There’s so much more to living with diabetes than meets the eye. Sure, it’s easy to get wrapped up in dealing with how much time it takes to test, carb count, and calculate insulin doses. Our mind often notices how difficult the physical symptoms of a low, or high, can be, but how often do we truly turn inward and think about how having diabetes really makes us feel?
For me, not having many avenues of peer support meant I spent many years after diagnosis feeling lost and alone. It was easier for me to wallow in my misery about having to deal with the responsibilities associated with my chronic illness because I had no connection to anyone who really understood. I was also the only person in my family who was living with Type 1. I often became overwhelmed with what I needed to do to keep myself healthy -- not being able to balance both my illness and life as a teenager. I didn’t realize that I was ignoring a glaring problem in my life, which was my inability to accept and deal with my diagnosis.
Once finding some friends online, I began to understand that there was so much about living with diabetes that I still had to learn. I started to make more connections, and find people who could offer encouragement and support as I navigated this new world of self-care and sheer determination. I knew deep down I wanted a better relationship with my diabetes management, and ultimately, a better relationship with myself.
Over the years, I continued to arm myself with a myriad of tools to combat the diabetes blues and dreaded burnout. Part of my strategy for success involves my role as a PODS leader in my community. I also am now a chapter leader for a Type 1 running organization called Type One Run. My various effoets to organize local meetups for all sorts of folks living with diabetes is one way I keep myself going. By giving back to others, and the community, I help myself feel better about living with a chronic illness that isn’t always easy.
Practicing self-care daily is another way I help to keep myself in a mindset that allows me to feel at peace with my diabetes. To me, this means daily exercise or movement, meditation, some form of writing or journaling, and time spent with my dogs. There are plenty of ways people take care of themselves and it’s really just about seeking out things that recharge your batteries. Another form of self-care that I practice is a massage every few weeks because sometimes it’s nice to treat ourselves, righr? This has become a wonderful monthly ritual that allows to disconnect from the outside world and really relax.
I find having a partner who supports me both in my "real life", and my diabetes life, is another key factor into what makes it easier for me to deal with my diabetes emotionally. Even though Zack doesn’t have diabetes himself, he has made efforts over the years to know anything and everything he can. Recently, he even began following me through the Dexcom app's Share feature, because I told him I’d like an extra set of eyes while making a few management adjustments. Now he can’t stop expressing how nice it is being able to check in on how I’m doing from time to time. I really am so grateful each day that I have someone as wonderful as him in my life.
Diabetes is a hard diagnosis to swallow, but ignoring how you feel never ends well. Instead, know there are both resources and people who want to do what they can to help you have a better relationship with your chronic illness. There will be good days, and there will be bad days, but through it all you are never alone.