Interdependence is defined as the quality of being mutually reliant on each other. I find this idea to actually be very difficult and thought-provoking. As a type 1 diabetic, who or what am I relying on? And who or what is also relying on me? I think that I have struggled with interdependence in college a bit because I have found myself relying on my body too much and not relying enough on others. Though I have been type 1 for five years already, I still subconsciously (or sometimes consciously) wish that my pancreas was up and running like those without diabetes. This makes it difficult for times when friends are going out to get ice cream or diving into foods that I know will make me feel like a bump on a log in an hour or two. I want to pretend that if I just eat another small piece of cake without taking a little extra insulin my body will just pick up the slack and help me out a bit. But then that feeling of needing to take a nap and chug three waters ASAP creeps up and I quickly remember, my body does not have the means to ‘pick up the slack.'
So I have learned that yes, I rely on my body (too much at times), but my body needs to rely on me. It trusts me to put healthy foods and drinks into it so that it can use them for energy and keep my blood sugar as steady and in-range as possible. I have found time and time again, aside from those times that my pump conks out or I have mechanical issues, that when I treat my body right, it treats me right back. As I mentioned in my last post, I have found low-carb diet to be the best for my blood sugars, and when I do eat this way, my body just seems happier! Like it’s saying “Thank God she fed me right!”. As we know, life with type 1 is a daily science experiment, so I did some experiments of my own to add a little bit more research to the pile. I tried waking up a bit earlier some days, eating at different times before a workout, using temporary and extended basal rates, adding another glass of water to my day, combining certain foods and cutting out others. While it is very difficult to find what one thing helps or hurts my blood sugar because it seems like just about every little thing affects it, these little experiments really did help me and my body form a better relationship by figuring out how we can rely on each other.
But what about those times when I was out at a party and the LAST thing I wanted to think about was how I shouldn’t be drinking a sugary beverage or having a high-carb late night snack when I got home? This is where interdependence comes in. In my 5 year journey with this disease, I have wanted to do everything myself and not share what my blood sugars are, how I’m feeling, what I could work on to lower my A1C, with even my parents sometimes. This is all fine and dandy until I snap and carrying too much of this burden takes a toll. I've realized that I can’t always just rely on myself to make the best decisions when it comes to diabetes, because let’s be honest, sometimes we just don’t want to! (or at least I don’t).
I have found it very helpful to find someone else that can help me along in this journey, and we can work together to create the healthiest relationship for both of us. In my case, my mom has been a big help for times when I tend to try to ‘forget’ I am type 1. We created a little texting lingo for her to signal to me that I am type 1 and my body doesn’t do what everyone else’s does. As a female college student in my 20s, I can also get a bit sensitive when my mom asks me too much or doesn’t ask me enough about my diabetes, so we had to create a very specific lingo that would be good for both of us. And here it is: You Are Special. This is the text I would get every big dinner out, every Saturday night, every special occasion or event that my mom knew I might have a hard time using what little will power I have. While these texts remind me that I am type 1, more importantly they remind me that yes, I am special. I do have the power to control many aspects of this disease, and with a little help from support systems like these and forming a good relationship with my body, this disease will NOT control me.
Interdependence seemed like a hard concept for me to grasp because I have been very independent as a Type 1, but I believe it is an extremely important idea to incorporate into life with diabetes. We don’t have to just rely on ourselves, we are by no means in this alone, and our body and support system are here to help us. Reaching out to other people who can relate or joining support groups has also helped me develop a sense of interdependence. Diabetes is a shared disease. For me, it affects almost everyone that I interact with. I share this disease with my body, my family, my friends, my coworkers in some way, shape, or form, and they share it with me. Figuring out how to share this disease was/is not easy, but gaining a sense of interdependence has truly changed the way I take it on.