I’ve lived with type 1 Diabetes for 4 years, going on five this New Year.
From the very beginning it’s been an emotional roller coaster, at best. I was diagnosed at 16, after getting sick for a month and coming rather close to going into a coma. I can’t say I handled it very well at first. I mean, I did handle my sugars and diet well. My emotions were a wreck, though. Faster mood swings than puberty ever brought to the table. The teeniest bit of stress sent me into a ball of tears. Every adult in my life felt the need to push opinions and worry down my throat because the amount I was already dealing with wasn’t enough.
After all, it’s not every day you get to wake up and hear, “Eat healthy, or go blind, lose your feet, and probably die. Painfully.” Eating healthy is important for everyone, but it’s different when suddenly the freedom to do so is taken away. Emotional eating, sugar cravings, all nighters at friend’s houses; none of that goes away because you have diabetes. Your favorite juice doesn’t stop being your favorite because it’s now poison for your body. Sugar substitutes you get used to of course, but it doesn’t help the missing all the things you could once eat. Not at first.
Oh yes, sugar substitutes. Diet pop. Splenda. Sweet N’ Low. Sugar free. All things you become used to hearing/saying and implementing into your diet in an effort to better it. You find some comfort because you find things you like that don’t have sugar and aren’t riddled with carbs that will send your eyes blurry-making it hard to read the small print on anything because your sugar has gotten to out of control again. That’s not where it stops though, with the finding diet things. You probably know a lot of healthy people and health conscious adults and probably a few health nuts. The next scenario follows:
“Diet pop is terrible for you. Artificial sweeteners cause cancer. You’re ruining your body. You really shouldn’t be eating/drinking that. Diet? WHY on EARTH would you drink THAT??!”
You mean ruining my body with things that I had to turn to because sugar and carbs will ruin my body? My body is already ruining itself because one day I woke up and my pancreas decided it no longer needed to make insulin. While drinking only water and eating only almonds sounds like a great lifestyle, it wasn’t the one I was ready to take.
Does it sound like self-pity? It might. I’m not denying that there’s never been any of it involved in my feelings on this. However, it’s unfair for the outsiders to look in on a struggle they’ve never had to deal with and say cliche garbage because it’s easier than we make it, or not really as life shattering as it seems to us, or simply because they don’t quite understand it.
Whether diabetes or depression(both of which I know intimately), I never thought hearing “it’s a blessing in disguise”, “it’s just a matter of not being depressed”, or some similar statement would be many folk’s offering of sympathy.
I’ve bunny trailed.
I got better at dealing with the emotional part(most days). At the same time getting worse at the actually taking care of myself part. Counting carbs and calories and eating just the right portions sounds great for a couple months. After that, it kinda loses all the charm. You’d think though that feeling that great from good eating and balanced blood sugar would make it worth it. You’d also think that the insulin that works best wouldn’t be super expensive. So much so that insurance doesn’t cover it and your doctor just gives you samples until you move, get a different doctor, and get a cheaper insulin that doesn’t work the same, or quite as well.
Now you’re getting used to a new regimen with an insulin that responds differently. Thus, you learn how to take care of yourself all over again. Small changes affect a lot when you’re diabetic. It doesn’t just happen once, either. You find yourself constantly faced with new challenges to living this new lifestyle.
I’d like to say I’m a pro. That I take perfect care of myself and that I eat all the right things and have this down to a science. That I don’t worry about the always looming health complications that could happen because I’m good. But I’m supposed to be honest, aren’t I? Honesty is that if I allow myself to think about it for too long, I freak out and beat myself up because I’ve lived a sorry excuse of the ‘diabetic lifestyle.’ I cause the people closest to me to worry because I don’t regularly take the right amount of care. I cause myself to worry. I struggle. I lose sight of the end game. I lose hope. Because there’s always another article about how even if I take great care of myself, I could still die early, or get an infection and get sick and die. There’s always another health thing that could go wrong.
Granted, that’s looking on the dim side of things and that’s not a side I like to flirt with for long periods of time. It’s a side I have to face, nonetheless. Otherwise I will spend my days avoiding it because it’s serious and makes me feel like a failure; like I can’t possibly win.
So I am facing it. I am trying to better myself in this area because it’s not impossible and I WILL win. I will turn this into a not big deal thing.
But I haven’t done so yet. I’m barely close. Just thought I’d air out the garbage in my head that I’ve boxed up for years.
I don’t know many other diabetics, nor do I find myself interested in those groups they tell you to go to in the hospital. I would like to encourage any who may happen upon this merry blog, though. I know how effing messed up it is. I understand how truly effed up you feel inside sometimes. It does get better, although there will be days you feel that was never the case. You can do it. I can do it. We can do it. With some care and a bit more attention, we can manage this disease like a boss. There are also articles about how with proper care we can live just as long as an 85 year old person(that’s old!) or more because the care for it and technology has greatly improved and so on… So no more beating up ourselves. No more worrying to death(we will sometimes. it’s okay). Just owning it and following our dreams. Because we have a life to go out there and live just like everybody else. Be there for those you love. Cause God knows, there are days you’ll need them there for you. Most importantly, don’t ever, EVER give up. You are not alone, and there is always hope.
Let’s get to it then, shall we? 🙂