A PERSONAL hell - that's how Gareth Morris describes his 12 years of unemployment.
The Boronia resident was working in IT when he was forced to give up his job after his retina detached and caused partial blindness.
Mr Morris was diagnosed with photo sensitivity and photo phobia as a child.This meant any light, from headlights and torches to glary cloudy days, caused physical and psychological discomfort.
The retina detachment also meant his photo sensitivity increased. Mr Morris was unable to work, and could also no longer indulge in his passion of drawing.
"I think the worst moment was realising that I no longer had the capable vision to draw with pencil or graphite. I ended up losing my sense of identity for a number of years."
However in 2007, things started to look up a little for the 32 year old.
He began reading again with large-print books, got involved with some narrative work via live stream on the internet and touched base with Vision Australia.
Along with learning how to move around with a cane, discovering custom-made spectacles and taking part in various courses, he was referred by Vision Australia to Diversity @ Work, an organisation which works with people with a disability on their employability skills.
It also aims to find them opportunities for employment, work experience or further study.
Through the program, Mr Morris secured a job at the Victorian Managed Insurance Agency Association.
"I could finally breathe again without waking up every morning to feel like a leech on society," Mr Morris said.
"There's something about being on the pension and not doing anything about it that can make a person look upon themselves with scrutiny and an unforgiving eye."
He said his role at VMIAA had improved his life - "becoming employed was a huge step in the right direction".
Mr Morris said he enjoyed being a part of team with "goal-minded people" and was pleased to have a referee on his resume.
The new job has also given him what he says is "the boost up over that looming wall of dependence and into independence". He hopes to use that independence to travel the world and continue his personal education into the future.