The biggest misconception about diabetes is that you become unwell, you receive a diagnosis, and then you get better.
It’s easy to see it that way.
People don’t tend to see the marks on the tips of my fingers, the chalky orange powder on my tongue, or the pump sites hidden underneath my shirt. They don’t see the pager in my pocket, the thousands of thoughts racing through my head, or the life saving stash of insulin in my fridge.
When I look back on my own journey, I concur that I’ve come a long way from where I was in the beginning. I feel more informed, more connected, more supported and am managing in the way that I have decided truly works best for me. Plus, I have an additional decade of experience under my belt than I did back then.
While all of these incredible things have made my life with diabetes so much better, they don’t make diabetes itself ‘better.’ Diabetes doesn’t go away, even if you don’t see it. As much I love to shout to the world about all of the incredible things that have enriched my life with diabetes, it’s not without its challenges.
Diabetes still affects me.
There are days where I feel like I am flying high and could do absolutely anything. This weekend, for example. An amazing, sunny weekend where I drove myself down to the beach, cleaned out the inside of my car, ran some errands, finished my book, made zucchini slice and jelly crystal cookies.
Equally, there are days where I can really feel the weight of trying to manage diabetes in amongst the remainder of my life. A mere few weeks ago, I was juggling my day job while spending long hours revising for my uni exams. Which were on a computer, in the middle of a pandemic. On my last day at work before a much needed break, I was feeling exhausted, moody and withdrawn from everyone around me.
Over the years, I truly feel as though I’ve poured both the ups and the downs of life with diabetes onto the pages of this blog. Some feel there’s too much doom and gloom in diabetes narratives – and can’t relate to some of the things I’ve written about. Many of you have also provided amazing support when I’ve written about the tough times.
But the truth is, I don’t do it for the feedback good or bad. I just know that it’s something that I want to see in the narrative about diabetes.
This is our week to scream diabetes awareness out of every corner that we possibly can. If you don’t have diabetes, this is your week to listen to and amplify the voices of people with diabetes. This year’s theme is diabetes and mental health, and it’s definitely a topic that is worthy of more attention. Especially now, more than ever, given the times that we live in.
Keep an eye on Diabetes Australia’s socials for details of what’s happening this week. In particular, there’s a livestream discussion happening on Wednesday night at 7.30pm AEST on the Diabetes Australia Facebook page.
Happy National Diabetes Week.
Great post Frank. The thing for me is I’ve become less enthusiastic about international travel (obviously nothwithstanding the current situation). I realise that insulin dependent diabetes can be stably managed WHEN you have good access to insulin, pump supplies, emergency pump deliveries and doctors. Being overseas (especially in the US with its inssaaaannne healthcare costs) seems a bit like a risk that’s possibly higher than the reward. I have other health conditions too like reliance on a CPAP machine for breathing while asleep, and high blood pressure etc which requires medication… so it means that to travel with everything you need plus a backup of everything becomes pretty onerous. It’s a shame though because I do want to travel!
Good on you Frank, your blogs are great, love reading them. Yes Diabetes is a hard act to follow, at least we can manage it. I just keep telling myself how lucky I am. I don’t know any Type 1 Diabetics, but I’m sure there’s alot that struggle with it. God bless all.♥️
Thank you Frank for highlighting an issue which we either recognise, love with, nurture our victories, learn (maybe) from our defeats or end up with crises and good times with no ‘normal in between (whatever that means, or we trundle along oblivious. What DA is refusing to recognise is that it is still being led by the nose, as are some other organisations, by a failure of the Aussie Dietary Guidelines to fully address the issue of what are the best diets for diabetics and why are we stuck with diets, fed by dietitians and doctors either too frightened or lacking in knowledge to step outside the guidelines or so ingrained in dogma that they reject the failure of the guidelines over decades to address diabetics’ needs and may in fact have harmed many diabetics. And whilst low carb diets ae acknowledged in the DA statements on diabetic diets we have DA Qld using the reasons for low carb diets to criticise these diets. So is DA QLD right? Or is DA right? How a crazy organisation – at war within itself? Backing 50 years of bad dietary advice or weakly putting forward a new idea (although the DAA still has not endorsed low carb diets for diabetic children, teenagers or pregnant women). (and who as a group eats the most breakfast cereal – yes the types that spike the BSL)? DA needs to wake up along with DNEs, Doctors and others. How can diabetics attain the best mental health when the diet is not the best for all or most according to many experts). And why is diet so bound up with the food industry I ask of DA and DAA?
Dear Tony Sangster, It’s not always about diet. This blog isn’t about diet. Yes diet matters, but please be respectful and try not to use other people’s blogs to further your own agenda.
Frank has written a beautiful blog post about mental health. We need to support him and his message if we are going to post on his blog. Thanks
Frank, I write blogs because they please me If others find something in them I am glad, and a little proud. If not, I am OK with that. A fellow once wrote me and said he thought my blog was too much about RA. I wrote back and said, you cannot image how easy it is to start a blog. If he really wants to write to help himself, he should get one going. In the mean time I asked him to never again criticize my writing. He still writes today.
Thanks Frank, I believe bringing more awareness of the toll diabetes Type1 takes on a person and Type 2 to a lesser extent is so important. Especially now with the pandemic hitting this year too. Mental Health….yes it’s taking it’s toll particularly on diabetics, I feel.
Adam Brown’s book, Bright Spots and Landmines has been an invaluable book for me especially chapter 2, MINDSET, finding motivation and crushing stress, burnout, and guilt!
Ups and Downs. – Diabetes Today
[…] The biggest misconception about diabetes is that you become unwell, you receive a diagnosis, and then you get better. It’s easy to see it that way. People don’t tend to see the marks on the tips of my fingers, the chalky orange powder on my tongue, or the pump sites hidden underneath my shirt. They … [Read more…] […]