The Other Half of Diabetes
Today is day 2 of Diabetes Blog Week, an annual event in the diabetes community created by Karen at BitterSweet Diabetes. Here is today’s prompt:
We think a lot about the physical component of diabetes, but the mental component is just as significant. How does diabetes affect you or your loved one mentally or emotionally? How have you learned to deal with the mental aspect of the condition? Any tips, positive phrases, mantras, or ideas to share on getting out of a diabetes funk? (If you are a caregiver to a person with diabetes, write about yourself or your loved one or both!)
Being diagnosed with diabetes as a young adult has presented it’s own unique challenges. I had already lived a significant portion of my life without it, which I am extremely grateful for. However, everyone around me knew me without diabetes. It wasn’t just automatically there, which made acknowledging my diabetes publicly a very difficult task. It essentially entailed a new conversation and fielding a whole lot of questions. It’s a risk, and sadly some people react insensitively. Even today, many people still don’t know, or remember that I live with diabetes.
I was diagnosed at an age where I wanted to manage my diabetes myself. I didn’t want to burden others around me with my diabetes. I was, and still am extremely stubborn. The more time that passed, the more I closed myself off. I didn’t talk about diabetes. I struggled to even acknowledge what was going on in my head. I distinctly recall moments where I was struggling with the frequency of my hypos. I was slamming my fists into the wall, and then getting emotional and comfort eating my way well out of hypo territory behind a closed door.
I was very self conscious around my diabetes. I wanted to be seen as normally as possible. I didn’t want to be seen as the sick, “diabetic” kid. I didn’t want people to see me managing my diabetes and pity me. There were times where I didn’t want to test my blood sugar levels in front of others. I’m still very self conscious about injecting insulin in front of others.
Beginning this blog 18 months ago was a big step out of my diabetes comfort zone. I quietly began following other people with diabetes online. I nervously stuck my head into OzDOC chats. I began sharing more about my diabetes than I ever acknowledged in my own life.
Much to my surprise, I began genuinely connecting with other people online. I became extremely interested in diabetes. I became far more motivated around my own management, and standing up for what I want from my healthcare team. I entered the pumping world yesterday, as a result of a decision that I made happen myself. I had the privilege of travelling to Sydney last week, and making some online to in real life connections.
Today, I am still fiercely independent in managing my diabetes. The specifics around my diabetes is still a very personal topic. I don’t often talk about what’s going on with my numbers, my food, and other individual elements of my day to day management. I set the agenda, and my family respects that.
I am, however, more motivated to talk about my diabetes in a broader context. About what I expect from my healthcare team. Elements of my management that I’m hoping to make changes to, or do better. Talking about how diabetes makes me feel. Commenting on the news, and the politics around diabetes. My blog posts are often the subject of dinner table conversations, too!
Today, I am not so afraid of talking about my diabetes in front of others. I comfortably bring it up when it adds value to a conversation. I feel much more confident in the way that I express myself around my diabetes, that I no longer feel so conscious or so pitied. I feel that I am so much more of a “switched on” patient, and in a much better place with both my physical and emotional health.
I would say take a step out of your comfort zone. Take an interest in diabetes. Connect with others. You don’t have to do it all at once. Set some boundaries you are comfortable with.
I feel that the progress I have made with my diabetes over these past 18 months has been so worth it.
To read other posts related to today’s prompt, click here.