When I used to hear the term "self-care" I would think brushing my teeth, showering, not eating too much junk food, and maybe doing yoga every now and then. Since being diagnosed with Type 1 self-care has taken on a whole new meaning, a much greater meaning. Living with diabetes presents daily challenges, so it is extremely important to provide ourselves with the care that we really need.
In college, the biggest steps that I could take in improving my self-care were accepting my disease and not trying to pretend that I was just like everyone else. Prior to college, I had a tendency to push diabetes under the rug. I didn’t want people to see my give myself injections, prick my finger, count carbs, I didn’t want to be different. This tactic didn’t really fit into the whole self-care plan. I had built-up anger that I would project onto my family for not understanding my disease, when I was the one who never took the time to share it with them. I just wasn’t ready for everything to change yet, but the time for change was coming.
Before starting orientation at college, I did a pre-orientation camp in the woods with 90 strangers (talk about change). On the first day we all went around the circle and shared fun facts about ourselves. As soon as the leaders said “tell us some fun facts about you,” my mind went into panic mode, like most college freshmen. “Fun? What about me is fun? I don’t have fun facts. They can just skip over me”. But no they could not skip over me. So I thought quickly about myself: big events, favorite things, cool vacations, hospital visits…hospital visits…diabetes. Yes! Diabetes…wait, diabetes isn’t fun and do these 90 strangers really want to know that I have diabetes? I don’t even like to know I have diabetes. This was my chance for change, change in my attitude toward my life with diabetes, my chance to accept it and share it.
Heart pounding and hands shaking unreasonably, it was my turn. I stuttered out my first three fun facts (one of them being my love for ice cream of course) and finally I made it to the fourth: “I have type 1 diabetes." Whether or not those 90 strangers thought the fact that I have type 1 diabetes was actually fun, I’ll never really know, but I didn’t care. Telling that group was a huge step for me. Now here I am - sharing about life with diabetes on a public blog. Moral of my story: self-care can be as simple as admitting that we have this disease and starting to accept it.
Though self-care is much more than brushing my teeth and showering, I believe that one of the biggest parts of self-care is realizing which aspect may need the most work and attention. What I needed to work on was my acceptance of life with diabetes, but for others it may be things like getting enough sleep, focusing on improving their diet, making more time for exercise or mental health time, reaching out to the diabetic community, etc. Whatever it may be, we can listen to our bodies and souls and hear what may need a little more attention...and always have some fun facts in our back pockets.