Diabetes is an extremely isolating condition to live with. Those around me might often see the click of a lancet, the prime of a needle or the hit of a button on my insulin pump. You know what? That’s about it. To the outside world, there’s not a lot more to living with diabetes.
People don’t see the wave of emotions that often accompany the numbers that show up on the meter. People don’t see the immense mathematics and thought processes that go into the hit of those buttons on the insulin pump. People don’t see the physical depletion that comes from managing diabetes 24 hours a day, while trying to live a full life that is sometimes challenging in itself.
I’d be lying if I said that diabetes hasn’t messed with my headspace on several occasions. I’ve had days where I’ve come home feeling absolutely depleted, overwhelmed and not in a great frame of mind. Times that have always signalled to me that I need some time out to reset.
Self care has become a pretty big part of keeping myself in a good headspace with diabetes. It’s often the smallest, simplest and most selfish of acts that have the greatest impact.
I often post images of mysterious landscapes to my Instagram, and there’s a good reason why. Getting outdoors and going for a walk in the afternoons works wonders on my mindset. Things like hearing the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, feeling the chilly air on my face, or marvelling at the evening sky and surrounds helps clear my head at the end of a long day.
Food is definitely another act of self care, that I’m really working extra hard at right now. I’ve been forcing myself out of bed half an hour earlier each morning so that I have the time to prepare myself a more substantial breakfast, rather than eating a slice of toast and then feeling utterly exhausted and unable to concentrate for the remainder of the morning.
I’d also be remiss not to mention peer support here as well. Diabetes has brought so many amazing people into my life, and it really does make me wonder how I used to manage without them. I get so much out of simply talking to other people like me, and knowing that I am not alone in what I’m dealing with.
While I can’t actually stop managing my diabetes, I can choose only to do the bare minimum while placing the remainder of it on the backburner. I can log out of all of my social media handles for a day or two, settle in on the couch and binge watch a favourite TV show, open a book or go to bed a little earlier than normal. That too, is all okay.
I absolutely hate the insincere ‘how are you’ that is often exchanged in passing, or over the phone with acquaintances. Along with the reply of ‘fine thanks’ that is expected in return, often not until these two passing ships are long behind each other. For me personally, a ‘hello’ in return will suffice.
Today is R U OK Day, and the idea is to engage with those around us in a meaningful way. Living with diabetes makes us even more prone to facing mental or emotional issues, and talking about these issues often makes them easier to deal with.
Perhaps one way that we could do this is by using the words ‘how are you’ when we actually mean them, and have the time to listen to the answer in return.