I don’t know whether it helped with the crisis but I was never angry. I never did get angry. I think that helped the healing of that part of my life was not being angry. I think that added fuel to the fire.

Edward: How did you not be angry? I’ve had way less happen to me and I’ve been furious. How did you not be angry? How did you do that?

Mariane: Look. It wasn’t an easy situation, it was very hard on everyone, not just myself, on my ex-husband, on my family. I don’t know. If he was there for three year. At the end of the day, he just I guess couldn’t deal with it. That’s his choice. He never did anything towards me besides leave. I didn’t have anything to hold against him but that, he was great the whole way through. I guess it’s just a part of who I am as well. That’s just how I work.

Edward: You were able to let it go. You were able not to hold a grudge?

Mariane: Yes.

Edward: You were able to get over, because again, I know plenty of people, me included that have had relationships break up in much more superficial circumstances by contrast. They’re torn up inside and I think there’s something going on here, I think there’s something quite unique about you. How did you heal? After you lost your eyesight, your husband left you, what was the resolution process? What did you go through to become the positive inspirational person you are today?

Mariane: I’ve spoken about this before but I have to put a lot of it down to faith. I do have a lot of faith. I guess that’s what kept me going.

Edward: You believe in god?

Mariane: Very much so. I have a lot of faith, yes.

Edward: Wow!

Mariane: That grew. My belief grew. I just put my hands in the hands of god. I’ve never asked and never wanted to ask why this happened. I’m a big believer of things happen for a reason. This obviously happened for a reason. I think I’m starting to get an idea of what my purpose is in life, now.

Edward: I think I’m starting to get that, too.

Mariane: Yes. My family were great support, having my nephews around was just a miracle for me. Everything that I did, I used to get up every day because I actually helped raise my nephew. That was sort of thrown on top of things and having to get up for him every day was pretty much a savior for me.

Edward: You were vision impaired, you’re blind?

Mariane: Yes.

Edward: You put a lot of it in your Christian faith?

Mariane: Yes.

Edward: Your Christian faith. What was it like basically saying, what was it like putting your faith in Him? How could you let go with the physical reality of what you were dealing with and give so much trust to your creator? How does that work? Personally, I have enough trouble trusting god that much. How did you develop such a strong bond with god and your creator?

Mariane: I’ve grown up in church and my parents go to church and I’ve grown up being Christian so I’ve always had that faith but it was just, when all this happened, something just clicked and I just put myself in the hands of god. I said, “I know you’re going to look after me and do with me what you will. You know what you’re doing, and I know you’re going to look after me, nothing’s going to happen so do as you please.” It’s the sort of thing and that’s just what kept me going and every time I have to overstep another hurdle, I just pray and I just know that I was being looked after.

Edward: Wow! Wow!

Mariane: Yes. Just getting a real inner strength.

Edward: Wow! Tell me more about this inner strength. What does this inner strength mean to you and what would it mean to someone else who’s going through their own trauma in their own life?

Mariane: Let me tell you, my inner strength I think came from when I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of four. I was actually diagnosed because I have gone through another traumatic experience. Having to go through that traumatic experience and then having to be put into hospital at four years old, thinking that there’s nothing wrong with you and I can still picture in my mind that minute that the doctor said I have to go to the hospital. I just went hysterical.

Edward: As a four year old.

Mariane: As a four year old, yes, just banging and kicking, just telling everyone that there’s nothing wrong with me because physically from the outside, there was nothing wrong. I didn’t know what was going on. I don’t need to go to the hospital, I don’t need to go to the hospital.

I think from then just having to pick up the strength and do what I need to do and spend that time at hospital and have four injections injected into me a day. That strength just came from there.

Then, all of a sudden when I lost my eyesight, that strength just came back. It’s just a strength of knowing whatever happens, you can get through this.

Edward: Wow! Wow! That’s definitely amazing. At the age of 23, your life just changed instantly. Here you are, you’re 33. Of course you don’t look that age. I know what to say so I’ll leave it at that.

What are you doing today? Tell me about what you’re doing today. What are you doing with your life today? You implied before, you know your purpose now.

Mariane: I do.

Edward: What is your purpose?

Mariane: I have actually enrolled in a great community called T.C.I., The Coaching Institute, which you are aware of. I’m studying to become a master practitioner coach. My niche, what I want to do, what my vision is, Is I want to get out there and work with visually impaired and blind people, just helping them live a fulfilled life, just letting them know that you don’t need to be stuck in a corner, there is endless possibilities for you out there.

Edward: Wow! Wow! You made references to T.C.I. being an amazing community, The Coaching Institute, what is it you like about The Coaching Institute? How is it that they’ve connected with you?

Mariane: The community is just amazing, from staff to students, great support. Obviously I need a bit more support from others with my visual impairment, with reading documents. They’ve just been amazing. They’ve just been really, really good.

Edward: Wow! Wow! You’re studying to become, what? A master coach, did you say?

Mariane: Yes and I eventually want to get into public speaking side of things. I want to run seminars, just getting the message across, taking these public speaking and these seminars overseas because there are a lot of countries around the world where if you have a vision impairment, you’re stuck in the corner and that’s the end of your life no matter how old you are.

Edward: I love Australia and all but isn’t Australia like that as well?

Mariane: Not so much, no.

Edward: Right. Okay. I’m completely ignorant to this.

Mariane: No. In terms of disabilities, Australia is just amazing. It’s amazing from the transport to your studies to employment, support, social support, emotional support, it’s fantastic whereas you’ve got your other countries around the world where like I said, if you’ve got a vision impairment. Being from Lebanon, being Lebanese, I know for a fact that Lebanon Is one of those countries where if I was living there, I would have been stuck in a corner right now.

Edward: What do you mean, “Stuck in a corner?” They put you in a home or something? What would they do to you in these countries?

Mariane: No. You’re pretty much stuck at home. You’re life’s over. You can’t work. You can’t socialize. You can’t see. How you’re going to do all that if you can’t see?

Edward: Are you saying that they take you out of society?

Mariane: Pretty much.

Edward: Wow!

Mariane: Pretty much. The message I want to bring across is to these vision impaired people and their families and just everyone in the community is that’s not what it’s about. There’s endless possibilities. You can’t see. I mean, there’s a quote which I love and I always quote by Caroline Casey and it’s, “I never needed sight to see. All I needed was vision and … “What was it? “All I needed was vision …” Oh, I can’t remember it. Can’t remember it now. I’ve got a mental block.

Edward: That’s all right. We’ll get there. It’s not like you’re being interviewed and this will go on national television. She’s vision impaired, she’s blind?

Mariane: She is visually impaired and she’s someone I really look up to. She does a lot of public speaking and brings awareness to a lot of people.

Edward: Wow! Wow! Part of your purpose is to, what, help other people in your predicament?

Mariane: Yes.

Edward: Or let me rephrase it, who perhaps see the D-Day has just happened to them. That critical event has just happened to them.

Mariane: Yes, definitely. I remember when I first lost my eyesight and knowing what I know now, would have made things a lot easier.

Edward: Wow!

Mariane: Would have made things a lot easier. What I want to do is I want to bring that awareness to people that there are ways of, it’s the choices you make. It made me realize, it comes down to the choices that you make. It’s not the situation. It’s the choices and how you chose to deal with it.

That’s the message I want to bring across. I want to help people in this situation. I want to help them make the right choices and the right decisions.

Edward: That’s absolutely amazing. Yes, this is a fair comment, I’m sure. Anyone who knows you in the real world or has met you face to face would attest to this fact. You’re visually impaired and you’ve been through terrible circumstances when it came to your own marriage and your husband leaving you but you are one of the most positive people that I know.

I know people which have, in a material sense, in a physical sense, that have everything but they don’t have the happiness or the grounding or the marrow that you have.

I don’t want to ask this question but I just want to dig that a little bit deeper. In short, how can you be so happy? I’m playing devil’s advocate here, I’m really taking a superficial societal angle. Please don’t let the audience or Mariane, please don’t think I’m superficial but how can you not have what society considers happiness and yet be so happy?

Mariane: You want to ask the question, “What is being happy?” I’ve grown. I have to say I’ve grown since this situation. I have grown. I’ve really come to learn who I am and what I want out of life. I guess I’m happy in the sense that you start, you just start … I can’t see but you teach yourself to use other tools to see. I’m not just talking about, obviously there’s touch and there’s hearing but you start to feel from the inside.

Edward: Feel from the inside?

Mariane: Yes, you start to feel from the inside. For example, judgment. I’ve learnt to let a lot of that judgment go. Looking at people, I start to understand, I’ve just got a heightening, I’ve got understanding of a lot of things. Your senses just in that kind of … That sense are heightened. You just feel things on a whole level, if that makes sense.

Edward: Question. That’s not because you’re visually impaired. That’s because of the choices you’ve made?

Mariane: That’s right. That’s because of the choices I’ve made. I could have chosen to sit in my room and cry and not do anything. “I can’t see so I can’t do this.” There’s no other choices I’ve made. I realize that there are choices. Yes, I may have to do things a little bit differently. Yes, things may be a little bit slower but I can do them regardless. You just have to open yourself up to that and things just start to happen. You just change, you form, you grow and you just become really comfortable with who you are.

Edward: That’s obvious. I remember the first time I’ve met you. I know immediately, you are comfortable with who you are. You know who you are, you know what you’re doing. You have a purpose in life. I’ll say it again, there are very few people in society who are fully physically able that have nowhere near … Here’s an ironic statement. You might be visually impaired blind, but you’ve got more vision than most people I’ve ever met.

Mariane: In a sense, yes. I agree with you because there’s things that I see and sense that people with vision can’t see-

Edward: Yes.

Mariane: -if that makes sense.

Edward: What kind of things can you sense? How does this heightened senses work? What does that involve?

Mariane: It does work with physical objects. I can feel things when they’re around without even knowing they’re there or without touching them but it’s more on a different level more of your intuitive side, if that makes sense. Just picking up on people feelings and people’s emotions and understanding, it’s just, it really heightens because you can’t see people reactions. You’ve got to feel them. That just starts to build up.

Edward: Question and I’m sure you’ll nail it. What am I feeling right now?

Mariane: You’re smiling.

Edward: Yes, now. Before I’m smiling, what was I feeling?

Mariane: What were you feeling?

Edward: Yes, before I was smiling, what was the emotion you were getting from me using your heightened senses?

Mariane: You were probably … I don’t know how to explain it. I could actually feel it. I could feel it. I could feel it. (Laughs)

Edward: Try me. I’m curious. I’m getting some free advice from you now. You should send me an invoice now.

Mariane: Yes, I should, shouldn’t I, especially bill today. (Laughing)

Edward: Oh, no!

Mariane: I don’t know how to explain it. Let me try. It’s going to take time.

Edward: That’s all right. It’s on the internet and anyone listening will wait. Please wait, everyone.

Mariane: Please wait. My intuition is coming up here. Please wait.

I guess it’s a sense of not pride. I don’t know how to explain it.

Edward: No, you’re actually spot on.

Mariane: I am? It is?

Edward: It’s pride. I was actually feeling very grateful for the opportunity to be having this conversation with you.

Mariane: There you go.

Edward: I was feeling pride like, “Wow, I’m very …” I’m being straight up with you. I’m very lucky to be sitting in the presence of an amazing person like yourself.

Mariane: Thanks, Ed.

Edward: I think being part, I feel very lucky to be here, to be able to help tell your story by interviewing you and just digging that little bit deeper into how your mind works and what happens to you.

Mariane: Thanks, Ed.

Edward: I think it’s amazing your heightened senses are obviously quite paramount. I think definitely in the line of work you’re going into, that’ll work out quite well for you.

Mariane: Yes.

Edward: I suppose my question to you is that, with everything that’s happened to you, where to from here? What are your next moves? You talk about speaking and all that. What are you plotting next? What’s coming into mind for you to carry out your very clear life purpose?

Mariane: Okay. Want to start off with working one on one to start off with, with visually impaired people and their families as well, just bringing awareness to their families. It is very hard. I’ve been through it. It was very hard on my family, whether it be my brother or my parents or at the time my ex-husband, just in terms of dealing with their own emotions and everything that’s happened. Working one on one. Eventually, I want to get into workshops-

Edward: Very good.

Mariane: -and seminars where I can do group work, whether it be, again, with the families or the visually impaired.

Then, my bigger goal, my bigger vision is to actually, like I said before, is to move this overseas to get into the public speaking, to get into the seminars and take that overseas and just bring awareness to everybody.

Edward: Wow! Wow! Do this interview on February the 12th, 2014. I think definitely what is basically very interesting seeing where you’ll go from here.

Mariane: Yes, I’ll be looking to you from Spain or from Europe or from somewhere. (Laughs)

Edward: Well, well, well. We’re just having the ironic conversation. We know that underway, the research is going working on cybernetic eye implants and that sort of thing. What’s it go … If we need to make you lots of money first so you can get an implant later on.

Mariane: That’s right.

Edward: But by then, you won’t need your eyesight anyway because you already see everything through your intuition, right?

Mariane: Exactly. I’ll be telling them to keep it and give it to somebody else. I’m fine. Thank you.

Edward: I’m just going to say, thank you for letting me be part of the story. I was just going to say, what comes into your mind? What is the message you really want to impart onto the audience, be it people who can see it, physically that want to work with you and be it people who have gone through what you want to go through. What do you want to tell the audience out there? What’s the big idea you want to impart on them?

Mariane: I know I’ve said it before but to me, a huge part is understanding and knowing that you have the choices, you do have the choice to make, how are you going to deal with it and where you’re going to take your life.

Edward: Wow! Wow! That’s very compelling.

I must say on that note, thank you, Mariane. It’s been one amazing interview.

Mariane: Thank you.

Edward: I feel very privileged to tell your story but depending on whoever you are reading this or hearing this amazing interview, you’ve heard it yourself from Edward Zia, make sure you type, “Mariane Barakat” into Google and see what comes up and watch this space. I look forward to seeing you up on stage very soon.

Mariane: Yes, definitely.

Edward: This is Edward Zia signing out. Good bye, everyone and good bye from Mariane.

Mariane: Good bye, everybody. Thanks for listening.



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