People don’t see me at 2.30am in the morning, shivering, and shoving skittles down my throat. They don’t see me on a restless night, rage bolussing stubborn highs that refuse to go down. Or the finger pricks I perform every time I walk out of the room.
People don’t see the insulin pump that I pull out of my pocket underneath the table. They don’t see the loads of discarded test strips and insertion devices underneath the lid of my rubbish bin.
People don’t see the guilt I feel every time I put a donut or a piece of chocolate into my mouth. They don’t see how tied down I feel every time I walk out of the house, with a jacket or satchel stuffed full of diabetes crap. Or the failure I feel at the bruises and scars that are hidden underneath my shirt.
People don’t see the exhaustion I feel, every time the alarm clock goes off to check my glucose in the middle of the night. They don’t see the burnout I feel behind every smile, and every single ‘good morning’ that bounces off my face.
People don’t see the rollercoaster of emotions that flood through my body when the door to my room is closed. They don’t see the fear I feel, every time this condition takes an unpredictable turn. Or the judgement I place on myself, every time I go quiet.
You don’t see diabetes, when you look at a person like me. You see normal. I daresay you even see healthy. You see me drinking coffee and eating donuts, just like everyone else. You don’t see all of the tasks that managing this condition entails. You don’t see the isolation I feel, living with a condition that you need to experience to fully understand (and trust me, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone).
For me, a big part of what was missing from my own diabetes equation for the first four years was peer support. Nothing really does beat the feeling of hearing someone else say the words “me too.” “I get it.” Or “I hear you.” Nothing beats the anticipation I feel, every time I refresh my diabetes feed reader. Nothing beats the enthusiasm I feel during OzDOC chats every Tuesday night. Nothing beats the sense of community I feel every time I am glued to Twitter, that makes me feel far less alone with my condition. Nothing beats being able to lean on my family for support when I need it, something that I simply wasn’t able to do after my diagnosis.
There’s an old saying that goes, “find your tribe and love them hard.”
I’ve definitely found mine, and they certainly won’t be going away anytime soon.